THE TRADITIONAL TALE OF MIGRATION By:- Dr. Lila Gogoi.



THE TRADITIONAL TALE OF MIGRATION

I had the following account of the coming of the Khamti to Assam from Shri Chenia Gohain (Assam Civil Service) of the Narayanpur Gohain family.

The migration happened towards the end of the 18th century, in all probability about the year 1781 A.D. A King of Tai origin was ruling North Burma from Maugong as his capital. He had three nephews (sister’s son), who lived in Khamti-lang in northern part of his kingdom. They were Chau-Ai, Chau-Ngi and Chou-Cham.

Chau-Ai once sent Chau-Ngi to the Burmese capital to take a royal firman (khitap) for themselves. Chau-Ngi accordingly left home, but never returned as he lost in his way in the forest. After a year or so of his departure from home, Chau-Cham was deputed by his brother to find out what had happened to Chau-Ngi and to procure the desired firman, Chau-Cham reached Mandalay and on his introducing himself was received with great kindness by the uncle monarch. When he wanted the firman, the king wanted to know if he had any elder brothers. The youngman lied and replied in the negative. The king, thercon, gave him a gold ring (Jaki), generally used below a basin (Jaka) for cooking, as a smbol of recognisation and honour. On that account Chau-Cham had now name, Chau-Lung-Keng (Keng=Jaki). The actual firman (he-ho-cheng), written in Burmese on palmleaf strips, is still preserved in the family of Shri Chaucha Gohain in Bar-Khamti, Narayanpur, as a proud heirloom in a cylindrical container of copper measuring 4’3’’ in length and 2’’ in diameter.

Chau-lung-keng now continued to live in Maugong and attend the royal court regularly as he was now a privileged person. In the meantime, seeing the youngest brother also not returning from the quest for the firman, Chau-ai himself made for the Burmese capital, and reaching there, presented himself at the court. Chau-lung-keng was pretty surprised by his, and he stood up, as was the custom, to make room for his very elder brother. This astonished the king, who was greatly enraged that Chau-lung-keng had lied to him, and give immediate orders to Chau-ai to slay his offending brother.

Chau-ai was greatly nonplussed, and begged leave just for a week before he should perform the cruel task assigned. On the last day of the week a feast with much meat was laid at his request. As the king and two brothers sat to their repast, Chau-ai took only one stick (phu) in place of two for his fork and feigned to be trying to pick up lamps of meat with it to his mouth. When questioned by the king as to the reason of his fumbling over one stick, Chau-ai explained that it required two sticks to pick up food and that one should not try to eat with one, just in the same way as it required two brothers for one to live in happiness and safety. The king realised the appeal behind Chau-ai’s words and withdrew his orders for the death of Chau-lung-keng. He presented Chau-ai with an image of the Buddha).  The two sons of the second brother, Chau-ngi, were brought to the capital, rehabilitated there and became known as Chau-tang (tang path) on account of their father having lost the way.

Chau –and Cham returned to Khamti-lang with the Chau-tangs. Chau-cham, now Chau-lung-keng, ruled his own country, while another tribe, Man-chey-khun (Tai) had their principality very near his domain but never dared to invade it as Lung-keng became known as a powerful chef of the region. He, however, died after a rule of a few years, when then Man-ches fell upon Khamti-lang like wolves, took away Lung-keng’s wife, and subjugated Khamti-long. On this Chau-ai, now Phra-taka, took the Chau-tang nephews and the Buddha image he received from the Burma king (This image is still to be seen in the Kaliyani Vihara in the Mikir Hills) with him, and crossed the Patkai range of hills through the Tang-chau-kang Pass from Northern Burma to Assam. The immigrants from the Khamti land first encountered the Bisa (Singpho) chief, who challenged the Khamti chiefs to a game at dice so as to decide whether the latter should leave the Singpho area or remain as slaves there. Losing the first game, the Khamtis offered a little worship to the Buddha and won the second and third games. The Bisa chief was much surprised and took leave before he could engage in the fourth game, and went to worship behind the trees at a distance. Finding him not returning for a long time, the Khamtis killed the man in charge of the games, left the place, crossed Sadiya, and entered the Matak country. As the Matak chief offered resistance, there was a conflict, and a Matak Hopak (Saikiya, centurion) and his men were slain.

The Khamtis under their chief, Chau-hu-kap-nga-kham, and the military commandant, Chau-hu-kep-nga-kham, started making raids into the Ahom territory, and succeeded in ejecting the Ahom Sadiya Khowa Gohain. The Ahoms had to recognize he Khamti chief as Sadiya-khowa Gohain. Even after this there continued to be skirmishes between the Khamti and the Mataks. Hostility with the Bisa chief also continued over many years. All this tended to make the Khamti a warlike race all the time, and their ferocity with the enemy hid from people all around the Message of Kindness of the All-enlightened which they held dear to their hearts.

The descendants of Chau-cham or Chau-lung-keng came to be designated as Nam-sum, being chiefs ruling over the land on the Tengapani river; while another person from the same family was recognized as Chau-lung-keng, and he eventually became commander of the Khamti garrison. Another relation of the Nam-sum chief, who happened to be his guest for a night and thus save his life from the knives of eight assassins sent out by the Bisa chief, was accepted as Chau-tao. The scions of the family of Chau-lung-keng, the new Chau-lung-keng and Chau-tao cam in coursre of time to be all Nam-sums or in Assamese, Gohains.