Srimanta Sankardeva

MAR 7

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Why in news?

  • On February 27, 2022, Assam government decided to set up ‘Naamghars’ (Vaishnavite Monasteries) across the places where 15th-century saint and social reformer Srimanta Sankardeva spent at least one night during his journey from Batradava (Assam) to Cooch Behar (West Bengal).

About Srimanta Sankardeva (1449-1596):

  • He was a Vaishnavite, social and religious reformer during 15th-16th century
  • He inspired Bhakti Movement in Assam
  • His ideas was based on Bhagavata Purana

Contributions:

  • Sankaradev is widely credited for developing new forms of:
    • Music – Borgeet
    • Theatrical performances - Ankia Naat and Bhaona
    • Dance form – Sattriya
    • Literary language - Brajavali.
  • His teachings are credited to have integrated different castes and groups of people in Assam into one cultural unit.

Sankardeva’s philosophy?

  • Sankardeva propagated a form of Bhakti called eka-sharana-naam-dhrama, and espoused a society based on equality and fraternity, free from caste differences, orthodox Brahmanical rituals and sacrifices.
  • His teaching focused on prayer and chanting (naam) instead of idol worship.
  • His dharma was based on the four components of deva (god), naam (prayers), bhakats (devotees), and guru (teacher).

About Sattras:

  • Sattras are monastic institutions created as part of the 16th century Neo-Vaishnavite reformist movement started by Vaishnavite saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva.
  • These Sattras/Thans were established as centres of religious, social and cultural reforms in the 16th century across Assam.
  • Sattras promulgate Sankardeva’s unique “worship through art” approach with music (borgeet), dance (xattriya) and theatre (bhauna).
  • Each Sattra has a naamghar (worship hall) as its nucleus and is headed by an influential “Sattradhikar”.
  • Monks, known as bhakats, are inducted into Sattras at a young age. They may or may not be celibate, depending on the kind of Sattra they are inducted into.

PRACTICE QUESTION:

Consider the following statements regarding ‘Srimanta Sankardeva’:

1. Sattriya dance form was developed by Sankardeva

2. His teaching focused on prayer and chanting (naam) instead of idol worship

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither

Answer