Tribes Nomads and Settled Communities

A Closer Look – The Ahoms

Did you know there was one tribe that defeated the Mughals 17 times in battle? Yes, The mighty Ahoms fought and won against the Mughal empire seventeen times! In fact, they were the only dynasty not to fall to the Mughal Empire. Let us learn more about these brave Ahoms.

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The Ahoms: Introduction

The Ahoms are said to be migrated in the 13th century, to the valley of the Brahmaputra from present-day Myanmar. Ahoms are said to have created a new state by suppressing the older political system of the bhuiyans.

They annexed the kingdoms of the Chhatigar and Koch-Hajo and subjugated many other tribes. The Mughals under Mir Jumla attacked the Ahom kingdom in 1662. Their society was divided into clans or khels. They worshipped their own tribal gods.

The Ahoms build a large state by suppressing the older political system of the bhuiyans, i.e landlord. They annexed the kingdoms of the Chhutiyas in 1523 and Koch-Hajo in 1581 – all during the 16th Century. Ahoms also subjugated many other tribes. Due to this, the Ahoms had built a kind of a large state and during the 1530’s.

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Ahom Society

Ahom society was divided into clans or khels, who controlled several villages – among them were few castes of artisans in the Ahom areas who later made their ways to the nearby kingdoms. Khel often controlled several villages wherein all the adult males served in the army during the war. Also, people had started to move and shift from the heavily populated areas to the less populated ones. The peasant was given land by his village community. When the king could not take it away without the community’s consent.


Ahom Religion and Society

The Ahoms worshipped their own tribal gods. However, Brahmanas during the first half of the 17th century achieved a great influence, further giving rise to Hinduism. In the reign, the Sib Singh Hinduism became a predominant religion. However, the Ahom kings did not completely let go of their traditional beliefs to some extent even after adopting Hinduism.

The Ahom society was very sophisticated. Poets and scholars were given land grants. Theatre was encouraged. The Ahom state was completely depended upon forced labour and was forced to work for the state known as paiks. Near about a census of the population was taken and each village was supposed to send a number of paiks in and by rotation.

Majority of the people from the densely populated areas were moved to the thinly populated areas – further leading to the break of the Ahom clans were. However, the administration had become quite centralised by the first half of the 17th century. The Ahoms did not practise cultivation even after they had migrated to the Brahmaputa valley.

Due to the emergence of large states changed, the nature of tribal societies was gradually changed and we can understand this with the help of two example – the Gond society and the Ahom society.

The Ahoms society underwent many changes due to a large state being built. The influence of Brahmanas increased. The land was given to the temples and Brahmanas by the king. During the time, in the reign of Sib Singh – the Hinduism became one of the predominant religions. However, even after adopting Hinduism, the Ahom kings did not completely give up their traditional beliefs.

We come to a conclusion on few points about Ahoms:

  • Ahoms gradually evolved in the centralised administrative system.
  • They enjoyed the social status that was highly praised and pleased Brahmanism; simply by granting them lands.
  • They tribal states of Ahom were attacked at different times by the Mughals as a result of their decline.

Solved Questions for You

Q: Who was the most powerful ruler of the Ahom tribe?

Ans: King Rudra Singh

Q: When did the Mughal attack the Ahom Kingdom?

Ans: The Mughals attacked the Ahom Kingdom in 1662.

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