CHOWPHA-PLUNG-LU AND HIS SUCCESSORS



FROM THE BOOK – THE TAI KHAMTIS
BY – LILA GOGOI

CHOWPHA-PLUNG-LU AND HIS SUCCESSORS
Chaukan Mung, who deservedly belongs to the galaxy of the Khamti national leaders at the period of the British incursion into Assam was born at Sadiya in the month of Falgoon of the Tai year of 1157. He was popularly known as Ran Gohain or Ranuwa Gohain by the plains people of Assam. From his very childhood he was self possessed and grave, and at the same time extremely daring. The incursion of the British into Assam brought him face to face with new challenges and trials. He allies, (Bhai-rajas) the Ahoms, the Muttocks and the Morans had yielded to the British and there was no one on whom he could turn for support. But being a patriot to his finger tip he remained loyal to his ideals, and tirelessly worked for the welfare of his people. He had a practical object in view, that is, the deliverance of man from suffering. With this zeal in mind he almost exhausted his resources by giving charity to the poor and the needy people. He very keenly attached himself to the ‘tree precious jewels’ of Buddhism, the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

While he was at his forties, he had a quarrel with Colonel White, the British administrator of Sadiya, on the issue of emancipation of two slaves. This resulted into an war in which Chaukan Mung proved no match for the well trained British soldiers. But he killed Colonel White and some eighty soldiers single-handed and then being overpowered, surrendered to his enemies.

He was then confined at the Sadiya magazine, but he managed to escape along with his brother-in-law, after killing the guards of the magazine. While on flight Chaukan Mung’s brother-in-law got wounded by a bullet firing and as a consequence of it, he had to carry his brother-in-law Chow-ing-ci Mang at his back. But unfortunately he also feel down into a ditch and broke one of his feet. He managed somehow to arrive Kudnil and crossing the river sheltered himself in the jungle. But some fishermen who came to know his whereabouts reported the matter to the British administrators at Sadiya. An expedition was led against Chaukn Mung and he was surrounded in his abode from all sides. Chaukan Mung was incapable of moving due to his wounded foot, and thus, finding no way out, he preferred dath in the hands of his enemies to surrending himself alive. So he put off his armlet which was believed to have magic power and protected him from all sorts of danger, and then sat on a few ‘Pan’ leaves in a Yogic posture. While on this posture he was reciting religious sermons, he was received bullet shots fired by the soldiers at which he succumbed to death.

Chaupha-kan-Mung’s real name was Chowpha-Plung-li, people called him Chaupha-kan-Mung, ‘the great king of the land.’

The death of Chaukan Mung was followed by the rule of tyranny of the British on the Khamtis living in Sadiya and its neighbouring areas. Many innocent people were caught by the local administrators and subjected to ruthless torture. Most of them were summarily tried and were either deported into the prison of fined. Under such state of conditions, the clansmen of Chupha-kan-Mung left Sadiya and took refuge in the interior areas of the Mishmi Hills and places like Dibing and Tola.

After two years following the murder of Choukan Mung the British captured Chauleik, the second son of Chaukan Mung. He was interrogated to reveal the whereabouts of the leading members of his clan but at his refusal to reply, he was killed by putting into a crusher.

Some years after this incident, the British called Chaukeing the eldest son of Chaukan Mung to Sadiya and conducted a treaty of alliance with him. The letters of this treaty were engraved on the walls of a stone casket in such a way that when the lid of the casket was opened, the letters used to get disfigured. According to this treaty the Khamtis were given the power to rule the foot hill areas lying towards the east of Kundil Mukh, in return of their allegiance and help to the British at times of any foreign invasion from the south-east.

Chaukeing did not live long after this treaty and was succeeded by his son Chaumangthi.

Chaumangthi’s bold and fearless character his energetic and adventurous spirit, his disregard of personal danger and his courage endeared him to all. During his reign a Survey Mission was sent to his areas by the Government to carry out land survey. But as no prior consultation on this visiting of the Survey Mission into his areas. Not only he refused the entry of the members of the Mission into his territory but put dogs to chase them out. The British authorities, however, realised their fault of sending surveyors into Khamti areas without having consulted the Khamti king, and appreciated Chaumangthi’s courageous stand on this issue.

Chaumangthi was benevolent to his subjects and gave much emphasis to the development of his areas.
In the latter years he suffered mentally due to his domestic matters and left for Weing-mao in Burma where he died after staying for about a few years.

After the death of Chaumangthi, the people nominated Chaucha, a direct descendant of the Namsoom clan to be the rule of the Khamti areas. He was born in the Tai year of 1216, and at the time of his accession he was only twenty years old. He employed himself mainly in the developmental activities concerning his areas and maintained friendly relation with the British. The British granted him the power to levy taxes on the non-tribals residing under his jurisdiction and pilgrims coming to visit Parasuram Kund through his areas. The revenue thus collected amounted to be about two lakhs annually. He also imposed a tax on the merchants coming through the Lohit river to collect lime stones.

Chaucha showed qualities of the highest intellect in the welfare planning for his areas and in the execution of his plans. Under his guidance and supervision, efficient and extensive irrigation works were carried out which had resulted in the enhancement of agricultural production in the Khamti areas. He was very earnest and pious. He had constructed a Buddhist temple and a religious institution called “Cham-muk-ka-thang” for the Buddhist monk at Chaukham.

Towards the later part of his life there broke out a heavy fire in Chaukham which had even gutted Chaucha’s house. The fire consumed almost all his precious belongings and old chronicles along with the documents which the British gave him by way of empowering to levy taxes on his subjects and pilgrims passing through his areas.
Chaucha died at his age of seventy.

Chaucha was succeeded by his cousin Chauna who was born in the Tai year of 1226. By nature he was simple and kind but when his anger was roused the outburst of his wrath was most terrible. After his assumption to kingship he took the name of Chaufa Kanming.

His career had met with complete success. He possessed the qualities necessary for a ruler, and with his ingenuity, he could maintain a cordial relation with the British. In February 1855, he accompanied Lieutenant Eden in an expedition against the Mishmis of the Upper Lohit Valley. Again in 1858, he helped the British Government with men and materials in its expedition against the Abors.  The British Government, recognizing his help felicitated him with the dignity of Rai Bahadur and gave him some rich presents. He was also granted an honorarium of Rs.900/- per month till his death.

Chaufa Kanming was a man of extraordinary ability and possessed a wonderful personality. As a ruler and scholar he stands without parallel. For his qualities of head and heart he attracted love and admiration from all people who knew him. The British did not impose any tax on the Khamtis so long he was alive.

On the death of Chaufa Kanming, Chaukham had simultaneously to rulers, Chaufamang and Chaufartak. Chaufamang concerned himself with the administration of the Khamti areas whereas Chaufartak looked after the agriculture and village development. Chaufamang was ease loving, weak and vacillating; he loved ease and pleasure. He also lacked statesmanship. He became an addict to opium and for his incompetency relinquished the rulership after a few years. In later years he led the life of a hermitage.

Chaufartak, on the other hand, was bold but had not much capacity for practical affairs. Very often he used to get inflated at the flattery of his friends and spend money lavishly without proper considerations. He was, however, a patron of religious institutions and donated valuable Buddhist scriptures and images of Lord Buddha to the Buddhist Temples.

Chaufa-Kanan who succeeded Chaufartak was forty years old at the time of his accession to kingship. He was born in 1886, and survived a long life till 1947. Unlike his predecessor, he was cool in his temperament, very gentle in his behavior and live a pure, simple and austere life. He concerned himself for the economic betterment of his subjects for which he gave much emphasis on extensive cultivation. He had greatly improved the irrigation canal system in his areas, as well as, joined two streams-Barengpani and Kamlang by constructing a missive canal and embankment for extensive water supply to the cultivation field. He being conversant with the ancient Buddhist classical literature showed deep interest in new form of school education. He patronized many a boys and girls of his area in their studies at Sadiya and Dibrugarh. He renovated the Buddhist Temple at Chaukham which still sands as an object of admiration to a visitor.

For his services to the people and piety to his religion still keep him alive in the memory of the people to whom he belonged. It is said that after his death people used to lament at his graveyard remembering all his noble qualities and deeds.

A nation produces a few man who tower above their fellows in spirit and intellect and also as men of action. In our own time, we have Chowkhamoon Namchoom who heads the tree lakhs of people of the North-East Frontier agency. Born in 1920 at Chaukham, he passed his early days amidst fascinating natural serenity with had endowed him a natural frame of mind. He is popularly known as Chowkhamoon Gohain rather then his own name Chowkhamoon Namchoom.

While he was a student, it is said, that he was a boy of the “naughty” type in the sense that he attached himself to his playmates and friends of his own age rather than his studies or his teacher. But yet he was liked by his teachers who foresaw some future excellence in him. His pastime was sports in which he very often excelled his comrades. From his early age he used to take part in hunting excursions and proved himself a gallent Sikari in later years.

When he was twentyfour years old and just got married he was called upon by the peple to take the mantle of the late king Chaufa-kanan. Since then he took a vow to dedicate his service for the wellbeing of his people. There were the torture days when cholera broke out in an epidemic form at Chaukham and this left him sick at heart. But he did not despair: he struggled on incessantly to bring medical facilities to each and every door of his village and succeeded in establishing a hospital at Chaukham. Being a man of practical imagination and intellectual depth, he did not remain contented with the establishment of the hospital only, but made several cemented wells in his areas so that people might get pure water for drinking. Another noteworthy work he did for his people was opening of several Primary Schools in his areas. He gave permanent shape to the bunds and embankments at Chaukham by putting wire netting on them.

His struggle against all staggering problems to improve the existing conditions of his locality brought him into the forefront of the people. For his strong adherence to his independent views, strong personality and modesty, he was nominated from the North East Frontier Agency as the member of the Indian Parliament in 1952. He remained in his chair in the Parliament for about ten years. As the member of the Parliament, he tirelessly worked for the betterment of the NEFA people and consistently championed their cause.

Chowkhamoon is a humanist; he loves all people without distinction with a burning passion. It is for this distinguishing quality in him that he is adored by people of all social status. He can rest in peace only when he has been able to do something for anyone who asks for his help. His door is always open to everybody.

He is a man of richly varied talents. Anyone who comes to his contact even for a brief time will be amazed at his sense of humour, ready with and bright period of his life, he has remained the same person, still simple and wholly unselfconscious.

In no moments of his life he neglected to be active. It is very often heard of his saying “if the people of NEFA do not stand on their feet and if they want for someone to help them, they will diminish their stature among the other people.” He proved this fact by setting an example in himself. With his hard struggle, toil and sweat he has organized a timber business which is the biggest of its kind in the Lohit Frontier Division.

Chowkhamoon Gohain is at his fiftees now. He is still to render the best of him in the service of our country and people with his varied experience garnered through his escalding career.

The present Chief of the Khamtis named Chowcipo Gohain lives at Mumung, a village situated near Chowkham. He is a good gentleman of amiable disposition.

One of the eight sons of famous Chow-kanan Gohain, the late Raja is Chowchandret Gohain who has recently been nominated by the President of India as a Member of the Indian Parliament. He his keen aptitude in social service and political affairs as well.