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Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva - A Detailed View

30 Aug,2022 06:33 PM, by: Prasanta Nath
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Assam is known for the variety of its culture, and the state's history reveals the cultural contributions made by its inhabitants. Many figures have contributed vastly to the Assamese culture and heritage.

One name is indisputable whenever Assamese culture is discussed: Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva. He has given Assam some very inspiring and notable literary and cultural achievements.

LIFE OF SRIMANTA SANKARDEVA

In the year 1449 AD, Sankardeva was born in Alipukhuri, Nagaon. He was born during an era of downfall for Assamese literature, language, and culture. At the young age of 7, he lost both his father Kusumbar Bhuyan and his mother Satyasandha Devi. He was raised by his grandmother Kherxuti.


At the age of 12, he joined Mahendra Kandali's school to start learning Indian scriptures and grammar. He didn't know the vowels at the time when he penned his first poetry "karata-kamala." Outside of their academics, he taught himself the art of Yoga, which aided in the development of his physicality. According to several folklores, Sankardev was also capable of crossing the mighty Brahmaputra river by swimming.


Written in the tol, Harishchandra Upakhyan was his debut composition. He left the tol after soon gaining versed in the scriptures. Among his followers and admirers, he was also referred to as Dekagiri

At the age of 22, Sankardev married Suryavati. The couple was blessed with a baby girl three years later, whom they called Manu. However, Suryavati passed away soon after, leaving behind 9-month-old Manu to be raised by her father Sankardev alone. 


CONTRIBUTION OF MAHAPURUSH SRIMANTA SANKARDEVA

Simple ideologies from Sankardeva's religious lessons have taught us to value life. He explained how to carry out good deeds to make life pure and unspoiled, and it is without a doubt a wonderful way to meet people you know and love.


At a time when tantric rituals like human sacrifice (which were common in the middle ages in the temples of Brahmaputra valley) wrecked havoc and caused endless miseries, Srimanta Sankaradeva sought an alternate path by establishing a new religion called the Ekasharana Dharma, also known as the Neo-Vaishanvite religion. However, Sankardeva was not just a spiritual guide. He was talented in a variety of fields, including poetry, music, dance, and drama.

He started by expanding on his Ekasharana Dharma, or devotion to the one God, by whose glory alone one may hope to be freed from sin and suffering.

Sankardeva performed poetry, music, drama, and painting in addition to direct teachings to spread the word about his new Bhakti Cult. Sankardev left behind a significant amount of work. He wrote most of his writings in the popular Assamese dialect of the time so that the general public could read and comprehend them. However, he used Brajavali for dramatic effect in his songs and plays.


SATRAS

Satras are institutional centres related to Srimanta Sankardeva's Ekasarana Vaishnavism style. Srimanta Sankardeva established the first satra in Majuli. Typically, these centres operate independently of one another and are run by certain individuals (or satradhikars). The Satras house a prayer room called Kirtan Ghar or Naamghar.


Although the satras were initially founded as a component of the democratic Ekasarana Dharma movement, they are no longer considered as a place of worship. Instead, they have been transformed into centres for the promotion of art and music over time. The satras open doors to discovering the state's arts and crafts.


HIS CULTURAL WORKS

Poetry

He made significant contributions to Assam's cultural characteristics throughout his lifetime. He covered a wide range of topics in his contributions, including poetry (Kavya), music (Borgeet), drama (Anikia Naat), and dance (Sattriya Dance). He is credited with starting the Assamese literary tradition because of the numerous poems he produced, including Kirtana-ghosha, Harischandra-upakhyana, Rukmini-harana, Parijat-haran, Kaliya-daman, Ram-vijay, Ajamilopakhyana, Bali-chalana, Kurukshetra-yatra, Gopi-uddhava-samvada, Amrita-manthana. Every Assamese household possesses these books, particularly the Kirtana.


Drama

In addition to poetry, he also contributed greatly to drama also known as Ankia Naat. A Bhaona is a specific version of an Ankia Naat. The productions usually feature traditional instruments, singers, dance, and spectacular costumes. One of the first outdoor stage performances in history was his Cihna Yatra. Since there isn't any text form of Cihna Yatra today, it was probably a dance drama. Cihna Yatra, Patni Prasada, Janma Yatra, Kangsa Badha, Parijata Harana, Kali Damana, Rukmini Harana, Keli Gopala, and Srirama Vijaya are only a few of his dramas.


Songs

Despite making significant contributions to drama and poetry, Srimanta Sankardev also created a large number of songs known as borgeets and bhatima. Borgeets are devotional songs written in the Brajawali language, an old dialect derived from Maithili. Borgeet is an integral part of the Eksaran Bhagabati dharma, which is practised in Assam's Vaishnab Satras and Naamghars.


During his journey to Badrikashram, Srimanta Sankardeva wrote the first Borgeet, "Mana Meri Rama-caranahi Lagu."The speciality of the lyrics of Borgeet is in the reticence . In these Borgeets, the Vaishnavist principles as well as the stories of Lord Shree Krishna and Rama are clearly portrayed.


Dance

A genius at the time, Srimanta Sankardeva not only created poems, music, and plays but also Sattriya dance, a type of dance that he developed and refined. Sattriya dance came to be known today as a major Indian Classical Dance, and it is performed in the Krishna-centered Vaishnavism monasteries in Assam. 


Sattriya Nritya is accompanied by musical compositions called bargeets. The khol, a two-faced, asymmetrical drum played with fingers, is a significant musical instrument used in Sattriya performances. The flute and a variety of cymbals (Manjira, Bhortal, Bihutal, Patital, and Khutital) accompany the khol (bahi).


Sattriya dance costumes are divided into two categories: male costumes (dhoti, sador, and paguri (turban) and female costumes (ghuri, sador, and kanchi) (waist cloth). 


Conclusion

Srimanta Sankardev as well as his disciples, particularly Madhabdev, have had a significant impact on Assam's rich culture. Many people are influenced by Srimanta Sankardeva's teachings to accept the Neo Vaishnavite religion. Sankardeva felt that honest thinking and simple life purified both the mind and the body. Although we are temporarily lost in a fast-paced culture, we must consider the collective attempt to strive towards greater national self-interest with the wisdom of conscience and self-realization. Only such efforts would be a great tribute to the ideologies of Srimanta Sankardeva.




Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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