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Ahom Administration System | UPSC, APSC | North East India Info

The system of government was partly monarchical and partly aristocratic. The king or Swarga Maharaja as he was called, was the supreme head of the state. All honors, titles, offices, decisions and war-measures emanated from the king, but he had to act according to the advice of the five hereditary councilors of state, the Buragohain, the Bargohain, the Barpatra-gohain, the Barbaruah and the Barphukan.

Ahom Dragons Rang Ghar

  1. The King (Swargadeo)

The kingdom of Ahom was under the rule of a king who was known as Swargadeo (Chao-Pha in Ahom language). The king had to be from the line of Sukaphaa, the first Ahom king. Generally, succession was based on primogeniture, though on occasion it was possible for the great Gohains (Dangaria) to elect another descendant of Sukaphaa from a different line or even enthroned or depose one.

  1. Dangaria

For support in administration, Sukaphaa had two great Gohains: Borgohain and Burhagohain. They both had independent territories in the period of the 1280s, and were made veritable sovereigns in these territories called bilat or Rajya. 

Borgohain’s territory lay to the west up to the Burai River while that if Burhagohain lay between Sadiya and Gerelua River on the north bank of the Brahmaputra River. Both had complete command over the paiks that they controlled. 

Generally, people from specific families were put on these two administrative positions. The Princes considered to be eligible for becoming Swargadeo would not be in the running for either of these positions and it was also true vice versa. Suhungmung, in the 16th century, had another Gohain created and named Borpatrogohain. The territory of the Borpatrogohain’ lay in the middle of the other two Gohains.

  1. Royal Officers

During his reign, Pratap Singha introduced two offices to be under the king directly. These offices were Borphukan and Borbarua. Borbarua was both the judicial and military head and were in command of the territory lying to the east of Kaliabor which was not commandeered by the Dangaria. Unlike the Dangariyas, the Borbarua was allowed to utilize for personal use only that section of the paiks which was under his command while the remaining were at the service of the state of Ahom. The civil and military command over the territory to the west of Kaliabor lay with the Borphukan who also held the position of viceroy of Swargadeo in the west.

  1. Patra Mantris

The council of ministers or patra mantris comprised five positions. Since Supimphaa’s time (1492–1497), one patra mantri was made the prime minister or Rajmantri and was given additional powers as well as 1000 additional paiks of the Jakaichuk village were placed at his service.

  1. Other officials

Judicial, as well as military responsibilities, rested with both the Borphukan and Borbarua, and both got help from two separate councils (sora) of Phukans. While Gauhati was the seat of the Borphukan’s sora, the capital was where the Borbarua’s sora sat. Baruas was the name given to superintending officers. 

The highest amongst the officers was of the Phukans. All together, 6 Phukans, each holding a specific responsibility, comprised the council of the Borbarua. The Neog Phukan, Deka Phukan, Dihingia Phukan, Na Phukan, Bhitarual Phukan and the Naubaicha Phukan who was allotted 1000 and took care of the royal boats, all together comprised the council of Phukan. 

Similarly, even for the Borphukan there existed a council of six subordinate Phukans whom he was obligated to consult regarding every important issue. In this council were two Sutiya Phukans, Nek Phukan, the Dihingia Phukan, Deka Phukan commandeering 4000 paiks and Pani Phukan commandeering 6000 paiks.

There were twenty or so Baruas. Some of these were:

  • Sonadar Barua: Chief jeweler and mint master

  • Khanikar Barua: Chief artificer

  • Hati Barua: In charge of elephants

  • Ghora Barua: In charge of horses

  • Duliya Barua: Royal palanquins’ in charge

  • Chaudang Barua: Executions’ superintendent

  • Bhandari Barua: Treasurer

  • Bez Barua: Royal family physician

Some other officers were 12 Rajkhowas, various Katakis, Kakatis and Dolais. A Rajkhowa was a territory’s governor as well as commanded 3000 paiks.

  • A Rajkhowa was a public works supervisor as also an arbitrator for local disputes. 

  • A Kataki was an envoy dealing with hill tribes and foreign nations. Kakatis wrote documents that were official while the Dolais were expounders of astrology who also ascertained the most auspicious time and date for important tasks

  1. Governors

Those of the royal families held rule over certain territories and were addressed as Raja.

  • Charing Raja, Swargadeo’s heir apparent, administered the tracts around Joypur on the right bank of river Burhidihing

  • Tipam Raja is the second inline

  • Namrup Raja is the third inline

  • Royal family members who had lower positions got regions known as mels, and were addressed as melkhowa raja or meldangia. Princes who were even lower were Meldangia gohains and these numbered two Sarumelia gohain and Majumelia gohain.

  • Individual mels were provided to the royal ladies. There were 12 such allotments at the time of Rajeshwar Singha. Of the highest importance was the one provided to the chief queen and was known as the Raidangia mel.

The forward territories were administered and ruled by forward governors who also were military commanders. Such offices were given to members of families which had the eligibility for being the three great Gohains.

  • Jagiyal Gohain served under Borbarua, administered Jagi at Nagoan and maintained relations with seven tribal chiefs, called Sat Raja.

  • Kajalimukhiya Gohain served under the Borphukan, administered Kajalimukh and maintained relations with Jaintia and Dimarua.

  • Marangi khowa Gohain administered the regions that were contiguous to the Naga groups west of the Dhansiri river.

  • Sadiya Khowa Gohain based in Sadiya, administered the regions that were acquired after the conquest of the Sutiya kingdom in 1523.

  • Solal Gohain administered a great part of Nagaon and a portion of Chariduar after the headquarters of the Borphukan was transferred to Gauhati.

Rajkhowas were lesser governors. Some Rajkhowas were:

  • Abhaypur

  • Bacha

  • Darrang

  • Solaguri

Vassals or dependent kings were addressed as Raja. Each of these Rajas gave an annual tribute with the exception of the Raja of Rani. It was required of these Rajas to provide paiks and resources as and when required, for example at war time.

  • Barduar

  • Beltola ruled the tracts southwest of Gauhati, and were the descendants of Gaj Narayan, a grandson of Chilarai of the Koch dynasty

  • Darrang Raja ruled over later-day Darrang district, and were the descendants of Sundar Narayan, a great-grandson of Chilarai of the Koch dynasty

  • Dimarua

  • Luki

  • Rani

  • Tapakuchi

  1. Paik Officials

The Ahom kingdom had huge dependence on the Paik system which was just a corvee labour form. All common subjects fell in the category of paik. A group of four paiks was referred to as a got. All through the year one paika was in the king’s direct service while the remaining three paikas would take care of his fields besides their own. This Paik system was under the administration of Paik officials.

  • Bora had 20 paiks under his charge

  • Saikia had 100 paiks under his charge

  • Hazarika had 1000 paiks under his charge

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