ON THE OCCASION OF SIUKAPHA DIVAS TODAY
By Dr Birendra Kumar Gohain
The young Prince, Chao Lung SiuKaPha, found himself alone, even in the midst of doting materl grandparents. Heknew from his childhood that his father ,the Great Tai hero Chao Changnyeu was not living with him but ruling another Tai kingdom MongkhuMongja. His mind used to wander from MongMaolung, the Great Country (Mong) of the Tais (Dais), to MongkhuMongja, where he seldom used to meet his father. His childhood memory reminded him of a portrait of his mother ng Mong Blok Kham Cheng meaning ‘the heavenly golden flower of the country’. His materl grandmotherused to tell him stories of great Lord of heaven Pha Nu RuLengdon and his grandchildren Khunlung and Khunlaiin the orchard of their royal palace at Kin ChiengMaolung on moon lit nights. He was proud that his father who was a powerful Tai king with the me Chai Changnyeu, son of Chao Changbun,the king of MongkhuMongja. His father used to come to visit him and gave him many presents, the most memorable being the traditiol sword – Hengdan – of gold on the sheath of which his me was engraved by his father. He remembered the prophetic words of his father: “Chaolung, my great future king! When you come of age, you will set up a new country in the west extending the habitat of the Tais to a country full of trees where the birds go to sleep after dusk”. Hearing these words,his materl grandmother who dotted on him said emphatically: “Changnyeu,my loving son in law; we have already anointedChaolung as the successor of his materl uncle Pameoplung, the king of MongMaolung where he was born. You had already agreed to the proposal of my son King Pameoplung who was issueless that Chaolung will be the king desigte of Maolung.”ChaolungSiukapharemembered his father’s words “I know he is the het chi (king desigte) of this country. I am happy that Pameoplung made him his successor and his queen ng m Apalso agreed. But I have a dream. Chaolung,thefuture Great king as med by you will one-day extend his sway by winning new countries in the west.” Not wanting to offend his only son in law, Grandmother ended the topic saying, “Whatever is ordained by Lord of Heaven will happen. Your country is also a beautiful kingdom with many a hill and fertile soils washed by river. It was my daughter’s country only on the other sbank of m Kiu (Irrawaddy). If Chaolung is made the king of your hilly country MongkhuMongja origilly set up by the eldest grandson of Lengdon,Lord Of Heaven, so be it. Let him come of age. He is being tutored in Tai language, literature as well as history and astronomy and astrology by a Mo’ lung (Tai scholar of priestly clan Mohung).”
However, it was his materl grandmother who reared him up in a very dignified way. He was privately tutored by a Mo’lung (a great scholar) but he received training in warfare and his materl uncle King Pameoplunghimself a great warrior taught him well. He was given instructions regarding making ofweapons of various descriptions in the Royal factories, in the art of boat making and bows and arrows. He was specifically trained in horse riding and he was given two elephants,one female and one male and they were close to his heart.
The first shock of his life was the rumor that the issueless Queen ng m Ap had an intimate bath with Blok Kham Deng, and was impregted by that grandson of Lengdon, the Lord of Heaven. The rumor was heard by Chaolung at the age of ninteen and it became a common knowledge that the grandson of Lengdon showed his grace by impregting her with a child and the father of the queen was so jubilant that he consulted the royal astrologer who predicted a son. Chaolung was mature enough to understand the consequence and taking the blessings of his materl grand mother (yai), he left Maolung with due permission of Pameoplung for going to his father’s kingdom MongkhuMongja, a kingdom of scenicbeauty full of hills and dales. In the meantime,after he left the palace, Pameoplung expelled his queen who took residence in her father’s house. When a son was born, Pameoplung committed suicide. Chaolung who was the Prince in his father’s country MongkhuMongja became he king there as his father ChaoChangnyeu died.
In the meantime, palace intrigues under the father of the Queen (a minister) were going on, to make sure the baby of three years was made the king. The Queen invited her brother-in -law Chao Tailung,the elder brother of King Pameoplung to come with only body -guards to meet her. But the Court nobles did not want him to be the king there in MongMaolung. It was a fact that after the sudden death of Pameoplung, King Chao Tailunglived with her as husband and a son was born with the me Samlungpha. But a section of the nobles of MongMaolung did not like him to be the king there and want Siukhanpha,the heavenly son of the Queen born of the grandson of Lengdon to rule. So they waylaid him. This news of killing of his elder materl uncle was a great shock for Chaolung and he understood that the nobles were using the me of the boy king Siukhanpha to elimite his uncle. He immediately thought of his dearest Yai who reared him up like a mother and realized how grief-stricken she was at the loss of his two sons. ChaolungSiukapha convened the Royal Council of MongkhuMongja and deliberated on the security of his own kingdom. He found that his father who was a great ruler had already appointed governors to rule his country consisting of two large areas with dales suitable for wet rice cultivation.
He called upon his governors and nobles to volunteer to assist him setting up a kingdom in the west like a true adventurer and observed that the Ministers and nobles were getting despotic in MongMaolung and by taking the me of Siukhanpha, they killed his eldest materl uncle Chao Tailung and in the interest of peace, it would be desirable for him to avoid quarrel with Siukhanpha, his materl elder cousin. Remembering the advice of his Yai,he decided that the leading families of the nobles might accompany him. Seven nobles and two priests (with their respective families), along with nine thousand soldiers, and three hundred horsemen agreed to accompany him in his westward journey.
Now two days before the day of corotion of Siukhanpha, Chaolung went back to Ken ChiengMaolung, the capital city ofMongMaolung on the bank of m Mao. His materl grand mother (Yai) embraced him and wept saying,’’ My dearest one,how could you leave me for three years alone? I am happy you are back.’’
Chaolung said, ‘’Yai, not a day passed without your thought. I hardly remember my mother. You are my mother and you are my father. In fact, you are everything to me. I remember your advice in my boyhood. I shall definitely pursue my dream of extending our sway over non-Tai countries where the birds go to sleep at dusk. I have miles to go before I take a pause. Yai you only encouraged me to pursue my dream of conquering the world.’’ Grandma said, “Chaolung,you are the worthy son of a worthy father. You are a worthy descendent of Khunlung, the heavenly king, the son of Thenkham, the nephew of Lengdon,t and the Lord of another heaven.You know how Khunlung and Khunlai ,the sons of Thenkham, lord of another heaven were sent by Lord of Heaven, to rule the earth and how Khunlai quarreled with his elder brother and instead of ruling the first Tai country MongriMongram together as per dictate of Lord of Heaven, Khunlai wrested the company from his brother and Lengdon cursed him. His son Ai JepTyatPhadied issueless. Now all the Tai kings are the descendants of Khunlung. Don’t quarrel over a throne.’’
Chaolung said,,’’ I am not going to claim MongMaolung. After all, I cannot deceive my cousin Siukhanpha as he is the lawful heir of his father.I shallgo to the west “
Yaisaid,’I know, you will never do anything illegal or immoral. Moreover, you are a tiger (Siu) and two tigers can never stay together in the same den. Go on your destined path. Try to win battles through friendship and amity and without shedding blood.”
After attending the corotion of Siukhanpha, he said to Siukhanpha, ‘’ Brother, I bid you goodbye. I am leaving my country for good. My nobles and army are waiting for me at the frontier. I shall proceed to Mong Pa Kam (Kamrup) in the west where birds go to take rest at dusk.’’
So saying, he went withSiukhanpha to bid farewell to all.
With great determition, ChaolungSiukapha proceeded on a difficult route and after crossing m KiuIrrawaddy river, he conqueredMongkwang( presentMougang) ,PhakeChering and crossed the big hillDoikham and then conquering all the lands on way,he reached the river Nong-yang and set up the capital of the new kingdom MongKhamjang. There he married ng Toracheng of Tailung ,the daughter of Minister SaiKunhai; she was an exceptiol Tai beauty with hair seven meters long. It was the first Kingdom set up by him and there he first ordered his two Mo’lungSeng-ka- luk , the Mohung (Mohan ) priest and ThaomungMo’sam to record the history systematically. He asked his ministers ThaomungMangrai (Buragohain) and ThaomungKangn (Borgohain) to take a census. Then he crossed Doikaorong hills (Patkai range) and defeated the various hill tribes. Then on 2nd December, 2228 CE, he entered the Brahmaputra valley and saw the Ripe Paddy glittering like gold and called the new country MongDuunSuun Kham-the land of golden harvests.
He took the initiative of conquering the hearts of the local inhabitants through inter- marriage by marrying two princesses of Matak king Kunti Raja. The elder one Gandheswari gave birth to Siuhaopha while her younger sister geswari had no son. The son of the Mohung Priest Sengkaluk got married to the eldest princess of Kunti Raja. ( TaiMs Mohan-Deodhai-BailungBuranji)
His examples were followed by his unwed soldiers. They married local girls. Chaolung conquered Chutia,Kachari,Kamata and Barahi kingdoms and appointed envoys for collection of tributes.
The journey of ChaolungSiukapha route was an arduous one from Mongmao( presentRuili city of Yunn,Chi) through Mong and Mongti (on Taping river valley in Yunn,Chi,), crossed the Irrawaddy in the Mien city river-crossing in Myanmar,then conquered Mongkwang(near present Mougaung of Myanmar),PhakeChering ,the origil land of Phake people in Upper Myanmar, crossed the Doikham hills of Upper Myanmar, set up his capital in Khamjang on the bank of Nong Yang ( the present lake of No return, Myanmar), crossed Doi Kao Rong (the present Patkai hills), set up the second kingdom at Tipam after crossing the present BuriDihing river, then reached Chekhru (Abhoyapur), crossed the river Brahmaputra, stayed in Having ( present Dhemaji), came back to the South bank and followed Dikhow river up stream, saw the mouth of Disang river, then went down stream the Dikhow river, then reached Santak, set up another capital there, then downstream Dikhow river and then set up another capital at Simaluguri. He went downstream Tamakriver and then built a city at Sori. Filly,he founded his permanent capital at Charaideo (ChetamdoiChe lung Chekham) on a hill in 1252-’53 C.E. and ruled the kingdom set up by him till 1267-’68 C.E. and went to heaven in 1268 C.E. and was buried at the foot of the hill. His permanent capital was sanctified by holding the Umpha worship and by sacrificing two red dogs for the Lord of the Jungles mely the divine sage Po-phi-so and worshipped the most ancient god Langkuri . He worshiped the Hindu goddessKechaikhati and thereby set up the tradition of showing respects to the local gods and goddesses and their attendants.
The capital city of Charaideo became the place of divine worship and of erection of the burial mounds called Moidamwhichis a unique tradition of the Tai Ahoms. His eldest son Siuteopha buried him and performed Me Dam Me Phi.The arduous journey of ChaolungSiukapha could be visualized by knowing the fact that he started his journey since 1214-’15 C.E. and entered the Brahmaputra valley in 1228-’29 C.E. and set up his capital cities in Khamjang in Myanmar frontier, Tipam, Habung (Dhemaji), MongRuiMongSen, Simaluguri, Sori and in Charaideo. He stayed in Charaideo for last fifteen years of his life. The Tai Ahom kingdom extended from Khamjang to Sivasagar district during his time which was later extended up to Kortowa river in the west creating the unified country called MongDuunSuunKham , Assam. Thus ended the glorious life of ChaolungSiukapha,the great whom I salute him with all humility and treat him as a deity.