Chaolung Siukapha was the founder of the Ahom Kingdom, and the first Ahom King in medieval Assam. The Tai word Chao means Lord and Lung means Great. The Great Lord Swargadeo Chaolung Siukapha was considered, by the Ahoms, to be a descendant of God Khunlung, who had come down from heaven and had ruled Mong Ri Mong Ram.
The Ahom kingdom successfully ruled Assam for around 600 years and in all those years unified the various tribal and non-tribal groups. Chaolung Siukapha, as the great Lord who laid the foundation of this unification process by establishing the kingdom, is therefore considered the architect of Greater Assam. Siukapha was a braveheart and a true warrior, but at the same time he firmly believed in developing amicable relationships with his opponents. Assam at that time was divided into many small regions, each led by a different tribe or community which followed their own unique customs and law. Siukapha assimilated these small diverse ethnic groups and brought about a uniform law and code of conduct. He got rid of the small regions and laid the foundation of Bor Axom or Greater Assam where all states and regions were unified as one big state, Axom.
Siukapha was born to Chao Chang-Nyeu and Nang-Mong-Blak-Kham-Sen in the Tai state of Mong Mao, the present state of Yunan, China. Siukapha’s father was on an expedition to Mong Mao where he befriended the son of the ruler, Pao Meo Pung. Later he was offered marriage to the daughter of the ruler, Blak Kham Sen. Siukapha, who was born of this wedlock, was raised by his maternal grandparents and was even nominated to succeed the state after his uncle who did not have an heir at that time. But having lost the claim later, he decided to move from Mong Mao and after settling in many places for over thirteen years since then, including Myitkyina, Mogaung and upper Irrawaddy river valley in Burma (present day Myanmar), Siukapha finally started his expedition to Assam.
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Historical evidence points that Siukapha left Mong Mao in 1215. He followed an older path through Burma and finally arrived at Nangyang Lake, or Lake of no Return situated near the Indo-Myanmar border, in 1227. On entering he subjugated the local tribe, Nagas in a ferocious battle and established a Mong. He left a Kan Khrang Mong there to guard the passage back and proceeded further towards the Patkai hills. He entered Namrup, in the Brahmaputra valley, in December 1228 which is considered as the year the Ahom kingdom was established. According to historical evidence Sukapha was accompanied by three queens, two sons and a daughter, chiefs from five other dependent Mongs, members of the priestly classes and an army of soldiers.
Having reached Namrup, Siukapha bridged the Sessa river and went upstream along the Burhi-Dihing river. He was looking to establish a colony for wet rice cultivation but the region was not conducive to cultivation. He then settled in different places like Tipam, Abhaypur, Habung ( present day Dhakuakhana), Dikhowmukh, Ligirigaon and Simaluguri. He finally moved to Charaideo in 1253 where he established the final capital of the Ahom kingdom. In each of the places that he had settled, he left back his representatives to rule over that colonized land and kept moving forward in search of a better capital.
Administration and Governance
Chaolung Siukapha was a braveheart with great courage and determination, and unparalleled leadership. His will power led him to overcome all obstacles and create his own kingdom and lineage in an unknown land. From Mong Mao to Charaideo, he fought many battles against the local ethnic groups and emerged victorious every time. But at the same time he believed in developing an amicable relationship to make his reign more powerful. He conquered the Chutiya, Kachari and Kamta kingdom but allowed the kings to remain in power paving the way for peace and harmony. He united the Chutiyas, the Morans, the Borahis, the Nagas, the Kacharis and laid the foundation of Bor Axom. This improved relationships between the ethnic groups, with lesser options for wars and terror. Siukapha was therefore able to concentrate more on good governance and improve the economy, which proves how able a diplomat he was.
Another significant example of Chaolung Siukapha’s able governance is his policy to include in his council of ministers representatives of these local kingdoms. To assist him in the administration he appointed the Buragohain and Borgohain, and Katakis. These were like the conciliatory measures adopted to make the Ahom dynasty more powerful and permanent. He very well understood that a country can prosper and a regime can be strong only if its countrymen are content and united. He, therefore, tried his best to maintain peace by providing equal opportunities, endearment and respect to them.
Chaolung Siukapha even encouraged inter-marriage amongst these ethnic groups and himself married four wives from the Borahi and Moran family to maintain a healthy relationship. This was another example of his farsightedness. But at the same time Chaolung Siukapha was a cruel ruler who was ready to crush down any rebellion against the King and the State. It’s just that he valued the sentiments of the indigenous people and worked for their betterment.
Socio-Cultural Changes and Contributions
Chaolung Siukapha, according to popular Ahom beliefs, was considered a descendant of God Khunlung, who had come down from heaven and had ruled Mong Ri Mong Ram. Siukapha himself believed in ancestor worship, which today is the most important socio-religious ceremony of the Ahoms known as Me-Dam-Me-Phi. According to history Siukapha was the first king to perform Me-Dam-Me-Phi, as a tribute to his forefathers after he established his capital in Charaideo. But these beliefs were never imposed on the indigenous communities.
Chaolung Siukapha instructed the Pandits of his time to note down important events in writing as a form of reference later. This led to the creation of Buranji , or history which later proved as evidence to assist the facts and story behind the Ahom Kingdom. This was one of the most important contributions of Siukapha in creating the history of Assam.
Siukapha was the progenitor of wet rice cultivation in Assam. Prior to his arrival the people of the region practiced dry, slash and burn (jhum) cultivation. He made dykes and drainage system which made cultivation possible even in dry barren lands. The land of the region was already fertile and with the methods he introduced productivity increased manifolds.
But the greatest contribution of Chaolung Siukapha is, undoubtedly, the unification of the ethnically diverse state to establish the foundation of Bor Axom, or Greater Assam. He died in 1268 leaving behind a legacy that continued to gloriously rule Assam for nearly 600 years. He was a visionary king who sowed the seeds of Assamese Nationalism and culture, and remains engraved in history as the undaunted and unparalleled leader of the Ahom Dynasty. On 2nd December every year Siukapha Divas is celebrated in Assam as a tribute to this braveheart, the true leader, the architect of Bor Axom.
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