Dr Sanjib Kumar Borkakoti’s New Book Highlights Srimanta Sankaradeva’s Contributions
New Delhi: “Essays on Srimanta Sankaradeva”, the new book of Dr Sanjib Kumar Borkakoti highlights hitherto unexplored areas of Indian culture and philosophy. The author has written the essays on the lasting contributions of the medieval polymath Srimanta Sankaradeva. His analysis ranges from economic sustenance of the Sattra institution to the Vivartanavada philosophy, all created by the versatile genius Srimanta Sankaradeva. The essays also describe how the Saint litterateur shaped the socio-cultural fabric of Assam. The social structure—as well as the literature and culture of Assam were deeply enriched by him.
Study of the contributions of Srimanta Sankaradeva gives one a holistic understanding about the Assamese society because the common culture of Assamese people is what the saint synthesized from different ethnic cultures of the Brahmaputra valley. That is why the saint is known as father of Assamese people. The author throws light on all these in a lucid manner. His writings are based on his own research as well as field work covering many Sattras. He has shown how the Sattra institution created by the saint stands out as a unique model of self-sufficiency even in the modern times.
The book features the institutions created by Srimanta Sankaradeva in a very lucid manner. The original contributions of the polymath in aesthetics, feminism, philosophy, sustainable development etc are covered in the essays. Since the author is himself associated with promoting the legacy of the polymath, all the content of the book come from horse’s mouth. There are numerous economic activities carried out in the Sattra institution, which are elaborated in the book from the perspective of an economist that the author is. He prescribes different economic activities for the Sattras so that the existing eight hundred fifty Sattras in Assam can be made to sustain themselves in future.
Not many people outside Assam know that Srimanta Sankaradeva was the first playwright in all modern Indian languages. These are called Ankiya plays. He even created the unique costume, ornament, make-up etc of the actors. Description of these unique ingredients can be found in one of the essays in the book. There are also lot of common socio-economic common grounds between the Eka Sarana Nama Dharma of Srimanta Sankaradeva and Sikhism of Guru Nanak. The book dwells on these common features too between the two orders. The author says that Guru Nanak had spiritual guidance from Srimanta Sankaradeva; he also came to Assam to meet the polymath during the first Udasi.
The pioneering works of feminism by Srimanta Sankaradeva through his literary works find special mention in one of these essays. The polymath had departed from the original version of Ramayana in his Assamese transcreation and presented a revolutionary Sita who spoke with vengeance against her banishment by Rama; Srimanta Sankaradeva’s Sita is not docile like Valmiki’s Sita. She even says that she would never again call herself as Rama’s wife. Such utterance clearly was a revolt against the patriarchal thinking of Indian society.
An important essay in the book describes the Pan-Indian role of Srimanta Sankaradeva, how his works covered a large part of India in its ambit, how his influence spread to other regions of India. The author has mentioned a verse by Sant Kabir which eulogized Srimanta Sankaradeva. How the social structure of Odisha is indebted to the polymath, how the Yatra movement of Bengal was derived from the Ankiya plays of the polymath are also narrated lucidly in the essays. The author also highlights the fact that Srimanta Sankaradeva eulogised the birth in Bharatavarsha in his writings.
Of course there is analysis of Srimanta Sankaradeva’s religious Philosophy ‘Vivartanavāda’ and its comparison with other Sanātana Hindu philosophies in the book. There are lot of uniqueness in the ‘Vivartanavāda’ which make it stand out among all philosophies. Moreover Srimanta Sankaradeva succeeded in bringing the two conflicting paths of wisdom and devotion together. He equated Brahma and Ishwara, which was a unique thing. Centuries later his works were echoed in Spinoza’s philosophy. All these make the book a valuable reading and a must for the Indologists.
Clearly the Essays on Srimanta Sankaradeva by Sanjib Kumar Borkakoti is a valuable addition to the Indian literature. Published by Authorspress, it comes in paperback version in readable print. Dr Borkakoti has authored fifty five books, most of which finds place in the libraries of reputed libraries across the world. His new book will also be a treasured addition in the libraries and read by the readers.