KIRAT-JANAKRITI BY DR. S.K. CHATTERJEE AND THE RAJBANSHI OF KAMRUP-KAMTA: A CRITICAL REVIEWIntroduction:[1.0]
The North-east India was once famous for its ancient heritage of Pragjyotishpur or Kamrupa which was afterwards named Kamata or Kamtapur. Different castes and religious sects had been living since time immemorial. Amongst them Rajbanshi and the Koch are on critical controversy now over their ethnicity. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, with his work ‘Kirat-Janakriti’ cast an effect on those two races. In this respect, of course, Hogdson, Risley, Grierson, Hunter, did not the less of the confusing and controversial situation for which the two communities Rajbanshi and Koch are in crucial position; specially the Rajbanshis are making tug of war of those two identities- Rajbanshi and Koch. In search of a decisive way of identical inference an attempt is made here in brief to make a study on ‘Kirat- Janakriti’ by Suniti Kumar Chatterjee.
1)Are the Kamrup-Kamta emperors or kings Non-Aryan or Kirat or Mlechha? And are the Rajbanshis, too? 2) Are the Rajbanshis Koch?
Book Details: [1.3]
‘KIRAT-JANAKRITI’ The Indo-Mongoloids: THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF INDIA, Suniti Kumar Chatterji, THE ASIATIC SOCIETY, 1, Park Street, Calcutta.First Publish- 1951, Reprint-1974,1998.
Aryan, A common Synthesis:[2.1]
The book dealt with the Indo-Mongoloids specially of North-East India. In the list of these Indo-Mongoloid people the Rajabanshi has been included without methodological study of genealogy and ethnicity. No close study has been attempted on whole scale migration of human being, specially from the North-East India, and more to say, from middle Asia and from its adjacent area (from Bahlk of Bactria of Greek). Many groups of people such as Kambojas, Bahlikas, Trigartians came to Pragjyotishpur or Kamrup in different times in early mythological era. Chandrabansha(Lunar dynasty) speally who are called Haihay race, Surya bansha(Solar dynasty) came to Kamrupa and contributed to build the Rajbanshi race together with the Kambojas and Bahlikas; And to them have been added, the Bardhanas (Bratya kshatriyas)of Pundra Bardhan. The Kambojas and Bahlikas had been identified as Iranian. The ‘Kurus’ and ‘Madras’ were Bahlika. Santanu’s (of Mahabharata)elder brother was Bahlika. The great hermit Vashista was a kamboja. And actually Aryan is a common cultural synthesis of the Aryans and Iranians and some other tribes (in the then period all races were called tribes before coming to common cultural synthesis) of Avestan(Zend Avesta) culture.
Kamboj Koch and Kachhari Koch:[ 2.2]
So migration and immigration, and socio-political relation, ethnic diversity and discrimination are the main factors of study. But in Suniti Kumar there is only one concentration on tribalism or Kiratism of North-East India including Rajbanshis. He concentrated his mind on immigration of Mongolian people through Brahmaputra Valley. And they are Kirat or Koch and Rajbanshi too, as Bodo. It is his preconceived idea which has been imposed upon Rajbanshis. All the Rajbanshis are not Koch; it has been admitted by Martin- ‘all Rajbanshi are not Koch’1 . And there are two types of Koch: Kamboj Konch(Koch) or Kachhariya Koch. The Kachharia Koches are Kirat Koch. The Kamboj Rajbanshis have also been called Koch. Suniti Kumar himself has admitted the idea of the word ‘Koch’ coming from ‘Kamboj’2.
Golden Colour, a poetic Exaggeration:[ 2.3]
Suniti Kumar referred the line of Mahabharata quoted earlier by Sylvian Levi in his work on Nepal(p-31-32). The line reads that the soldiers of Bhagadatta were og golden colour,ie, of the colour the Kirats. This is actually a poetic exaggeration. Most of the soldiers may be of golden colour. For this reason the ruler may not be taken to be Kirat. Only one line can not be inferring to Kiratism.
In Nidhanpur copperplate Bhaskar Barman has been written as the sun of Aryan religion3. Huen Tsang has taken Baskar Barman a Brahman. Huen Tsang mentioned the language Kamrup differed a little from that of Mid-India.
Bharat, Bhagadatta and Bhagirath:[2. 5]
In Talcher plate of Orissa, the donor (Subhankaradeva IV, Bhauma dynasty of Orissa) has been said to be the ‘final incarnation of Bharat, Bhagadatta and Bhagirath’4. K. C. Panigarhi has given a number of cogent arguments to establish that the Bhaumas of Kamrupa and Orissa were definitely two branches of the same family5. If Naraka or Bhagadatta had not been Aryan, the name of Bhagadatta would not have been placed beside Bharat and Bhagirath, the great respected figures of Aryan people. Bhagadatta was the father-in-law of Duryadhan. He was a friend of Indra. In the Mahabharata he was called ‘Kulin’. He participated in the ‘Sayambhar Sabha’ of Droupadi.
Kamrup-Kamta, A Hindu Empire or Kindom: [3.0]
The Hindu Kings(mostly Chandra Banshi Prithu) of Kamrup-Kamta bravely pushed back and defeated the Muslim attacks. R.C. Majumdar opined: ’Whilest the rest of India was convulsed by the upheaval of new religious sects, Kamrupa retained the Brahmanical religion to the last.’6
Haihay Line of Viswasingha:[4.0]
Suniti Kumar called Biswasingha as Koch. But he was of Haihay line of Madhya Pradesh(Maheswar). Driven by Parshuram some of the Haihays came towards East and settled in Kamrup. Father of Haridas Mandal was Damambu; Damambu’s father was Basudam; Basudam’s father was Sumati; Sumati’s father was not known clearly. ‘Satidah’ system was in vogue in Brahmanical society. Hira died on the pyre of Haridas Mandal. Biswasingha’s wife died on the pyre of Biswasingha. 7
Anthropology has four branches: 1) Linguistic Anthropology, 2) Historical Anthropology, 3) Physical Anthropology, and Socio-Cultural Anthropology. Linguistic and Historical Anthropology never support Non-Aryanization of Rajbanshis. Sunukiti Kumar himself gave a measuring standard to identify the Mongoloids.8 :’The Mongoloid tribes represent at least three distinct physical types- the primitive long-headed Mongoloids, who were found in the sub-Himalayan tracts, in Nepal and mostly in Assam; the less primitive and more advanced short-headed Mongoloids, who were found mostly in Burma and have expanded from Burma through Arakan into Chittagong: and finally the Tibeto-Mongoloids, who are fairly tall and have lighter skin and appear to be the most highly developed type of the Mongoloids who came to India.’ The long headed primitive Mongloloid tribe, as we see, is not found in Rajbanshis. In the sub Himalayan tracts, in Nepal and Assam there lived Limbu, Rai, Lama, Bodo, Koch, Rabha, naga kuki, maithei etc. And these Naga, Khasia, Kuki, Garo, and Rabha,maithei etc. came in the early times to India from China, and they have been driven by Amurtajan who established Kamrupa near Dharmaranya in an early period of the Ramayana. 9
Kamrupi language is an Aryan speech; “It can not be devined when Aryan speech first came to North Bengal probably from Mithila and central and South Bengal from Anga” 10 Sununit Kumar himself opined this and placed this Kamrupi Langguage(dialect as he had named) in the list of Indo-Aryan subgroups. His idea of Syno-Tibetan language to be discarded by Rabanshis in very early times seams to be wrong. The Kamtapuris(Rajbanshis) used sanskrit language in corrupt forms which may be called Classical Sanskrit.11 Prakrita form of Lnguages like Pali and Magadhi or Purba magadhi (and specially Maithili) bear closer relation to Kamrupi or Kamtapuri language. Hodgson said:"The Kirati on account of their distinctly traceable antiquity as a nation and the peculiar structure of their language are perhaps the most interesting of all the Himalayan races".12 But Kirati language ,as well as Kirati antiquity, has no similarity with Kamtapuri Rajbanshi.
Kirat-Janakriti is not enough to be followed forever. Ocean-depth study of should be attempted by the students of history and culture. Some of the Rajbanshis of East Assam and Meghalaya got mixed. And a little of Bodo blood may come to Rajbanshi that generally happens to any caste because of living side by side for a long time. But for this reason no identity of any caste or race may be changed. Racial identity is a process reformation of culture just like the Aryan identity is also a process of reformation of Hinduism, a synthesis of Aryan, Iranian and some of pre-Aryan Indian customs and rites. Identity is not a breakable thing that breaks with an easy single blow of foreign blood. In Nepal, during Bhuti Barman(538 A.D.) and then Bhaskar Barman, and then again Naranarayan the Rajbanshis spread their habitat up to Jhapa and Morang. The Narayan kings of Bijaypur(Vijaypur state) of East Nepal or North Behar is remarkable.
1.The History, Antiquities, Topography, And Statistics of Eastern India , Montgomery Martin, Vol-III,Puraniya
Ranggopoor and Assam, London, p- p-544.
2.Chatterji Suniti Kumar, Kirat Janakriti, p-113, The Asiatic Society, Kolkata,1974.
3.Barma Dharma Narayan, Manta Dhaneswar, ‘Kamrup Kamta CoochBehar Rajyer Itihas’, Minati
Adhikari,Tufanganj, 2005, p- 269.
4.Tripathi Sridhar, Kamrup-Kalinga-Mithila, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 2008, p-18.
5.Ibid, p- 17. 6.Majumdar R.C., Ancient India,Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvtd. Delhi, Reprint- 2003, p-257. 7.Barma Dharma Narayan, Manta Dhaneswar, ‘Kamrup Kamta CoochBehar Rajyer Itihas’, Minati
Adhikari,Tufanganj, 2005, p-114.
8.Chatterli Suniti Kumar, Kirat Janakriti, p-20, The Asiatic Society, Kolkata,1974.
9.Gourer Itihas(Bengali), Rajani kanta Ckakraberty, Dey’s Publication, Kolkata, p-22].
10.Chatterji Suniti Kumar, ODBL, Third impression 2002, NewDelhi, Rupa & Co.
11.Barman Suja, Kamtapuri Abhdhan, Kamtapuri Bhasha Unnayan Parishad, Dinhata, Coochbehar, 2011. 12.B.
Hodgson, Essays relating to Indian Subjects, 1880, London by, p- 397 .