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The Rich Satriya Cultural Heritage Of Assam

The rich Vaishnavite cultural pattern, propagated by Srimanta Sankardeva, the great socio – cultural reformer of Assam is a heritage, rich in expressive variety. Its distinctive tradition throws new light on the Vaishnavite Satra’s religious practices and rituals for more than 600 years.
A major part of Assam’s culture, songs and literature have their roots in the Satras of Assam. The Satras play an important role in the religious and cultural life of the Assamese people. The traits of Satriya culture are accumulated in the different Vaishnavite Satras of Assam and West Bengal. In the 15th century, Srimanta Sankardeva and his great disciple Sri Sri Madhabdeva ushered in a revolutionary dramatic movement with distinctive technique, as a result of which the people of Assam experienced a moral as well as cultural renaissance.
The incarnation of Srimanta Sankardeva is a historical wonder. He was the symbol of art who was a poet, dramatist, painter and sculptor. Srimanta Sankardeva contributed immensely to the integrity of human culture. Hardly has there been a religious Guru who effectively enjoined a pure honest work culture, social discipline, humanized love and cherished religious values accepted by all.
The lessons of humanism can be drawn from his drama, music, dance, “Totoy”, “Chopoy”, “Bhaona” and art and culture. Through drama and songs Srimanta Sankardeva preached the ideals and precepts of neo-Vaishnavism among the masses.
Satriya dance - In the vast domain of Satriya culture, Satriya dance is a form of classical dance which originated from the famous “Onkia Nat” of Srimanta Sankardeva. It represents the colorful heritage of Assam. This dance form merged into the vast stream of Indian culture with its innovative artistic technique and expressive gestures. Satriya dance is now well known not only in India but also all over the world in a new style and form consistent with the spirit of modern times.
There are various forms of Satriya dance. They are “Mati Akhora” , “Krishna Nas”, “Jhumura, Nadubhongi”, “Sali Nas”, “Gosai Nas”, “Gopi Nas”, “Bhojon Behar” and “Sutradhari Nritya”. Aauniati , Kamalabari and other Satras located in the island of Majuli are the main exponents of Satriya dance and music of Assam.
“Borgeet -. With the solemnity of classical Ragas, the “Borgeets” preached the tenets of Vaishnavism in a rhythmic manner and inspired the laity to seek solace and peace in God head. The celestial songs composed by Srimanta Sankardeva and Sri Sri Madhabdeva can be compared with the hymns of the 17th century English poets John Donne, Harrick and others.
Extremely rich in poetic beauty, the “Borgeets” with its flawless rhyme scheme and creative comparisons and prosodic excellence have made each Borgeet sui generis.
Srimatna Sankardeva brought renaissance to humanity and showed the path of renunciation glorifying Lord Krishna. His cult based on the glorification of Rama, one of the greatest manifestations of Lord Krishna has given the full blessings of wider Indian culture to the people of Assam. It is no exaggeration to say that Srimanta Sankardeva’s “Borgeet”, “Satriya form of dance”, dramas (“Ankia Bhaaonas”) have created the Assamese national life and enriched the cultural heritage of Assam.