Momai Tamuli Borbarua

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Momai Tamuli (Assamese: মোমাই তামুলী বৰবৰুৱা ) was an able administrator and the commander-in-chief of the army in the Ahom kingdom of Assam, India. He was the first Borbarua, a new office created during the rule of the Ahom king Prataap Singha. He rose from a humble position as a bondsman to the office of the Borbaruah, which was a combined function of the Chief Executive Officer and those of the Lord Chief Justice. His sons Lachit Borphukan and Laluksola Borphukan played very significant roles in the History of Assam, as did his brother Baduli Phukan and daughter Pakhori Gabhoru, an important Ahom queen. His granddaughter Ramani Gabhoru, daughter of Pakhori Gabhoru and Ahom King Swargadeo Jaydhawaj Singha, was married to Muhammad Azam Shah, son of Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb.

Biography and works[edit]


Sukuti, better known as Momai Tamuli was at first an ordinary bondsman pledged to serve under his nephew for a sum of four rupees only. One day he was working with his hoe in a field by the side of the road to the Ahom necropolis at Charaideo, raising bunds for storing rain water. The nephew used to call him Momai (maternal-uncle in Assamese) and Sukuti was popularly known as Momai amongst the people of the locality. The Ahom king Swargadeo Prataap Singha passing by that road saw Momai at work and was pleased at the quality of work in the paddy field. The king who had a keen eye for merit released Sukuti from his obligations to his nephew, and appointed him first as Tipamia Rajkhowa and afterwards as Bar Tamuli or superintendent of the royal gardens. Momai Tamuli rose from one office to another until he was appointed Borbaruah.


During the wars with the Mughals, Momai Tamuli was appointed the commander-in-chief of the Ahom forces. He was instrumental in enacting an important treaty with Allah Yar Khan in 1639, which fixed the Barnadi river as the boundary and which formed the basis of Ahom-Mughal relations for decades to come. His foresight and courage was a great asset to King Prataap Singha. A Mughal envoy had once reported to his master: "O Saheb, what do say of Assam? The king is a veritable Mahadeva, and Momai-Tamuli is Mahadeva's chief henchman or Nandi. As long as these two wield the affairs of Assam it is impossible to turn your face to that country."


Paik system[edit]

The present economic life of rural Assam is mainly due to many measures inaugurated by Momai Tamuli under the Paik system. In 1608, he organised the job functions of the Assamese officers and fixed quotas of paiks attached to each. The Bora, Saikia, Hazarika, Barua, Rajkhowa and Phukan positions were created in line with the Mughal mansabdar system but adapted to the customary gradation of officers prevalent in Assam from ancient times.

Village economy[edit]

Momai Tamuli was also entrusted with the task of reconstructing Assamese village life on a sound and secure economic footing. Villages were grouped into regular units for convenience of administrative control. Spinning and weaving on part of womenfolk was made compulsory in every Assamese home, and it for this farsighted policy of Momai Tamuli that weaving has became universal among Assamese ladies irrespective of caste, creed or social status. Every village was made self-sufficient by providing with usual quota of artisans, priests and other functionaries. Economic independence was also the goal of family life in Assam, every family producing its own necessaries.

The secret of Momai Tamuli's rise to power and eminence was his surpassing sense of duty and extreme loyalty and devotion to his master. However high or humble his duties might be he devoted himself wholeheartedly to their accomplishment. He was true to himself and his ideal, and he drew his inspiration from the pleasure of perfection attained in his enterprises and undertakings, without any consideration of personal gain or advantage. Lachit Borphukan, Momai Tamuli's son, inherited from his father this supreme sense of duty and capacity of self-effacement in the cause or enterprise he undertook.