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Ancient Beliefs :~

CHAPTER - 1 of 6




(p1) Once upon a time the North-eastern Frontier of India was known as Pragjyotishpur which later came to be known as Kamrup. Ancient Kamrup was divided into four parts namely Kampith, Ratnapith, Subarnapith and Soumarpith. On the northern bank of river Sarnakosh (Sankosh) in Pragjyotishpur and near the Nilanchal Mountains, the land of Ratnapith was ruled by Narak.

According to ancient beliefs Mahiranga Danab was the ancient King of Kamrup. After successive kingship of his three descendants namely Hatakasur, Sambarasur and Ratnasur, Kamrup came under the grip of the Kirats. With the help of Lord Krishna, king Narak killed Ghatak, the king of Kirat, and restored the throne of Kamrup. Later when Narak turned out to be treacherous, Sri Krishna destroyed him and enthroned his son Bhagdutta.  Bhagdutta partied with the Kauravas in the Kurushetra battle and died at Arjun's hand.  After Bhagdutta next 23 kings of his dynasty ruled successively. Of them Pralambha, Banamala and Bhaskerburma were famous. 

Bhaskerburma ruled during the early seventh century. His kingdom was extended up to river Kartoya in the west. next

(p2) Bhaskerburma was a great benevolent king. During his time Chinese pilgrimage Hieun Tsang visited Bharatbarsh. King Harshabardhan of Kanauj joined hands with Bhaskerburman to defeat Shasanka, the king of Gour, and jointly waged war against Shasanka (619 A.D). But they failed to defeat Shasanka. From this time onward marked the historic period of Kamrup. After Bhaskerburma his kingdom got divided into numerous small parts.

    After Narak's descendants, Kamrup was ruled by the Sudra and Pal dynasty. During the end of Pal dynasty one of the Khen dynasty snatched the portion of Ratnapith from the Pal king. His name was Kanteswar and enthroned with the alias name of Niladhaj. After him his son Chakradhaj and then his grandson Nilambar ruled the kingdom. Nilambar was a benevolent ruler of the Khen dynasty. Kings of the Khen dynasty detached the
Ratnapith region from Kamrup and established the Kamta kingdom. "Kamda" or "Gosani Debi" was their family deity. Capital of this kingdom was known as Kamtapur. During the reign of Maharaja Nilambar, in 1498, Hossain Shah, the independent Pathan Sultan of Gour, attacked Kamta. After attaining the king's permission to let the Sultan's  next (p3)

(p3) wife/begum to meet the Queen, Hossain Shah sent some of his soldiers in the disguise of women-folk to the fort of Kamtapur and seized the fort. King Nilambar was defeated and imprisoned. After attaining victory over Kamrup, he enthroned his son and returned back to Gour.

   It was then the start of
Mathsyanyan Period. At that time each Bhuiyan or Bhowmick used to rule over one/two or more villages.

(p4) Terror spread in occupying neighboring lands. On the run strife occurred with the Turukh Kotwal of that region.

It is believed that the four brothers were charged for sacrificing one of their friends to the alter of Goddess Bhagwati. Fearing arrest they took shelter in the forest.

They collected soldiers, elephants & horses and pounded upon the Turukh Kotwal. Kotwal appeared with a big army.  Sisya Singha & Viswa Singha killed many.But Madan lost 
Koch Royal Dynasty :~

his life in this battle.Being grieved, Viswa Singha along with Sisya Singha attacked severely. Viswa Singha caught the Kotwal's horse and killed the Kotwal with his sword. Many Turukh soldiers were killed and the rest fled. Turning victorious, Viswa Singha enthroned Chandan, the younger brother of Madan, consoling Queen Jira who was hurt having lost her eldest son in the battle.

Maharaja Chandan [Rajshak 1-14 || 1510-1523 A.D.] :
     It was the beginning of Rajshak (royal calender year) in 1510 A.D. or 917 of the Bengali calendar when Maharaja Chandan was enthroned. In fact Chandan was the formost of the "Koch" kings, Viswa Singha was the main initiator of the "Koch" royal dynasty. Disorder prevailed in Kampith or Kamtapur after Hossain Shah devastated the land defeating king Kamteswar. Along with Kamtapur, Maharaja Chandan

Among these Bhuiyans one named Hajo turned out to be benevolent. He had two daughters named Jira and Hira. On the other side there was a small territory at Chikna Mountains situated between Sankosh/Saraldanga river and Champabati river about 50 miles north of Dhubri in present Goalapara district of Assam. This territory was ruled by Hadiya or Haridas Mondal. He belonged to Haihoi dynasty belonging to Mech caste. To establish unity wih Chikna, Hajo wedded off his daughters to Haridas. In due time Jira gave birth to Madan & Chandan while Hira gave birth to Sishu (Sisya Singha) & Bishu (Viswa Singha). Among the four, Bishu was the bravest, cleverest and toughest. Gradually these four brothers mastered the art of war and started attacking & winning over the villages surrounding Chikna.   next (p4)

invaded small surrounding territories and brought those lands under his rule. He passed away in 1523 A.D. after having reigned for 13 years.   next (p5)

Maharaja Viswa Singha [Rajshak 14-45 || 1523-1554 A.D.] : 2nd Maharaja

(p5) Viswa Singha was crowned next in absence of any son of Maharaja Chandan. His brother Sisya Singha held the royal umbrella atop the crown. Sisya Singha was entitled as "Raikat" or 'family guardian' and over his next generations acquired the Prime Ministerial post. As for his residence he was given the land of Baikunthapur (under present Jalpaiguri district of west Bengal). The Raikat kings of Jalpaiguri were his descendants.

Apart from being a grand king Maharaja Viswa Singha was also a good administrator as well. He invaded Soumarpith, Bijni, Bidyagram and Bijaypur and turned out victorious. Next he attacked Bhutan where on facing defeat came to terms with the king of Bhutan. After that he attacked Gour. Hossain Shah was then ruling Gour and Sikander Lodhi (1489-1517 A.D.) was the Sultan of Delhi. Viswa Singha won over major portions of Gour. His grandeur was further supported by his three brave sons. On his mother's request he shifted his capital from Chikna mountains to Hingulabas in the plains. This is evident from 'Hingulacoat' to the north of Mahakalguri village within Alipurduar of today. Viswa Singha was a great benevolent king. During his reign Muslim invaders attacked Kamrup many times but after facing defeat they were forced to retreat. In 1532 A.D. Turukh Khan was defeated while attacking Assam. 
next (p6)

(p6) At that time Nasrat Shah, king of Gour attacked Viswa Singha's kingdom but had to flee after having lost in the battle. In fact Maharaja Viswa Singha strongly consolidated the base of the newly established Behar kingdom/empire.

At the age of 53 in 1554 A.D. he set out for the Himalayas to lead the rest of his life as saint after crowning his second son - Nara Narayan.

Maharaja Viswa Singha had 19 Queens and likewise had 19 sons. Of them four were notable ones - the eldest was Nri Singha or Nara Singha (who was intellectual & religious); second son was Nara Narayan (also known as 'Malla Narayan' since he was a great warrior and mallabir or wrestler); third son was Chilarai (also known as Shukladhaj due to his fair complexion) and his fourth son Kamal Narayan or Gosai Kamal. These four brothers mastered the art of war so well and helped to sustain the grandeur of Behar empire.


Kamakkha Temple : Once Maharaja Viswa Singha was resting with his army near Guwahati within his kingdom. At a nighttime expedition he got detached from his army and went off far to reach Nilanchal mountains.  next (p7)

(p7) At that time he discovered the pious land of Kamakkha Temple.  He worshipped there and fulfilled his aspirations. He built temple of Goddess Kamakkha over there and appointed Brahmins from Kanauj in the worship services. He sent for more Brahmins (priests) from Kanauj and arranged for their residence within his kingdom permanently.

Maharaja Viswa Singha was lenient towards education. For educating his sons he sent Nara Narayan & Sukladhaj to Varanasi.   
next (p8)

(p8) Over there they learnt Sanskrit grammar, literature, astrology, law, Smriti & Puran and gathered knowledge in those subjects.

Maharaja Viswa Singha was the worshiper of Shiva and Durga. He attained Dikkha (religious enlightenment) near a Brahmin named Kalichandra Bhattacharya. At the last stage of his life he was engaged in divine contemplation. Having taught the principles of administration and other ethics & values, he retired after handing over the kingdom to the hands of his sons.  
next (p9)

Maharaja Nara Narayan [Rajshak 45-78 || 1554-1587 A.D.] : 3rd Maharaja
(p9) 

After Viswa Singha, arrangements were going on for the crowning of his eldest son, Nri Singha, as the next king. Many Brahmin intellectuals had gathered at the capital on that occasion and as per custom all the proceedings of the swearing in started. Nri Singha along with Nara Narayan & Shukladhaj were present at the gathering. At that moment Nara Narayan's wife arrived and addressed to Nri Singha that at the time of her wedding he had blessed her as the future Queen of the empire and that he himself was then swearing in to falsify his blessing. On hearing her aspiration, Nri Singha assured her that she would be the Queen and asked upon Nara Narayan to accept the Behar throne. Next day it was the swearing in of Nara Narayan as the new Maharaja.

(p10) among local fellowmen and attacked Gour. Shukladhaj was appointed as the commander of that invasion and was also joined by Sisya Singha Raikat. In Sisya Singha's army there were Rajput and Pathan soldiers. Debraj, king of Bhutan, also joined the attacking alliance with many soldiers. That vast army got divided into groups and attacked Gour. Gourpasha was defeated and the kingdom of Gour got divided between Nara Narayan and Akbar. In this battle Shukladhaj captured the entire region of Gour till the banks of the Ganga. He also captured Ghoraghat.
   Again in 1562 A.D. crossing river Brahmaputra, Nara Narayan attacked Assam then ruled by Sukhangrafar. Under the command of Shukladhaj there was fierce battle both on land & waterways near Guwahati. Nara Narayan captured Guwahati, Nilachal mountains, Darang, Beltali and other regions. Facing defeat army of the Assam king fled and according to a truce with Maharaja Nara Narayan, king Sukhangrafar kept the northern part of Soumar under his occupancy but not allowed royalty over there.
    There were reports of increase in Muslim empowerment at Gour and invasions from the west side of Behar kingdom. Soleman Karnani was then the king of Gour. Maharaja Nara Narayan attacked Gour in 1568 A.D. But Karnani's army commander Kalapahar defeated the Behar commander Shukladhaj and occupied lands till Tejpur.  
next (p11)

After being enthroned Nara Narayan appointed Shukladhaj as the army commander and let Nri Singha to reside at present Panga Pargana of Rangpur district. There Nri Singha led life in divine contemplation. After a few days Sisya Singha Raikat retired and left for Baikunthapur to live the rest of his life. A Brahmin was appointed as new Najir (summoner). 
   Gourpasha was the king of Gour when
Akbar (Mughal emperor) intended to invade Gour. Akbar asked for help from Nara Narayan. He organised army from   next (p10)

(p11) Later Maharaja Nara Narayan captured Kachhar, Manipur, Jayantia, Srihatta, Khairam, Dimuria and Tripura. In this way he brought a large kingdom under his rule. His empire extended up to Brahmadesh border in the east, Trihut (Mithila) border in the west, Tibet border in the north, and including Ghoraghat & north-eastern regions of Moimansingh district near Chattogram up to the Bay of Bengal in the south. Peace & order prevailed during his rule.

A Bhuiya named Pratap Roy of Pandu took shelter in Assam with his family after Shetdhan, his brother, faced defeat and was killed by Maharaja Viswa Singha. Maharaja Nara Narayan married Bhanumati, daughter of Pratap Roy and weded off Chandraprabha, neice of Pratap Roy, with Sukladhaj.

(p12) Maharaja Nara Narayan was religious. He brought Brahmins from different places including Mithila and gifted them lands/assets ('Brahmattar' belongings) and arranged for their stay permanently in his kingdom. After attaining victory over Gour with the help of Akbar, Maharaja Nara Narayan gave lands as grants to Brahmins in written orders bearing his royal lion-symbol stamp. A few of those grant orders are still present.
     Again Maharaja Nara Narayan had to restore the Kamakkha Temple after been ruined by Kalapahar,  army commander of the then king of Gour. He also built temple for 'Hoygrib Madhav' and many more. He granted lands for the construction of temple campus and appointed Brahmins from Mithila & Gour in temple services. The door to Kamakkha Temple still bears the twin statues of Nara Narayan & Shukladhaj and inscripted evidence of the fact.
     Maharaja Nara Narayan started 'Durga Puja' (worship of Goddess Durga) in his capital for the first time. That tradition is still followed in Cooch Behar Sadar.

Sri Chaitanya Dev visited Kamrup during the rule of Nara Narayan. His holiness stayed at Manikut crossing river Kartoa. In this connection Manikut is also known as 'Chaitanya Khola'. Famous Baisnava religious preacher Shankardev stayed permanently in this kingdom and preached Baisnava cult. He breathed his last here itself.


     On Literature >>  next (p13)

     His Majesty Maharaja Nara Narayan issued currency in his name. Both gold and silver coins bore the inscription of "Mahadev" (written in Devnagari script ) on one side and "Sri Sri Maharaj Nara Narayan" on the other side. He also created state seal bearing lion-symbol. This seal was used in every notices/mandates & every royal letters.
     Maharaja Nara Narayan built many broad roadways. Of them 'Gohain Kamal Ali'  was the most notable.  
next (p12)

(p13) Maharaja Nara Narayan was affectionate towards education. From his childhood he studied Sanskrit and attained special knowledge in Sanskrit Sastras. He was  

also addressed as 'Vikramaditya' of Kamrup. His royal court consisted of many intellectuals. Notable scholar Purusottam Bhattacharya composed the famous Sanskrit grammar 'Proyog Ratnamala'. Translation of Ramayan, Mahabharat & poetry of eighteenth Puran was done by scholars Anirudha and Ram Swaraswati. Pandit Ananta Kondoli wrote many books. Under the patronage of Maharaja Nara Narayan famous Baisnava preacher Shankaracharya composed 'Sita Swayambar' play and translated poetries of Krishna Gunabali & Sri Mod Bhagwath.  30 volumes composed by Shankardev have been discovered. Of them name of Nara Narayan has been specified in many.


     Maharaja Nara Narayan divided his kingdom into two parts. He donated the portion to the east of river Sankosh to Shukladhaj and kept the western part under his jurisdiction. This portion was named as 'Nija Behar' (own's Behar). Shukladhaj's portion consisted of east Assam including the land containing the Kamakkha temple along with Bidyagaon.
     After ruling for 33 years Maharaja Nara Narayan passed away in 1587 A.D. leaving under the charge of his son Lakshmi Narayan.

 

A little about Shukladhaj or Chilarai

Shukladhaj was the younger brother and army commander of Maharaja Nara Narayan. He played the major role in extending the royal kingdom. It was the valor of Shukladhaj that helped Nara Narayan to rule such a vast empire. A remarkable commander and an unusually brave warrior, he could swiftly capture his enemies. In a battle against the king of Assam, Shukladhaj on his horse back jumped like 

a 'Chil' or eagle and crossed Bharali river near Gawhati. That is why he was also known as Chilarai. In quest of Assam, he captured Kachar, Manipur, Jayantia & Tripura so rapidly giving almost no scope for arranging army to the defending rulers. While attacking Gour for the second time, he breathed his last on the banks of Ganga suffering from pox.     next (p14)

(p14) Maharaja Nara Narayan was then legitimately ruling his kingdom and peace prevailed everywhere. He used to attend his royal court everyday. But on the other hand dissatisfaction was cropping up in the mind of Shukladhaj. It occurred to him that it was his credit as army commander to extend such a vast kingdom. Everyone acknowledges his heroism and in that respect he had the right to enthrone as next king. Possessing an evil machination  one day he arrived at the royal court with the intension of killing Nara Narayan. But after being there for some time, he dropped having lost his senses. Immediately Maharaja Nara Narayan descended from his throne and held fainted Shukladhaj in his arms. Recovering his senses, Shukladhaj bursted out and lamenting his foul desire asked for forgiveness. Maharaja Nara Narayan consoled him by saying that truly he deserved for his valor and service to the crown and likewise offered him the land of east Assam.


Maharaja Lakshmi Narayan [Rajshak 78-112 || 1587-1621 A.D.] : 4th Maharaja

   Maharaja Nara Narayan was succeeded by his only son Lakshmi Narayan. He was not brave and skilled in war tactics like his father. Infact he was also a weak administrator. At that time Akbar was the emperor of Delhi. His army commander captured Gour and many surrounding lands under Lakshmi Narayan. Lakshmi Narayan tried to fight back but faced defeated every time. He never participated in wars personally and rest assured only by sending soldiers in battles. So he had to lose     next (p15)

(p15) to the Mughals. When Mughal army commander Ali Kuli Khan attacked Behar and captured lands adjacent to Gour, Maharaja Lakshmi Narayan had to admit to Mughal jurisdiction. This suppression arose discontent among the neighboring rulers. They united against the Behar king and Lakshmi Narayan had to seek Mughal help. Under the command of Jehaz Khan, Mughal army came to his rescue. After defeating the united force and raiding much wealth, Mughal army returned back to Bengal.    next (p16)

(p16) During the next emperor Jahangir, Mughal army again attacked Behar and captured till Ghoraghat. Maharaja Lakshmi Narayan had to travel to Delhi to meet Badsha Jahangir. After exchanging royal gifts, Lakshmi Narayan came to terms with Jahangir that the Mughal will not capture any of Behar's land further and vice versa. Lakshmi Narayan returned from Delhi with few architects. Back home he established his capital at Atharokotha village within Cooch Behar district and built eighteen palaces for his eighteen sons.

Man Singh, army commander of the Delhi Badsha & ruler of Amber, came to Bagua at that time. Maharaja visited him over there and extended friendship with Man Singh. In 1596 A.D. Lakshmi Narayan wed off his sister, Prabhabati Devi, with Man Singh. In due time Maharaja lost two of his sons - Braja Narayan and Bhim Narayan. These sudden demises brought in anguish for Lakshmi Narayan. Thereafter he put up with divine contemplation. He breathed his last in 1627 A.D.

According to Akbarnama, kingdom of Maharaja Lakshmi Narayan extended from Trihut in the west to mountain-chains of Assam in the east, and from Ghoraghat in the south to Tibet in the north. It was 200 krose long and 40-100 krose wide. His army consisted of 2 lakhs infantry, 4 thousand cavalry, 7 hundred elephants & one     
next (p17)  

(p17) hundred cannons. During his period Maharaja Lakshmi Narayan lost regions like east Assam, Tripura and Manipur.

Maharaja Lakshmi Narayan had attachment with education. Under his patronage many of his royal scholars composed literal works. Famous Baisnava preacher Madhavdeb composed "Bhakti Rachanabali", Sri Krishna Birth Mystery and "Adikanda". Poetic translation of "Sri Bhagwath Gita" was done by Gobinda Mishra. In 1616 on Maharaja's request Siddhantabagis created "Shivaratri Koumudi", "Mantra Dikkha Koumudi", "Sankranti Koumudi", "Ekadoshi Koumudi" and "Grahan Koumudi".

Maharaja Lakshmi Narayan restored the Shiva Temple of Jalpesh. But construction of the temple was left incomplete due to his sudden death. During his rule Madhavdeb, the famous Baisnava preacher, took shelter and preached Baisnava religion. Maharaja Lakshmi Narayan declared the religion cited out by Madhavdeb as the imperial/state religion. Another follower Damodardeb also visited Behar and preached about Baisnava cult.

Of his eighteen princes, Bir Narayan, son of the Patrani (eldest Queen), was crowned in as the next king. Due to some reasons Lakshmi Narayan discharged the Brahmin Najir and appointed his son Mahi Narayan as the new Najir Deo.    
next Maharaja


 Source  :- Translated from "Kochbiharer Itihas", 2nd edition (1988), by Shri. Hemanta Kumar Rai Barma
- ex-Nayeb Ahilkar of Kochbihar estate (SDO), M.A.,B.L.)
|| "Kochbihar Parikrama" edited by Krishnendu Dey, Niraj Biswas & Digbijoy De Sarkar

.

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