Ancient Assam Files Part 1

Since the earliest presence of Earth, for millennia humans have struggled to make sense of what they see all around them. Survival dependent on understanding the behaviour of an earthquake, the agricultural process, the study of solar system, or the optimum time to travel from one part to another part of a river– and humans developed ways to record and pass on such information. As they ventured from their places of origin, by land and by sea or river, people acquired a broader perspective of Earth’s processes and of the patterns and impact of human settlement throughout the world.

Four of the world’s important religions blossomed on the Asian sub-continent of India. Hinduism oldest among them was brought to by the Indus Valley perhaps 3500 years ago by Aryan Tribe from the central Asia. The Aryans brought with them the sacred writings called the Vedas. There are four Vedas: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda. Each Veda has been sub classified into four major text types – the Samhitas (mantras and benedictions), the Aranyakas (text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices), the Brahmanas (commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices), and the Upanishads (texts discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge). Some scholars add a fifth category – the Upasanas (worship) and the Puranas (ancient, old).

The history of our land Assam is completely based on ancient reality of mythical stories which can be found in two ancient books – Kalika Purana and Yogini Tantra. So the story of Assam started from Narakasura who was a legendary asura. He is considered to be a son of Bhudevi (Mother Earth) and is claimed as one who established Pragjyotisha. Naraka was born during Dwapar Yuga, which is third out of four Yugas or ages as described in the scriptures of Hinduism. Both Naraka and his kingdom Pragjyotisha are mentioned in the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. Pragjyotishpura was the capital of Pragjyotisha Kingdom. The word Pragjyotishpura derived from Sanskrit word ‘Prag’, ‘Jyotisha’ and ‘Pura’ meaning ‘city of eastern astrology’. Later Pragjyotishpura now Guwahati, was also the capital of Kamarupa Kingdom under Varman Dynasty.

The legend of Naraka is important in the history of Assam, particularly Kamarupa; since Narakasura is cited as the progenitor of all three dynasties that ruled Kamarupa in historical times. His son, Bhagadatta, is said to have fought for the Kauravas in the Mahabharata battle. The Mahabharata War and the decimation of Kauravas thus happened at the Yuga-Sandhi (Era-Treaty), the point of transition from one yuga to another. According to the astronomer and mathematician Aryabhatta the Kali Yuga started in 3102 BCE, so we can predict existence of life in Assam is more than 3500 BCE. This is similar to the Indus Valley Civilization.

Once Naraka motivated by his carnal desire, wanted to marry Devi Kamakhya. When proposed, the Goddess playfully put a condition before him that if he would be able to build a staircase from the bottom of the Nilachal Hill to the temple within one night before the cock crows to indicate Dawn, then she would surely marry him. Naraka took it as a challenge and tried all with his might to do this huge task. He was almost about to accomplish the job before it was dawn. When Kamakhya Devi got this news, panic-stricken she strangled a cock and made it crow untimely to give the impression of Dawn to Naraka. Duped by the trick even Naraka thought that it was a futile job and left it half way through. Later he chased the cock and killed it. Now the place is known as Kukurakata situated in the district of Darrang. The incomplete staircase is known as Mekhelauja Path.

Drunk with power, as he knew himself to be unrivalled in prowess, he brought all the kingdoms on earth under his control. Next, he turned his eyes towards Swargaloka. Even the mighty Indra could not withstand the assault of this son of Earth and had to flee the heavens. Narakasura had become the overlord of both the heavens and earth. Addicted to power, he stole the earrings of Aditi, the heavenly mother goddess, and usurped some of her territory, while also kidnapping 16000 women.

All the Devas, led by Indra, went to Vishnu to ask him to deliver them from Narakasura. Vishnu promised them that he would attend to this matter, when he would be incarnated as Krishna. As promised to Mother Earth, Narakasura was allowed to enjoy a long reign. At last Vishnu was born as Krishna. Aditi, who was a relative of Krishna’s wife Satyabhama (believed to be an Avatar of Bhudevi – Narakasura’ mother), approached Satyabhama for help. When Satyabhama heard of the Narakasura’s ill treatment of women and his behaviour with Aditi, she was enraged. Satyabhama approached Lord Krishna for permission to wage a war against Narakasura. As promised to the Devas and Aditi, Krishna attacked the great fortress of Narakasura, riding his mount Garuda with wife Satyabhama. Lord Krishna used the Narayanastra and the Agneyastra against the army of Narakasura. The battle was furiously fought. Narakasura possessed 11 Akshauhinis that he unleashed on Lord Krishna. However, the Lord slew them all with little effort. Lord Krishna also killed Mura, Narakasura’s general. Thus Krishna is called ‘Murāri’ (the killer of Mura).

Narakasura used several divine weapons against Lord Krishna, but Krishna easily neutralized all those weapons. Narakasura used the Brahmastra against Lord Krishna, but Lord Krishna neutralized it with his own Brahmastra. Narakasura used the Agneyastra against Lord Krishna, but Lord Krishna neutralized it with the Varunastra. Narakasura used the Nagapasha against Lord Krishna, but Lord Krishna neutralized it with the Garudastra. In desperation, Narakasura launched the Vaishnavastra on Lord Krishna, but Lord Krishna neutralized it with another Vaishnavastra. At last, when Narakasura tried to kill Lord Krishna with a trident, Lord Krishna beheaded him with his Sudarshana Chakra (discus).

Before Narakasura’s death, he requested a boon from his mother, Satyabhama, that everyone should celebrate his death with colorful light. Thus this day is celebrated as ‘Naraka Chaturdashi’ – the day before Diwali. Krishna and Satyabhama’s victory on Narakasura translated into freedom for all his prisoners and honoring Aditi. Having rescued the 16,100 women, Krishna married them to restore them to their former dignity.

Due to the discovery of archaeological sites scattered around Guwahati in plenty such as Ambari, it convinced Archeologists that on digging a meter into the ground at any place in city pieces of pottery, broken stone images or beautifully polished stone blocks will be found. Dr Medhi, an anthropologist from the Gauhati University has published in one of his research papers that a civilization similar to the Indus Valley civilization flourished in the Brahmaputra Valley. He also said that archaeologists have proved the existence of the city of Pragjyotishpura which is largely said to be buried under the present day city of Guwahati. Dr. Medhi also stated that most archeologists also believed that an ancient city known as Pragjyotishpura is mentioned frequently in the Mahabharata and Ramayana and the Kalika Purana existed in Assam. The location of a temple of planet worship called Navagraha, meaning an abode of nine planets of the solar system, and its connection with an ancient research on astronomy and astrology lends weight to the origin of its name.

These were the ancient mythical Hindu saying now the question is where are those sites and evident. If it was real evidence is must. Though there are lots of Archeological sites yet to be discovered because Industrialism, nationalism and imperialism had generated explosive rivalries amongst the world’s greatest powers and due to wars and natural disasters all the ancient sites had lost their existence or buried under the land. So it is our duty to read those ancient texts do research and find those sites with hidden secrets. Because exploration is always been the real job of a real human being. And curiosity is the mother of all inventions.

 

-Raikhik Deka

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