HISTORY OF THE KHAMTI By:- Dr. Lila Gogoi.



HISTORY OF THE KHAMTI


The Khamti, who are a part of the great Shan race, migrated to Assam only in the second half of the 18th century. This happened when Alomphra, King of Burma, caused the final dismemberment of the Shan Empire of Pong, which once touched in its extent Tipperah, Yunan and Siam, and had the city called Mongang by the Burmese and Mongmarong by the Shans themselves, as its capital. The Shans (Tai) are believed to have originally their home to the west of China. Samlonpha, brother and commander of the army of the thirteenth king of Pong, Sukempha (777 A.D) is said to have led his military expenditions as far as the Brahmaputra vally in Assam. As E.T. Dalton points out (Descriptive Ethynology of Bengal, Calcutta 1872, P. 6) , “Whatever may have been the original seat of these people, they migrated to Assam, within the last hundred years, from the country known to us as Bor-Khamti near the sources of the Irrawady, which was visited by Wilcox in 1826, and according to their own annals they had occupied that country for many centuries.” It was partly owing to dissentions among themselves that horde of Shan immigrants began to pour into Assamin the same period. The first batch of the Khamti which left Bar-Khamti or Mung-Khamti-lang or Manche in Upper Burma made their first settlement on the Tengapani or Te’ng river south of Sadiya with the sanction of the ruling Ahom authorities. But during the reign of Gaurinathasimha (1780-90) they pushed to Sadiya, and ousted the Ahom Sadiyakhowa Gohain, the Warden of the Marches there, and their chief soon arrogated to himself the title and office of Sadiyakhowa Gohain (1794). The Khamti were so sturdy and powerful that the Ahoms and, later, the British acknowledged the Khamti Gohain.

In may 1835 there was a fresh immigration of 230 Moonglary Khamtis (Alexander Mackenzie, North-Eastern Frontier of Bengal, Calcutta, 1834). As the Sadiya-khowa Gohain was deprived of his office the Khamtis rebelled in 1839 against the British and succeeded in surprising the British garrison at Sadiya and killing Col. Adam White, in command there. They were, however, eventually defeated and scattered about the country, and in the following year many Khamtis returned to Bar-Khamti. Those who stayed on were divided into four parties and settled in different parts of the then Lakhimpur district – Chunpora, Saikhowaght, Dhemaji and Dikrang – Narayanpur. In 1850 a fresh group of Khamtis numbering 300 to 400 persons came from Burma and settled in this State. The Khamti were returned as 2,883 souls in the 1881 census and as 3,040 in 1891 (Report on census of India. 1891, Shillong 1892, part II, p.183).

The Khamti villages in the Lohit Fronties District are situated about the area where the first batches of immigrants settled about the area where the first batches of immigrants settled. The Dikrang –Narayanpur Khamtis came to the present sit in 1843, when after the 1839 rebellion 500 people were parceled out by the British in a steam-ship down the Brahmaputra. The boat took them as far as the place Kalabari, where these deported people stayed for some days and then finally settled on the river Dikrang in the Narayanpur area, spreading out into as many as seven villages now. The scion of the Khamti Gohan family (Bhadiya?) who come to Narayanpur was granted a mauza as lakheraj, later on made khiraji into the Kherajkhat Mauza and placed in charge of the Goahin as mauzadar. The Narayanpur Khamtis had to face another difficulty as they brought no Buddhist priests with them. They, had, therefore, to take Vaishnava ordination from the Auniati and Dakhinpat-sattras in the Majuli river-island. The Gohain, Maniram, made very rich presents including an ivory mattress to the Vaishnava pontiffs, and received in return Agar bark manuscripts of Vaishnava texts. Shri Chauca Gohain, the present Mauzadar, has still in his possession as heirloom fragmentary copies of Sankardeva’s Bhagavata-purana, Book X. and rama Sarasvati’s Mahabharata, Udyogaparvan. But as soon as relations with their kinsmen near Sadiya and in the original Bar-khamti Country was restored, the Gohain family and others readily went back to their Buddhistic faith.