Five things you must know about Lachit Borphukan, Assam's greatest military hero
The name Assam with its origins in the words Asama or invincible clearly denotes how this Northeastern land held its own for 600 years throughout India’s medieval history. Ruled by the powerful Ahoms from the mid 13th century, the name of the legendary general Lachit Borphukan has become synonymous with the valour and courage of Assam.
When one says the name of Lachit Borphukan, the decisive battle of Saraighat which was fought in the raging waters of the Brahmaputra against the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb comes to our mind. It was his heroism and strategic war skills that sent the Mughal army headed by Ram Singh of Ajmer packing.
Born on November 24, 1622, this day is celebrated by the people of Assam and the nation as Lachit Diwas and so here are five things you must know about Borphukan.
He was originally named Lachit Deca and was in the early 17th century at Betioni in the Golaghat district of modern Assam. Born to Momai Tamuli, who later rose to become the first Governor of Upper Assam and Commander-in-Chief of the Ahom army (Borbarua), Borphukan enjoyed a comfortable upbringing. Momai Tamuli arranged for his education in humanities, military science, and scriptures.
Before taking the role of the supreme commander of the army Borphukan held various posts of eminence such as Superintendent of the Royal Horses or Ghora Barua, Commander of the Strategic Simulgarh Fort, and Superintendent of the Royal Household Guards or Dolaksharia Barua. He was also made the scarf bearer aka Soladhara Barua of the Ahom King which is a position equivalent to a Private Secretaryship. Under the Ahom king Chakradhwaj he was finally appointed as the Commander-in-Chief of the Ahom Army.
The Battle of Saraighat for which Borphukan is popularly attributed to was fought on the banks of Brahmaputra. The Mughal army consisted of 30,000 infantry, 15,000 archers, 18,000 Turkish cavalries, 5,000 gunners, and over 1,000 canons. Borphukan knew that they would not be able to defeat these vast armies with regular warfare. Therefore the braveheart used tactics of guerrilla warfare and wise terrain choices and led the Ahom army to a decisive victory.
The Ahom hero was also offered a bribe of one lakh to abandon his army, such was the valor and power of Borphukan. The Mughals knew that they would not stand a chance against the Ahom army if it was led by Borphukan and this was also proven in the battle. When Borphukan was grievously injured and the Ahoms started to withdraw, it was his clarion call that roused the determination and will of the Ahom army. He said, “If you want to go back you are free, but I even in spite of my hurt will fight until death. Go back and tell king Chakradhwaj that I fought with determination till my last breath!”
Ever since 1999, the National Defence Academy (NDA) has been conferring the best passing cadet with the “Lachit Borphukan gold medal.”