History has gifted us with numerous brave and strong women who teach us that there is nothing that a woman can’t do. An epitome of undefined grace, valor, and glory, is seen in women who create a mark in history with their actions and willpower. One such woman was Joymoti Konwari, who was also known as Soti Joymoti for her sacred and selfless deeds.
Assam was under the rule of Ahoms for a very long time. One such King was Lora Raja or boy king, who ruled from 1679-1681. However, he became a mere tool at the hands of his Prime Minister, Laluksala Borpukan. Laluksala wanted to ensure that no other king takes over Lora Raja so that he could exert power indirectly through the king. Hence he ordered the mutilation of all princes of the Ahom dynasty.
One such Prince of the Ahom dynasty was Gadapani, the husband of Joymoti. The mutilation had created an atmosphere of fear. To save his life and ensure the survival of rightful heirs to the throne, Gadapani escaped to Naga hills. When the king’s men failed to find Gadapani, they summoned Joymoti to find out about his whereabouts.
Joymoti Joymotirefused to divulge any information regarding her husband. She was stubborn to save her husband’s life in any way, even though it meant giving up her own life. Joymoti was subjected to inhuman treatment to force her to reveal Gadapani’s escape place. She was tortured to death in ‘Jerenga pathar’ which is in Sivasagar.
Joymoti was tied to a thorny plant and brutally beaten. Even then when she refused to tell anything, the king’s men on the orders of Laluksala, increased the intensity of torture to be inflicted on her. The extreme torture came at a time when she was pregnant. After 14 days of inhuman treatment, Joymoti left for heavenly abode.
During the time of her torture, Gadapani disguised himself as another person and came to see her. He urged her to reveal everything about her husband. But Joymoti remained firm on her decision. She chose her husband’s safety over her own life. She chose torture over freedom.
Soti Joymoti is still alive in the beautiful architecture found in Assam. Her eldest son, Sukhrungphaa, had built the Joysagar tank in Sivasagar, the largest of all tanks built by the Ahom Kings, also the largest man-made lake of India. He also built the
Joy Dol, in 1703–04, a temple on the banks of the Joysagar Tank.
Soti Joymoti is an integral part of Assamese folklore. Assam celebrates “Soti Joymoti Divas” on 27 March, every year, to commemorate and pay tribute to this brave and firm woman who sacrificed her life without thinking twice, and in turn, shaped the history of Assam.
Joymoti is a beautiful example of valor, love, and selflessness. The saddest part is that people barely know about her. Her inspirational story never found a way to Indian textbooks. The majority of people know nothing about her. This is due to the marginalization of Northeastern culture and history, whereby they are pushed out of the boundary. We need an inclusive history, which doesn’t shun such moving and important aspects.
Written By: Rajlakhmee Borah, The North-Eastern Chronicle