It is said that great people never dies. How? Their works and deeds makes them immortal. Every person dies one day. But there are some rare jewels among the millions whose extraordinary works makes them a shining star in this world . So their names always remain enshrined in the never- ending pages of time. Shrimanta Sankardev was one of the great personalities who is still alive through his brilliant works and deeds and is a bright diamond of Assam whose brightness will never fade . He was a great saint of the Bhakti movement and is much loved and respected because of his amazing ability to spread peace and harmony among all sections of people. He spread love through his vast treasure of literary works at a time when there were communal clashes due to religious differences. On his 570th birth anniversary, let us take a glimpse into the life of this social and religious reformer.
Born in 1449 to a family of landlords at Bardowa of Nagaon district of Assam , he grew up to be an intelligent and adventurous boy. His father Kusumvara and mother Satyasandha died when he was very young. He was raised lovingly by his grandmother Khersuti. In his childhood days, he was greatly inclined towards sports and was an excellent swimmer. It is believed that he could even swim in the Brahmaputra river in the rainy season . At his grandmother’s insistence, he attended Mahendra Kandali’s school where he began to show his first sign of his brilliance by composing his first poem ‘Karatala Kamala’ and later went on to learn various subjects.
In his late teens, after completion of his education, he left for his home . Soon he married Suryavati and had a daughter named Manu. After his wife’s death, he handed over his property to his son-in-law Hari and his daughter Manu and went for a twelve year long pilgrimage to the northern parts of India where the Bhakti Movement was at its strongest. During the period of his pilgrimage, he is said to compose his first borgeet. After his return from pilgrimage he married his second wife Kalindi . During this time he produced many literary works and started his religion ‘Ekasarana’ meaning ‘belief in one God’.
When a Koch king Vishwa Singha attacked the Ahom kingdom , Sankardev and his followers escaped to Gangmau and stayed there for five years. Next, he moved to Dhuwahat where he met his spiritual successor Madhavdev and started preaching his religion with him and gained a large number of followers. This infuriated some orthodox Brahmins who complained about him to the Ahom king Suklenmung but later he was released after he successfully cleared himself. After a few years, he left Dhuwahat and travelled to the Koch kingdom Sunpora where he stayed sometime and later settled at Patbausi near Barpeta where he constructed the first Kirtanghar or prayer hall. There he got some Brahmins as his followers. In the later periods of his life, he greatly impressed the Koch king Nara Narayan and his general Chilarai with his poems and songs. He managed to complete a major portion of his literary works under their protection. In 1568, he breathed his last after having lived for 120 years.
Known as the father of the Assamese classical dance Sattriya , Sankardev composed a number of poems, dramas(ankiya naats) and wrote a large number of books and also translated major portions of the religious book Bhagavat and also the Uttarkhand portion of the Ramayana into Assamese. Among his poems Kirtan Ghosha, Kurukshetra Yatra, Harischandra Upakhyana deserves mention and his famous dramas include Cinha Yatra, Rukmini Haran, Parijat Haran, Kalia Daman, Keli Gopal etc.
Sankardev was thus one of the greatest saints ever born in India.
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