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Tripura, the land of History and Heritages

The Ancient History


The Ancient History of Tripura is as old as Indian mythology. There are different theories about the origin of the name of Tripura. According to mythology, legends and the Rajmala is that the name derived from the mighty king Tripur. He ruled over the kingdom some where about 1600-1700 BC, before the commencement of great Mahabharata war. But this theory is not accepted by all section of the people. 
      According to information available there was one kingdom by the name of "Kar-tripura" at the time of Emperor Ashoka some where in the area of modern Uttarakhand. Emperor was supposed to have visited and defeated the kingdom and spread his boundary upto this highland of Himalaya. There was one kingdom by the name of Kirata Rajya, in the Himalayan mountain ranges of Uttarakhand, the kingdom of Tripura was also used to be known as Kirata desha, or Kirata Rajya as per the Rajmala. It was possible that this kingdom was probably also known as Kirata-Pura or city of Kirata by the Indo-Aryan speakers, which later transformed to Kirati-pura to Kar-tipura to Kar-tripura to Tripura. The ruler of the state was probably named as Tripur, by the name of the kingdom, it was tradition in earlier days to name the king or kingdom in reciprocal way. It was the mighty king of Tripura, who ruled over most of the plain lands and defeated neighbouring kings, who then was termed as Asura, and later became famous. This was how the name of Tripura state had come into existence in ancient time.
       The earliest location of Tripura was at the present days Triveni Sangam, at Allahabad, who came here after being pushed south wards by Aryan invaders from Harappa. But during the reign of Lunar dynasty king Yayati, his one of his son Druhya was exiled to north east wards, to the present place of Uttarakhand. There are ample of linguistic and ethnical evidence that once Tripura kingdom was situated at the Himalayan mountain ranges. Many rivers name like, Gomti, Bhagirathi, name of places like Dehradun, Tiheri, Kampti, Khumbu valley, are derivatives of ancient Tripuri words. There are also plenty of folk tales, mythologies of Tripuri people which suggests that once upon a time they had lived in the Himalayan ranges.

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From the Uttarakhand area because of some unknown reason they migrated to Mourung region, near the present days Sikim. Around first century of Christian era the Dehradun area was deserted for some century, as it was stated by Atkinson in his book THE KUMAUN, "We may, therefore, well accepts the local statement that for some centuries after Christian Era, the Dun was deserted." It was due to the reason that the Dun valley's most of the rivers dried up during that time; it was proved by the fact that there are many dried up rivers in the Dehradun and Hardwar area, which are called as 'Sukna nadi' meaning by dried-up rivers.
     Then the Tripuri people migrated out from the Mourung area to present Asom, then from there to Kachhar and finally to the present location of Tripura, by around 590 AD.

 These facts can be substantiated from the following excerpts of Mr. D.P Debbarma:
Myth, legends and ancedotes left by the courtiers shroud the origin of the Tripuris. Administrators and scholars of various hues and shades have made attempts to explore the past and to decipher the unknown about Tripura and her people. The span of knowledge has been expanded but no conclusive evidences to identify the origin of the Tripuris could be ascertained. The search is going on.

    The Tipras or the Tipperahs around 8000 BC came originally from the Bodo home  in Central Asia via the same route as the Aryan later migrated to India  and are said to have first settled in India in a place near present Allahabad. They preferred to call themselves the 'Children of Water Goddess' and were therefore known as the Tiphras or the Tipras; and in later time they became known as the Tipperahs (Twi-water, phra pha-god).
    Here, within the limited scope an attempt has been made to touch the main currents of views on the origin of the Tripuris. One of the interpretations, on the origin of the Tripuri communities held by a school of scholars is that "The Bodos migrated from Central Asia and settled in the vast plain area comprising of the present North Bengal, and this was probably the first area of wide and vast plain land that they settled in. They therefore, perhaps, called the country Ha (land), Bang (plenty), La (big, wide) meaning plenty and wide land. "It is very probable", says R. M. Nath in his book, The Background of Assamese Culture, "that the present name of the country-Bangla (Bengal) is derived from its ancient Bodo name". (The Background of Assamese Culture, by R. M. Nath, pp 17).
    A similar name was given to the plain area in the North West part of Assam in the present North Lakhimpur district where the country was known as Ha-Bang even in the historical period. "Mai-Bang (Mai-paddy) is the name given to the plain portion of the North Cachar Hills in a much later date. (The Background of Assamese Culture by R. M. Nath, pp 73).

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     It is also held by Shri R. M. Nath that "the Bodos in the western area, north of the United Provinces and the Central Provinces, had physical relationship with the Aryans when they later settled in India and thus racially present a mixed origin".
    According to Rajmala, king Druhya, the youngest son of Yayati of Lunar dynasty married a Bodo princess and for that reason he was disinherited. He set up a new dynasty in the North Eastern India defeating the king of the Kiratas, and his progeny became a ruling race. It is traditionally believed that one Pratardon came over to Assam and established a kingdom named Trivega in about 1900 B.C. with his headquarter on the bank of the river Kapila in (lie present Nowgong district and the dynasty ruled for full fourteen generations.
      Daitya, the 13th descendant of Pratardon ascended the throne and enlarged the kingdom. Tripur, the son of Daitya and 46th descendant of lunar race was unpopular for his arrogant nature and administrative managements. His subjects were unhappy with him. Their dislike for him was so much that on his death people said that he was assassinated by God Siva. Tripur named his territory after him and the lineages claim their identity similar to this name. His son Trilochan became king and married the daughter of the neighbouring Kachari king Heramba. Trilochan had twelve sons. Drikpati, the eldest son of Trilochan, was adopted by his maternal grand father-the ruler of Heramba country who was without any heir. Dakshin, the younger brother of Drikpati, became king of his father's state. But Drikpati, king of the state Heramba, claimed his father's state on legal grounds. As a result a war broke out between the two brothers on this issue. In this war Dakshin was defeated and he left Tribeg. He established a new kingdom in the Barabakra valley with his headquarters at Kholongma.

      Kumar, the son of king Bimar and the 101st descendant of lunar race was a devotee of Siva. Once he went out on a pilgrimage and halted at Chambal after having seen the God Siva. Later on he shifted his capital from Kholongma to Chambal (present Kailashahar) on the bank of the river Manu. Kholongma witnessed reign of 52 kings (Dakshin to Kumar).
      Several generations ruled in this happy valley, but in about 490 AD the then ruling king Pratita picked up a quarrel with the Kachari king over a hill damsel and was compelled to shift his headquarters to Dharmanagar on the bank of the Juri River. The next king of great velour was Jujarupha who ascended the throne in 590 A.D. and after a successful battle with the Lika King of the hilly tract of Chittagong extended his kingdom to that area and established his headquarters first at Rangamati and then at Bishalgarh in the hilly Tipperah area. The latter place was subsequently named Tripura. Jujarupha alias Hamtorpha is said to have introduced the Tripura era which dates from 590 A.D. This date is said to have been counted from the date of his ascension to the throne.
     According to Kailas Chandra Sinha the name of Tripura was formed from the Tipra word. (In Tripuri dialects 'Tui' means water, 'Phra'-God). And from Triphra the people were known as Tiphra. Shri Kailash Chandra Sinha however gives a different opinion about the origin of the Tripura dynasty. In Rajmala he mentioned that "One branch of the Shan dynasty of Burma established a kingdom on the eastern part of Kamrup. In course of time, the youngest son of the king was defeated by the tribals and due to that he was compelled to shift his kingdom to the northern part of Cachar. "Cachar" he narrates "was the place from where the ancient Tripura dynasty was formed".

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This facts can not be substantiated by any historical, legends or folk tales and mythological evidences. It was probable that Sh. Sinha made this observation out of his wild dreams.
     According to some writers, the name Tripura is derived from the goddess Tripura Sundari. Hunter remarks, "the name Tripura was probably given to the country in honour of the temple at Udaipur, which still exists. This temple now ranks as the second tirtha, or sacred shrine. It was dedicated either to Tripurdana, the Sun God, or to Tripureswari, the mistress of the three worlds". Mr. Browne thinks that "there can be doubt that the district, which at one time was limited to the country situated in the neighbourhood of the Udaipur Temple, took its name from the goddess. The appelation was given by the Aryan speaking immigrants, or by the adjacent Aryan settlers of lower Bengal".
      This theory about the origin of Tripura seems to be speculation with out any application of mind. The temple of Tripureswari was built in the year 1501 AD by king Dhanya Manikya, that is about 500 yrs back where as state of Tripura is mentioned almost 4000 years back in Mahabharata etc.
  
Another view is that, "Tripura is the land of the God Siva who is also known as Tripurari or Tripuresha. The people who settled in the land of Tripuresha Siva came to be known as Tripuri and the land as Tripura".
    Many scholars have also given their views about the origin of the Tripuri. Dr. B. K. Barua says "the original home of these speakers, were western China near the Yang-Tse-Kiang and the Hwang ho rivers. From there they went down the course of the Brahmaputra and the Chindwin and the Irrawady and entered India and Burma. The swarm which came to Assam proceeded down to the great bend of the river Brahmaputra near Dhubri. From there, some of them went to the south and occupied first the Garo hills and the state of Hill Tippera".
     According to Hunter "The rulers of Tripura were Tibeto-Burmese in origin". Major Fisher has opined that "the Tipperas and the Cacharis are of the same origin and their customs, religion, appearance are also probably same". In Rajmala also it is mentioned that "there was connec1km between the Tripuris and the Cacharis". Sidney Endle says that "in feat Lire and general appearance they approximate very closely to the Mongolian type, and this would seem to point to Tibet and China as the original home of the race".

     In Alexandar Mackenzie's book it is written that "the inhabitants were or two very distinct classes, one of which, doubtless, originally came from China, hut was now of the Hindoo persuasion; the other, a people called Kookies or Coocis". (the North East Frontier of India, A Mackenzie, Reprint l979/PP275).
     He further says "there would seem to be good reason for believing that the Kachari (Bodo) race is a much more widely distributed one than it was at one time supposed to be. They are undoubtedly found well outside the limits of modern (political) Assam, i.e. in North East Bengal Koch-Behar, & also in Hill Tippera where the language of the people gives decisive evidence that they are of the Bodo  stock".

The Bodos who live in Tripura near the southern boundary of Assam are known as Tripuris. It is assumed that according to the name of Tripura state, they are named Tripuris.

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     With reference to the above it is estimated that with the changing of places and time the Bodos have been given different names in different areas. In some provinces the Tripura, the Mechaci or the Dimachas belonged to the stock of Bodo and it is corroborated by their language, appearance, dress and customs etc. Of course because of the lack of communications and distance between habitations, at present their languages or customs are bound to be dissimilar a little bit.
    Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee classified the Tripura tribes under the Indo-Mongoloids or Kiratas. Linguistically the Tripura tribes are Bodos. The Bodo, who spread over the whole of the Brahmaputra valley and North Bengal as well as East Bengal, forming a solid block in North Eastern India, were the most important Indo-Mongoloid people in Eastern India and they form one of the main bases of the present day population of those tracts'. Judging from the wide range of extension of their language, the Bodos appear first to have settled over the entire Brahmaputra valley, mid extended to west into North Bengal (in Kochbihar, Rangpur and Dinajpur district). They might have pushed into North Bihar also and the hub Mongoloids who penetrated into North Bihar might equally have been either Bodos or 'Himalayan' tribes allied to the Newars. They skirted the southern bend of the Brahmaputra arid occupied the Garo hills, where as Garos they form a block of Bodo speech. South of the Garo hills they spread in northern Mymensingh, where the semi Bengali Hajonng tribe is of Bodo origin. From Nowgong District in Assam their area of occupation extended to Cachar district (particularly in the North Cachur Hills) and into Sylhet, and from Cachar and Sylhet they moved further to the south, to Tripura state, where there is still a Bodo-speaking block in the shape of the Tipra tribe which bounded the state, and from Tripura they spread into Comilla and possibly also to Noakhali district, and thus they occupied the mouth of the Ganges by the eastern sea".

     During interviews with older generation Tripuris it has been noticed that they share a belief that in the ancient time three families (i.e.TRI-PARA) settled themselves somewhere in the present day Tripura. To these three families the Tripura tribe and the name of this state owe their origin.

     According to some senior Tripuri people the origin of the name Tripura originated from two Tripuri words Twi+Bupra, means near the bifurcation of waters, which later changed to Tripura.

      Some senior citizens are of the opinion that the word Tripura derived from two Tripuri words Twi+para, means section of Bodo people who crossed over the Brahmaputra river, which later transformed etymologically to Tripura.

     E. F. Sandys, who was a Manager of Chakla Roshanabad during British rule in India, and a great Scholar wrote in his book of Tripura as follows:

    The antiquity of a Hindu Raj can only be determined by looking into the ancient history of India, so fully recorded in the old books handed down to us, together with the inscriptions on old monuments and coins revealed to modern times chiefly by European research.

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    The history of ancient India is a record of thirty two centuries, and divides itself into five distinct epochs, each of which equals the entire history of most modern peoples. The great- cast Sanskrit scholars have come to the conclusion that the first Aryan settlement of India was made in the Indus Valley about 2,000 B.C.

     When the Aryans came to the Sutlej, having occupied all the land of the Punjab, they naturally crossed over and entered into the Gangetic Valley or the Doab. During the course of the next 400 years down to 1,000 B. C., the Hindus, by whom are meant the Indio-Aryans, spread down the Doab and founded powerful kingdoms and nationalities, who cultivated science and literature and developed new forms of religion and civilization wholly different from the Vedic period. Among the nations who flourished in the Gangetic Valley the roost renowned have left their names in the literature of Hindu India. The Kurus with their kingdom round about their capital Hastinapur near the site of modern Delhi. The Panchalas settled round about modern Kanauj, called their capital lndraprnstha to the South-East Delhi. The Kosalas occupied the country between the Ganges and the gunduck, including modern Oude. The Vaidehis lived to the East of the Gunduck in what is now know as Tirhoot. The Kasis settled round their capital Kasi, the modern Benares. Continuing further east and occupying what is now known as Bengal Proper and the Province of Assam, were to be found the kingdom of the Aiigas, Bangas (whose name has survived in the name of Bangladesh or Bengal), Karoli, Mrittlkayati,  Pattana, Tripura and Kosala. besides these in Northern India there were numerous great and small kingdoms in Central and Southern India.

     It is unnecessary for our present purpose to describe the great war in detail, but a brief account is necessary to show what connection the Tripura Raj had with this ancient episode. Turning to the Mahabharataa we find that Yudhisthira sent forth to conquer and bring to tribute the lesser kings. In the Sabha Parva, Chapter XXXI, the sixtieth verse, we read that Sahadeva, the younger brother of Yudhisthira among others, conquered the "immeasurably effulgent Tripura."  This epithet "immeasurably effulgent" clearly proves that Tripura was Kshatriya, as only such ever had this epithet applied to them. After the departure of the Pandu brothers into forest exile (vanavas) Duryodhana became king and determined to have himself declared Samrat or Emperor. So he sent forth armies under various commanders, one of whom, Karana, as related in verses 9 to 11 of Chapter CCLIII of Vana Parva of the ‘Mahabharata, after conquering various kingdoms, came to the Batsabbumi or grazing country and subjugated Keroli, Mrittikavati, Mohana and Pattana, Tripura and Kosala, and made them all pay tribute.

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      In the great battle of Kurukshetra we find all the kings of the Lunar Race ranged either on the side of Duryodhana or on that of Yudhisthira, Bhisma, the Senapati or commander-in- chief of the Kuru (Duryodhanas) army, had under his command a number of subordinate generals. Three of these are mentioned in the undernoted quotation from the Bhisma Parava, Chapter LXXXIV, of the Burdwan Edition, in the 8th and 9th verses. These are Drona, Bhagadatta and Vrihatbala, the King of the Kosalas. The last named had in his division the Kings of Melaka, Tripura and Chichila.

      From the foregoing facts and quotations it is undisputable-  Firstly  That whenever the great war of the Mahabharata took place or whether it took place at all or is merely a Lunar myth, collected by Vyasa, yet the Kingdom of    Tripura in exist before Vyasa’s time. That is before 600 B. C. Otherwise he could not have mentioned it in his list of Kings.

    Consequently the Tripura Raj existed previous to 600 B. C. or 2,500 years ago, and was considered a kingdom of sufficient importance to have been invaded and made to pay tribute to Yudhisthira and to Duryodhana, the Samrats of India and to have taken part in the great battle of Kurukshetra.

      2ndly. That the Tripura mentioned in the extracts from the Mahabharata was in Eastern India below the Himalayas in the neighbourhood of Banga or what we now call Bengal, that is where the present Raj of Tripura is now situated, even in its present shrunken dimensions. Furthermore, as there is no other Raj or country or king to be found any where or at any time during the whole Hindu domination of India elsewhere and other than the Tripura Raj in question, it cannot be said that the Tripura of the Mahabharata is other than the Tripura of which we are now writing.

      3rdly. That the use of the expression "immeasurably effulgent" applied to Tripura shows beyond dispute or Cavil that the King of Tripura was a recognised Kshatriya of the Royal Warrior Caste at least 600 years before Christ in Vyasa’s time.

     4thly. That the Rajput princes, though popularly considered the most ancient and  honourable of all reigning Feudatory Rulers in India, only came into power as rulers about 750 to 950 A. D, or almost 1,200 years after the Tripura kings are cited in at least three distinct and far apart verses of the Mahabharata by Vyasa 2,500 years ago. The Tripura Raj is mentioned in the list of kingdoms on the Emperor Asoka's Pillar in the Fort of Allahabad and is now, after a lapse of over 2,200 years, the only one State of all those mentioned, extant - another proof of its incomparable antiquity.

    The following is the full inscription on the Asoka Lat or Pillar, at present in the Fort of Allahabad, built by the Mogal Emperor Akhàr in 1557. But this pillar was originally set up at Kausambi, because it bears, in addition to other records, an order of Asoka addressed to the Officials of Kausambi, one of the most celebrated cities of ancient India, which probably stood on the sites of the present villages of Kosam Inam and Kosam Khiraj in the Manjhampur tahsil of the Allahabad District, on the bank of the Jumna. The most recent location however is at Gurgi in the State of Rewah.

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    "Whose great good fortune was mixed with, so as to be increased by, his glory produced by the favour shown in capturing and then liberating Mahendra of Kosala, Vyaghraraja Mahakantara, Mantaraja of Kerala, Mahendra of Rishtapura Svamidatta of Kottura on the hill, Damana of Erandapalla, Vishougopa of Kanchi, Nilaraja of Avamukta, Hastivarman of Vengi, Ugrsena of Palakka, Kuvera of Devarashtra, Dhananjaya of Kusthalapura, and all other kings of the region of the South".

    "Who abounded in majesty which had been increased by violently exterminating Rudradeva, Matela, Nagadatta, Chandravarman, Ganapatinaga, Nagasena, Acbyuta, Nandin, Balararman, and many other kings of Aryavarta, who made all the kings of the forest countries to become his servants."

    "Whose imperious commands were fully gratified by the payment of taxes and the execution of his orders by the frontier kings (Pratyanta Nripati) of Sanatata, Davaka, Kamaruya, Napala, Kortripura, and other countries; and by the Matavas, Arjunda anas, Yadheyas, Madrakas, Abhiras, Prajunas, Sanakanikas, Kakas, Kharaparikas, and other tribes;"

    "Whose tranquil fame pervading the whole world was generated by establishing again many royal families fallen and deprived of sovereignty, whose binding together of the whole world, by means of the ample vigour of his arm, was effected by acts of respect service, such as offering themselves as sacrifices bringing presents of maidens, giving Garuda tokens, leadering the enjoyment of their own territories solicit out rending his commands &c. - rendered by the Daivaputras Shahis, Shallanushahis Sakas, Murundas and by the people of Sinhala, and all other dwellers in islands."

    In the third paragraph among the Frontier kings it will be noticed that Tripura or as it was called Kartrjpura was named, followed by a list of Tribes, probably aboriginal among which is mentioned the Kakas, which might Possibly be the modem Kukis, who are vassals of Tripura and live in the N. E. of the Raj.

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     We gather from the Purans, that, Pururavas was the, of the Chandravansa or Lunar line of Kings. Fourth desent from Pururavas was Gritsamada, whose son was Saunaka His second cousin once removed was Dirghatamas who is said to have begotten on the wife of Bali, the 16th in descent from Pururvas, five sons, named Anga, Banga, kalinga, Sumbha and Pundra, from whom the five countries of East Behar, East Bengal, Orissa, Tripura and North bengal are named.

    The Raja of Triura are Chandravansa kshtriyas and their ancestor Tripur was descended from Pururavas. Chitrayudh was 'immeasurably effulgent' or the Kshatriya Raja of Tripura who was subjugated by Sahadeva, the Pandu general rent forth with the white horse by his eldest brother Yudhisthjra, the rival of his cousin Duryadhana, the Kuru. The subjugation of Chittrayudh has been related in the quotation from the XXI Chapter of the Digvijaya of the Sabha Parva of the Mahabharata Whenever a Kshtriya Raja of ancient times wished to have himself acknowledged as Samrat (Emperor) by contemporary rulers, he sent forth a white horse to wander at will over the dominions of his neighbours for the space of a year. Should any ruler Oppose the progress of the white horse he had to fight the accompanying army, sent for the purpose of subjugating refractory neighbour8 When the wanderings of the White horse had been completed the animal was sacrificed with most imposing religious ceremonies at an Asvamedha (asv-horse and med ha- sacrifice). This sacrifice preceded the Rajasuya or Coronation of the Raja a Samrat. The Coronation ceremony, (described in the Aitareya Brahmana Chap. VIII verse 6 to 9 and also in the Vajasaneyi Sanhita Chap. IX verse 39) was attended by all the Raj as, who owned allegiance, and to them were alloted all the great offices of the ceremonial as superintendents in various departments. At the close of the ceremony various honors were bestowed by the Samrat on each of the Rajas, before they returned to their dominions Chitrayudh attended the Rajasuya of Yudhisthira, when according to the Kanva text, the priests addressed the assembly and said. -

      "This is your king. O ye Kurus. O ye Panchallas"  The honor, or as it would now be called the Khillat, bestowed on Chittrayudh by the Emperor Yudhisthira was .the Svetachattra (svet-white and chattra-umbrella) or royal white umbrella, which to this day is the chief insignia ofthe Rajas of  Tripura and unfurled when he ascends the throne, now on his Installation by direction of the Emperor of India, who also bestows a Khillat of nine articles or parchas viz, the Nim Astin, the Jama, the Pagri , the Patka , the Sarpaich, Goshwara, the Shebandi , the Jiga with Sarpaich Morissa and the Mala Marwarid. These are Mussalman names, as the Mogal Emperors of India also bestowed Khillats, a practice which, with many other ceremonial observances, its successors, the English Government, has continued.

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