Sati- A different kind of love (Valentine’s Day Special)

As Valentine’s day approaches, suddenly the ‘sounds of love’ start emanating from the retail corners of the world. Notwithstanding the flourishing ‘business’ of love, the eternal question of what it really is has never been as indisputably discovered as it has been for gravity, though we fall in both! All we have is various interpretations from some literary works which survived on Romeo-Juliet in the west and Laila-Majnu or Soni-Mehwaal in the sub-continent. Ironically, most of these are fictitious stories just like fictitious fairy tales, failures and more importantly self-centred, perhaps because melodrama sells better.

While the world still revels in these fictitious legends, it is oblivious to many unbelievable, awe-inspiring true love tales that not only set the bar of love so high for anyone to achieve it; but are a supreme demonstration of what could be the true essence of love. One reason of it could be the inferiority with which Indian anecdotes have been looked upon not only by western intelligentsia but have been ruthlessly ignored by the west facing Indian intellectuals. The story of Sati Joymati Kuwari and her husband never crossed the boundaries of Assam, a north-eastern state of India.

Ahom dynasty of Assam has been its longest reigning dynasty, having ruled Assam for nearly 600 years. The kingdom was established by Sukaphaa, a Tai prince (Not to be confused with Thai, Tai was a language spoken in that part and is almost extinct). Before its golden era under Gadadhara Singha or Supaatpha, the kingdom descended into the era of its worst political existence marked by treachery, deceit, anarchy and violence. Ahoms were among very few kingdoms in India which were successful in defeating the Mughals and protecting their kingdom from the Muslim invasion. King Chakradhwaj Singha (reigned 1663-1670) led a formidable offensive against the invading Mughal army led by Ram Singh of Amer but died before he could see the final victory. His successor, King Udayaditya lacked the same acumen but under the able leadership of prime minister Atan Burhagohain and army commander Lachit Borphukan, Ahoms were finally successful in repelling the Mughals in the decisive Battle of Saraighat. Once Mughals were dealt with, the kingdom descended into despair with nobles getting disillusioned with the king Udayaditya; eventually poisoning him in 1672 and beginning the era of chaos for the next 9 years. And it is in the fag end of this 9-year period that the most ignored yet arguably the most inspiring tale of love happened.

The sequence of events happened such that an ambitious and cunning noble Laluk Borphukan became the most powerful man through treachery and deceit, killing loyal nobles and generals; and eventually attempting to purge the royal clan of Ahom princes one by one. One prince, Gadapani was pursuaded by his wife to escape to Naga hills in present Nagaland. As the agents of Laluk and titular king Lora-raja or boy-king failed to trace the prince, they captured his wife Joymati Kuwari and subjected her to brutal torture. She was tied to a thorny tree and was inflicted with inhuman treatment. After knowing his wife’s plight, the prince went to her incognito and tried to persuade her to speak the truth. But she dis not budge and even implored him to escape for he would also be captured and the dream of building a great empire would be shattered. In face of her defiance, the intensity of torture increased by each passing day and after 14 days, she succumbed to her injuries. Her grit became even more monumental given the fact that she endured all the pain while she was pregnant!

Her sacrifice stoked the feeling of patriotism amongst the nobles and the high-priests and the exercise to clean-up the kingdom began paving the path for Joymati’s husband to become the king with the name Gadadhar Singha. Gadadhar Singha ruled the kingdom for 16 years and brought prosperity and peace to the kingdom. He later passed on the kingdom into the able hands of his son Rudra Singha, whose rule brought even greater glory to the kingdom. Both, father and son built memorials in her respect and memory. Sati Joymati Divas is held on 27th March in Assam. Sati is the term used for a woman who sacrifices her life for her husband. This practise became the bane of Hindu society in years to come but Joymati’s act of sati is a cause of worship and reflects the true meaning of Sati; which was later contaminated.

This true story of love and sacrifice was never brought forth in history which was written by left-leaning, west-obsessed historians. A majority of the mass in India may not even have heard of her name.

One of the foremost thinkers, Werner Erhard says, love is to be with the person you love, the way they are and the way they are not. Sati Joymati endured pain and gave her life to let her husband be the way he was and the way he was not and altered the course of history. Perhaps, real love might still have been left undiscovered.

Image Source: Flickr

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