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  • Context (IE): Rahul Gandhi was prevented from visiting Assam’s Batadrava Than.
  • Batadrava Than is located in the Nagaon district of Assam, 130 km east of Guwahati.
  • The Than is situated at the birthplace of Vaishnavite reformer-Srimanta Sankardeva (1449-1568).
  • It is considered the most sacred site for Assamese Vaishnavites.
  • Sankardeva founded the first-ever Kirtan Ghar (Than/Sattra) at Bordowa (Batadrava) to preach and propagate ‘Ek Saran Naam Dharma’ (the neo-Vaishnavite faith ).
  • The land within the 8 km radius around Batadrava Than is conserved for Khilonjia (indigenous people).
  • Than means a sacred place in Assamese society.

Srimanta Sankaradeva

  • Srimanta Sankardev was an Assamese polymath
    1. A saint-scholar,
    2. Poet, playwright, dancer, actor, musician, artist,
    3. Social-religious reformer and
    4. A figure of importance in the cultural and religious history of Assam.
  • Polymath: A person who knows a lot about many different subjects.
  • He is credited with building on past cultural relics and devising new forms of-
    1. Music (Borgeet),
    2. Theatrical performance (Ankia Naat, Bhaona),
    3. Dance (Sattriya),
    4. Literary language (Brajavali).

Social contribution

  • He is considered to be the father of the modern Assamese race.
  • He rescued the people of Assam from regressive medieval practices like human sacrifice.
  • He promoted equality and fraternity and advocated for a society free from
    1. Caste distinctions,
    2. Orthodox Brahmanical rituals, and
    3. Sacrifices.

Religious contribution

  • The Bhagavatic religious movement (Ekasarana Dharma) influenced two medieval kingdoms
    1. The Koch and
    2. The Ahom kingdom.
  • His teaching focused on prayer and chanting (naam) instead of idol worship.
  • Sankardev inspired the Bhakti movement in Assam.
  • Sankaradeva advocated ‘EKA DEVA, EKA SEVA, EKA BINEY NAHI KEWA’, which means one should worship none but one God, who is Lord Krishna.
  • It focussed on worship in the form of bhakti (devotion) to Lord Krishna through singing and congregational listening.

EKA SARABA NAMA DHARMA Religion (Neo- Vaishnavite movement)

  • His religion, EKA SARANA NAMA DHARMA, is straightforward.
  • There is no unnecessary ritual in his order.
  • Batadrava, or Bordowa, became the centre of his religious activities.
  • Batadrava has been regarded as the Dvitiya Vaikuntha (second heaven).
  • His dharma was based on the four components of
    1. Deva (god),
    2. Naam (prayers),
    3. Bhaktas (devotees), and
    4. Guru (teacher).
  • The assembly of devotees of the Neo-Vaishnavite movement evolved into monastic centres called Thans /Sattras.
  • These were established as centres of religious, social and cultural reforms in the 16th century.
  • These are present in Assam and, to a lesser extent, in North Bengal.
  • Batadrava Than was the first Than set for the propagation of EKA SARANA NAMA DHARMA.
    • Other Thans founded by Sankaradeva are Gangmou, Belaguri, Patbausi, Kumarkuchi, Sunpora, and Madhupur.
  • Later, many Sattras were set up by his followers all over the Brahmaputra valley.
  • It has a naamghar (worship hall) as its nucleus and is headed by an influential Sattradhikar.

Literary and Artistic contribution

  • He has left an extensive literary work of trans-created scriptures (Bhagavat of Sankardev), poetry and theological works written in Sanskrit, Assamese and Brajavali.
  • He used to write scriptures sitting below one Shilikha (Myrobalan) tree.
    • That tree is still alive even after five and half centuries, which is a wonder.
  • He created a classical dance form known as both the Sankari dance and Satriya dance.
    • The Sangeet Nâtak Akâdemi of India recognised it as a classical dance form in 2000 AD.
  • He also developed a school of classical music, which is named after him.
    • He created as many as 25 Râgas of his own.
  • He was also the first playwright in all modern Indian languages.
  • He was the first prose writer in the entire world.
    • He introduced the drop-scene and elevated stage in the world of drama way back in 1468 AD.
  • He authored ten plays in his life.
  • He initiated a new form of painting with his epoch-making drama festival Chihna-Yâtrâ, where he drew imaginary pictures of heaven to be used as backdrops.

Sattriya Dance

    • Sattriya originated in Sattra, a monastery, as a part of the neo-Vaishnavite movement in Assam.
    • It includes Nritta, Nritya and Natya components.
    • Sattriya dances differ from other dance forms in their basic stance.
      • For males, it is known as Purush Pak, while for females, Prakriti Pak.
    • The Sattriya dance (Unlike other Classical Dance forms) has been left untouched and has been the same since its birth.
    • It had its influences from folk dance forms like
      • Ojapali,
      • Devadasi,
      • Bihu,
      • Bodos, etc.
    • Strictly laid-down principles govern the Sattriya dance tradition with respect to
      1. Hasta mudras,
      2. Footwork,
      3. Aharyas,
      4. Music, etc.
    • Traditionally, Sattriya was performed only by bhokots (male monks) in monasteries as a part of their daily rituals.
    • The dance is based on mythological themes.
      • Primarily based on Krishna-Radha relations or sometimes on the stories of Ram-Sita.
    • Today, Sattriya is also performed on stage by men and women who are not members of the sattras on themes that are not merely mythological.
    • It has two distinctly separate streams
      1. The Bhaona-related repertoire
      2. The Independent dance numbers

Sattriya Dance Costume

    • The costume of Sattriya dance is primarily of two types:
      1. The male costume comprising the dhoti and chadar and the paguri (turban) and
      2. The female costume comprising the ghuri, chadar and kanchi (waist cloth).
    • Pat Silk saree (also spelt paat) is the most popular kind of saree used in this dance.
      • It represents the locality through its various colourful motifs and designs.
    • Traditional Assamese jewellery is used in the Sattriya dance.
      • The jewellery is made in a unique technique in Kesa Sun (raw gold).

 Sattriya Dance Costume


    • There are various musical instruments used in this dance, some of which includes:
      1. Khol (drum),
      2. Bahi (flute),
      3. Violin,
      4. Tanpura,
      5. Harmonium and
      6. Shankha (Conch Shell).
    • The songs are compositions of shankaradeva known as Borgeets.
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