'Thakurs' - the nobles of Tripura

Dr Jaya Debbarma

As a historical background of the nobility of Tripura in India's northeast, the concept of nobility owes its origin in its tradition and precinct as well as in the socio economic and administrative need of the state. The nobility of Tripura Observed Abul -I -Fazl in his Ain -I- Akbari, were known by the title of “Narayanas''.

In its traditional framework the institution of chantai (priest of 14 gods) as a nobility was very important which was primarily to worship the chaturdash Devatas on the sukla Ashtami in the month of asarhh. These goddesses were known as “kula devata”of the kings of Tripura.The Chantai used to narrate the chronicles to the king. The books like “Raj Ratnakar” , Shrenimala were written by the different authors on the basis of the narration of the Chantai .

Later on the status of Chantai emerged as to be equivalent to the Raj Guru and on some occasions they were found struggling for power and privilege .At the time of King Dev Manikya (1520- 1535 A.D), the chantai suggested the king to kill eight senapati in order to please his Kul Devata and the king did so. Later on, having a cordial relation with the queen, the Chantai remained successful to kill King Deva Manikya and placed his liked king, Indra Manikya on the throne. The Chantai started ruling the state as the de-facto ruler with the help of minor king.

The nobles of Tripura were called Thakurs .According to writer Kailas Chandra Singha in his book Rajmala it was King Kalyan Manikya (1625-1659). Who for the first time declared his eldest son Govinda manikya as Govinda thakur. King Ram Dev Manikya for the first time appointed his brother in law Bali Bhim narayan to the post of Juvaraj along with his eldest son.

There were three kinds of Thakurs one through blood relation (Karta) secondly through marriage relation and thirdly through adoration of tittles. Another group of nobility included the relation of the Raja as well as the high official of the state. They were known as Ujir, Dewan, Senapati, Mantris, Pradhan Mantris etc.

Maharaja Ramdev Manikya also created new post of Barathakur and appointed his second son, Durjoy Dev Thakur for the same. The appointment of brother-in-law on such a post of nobility is a unique
example and further shown the seeds of dissent and quarrel in the coming days. This clearly indicates that the nobilities in different forms are coming closer to the power at the cost of violation of the natural rules of succession.

During Maharaja Birchandra's reign Birchandra was in dire need of the services of thakurs to run the administration in 1871, the thakurs decided to distribute the administrative work among them. Gaur Chandra thakur was assigned the work of judicial appeal adalat and Prabhu Charan Thakur was appointed to the post of magistrate and the chief of the store house.

Charan Thakur and Jaga Mohan Thakur were appointed to impart the legal proceedings for the hill people camp bell was deputed to the post of manager of chakla Roshanabad zamindari of Maharaja of Tripura (now in Bangladesh ). Braja Mohan thakur was appointed to the post of judge of Kailasahar sub division. A.W.B power the first political agent of Tripura suggested Maharaja Bir Chandra Manikya for the appointment of able and efficient administrator.

Socio economic condition and nobility

The sources of income of the nobles were based on their position and privileges with them. They received a regular monthly grant from the Maharaja. The rate of this grant during Maharaja's Bir Chandra's time
is not definitely known though according to the reports of political agents the rate was very small .The karta's obviously received grant at higher rate. In addition to the monthly grant extra grants were
generally allowed on such occasions as a marriage or a performance of funeral allowances.

There were another 40 -50 Thakurs at Agartala who drew separate allowances. The economic condition of the nobilities was not sound because most of the nobilities depend on monthly grant but they were proud of their social status. The quantity of cultivate land was very small and Maharaja was the only large land holder in the the state. The nobles after 1862 were mostly educated.

The educational department of the state of Tripura though more widened within Thakurs, Rajkumars and princess and less widened among the masses reflect the patron client concept and the early revolts like Jamatia revolt may be analyzed in the background of one class by another. Some excellent literary and historical works during Maharaja Bir Chandra Manikya's by the thakurs

(1) Kok-borak-ma in 1900 A.D (This book was written by thakur Radha Mohan debbarma )
(2) Tripur kathmala , Tripur bhasha bidhan ( a dictionary of kokborak -English -Sanskrit )
(3) For shadow graph sketch in the exhibition held in 1897 Praddut Kumar thakur won gold medal
(4) Thakur Dhananjoy debbarma raj mantri wrote a book account of Unakoti
(5) Thakur piyari Mohan debbarma (1902-1912) was also wrote Unakoti tirtha in Bengali
(6) Bara Thakur Samarendra Chandra debbarma wrote Tripurar smriti in Bengali 1927.
(7) Bahadur shah's “Abu jafar” in Bengali in 1930
(8) “Wakayate Tripura” (in Urdu)
(9) Jabunisha Begum in Bengali (in 1929)
(10) Agrar chithi in Bengali (1928).
(11) Thakur Nabadeep Chandra debbarma “Awarjanar jhuri” in (1324 B.E)
(12) Bangla bhasar chari jug 1931
(13) deshiya rajya written by cononel Mahim chandra thakur cv
(14) etc

The existing development of various educational institutions certainly owes its legacy from the role of those nobilities of Tripura under the period of study .Thus the role of nobilities can be observed in the
development of Bengali literature and music in the present day society of Tripura .The Thakurs of Tripura was different from the Thakurs of Rajasthan.

Excerpts from research paper of Dr .

October 2012