Barpeta and Barpeita

Historical background

Barpeta during the pre-Shankardev era enriched by the aphorism of Dak-Purusha, the first Assamese poet, Kavyas and Verses of Kaviratna Saraswati; Pitambar Kavi, and contribution of Purusottam Vidyabagisha etc.Barpeta has been a place of great religious importance. Known by various names like Tatikuchi, Porabhita, Mathura, Vrindavan, Choukhutisthan, Nabaratna-Sabha, Icchakuchi, Pushpak Vimana, Kampur and Barpeta. It was Koch King Naranarayan who founded Barnagar (Sorbhog). The present District formed an integral part of the Koch-Hajo and the Ahom Kingdom till British Administration took over. From the ancient period Barpeta witnessed the rule of the Varmans (380-654) the Salasthamas (655-985) the Palas (985-1260) the Kamatas (1260-1509) & the Koches from 1509. During the Kamata & Koch rule major historical development took place. During this period large number of local feudatory-chiefs who are primarily land lords called ‘Bhuyans’ ruled the region. Number of villages constituted a ‘Chakla’ placed under a Bhuyan was patronised by the Kamatas. These Bhuyans arrived from eastern part of India like Kanauj, Gauda and Bengal who in passage of time became general Assamese caste and accepted the Vaishnava faith under influence of Shrimanta Sankardeva.
Koch King Naranarayan established his temporary capital at Barnagar. Here he met Shrimanta Sankardeva and his renowned disciple and sub-sequently accepted Vaishnavism when Sankardeva was invited by the monarch to Koch- Bihar. It was during king Naranarayan’s regime at Barnagar the great saint established Satra at Patbaushi to spread his Socio-religious faith. The Koch rule ended with annexation by the Mughals. The valiant Ahom fought a number of battles against the invading Mughals. Some of the well-known battles were fought at Jakhlikhana, Bhabanipur and Bhatekuchi. Ahoms were defeated and Mughals took over the Administration and systematised the entire revenue administration. Kamrupa became a Sarkar, which was divided into Parganas. Barpeta, Khetri, Bajali, Barnagar, Bahbari and Bijni became Parganas. A Gomasta was appointed to run the ‘Tapa’ and a number of Tapas became a Pargana. For administrative convenience the Parganas were divided into Taluks, lats and villages. Parganas were placed under Barbaruas and Choudhuries. Taluks remained under Talukdar. They were assisted by Thakurias, Patwaries, Kakati, Gaon barika etc. who kept the revenue accounts. Judges in Parganas were called Shikdar, whereas Amin and Kanango were responsible for land-survey, assessment and collection of revenue.

Barpeta’s glory reached its zenith at the dawn of 16th Century A.D. and Barpeta became a nerve center (Boikuntha Doloi) of Vaishnavite culture with the divine presence and touch of Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva-Madhabdeva-Harideva, Damodardeva and their disciples. These Baishnave preachers and social reformers lived for long tenure here and transformed Barpeta into most elite and sacred spiritual place.
Sankardeva (1449-1568) lived for six months at Kapla, one year at Chinpora (Chunpura) three months at Ganakkuchi and eighteen years six months at Patbaushi. His chief disciple Madhabdeva (1489-1596) also lived for three years at Baradi, nineteen years at Ganakkuchi, fouteen years six months at Sundardia and seven years six months at Barpeta. Harideva (1426-1566) lived at Bahari Satra. And established there a Satra in1453, he was the first vaishnava preacher to nominate a woman, his daughter Bhubaneswari, as the Satrdhikar of Bahari Satra. Mahapurush Damodardeva (1489-1598) established his Satra at Patbaushi, and lived there for long years. These Vaishnava preachers brought a wave of renaissance to the Assamese society. Satra (Vaishnavite monastery) an unique institutions, was the gift of Gurus to us. Although in the beginning satra were established for propagation of Vaishnavite faith, but with the passage of time such institutions gradually transformed into open Universities and became all-embracing socio-cultural centers covering education, music, dance, sculpture, drama and Fine-art. Barpeta in its present context also, can be termed as the ‘land of satra’ and there are more than 40 such satras situated at various places in the district.
Barpeta is famous for ‘Douljatra’ or ‘Holi’ festival. Although it is primarily a religious festival centering around satriya tradition, it can also be considered a spring festival. People belonging to different walk of life participate in this in this festival of colours . Holi songs are sung on the occasion .

With the advent of Shrimanta Sankardeva, this region turned into a religious place dotted with numerous satras and in fact Barpeta town came to be called ‘Boikunthapuri Dham’. As a part of providing patronage to various religious-places irrespective of religions, the Ahom rulers provided a large number of land-grants to the Satras. Dr. Maheswar Neog in his edited work” Prasya Sasanawali” has mentioned a large number of land-grants during the region of Shiva Singha, Rajeswar Singha, Lakshmi Singha, Gaurinath Singha and Chandra Kanta Singha. Grants were made to Muslim-Darghas of Shah Madar at Baushi, Shah Fakir at Barnagar, Panch Peer at Khetri, Syed Shahnur Dewan Fakir at Bhella, where Chandra Kanta Singha granted 100 bighas la khiraj land. Grants were made to Devalaya also. These grants were made in copper-plate inscriptions which are invaluable source of history.

In the era of British

Widespread destruction of life and property took place when the Maans invaded from Myanmar. Even the Barpeta Satra was razed to the ground during this invasion. To restore peace British army entered Barpeta to drove-off all the invaders. With the advent of British rule Mouzadari system came into effect. In 1841 Barpeta became a Civil Sub Division and John Batlor became the first administrator. As a part of policy of exploitation, land-revenue rates were suddenly enhanced which resulted in a number of peasant unrest in between 1893-94 particularly in Bajali and Sarukhetri area. Large number of arrests was carried out to foil attempts of unrest. The Lachima up rising is one such shining example of peasant revolt against British rule. Raijor Sabha constituted during this period raised the banner of revolt.
During the struggle for independence large number of people participated and was jailed. Madan Chandra Barman and Rauta Koch were first martyrs to sacrifice their lives during Quit India Movement of 1942. Some of the important Congress leaders who lead the Freedom-struggle are Umesh Chandra Brahmachari, Dhaniram Talukdar, Ganesh Lal Choudhury, Debendra Nath Uzir, Akshay Kumar Das, Bongshidhar Choudhury, Nanamohan Mazumdar, Golak Pathak, Sonaram Choudhury, Dr. Jinaram Das, Biswanath Das, Praneswar Das, Ambikagiri Raichoudhury, Mahendra Mohan Choudhury, Madhusudan Das, Upendra Chandra Das, Janardan Das Debendra Sharma, Naranarayan Goswami, Kabiraj  Ghanashyam Das, and Chandraprava Saikiani. Mahatma Gandhi visited Barpeta in 1934. So did Jawaharlal Nehru in 1937.

In the time of British, Barpeta was a subdivision and one of the oldest sub division of Assam. Maximum administrative work was driven by Barpeta and Barpeta mark a name in Assam as a prominent place of History,Culture and Knowledge. The erstwhile Barpeta Sub-Division got such elite administrators like Late Anandaram Dhekial Phukan, Dinanath Bezbaruah, Madhab Ch. Bardaloi, Rajani Kanta Bardoloi, Kanak Lal Baruah and Sailadhar Rajkhowa, Dhekiya Phukan was Sadar-Muncif (SDO) in 1852, who wrote his famous report (“A few remarks on Assamese language for the vernacular education in Assam) to the then Commissioner, his superior Sir George Andrew Mofatmills, illustrating the distinctive characters of Assamese language and thus helped in restoring the dignity of Assamese language in the courts and schools of Assam. Late Dinanath Bezbaruah (father of Sahityarathi Late Lakhinath Bezbaruah) was Sadar Muncif on 1864, who also added some literary contributions while serving at Barpeta. Late Madhab Ch. Bardalai (Father of Kamaveer Late Nabin Ch. Bardalai) was Sadar Muncif in 1895, who edited and published Madhab Kandali’s Ramayana and Purushottam Gajapali’s Deepika Chanda’. Late Rajani Kanta Bardoloi was SDC during 1894 to 1897 at Barpeta , he published his first novel “Mirijioree” here and wrote his another famous novel “Manomati” taking Barpeta in its one of the bases,. Bardoloi was designated by the critics as “Uppoinach Samrat” ( emperior of Novel) for his valuable contributions towards Assamese literature. Sailadhar Rajkhowa was S.D.C. at Barpeta, he was also a poet genius, his two famous poems ‘Barpeta’ and Pashan Pratima” based on the glorification of Barpeta’s rich culture and historic past are considered as monumental contributions towards Assamese literature. Late Kanaklal Barua the author of ‘ Early History of Kamrupa” was also Sadar Muncif since 1909 to 1917, he borned at Barpeta in 1872, while his father late Lakhmilal Baruah was also Sadar Muncif. Late Kanaklal Baruah also received his school education at Barpeta itself since 1878 and during his school days he contributed poems in ‘ASSAM-BANDHU’, ‘MOU’ etc, magazines and news papers of this period. While he was serving at Barpeta he wrote one of his famous articles ‘Mahapurushia Sampradayar Dharmamat’ ( Religious belief of Vashnvaite Community) in ‘ Bahi’ edited by Lakhsminath Bezbaruah, philosofer- writer late Rdhanath Phukan and poet late Durgeswar Sharma also served as Government Servant at Barpeta for many years.
Padmabati Devi Phukanani, the first Assamese lady novelist and daughter of late Anandaram Dhekial Phukan, borned at Barpeta in 1853. poet Nalinibala Devi daughter of late Nabin Ch. Bardoloi was also borned at Barpeta in 1897, while her grandfather late Madhab Ch Bardoloi was a Sadar Muncif at Barpeta. Barpeta was also a working place for Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha and Natasurya Phani Sharma late Satyen Barkakati ex- chairman , APSC also served at Barpeta as S.D.O. late Deakanta Baruah received his school education at Barpeta, Sahityacharya late Atul Ch Hazarika, Ex-Prsident, Asom Sahitya Sabha, also served as teacher at Barpeta.
Barpeta produced her great sons and daughters such as Aai Padmapriya, the first Assamese lady poet (daughter of Sri Gopaldev Ata); Pushpa ram Kahar, leader of famous agrarian revolt (‘ Raij-Mel”) fame held against the British policy of exploitations , Kohiram Das, the Assamese Grammarians , Bakul Kayastha, the Assamese Mathematicians; Padmashree Chandraprava Saikiani, the famous and pioneer lady revolutionary social reformer and freedom fighter ; Braja Sharma, the revolutionary dramatic, who was pioneer in launching female artists first time in Assamese theatre, who was also the leader of the freedom-fighter groups who burnt down the British Airport at Barnagar during the freedom struggle; Asom Keshari Ambikagiri Roy Chaudhuri, the nationalist, poet and freedom-fighter Prasanna Lal Chaudhury the revolutionary poet.
Barpeta also produced Dharmananda Das, the first Chief Secretary, Govt. of Assam; Mohendra Pathak and Damba rudhar Pathak, both of them remained Chief Justices of Asssm; Dr. Tara Prasad Das, Ex-Chairman, Assam Public Service Commission, and Sri Gajendra Nath Talukdar, Vice-Chancellor, Guwahati University, Kishori Mohan Pathak, Ex-vice-Chencellor, Tezpur University.  The inventor of Railway train’s vacuum brakes, Col. Guru Prasad Das was also a son of Barpeta.
Barpeta district also produced such politician luminaries like Late Fakaruddin Ali Ahmed, the Fifth President of Indian Union; Late Mohendra Mohan Choudhury, Ex-Chief Minister of Assam and Ex- Governor of Punjab; The district also produced Holiram Deka, the first Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court;and the first Chairman APSC Hitesh Deka, ex-president, Asom Sahitya Sabha; Sri Harekrishna Deka, Director-General of Police, Assam; Dr. Robin Dev Choudhury, Director-General of National Museum, New Delhi,Dr. Banikanta Kakati, the great academician and linguistic researcher of high merit, his monumental work “Assamese-its Formation and Development’ helped in establishing Assamese language in distinctive position.