Bara Bhuyans - Polity and Society

As we saw in the previous page, the ancestors of Sankaradeva, have an interesting history behind them. This page touches upon the political and administrative set-up of the Bara Bhuyans. It also discusses the nature and character of their society.

A Confederacy

As we have seen, 'Bhuyan' is a corruption of the Sanskrit 'bhaumika', meaning land-owner.The Bhuyans were feudatory chiefs. They had a confederacy of their own with one Bar-Bhuyan (literally, 'big' Bhuyan) or Siromani Bhuyan as the head. Sankaradeva's father Kusumvara was a Siromani Bhuyan.
During the Muhammedan rule of Hussain Shah, the Bara Bhuyans accommodated themselves to his overlordship and gladly wore the Muhammedan decoration "Khan" after their names as family titles. Their feudal prerogatives were left undisturbed and when the Muhammedan hold slackened in 1503 after the death of Danial, the son of Hussain Shah, they shone again in their past glory.

Learned Individuals

Mostly Kayasthas, the Bara Bhuyans were educated, well versed in scriptures, also in accountancy and arithmetic. They were conversant with the art of irrigation and developed methods of cultivation and were equally expert in war - "astra sastra sastrata barai pargata"