History of the North-East


Bhaitbari




The history of  the North-East since  the 
colonial  and  postcolonial times have predominantly  focused 
on  its  relations with  the 
rest  of  India and how 
it has shaped  the communities  over 
the  years. While there has been
some research on the Ahom kingdom of Assam, histories of the rest of the
kingdoms and chiefs are completely missing. The case of prehistory is even worse.
Despite North-East India boasting of substantial prehistoric archaeological
evidences, there has been little effort to understand the same.  Since there are no efforts to understand the same,  they 
languish  as mere watermarks  in 
historical  records  and 
often the  people  themselves 
fail  to  understand and appreciate  their own heritage. While the Stonehenge of
England or  the  Bhimbhetka 
closer  home  in Bhopal makes  for 
interesting  historical  trips, 
such  examples  are 
unheard of  in  the case of North-East  India.





Among the many examples of such historical significance, the Neolithic sites of Meghalaya stand out as shining beacons. The Neolithic period is marked by the development of human technology and act as a pre cursor of the Iron Age technology, when humans began to technologically evolve.  Neolithic period is also marked by farming and domesticating animals. It started in the Levant, West Asian region and gradually farming communities arose in Levant, West Asia, Africa and Asia Minor regions. One such Neolithic site is the Lum-Sohpetbneng region of Ri Bhoi district in Meghalaya.





Since 2013-14, regular excavations have
unearthed a number of Neolithic pottery and agricultural tools in the Lum-Sohpetbneng
region of Meghalaya. The site is a place of pilgrimage for those who profess
the indigenous Khasi religion. 
Legend  has  it 
that  it was in Lum-Sohpetbneng
that a golden  ladder  connected 
Heaven  and Earth,  God 
and Man.  Researchers have
concluded that the evacuated remains go back to as early as 1220 BC. Evidences
also suggest that later on, these communities moved to other parts, to the
Khasi Jayantia hills and settled there.





Another important Neolithic site of Meghalaya is
the Gagol Rongram River Valley in the West Garo Hills. The site is triangular
in shape and is spread over an area of over 16 square kilometers. A number of
tools, both from the Neolithic and Paleolithic age were discovered in these
sites.





The 
third  important  and, 
perhaps, the most  intriguing  site 
in Meghalaya is  the  site 
that  is  located 
in  the point of  the Purana/Old Bhaitbari,  a 
small village  in  the West Garo Hills  district on the southern bank of the River
Jingjiram,  at  a 
distance  of  about 
three miles  from Phulbari  (Garden 
of  flowers) on the way to Tura.
This site has revealed a number of interesting discoveries which make the history
of Meghalaya unique. One of the first discoveries that was made was of
fortifications, signalling settlements which were of a permanent nature of some
kind. A second discovery that was made was of the debris of a burnt brick temple.  Interestingly, this temple had a number of teracotta
figurines resembling Hindu gods like Parvati, Kubera, etc., where figures of
Ganesha seemed to dominate. The 
third  and most  impressive 
discovery  during  the 
excavation was  the  discovery 
and  exposure of the site of an
octagonal Shiva temple with eight miniature octagons, each having a Shiva Linga. The structure is of a
more magnificent architecture, having eight square subsidiary shrines radiating
from the eight arms of the main octagon. Burnt bricks were used to make this
temple. However,  the most  important 
and  unique  discovery from  this 
site was  the  discovery 
of  a Stupa dedicated to Lord Buddha. While there
is no evidence of Buddhism being practised in Meghalaya today, the discovery of
Buddha, indeed, points out to the confluence and change that history undergoes.





A look at the prehistorical Neolithic and other
sites of Meghalaya throws up interesting questions of history. Today Meghalaya is
a predominantly Christian state and yet it had a Hindu and more interestingly,
a Buddhist history as well. Also, scholars often mistake the kind of Hinduism
that must have been professed. Hinduism is often a way of life. The history of
Hinduism in the North-East may not necessarily align itself with that of the
more dominant themes. For example, Hinduism in Assam in the pre-Ahom era found
its heroes among those who sided with the Kauravas during the Mahabharata war. At the same time, the story
of the golden ladder in the  Lum-Sohpetbneng
region of the Ri Bhoi district  is
quite  close  to  the
Ahom  story of the King and his
descendents climbing  down  from 
a  golden  ladder 
from heaven. Do they signal a common history or common origin? Do  the Khasis 
and  the Ahoms  share 
a  common ancestral  link 
then,  their  stories 
suggesting similarities? The history of Buddhism is something that
remains even more unexplored. In summation, there is no doubt that the North-East
has much diversity and interesting history to offer, and efforts must be made
to study and popularise the same.


History of the North-East History of the North-East Reviewed by feedvalley on January 05, 2019 Rating: 5

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