— By Aiyushman Dutta
Seminar on Sankardeva’s contributions organized in London
In a bid to bestow international recognition on Assamese saint philosopher Srimanta Sankardeva, a first of its kind seminar on Vasihnabite culture as propagated by him was organized at Nehru Centre auditorium - the cultural and heritage building of the Indian High Commission in London. This unique seminar was organized at the initiative of Rini Kakati, NRI Co-ordinator for UK.
Talking about the seminar, Kakati said, “Sankaradeva inspired an artistic and cultural renaissance in the state of Assam. As a religious leader and social reformer, Sankaradeva deserves to be mentioned with Sankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Guru Nanak and Tulsi Das. Assam is a part of India even though it is not well known in the country itself on account of its remote location. The neo vaishnavite movement and Sankardeva’s contributions have been neglected for long, leading to gap in spreading intellectual knowledge. It is highly imperative that this great saint receives world attention. And it is also imperative that the life and philosophy and artistic creations of Mahapurush Srimanta Sankaradeva and the exposure of the Assam’s cultural tradition and heritage at the international level is the need of the hour.”
The prominent speakers of the seminar were Jitendra Kumar, First Secretary, Indian High Commission, Richard Blurton, Head of the South Asian Section in the Department of Asia, British Museum. Dr Nicholas Sutton, Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, University of Oxford. Dr Audrey Cantlie, author of the book “The Assamese” and Reader Emeritus in Anthropology at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies). Sharodi Saikia, Director of Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra, Guwahati (The Premier Cultural Institution of Assam) & Renowned Sattriya dancer from Assam. Jayanta Pathak, the composer musician of “Dokho Avatar”.
Jitendra Kumar, First Secretary, Indian High Commission, in his inaugurating speech said “The name Sankaradeva is the history of Assam and the pulse of the Assamese nation”. Richard Blurton, Head of the South Asian Section in the Department of Asia, British Museum - spoke highly about Vrindavani Vastra - the wonderful creation of Sankaradeva which was kept at British Museum. He explained beautifully the image of Lord Krishna and Vrindavan at this figured silk material with a power point presentation, Kataki informed.
Dr Nicholas Sutton, Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, University of Oxford - exploring the interrelationships between the Hindu religion and vasihnavite faith. He gave an informative speech on “The Importance of Sankaradeva in the development of Hindu Religious Thought”.
Sharodi Saikia, Director of Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra, Guwahati gave a lecture demonstration on Sattras and Sattriya culture of Assam. Jaynata Pathak, talked about the importance of 500 year old traditional melodies of Assam and his attempt to bring Borgeet to the global audience.”Dokho Avatar” - CD album was released by Jitendra Kumar, First Secretary, Indian High Commission.
Through these documentations, the remarkable works of Srimanta Sankaradeva and the rich cultural heritage of the Sattras of Assam has been taken a positive step to get the attention of the outside world.