The earliest known king of ancient Assam was Mahiranga Danava. He had his capital at Mairanka, identified with a hill called Mairang Parvat near Guwahati. He was succeeded in turn,by Hataksur, Sambarasur and Ratnasur .The epithels ”Danava” and ”Asura” show that they were of non-Aryans origin. After them came Ghatakasura who is called the ruler of the Kiratas. Ghatakasura was overthrown by Narakasura, who is the hero of various stories narrated in the Purana and the Tantras.
Narakasura founded a new dynasty known as Bhouma or Varaha dynasty. The legends goes that Naraka was born of Prithivi (the earth)by Bishnu, in his Varaha (boar) in carnation and was brought up the Janaka, the king of Videha or North Bihar. It is for this region that Naraka is called Bhauma (born of the earth) and on account of his supposed divine origin, all dynasties ruling in Pragjyotishpur-Kamarupa claimed their descent from Naraka and called themselves Bhauma. Naraka away the Kiratas to the country near the sea coast and settled the Aryans in this country. This was perhaps the earliest settlement of the Aryans in Assam.
The Danava were the first accounted kings in the Assam region of India, beginning the region’s political history. Mention of them can be found in Hindu literature, but no other source material has survived to confirm their existence. The chiefs were mountain people, possibly of Mongoloid origin, who were known in literature as the Kirata.
Founder of the dynasty.
Killed by the first Naraka king.
14th century BC
Ghatakasura is killed by Narakasura who founds the dynasty of Naraka kings that subsequently rules the region.
The Naraka were another semi-mythical dynasty in Assam, as were the Danava before them. Similarly, they are only mentioned in Hindu literature, with no external confirmation, although there is probably a basic truth in the existence of a powerful dynasty of kings around whom later legends were built. The first Naraka king, Narakasura, killed the last of the Danava kings and claimed his territory, founding a dynasty which was probably aboriginal.
Founder of the dynasty.
c.1310s BC ?
Narakasura is apparently killed in battle by Lord Krishna of Dwarka and his spouse, Satyabhama. Perhaps not all of the kings of this dynasty are known, but the prominent ones are shown below.
Took part in the Kurukshetra War in the Mahabharata.
One of the contemporaries of Jarasandha of Magadha is Jayatsena, probably an ally and vassal who rules a section of the kingdom independently after Jarasandha’s death. Jayatsena takes part in the Kurukshetra War in the Mahabharata as one of the leaders on the side of Kauravas, along with Srutayus of Kalinga, Paundraka Vasudeva of Pundra, Karna of Anga, and Malayadwaja of the Pandyas. Bhagadatta of the Naraka kings is also involved in the war.
Last Naraka king. Assassinated by his ministers.
c.1230s BC ?
The Narakas are not mentioned again and Assam becomes obscured by the mists of time, for at least a millennium. The Varman kings are the next to emerge, the first historical dynasty in the region.
Naraka built a fort in a few place surrounded on all sides by hills and it is said that this stronghold was inaccessible even to the gods. Naraka was worshipper of goddess Kamakhya and favoured by Vishnu. In his early career, Naraka was pious and prosperous, but later, he came under the influence of Banasura, the king of Sonitpur, and grew so irreligious and presumptuous that finally he proposed to marry mother goddess Kamakhya. The goddess assented to the proposal on condition of construction by Naraka during the course of one night,a temple,a tank and a road from the foothills to the temple at the top. All these were nearly completed,when the goddess made a cock crowd before the usual hour to indicate dawn. Thus Naraka’s proposal came to a naught. The arrogant Naraka even refused admission to the famous sage Vasistha to worship in the temple of Kamakhya. When the news of his atrocities reached Sri Krishna, the incarnation of Vishnu, the latter came to Pragjyotisha with his army, defeated and killed Naraka in a battle and placed Naraka’s son Bhagadatta on the throne of Pragjyotisha.
Bhagadutta was a powerful king. It is said that he married his daughter Bhanumati to Durjyodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas, and for this relation participated in the Kurukshetra was an ally of the Kauravas. Bhagadutta is a well-known figure in the Mahabharata, which calls him the mighty king of the Mlechchas. He is celebrated in this epic as a powerful warrior king ”not inferior to Chakra in battle” and described as ”the best wielder of the elephant squad” among the Kauravas allies. He is dignified with the title ”Siva’s friend” and always talked of with respect and friendliness by Sri Krishna.After he was killed in the Mahabharata war,he was succeeded by his son Vajradatta. The geneology of the rulers after Vajradutta is uncertain.
The Nidhanpur copper place inscription of Bhaskaravarman who ruled over Kamarupa in the early seventh century A.D., states that a period of three thousand years elapsed between the death of Vajradutta and the accession of Pushyavarman, the ancestor of Bhaskaravarman, who was the twelveth in the line.
The Bhagavata and the Vishnu Purana narrate the story of another traditional ruler, Bhismak, who ruled in Vidarbha popularity identified with the Sadiya region. His capital was at Kundil. He had a beautiful and accomplished daughter named Rukmini.Lord Krishna having heard of her came to Vidarbha and married her by defeating the other kings at Kundil Nagar.
The Kalika Purana, Bhagavata Purana and the Vishnu Purana contain account of a king named Bana or Banasura, whose daughter Usha was believed to have been married to Aniruddha, the grandson of Sri Krishna. From his title it appears that he was of Asura or Danava clan, hence a non-Aryan. It appears from a number of sources that Bana was a contemporary of Naraka.
According to P.C. Choudhury, the historicity of Bana is established by the remains of Agniparvat, Mahabhairab temple, Bhairavi temple and other remains in Tezpur associated with his name.From the extant of architectural remains in different places in the undivided Darrang and the Lakhimpur districts,it is believed by some that the kingdom of Bana included the whole of these areas.