Remembering Lachit Borphukan, the one man army of Assam who soured Mughal teeth

Published on 24 Nov 2014 on category People for zone North East

The story of Ahom commander Lachit Borphukan under whose command Ahom army defeated the Mughals.


National Defense Academy has a statue installed in the name of Lachit Borphukan. National Defense Academy has a statue installed in the name of Lachit Borphukan.

One of the greatest military commanders whose martial and strategic skills are subjected to educative analysis by armies around the globe is Lachit Borphukan, the commander-in-chief of the Ahom Army in upper Assam who soured the teeth of the Mughals such a way that the Mughals never dared to attack Assam again. It was one of the most conclusive battles the Mughal alliance fought and lost against the Ahom Regiment. Since then in the honor of the military skills of Lachit Borphukan, the National Defense Academy of India awards the best passing out candidate a trophy on his name. This reward was started by Assam Government in 2000. Lachit Borphukan was the son of the Governor of upper Assam, Mr. Momai Tamuli appointed by Maharaja Pratap Singha. Playing their old age trick of bribes and defection that gained them allies in the various Hindu sects like Rajputs, Marathas, Sikhs etc. the Mughals were able to cultivate some factions within the Ahom kingdoms and the administrators of Guwahati sided the Mughals by giving the territory under the Mughal control. Lachit was given the charge to recover Guwahati from Mughals. Maharaja Chakradhwaj Singha handpicked Lachit for the job impressed by his unmatched martial skills that included horse riding, boating, unarmed combat, swording and archery. Not that he was only a great fighter, he was a great diplomat in himself as well.

After a series of diplomatic trysts with the king and ministers, Lachit was able to convince them about his war plans against the Mughals in order to recover Guwahati. Lachit was ordained by the king as the commander of the strategic Simulgarh fort. He was given a gold crafted sword as a sign of his distinction. Lachit started his rigorous military training imparted to his special operation forces in Ahom Regiment in 1667. Soon he attacked Guwahati and eliminated the Mughals and liberated Guwahati.

The defeat and retreat was not taken easily by Aurangzeb who was planning a pan-Indian Islamic state that would stretch itself from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Iran to Myanmar but his march was halted sometimes by Shivaji in South and sometimes by Lachit in East. Aurangzeb deployed the dreaded Mughal commander Ram Singh to counter Lachit Borphukan in 1671.

Fully knowing the indomitable martial skills or Lachit, Ram Singh could realize the in order to counter Lachit, military aggression would hardly help but diplomatic sabotage can be helpful. Under the influence of the Mughals, Ram Singh had also mastered the games of treachery. He readied his army at the bank of river Brahmaputra and fired at arrow containing a letter to Lachit Borphukan towards the Ahom positions.

This was one of the deceptive false flag operations played by the Mughal Army. The letter was written such a way that it would look like Lachit had connived with the Mughals to gain control of Guwahati separated from the King of Ahom empire. The letter contained imaginary war plans and shares of booties. Immediately it was transported to the king who started suspecting Lachit.

The plan worked. Lachit was temporarily suspended from his position that demoralized the Ahom regiments who felt like abandoned orphans, the dead body without the soul. However, the Prime Minister of Assam Mr. Atan Burogohain was able to convince the King Chakradhwaj Singha that it was a deceptive strategic move by the Mughals to discredit Lachit and sabotage the Ahom Regiment. Charges were withdrawn from Lachit.

The Mughals were cheering as the news about Lachit’s suspension reached them. 30,000 infantry, 15,000 archers, 18,000 Turkish cavalries, 5000 gunners and 1000 cannons decorated the Mughal lines which were roaring to jump on the small units of the Ahom Regiment which lost its mighty umbrella. A demoralized Ahom Regiment, whose lack of will was forcing it to leave, received a wave of energy when Lachit came back in a heavenly surprise.

The seriously ill Lachit boarded a boat and 6 more such boats joined him as he was advancing against the Mughal fleets. The retreating Ahom Regiment soldiers were surprised to see his energy, patriotism, and enthusiasm. He said, "If you want to flee, flee. The king has given me a task here and I will do it well. Let the Mughals take me away. You report to the king that his general fought well following his orders,” to the soldiers trying to retreat. Responding to the call of Lachit the Assamese soldiers fought fiercely and ensured a decisive battle at the river of the Brahmaputra and its bank. The Ahom Regiment ensured that the Mughal spine is broken such a way that they never dare sending any further military mission towards North East. It can be credited to the lack of history awareness among Assamese and Mughal defeat in history that the tolls were not documented that could give an actual idea of the magnitude of defeat the Mughals faced in this Battle of Saraighat.

The lack of awareness of history and ignorance among the Assamese is so high that not even a portrait is available on Lachit except a testimony of his face found in an old chronicle "His face is broad, and resembles the moon in its full phase. No one is capable of staring at his face." His valor was described by the Mughal commander in one of his acknowledgment letters written to the Ahom Government. "Glory to the king! Glory to the counselors! Glory to the commanders! Glory to the country! One single individual leads all the forces! Even I, Ram Singh, being personally on the spot, have not been able to find any loophole and an opportunity!" he wrote. Every year 24th November is celebrated in Assam as Lachit-Divas (Lachit Day) statewide to commemorate the Assamese conclusive victory against Mughals and the heroism of Lachit on this day. The National Defense Academy (NDA) awards the based passing out cadet with the Lachit Borphukan gold medal. It was instituted by the Assam Government in May 2000 to perpetuate the memory of Lachit Borphukan, the man who can really be called a one man army as it was him who got back an entire army that was demoralized enough to retreat and thus he ensured a decisive victory.

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Written By
Titu Shadowson
Titu Shadowson has written investigative articles in premier Afghan daily Afghanistan Times on topics like military and geopolitics. He has has been republished by numerous digital and print media.
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Fist Published On: 24 Nov 2014

Last Updated On:

Reading Timelength: 5 Minutes

Type of Post: Article

Category: People

Zone: North East

Primary Topic: #LachitBorphukan

Tags: Lachit Borphukan, Ahom Kingdom, Ahom Army. Mughal, Assam campaign of Mughals, Ahom Mughal clashes

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