GUWAHATI: In view of the contradictory information related to the total xattras in Assam, there is urgency for compiling an exact database on this count. In fact, three departments have three data on the same issue!
The contradiction in the total numbers of xattras came to light when the Revenue and Disaster Management department of the State government asked the deputy commissioners and also the Directorate of Archaeology to submit the information in this regard.
Interestingly, the information submitted by the deputy commissioners showed 593 xattras whereas the Archaeology directorate came up with the number 875. There was a difference of 282. As a result, the Revenue and Disaster Management department carried out a compilation of the information; and found that there are 648 xattras in the State. Three government departments having three varying numbers on the same issue!
The Revenue and Disaster Management Department further found that the 648 xattras are located in 19 districts of the State. The total land of these xattras, according to the department, is 99,018 bigha, 4 katha and 9 lecha.
Against this backdrop, the State government can initiate a joint survey involving the Revenue and Disaster Management department, the Directorate of Archaeology, deputy commissioners and representatives of xatras. This exercise assumes significance also because of the State government’s avowed move to free the xattra lands of encroachment.
As the xattra reflect the centuries-old neo-Vaishnavite socio-religious-cultural tradition of Hindu reformation movement typical to the milieu of Assam, the need is more for ascertaining the actual number of xattras in Assam. The Eksaran Naamdharma Xattra culture was introduced in Assam by Srimanta Sankardeva in the latter part of the 15th century, and it was carried forward down the years by his followers including Madhabdeva.