43 Facts About Sankardev


Sankardev is widely credited with building on past cultural relics and devising new forms of music, theatrical performance, dance, literary language.


Sankardev inspired the Bhakti movement in Assam just as Guru Nanak, Ramananda, Namdev, Kabir, Basava and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu inspired it elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent.


The late biographies differ from the early group on the count that they ascribe supernatural feats to Sankardev, and describe miraculous events; and there is a tendency to read some events of the Bhagavata into his life.


Sankardev, then named Sankaravara, was born into the Shiromani Baro-Bhuyans family at Alipukhuri near Bordowa in present-day Nagaon district in c1449.


The Baro-Bhuyans were independent landlords in Assam, and Sankardev belonged to the Kayastha Hindu caste.


Sankardev's family-members, including parents Kusumvar Bhuyan and Satyasandhya Devi, were Saktas.


Sankardev lost his father to smallpox when he was about 7 years old, and his mother died either soon after his birth, or soon after his father's death; and he was raised by his grandmother Khersuti.

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Sankardev began attending Mahendra Kandali's tol or chatrasaal at the age of 12 and soon wrote his first verses karatala-kamala.


Sankardev practised yoga and was physically very able, and according to legend, he could swim across the Brahmaputra while it was in spate.


Sankardev soon mastered the major scriptures and thereafter left the tol in his late teens to attend to his responsibilities as the Shiromani Bhuyan.


Sankardev came to be known as the Dekagiri among his subjects and admirers.


Sankardev married his first wife Suryavati when he was in his early 20s and a daughter, Manu, was born in about three years, but his wife died about nine months later.


Sankardev handed over the maintenance of his household to his son-in-law Hari; the Bhuyan Shiromaniship to his grand uncles Jayanta and Madhav; and began his journey in 1481.


Sankardev was accompanied by seventeen others including his friend and associate Ramaram and his teacher Mahendra Kandali.


Sankardev seem to have spent many years at Jagannath-kshetra at Puri, where he read and explained the Brahma Purana to the priests and lay people.


Sankardev returned home to Alipukhuri after 12 years.


On his return from his pilgrimage, Sankardev refused to take back the Shiromaniship, though on the insistence of his elders, he took responsibility of a hundred families but he soon handed over the responsibility to his son-in-law Hari.


Datyari, an early biographer of Sankardev writes: Sankardev listened with rapt attention to the exposition by Jagadish Mishra and realised that the Bhagavata was a scripture without parallel, a scripture that determined Krishna as the only God, naam as the real dharma, and aikantika-sarana and sat-sanga as the indispensable elements of the faith.


From Alipukhuri Sankardev moved back to Bordowa in 1509 and built a thaan.


Furthermore, the Bhuyans in the Bordowa area picked up a quarrel with their Kachari neighbours, and when attacked Sankardev advised the Bhuyans to move, which brought to an end the independence of this group of Bhuyans.


The Bhuyans were settled here by the Ahoms with land and estate, Hari, Sankardev's son-in-law became a Saikia, and his cousin Jagatananda, grandson of Jayanta received a title 'Ramarai'.


Sankardev was able to convince the king that he was not a religious rebel and a threat to the social order, and the charges against him were dropped.


At Sunpora Sankardev initiated Bhavananda, a rich trader who had extensive business interest in the Garo Hills and Bhutan Hills besides Kamarupa.


Sankardev wrote four plays: Rukmini harana, Parijata harana, Keligopala and Kalidamana.


Sankardev left for a pilgrimage in 1550 with a large party of 117 disciples that included Madhavdev, Ramrai, Ramaram, Thakur Ata and others.

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At the debate with the court pundits that followed, Sankardev was able to refute all allegations against him.


Sankardev began to attend Naranarayana's court regularly, and received the freedom to propagate his teachings.


Sankardev shuttled between Koch Behar the capital and Patbausi his seat.


Sankardev was often hosted by Chilarai, and on his request agreed to have the images of the childhood days of krishna at Vrindavan woven on cloth.


Sankardev engaged the weavers of Tantikuchi, near Barpeta, to weave a forty-yard long tapestry panel.


When Sankardev returned to Patbausi some time later, Chandsai too came with the saint.


Sankardev frequented the capital for more than 20 years and enjoyed unstinted royal patronage for the first time.


Sankardev made arrangements with Madhavdev and Thakur Ata and gave them various instructions at Patbausi and left the place for the last time.


Sankardev was reluctant to convert a king and declined to do so.


Sankardev preached pure devotion to Krishna consisting primarily in the singing and listening to of his deeds and activities.


Srimanta Sankardev started a system of initiation into his religion.


Sankardev caused a huge social revolution by fighting against the caste discrimination prevailing at that time.


Sankardev initiated people of all castes and religions, including Muslims.


Sankardev's famous debate with Madhavdev, who was a staunch sakta earlier, and Madhavdev's subsequent induction into Ekasarana, is often cited as the single most epoch-making event in the history of the neo-Vaishnavite movement in Assam.


Sankardev's language is lucid, his verses lilting, and he infused bhakti into everything he wrote.


Sankardev has adapted the original text to the local land and people and most importantly for the purpose of bhakti.


Sankardev was the fountainhead of the Ankiya naat, a form of one-act play.


Sattriya dance, that Sankardev first conceived and developed and which was later preserved for centuries by the sattras, is among the classical dance forms of India.