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Lost in the Serenity of Xatras

Majuli Xatras

The Satras are the unique religious as well as socio-cultural institutions in the Island that propagated the principles and ideals of Neo-Vaishnavism, a religious movement started by 15th Century reformer and scholar Srimanta Sankardeva. The Neo Vaishnavite movement mainly focused on the spiritual and religious upliftment of the people and impacted largely on the people living on the Island and elsewhere in the state. The Satras has still retained the centuries-old tradition and legacy practiced in old times and it’s worth visiting to peep into the history and culture of Assam.

As some of the Satras had also enjoyed patronage from the Ahom Kings, they are also the repository of some rare and unique items like the Royal robes of some of the Ahom Kings, their weapons, some inimitable ivory items, which are worth seeing.

Originally there were 65 Satras in Majuli. However, erosion of the landmass by the River Brahmaputra has forced most of them to relocate to other places in the state and there are only 22 Satras existing in the Island now. The Dakhinpat Satra, Aauniati Satra, Garamur Satra, Kamalabari Satra, natun Kamalabari Satra are some of the Satras worth visiting in the Island.

A visit to the Chamaguri Satra located in Majuli is worth not only to witness survival of a centuries-old art but also to try your hands in learning the tricks of the art of mask making. Masks are the part of ‘Onkiya Bhaona’ (act based plays), an innovative theatrical medium innovated by Srimanta Sankardeva, which basically narrates the stories of victory of virtue over vices. The 15th Century reformer had innovated the masks to present to the audience the characters of Vaishnavite scriptures to make it more real. Although some other Satras in the Island also practices the art of mask making, Chamaguri Satra has been able to create

A visit to the Chamaguri Satra located in Majuli is worth not only to witness survival of a centuries-old art but also to try your hands in learning the tricks of the art of mask making. Masks are the part of ‘Onkiya Bhaona’ (act based plays), an innovative theatrical medium innovated by Srimanta Sankardeva, which basically narrates the stories of victory of virtue over vices. The 15th Century reformer had innovated the masks to present to the audience the characters of Vaishnavite scriptures to make it more real. Although some other Xatras in the Island also practices the art of mask making, Chamaguri Satra has been able to create niche in preserving and practicing the century-old art form.

Barpeta Xatra

Sri Sri Madhab Deva founded the Barpeta Xatra 500 years back and stayed here for 8 long years, where he has written lots of his best literature. For taking his responsibility as a disciple of Sri Srimanta Sankardev, he left the Satra with giving the responsibility to his disciple Sri Mathura Das Burha Ata (1490-1596 AD), who later take care of Satra and he became the 1st Satria of Barpeta Satra.
It was Burha Ata who systematized the administration of the Satra leading to the development of the institution and the region of Barpeta. A democratic system was introduced which is effective until today. A large number of followers came to Barpeta; accepted the Vaishnavate faith irrespective of their caste (high or low in society) that created an egalitarian Society and a new work culture developed among the follower

Batadrava Than, Nagaon

Than’ means a sacred place in Assamese society. Traditionally this word has been used to indicate a sacred place. It was derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Sthan’ meaning place. Srimanta Sankaradeva used this indigenous Assamese word ‘Than’ to indicate the residential religious institution created by him. Srimanta Sankaradeva set up the first ever Kirtanghar here in 1468. The importance of this place is also derived from the fact that the saint was born at Alipukhuri – Bordowa in 1449. After returning from his 12-year long pilgrimage in 1493, he started preaching his Vaishnavite religious ideas here regularly and systematically. His ideas were based on Bhagavata Purana.

Batadrava Than is the first Than or the first institution set up by Srimanta Sankaradeva for the propagation of EKA SARANA NAMA DHARMA founded by him. He also built the ‘Monikut’ together with Kirtanghar or Namghar and the ‘Cari-Hati’ (four clusters of quarters) for the accommodation of his disciples. This full-fledged Than complex came up in 1509. Simhasana or Guru Asana (altar of God) was placed in the Monikut with the holy scripture ‘Bhagavata’ on it without any idol.

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