Sattras – UPSC Prelims

What are Sattras?
  • Sattras are monastic institutions in Assam. They were created as part of the 16th century Neo-Vaishnavite reformist movement. Movements started by the Vaishnavite saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva(1449-1596).
  • Why were they established? They were established to spread the Sankardeva’s unique “worship through art” approach. They are doing it presently with music (borgeet), dance (sattriya), and theatre (bhauna).
  • Features:
    • Each Satra has a naamghar (worship hall) as its nucleus and is headed by an influential “Satradhikar”.
    • Monks known as bhakats are inducted into Sattras at a young age. They may or may not be celibate depending on the kind of Sattra they are inducted into.
  • Satras in Assam: There are about 900 Sattras across Assam, but the main centers are Bordowa (Nagaon), Majuli and Barpeta. These institutions are of paramount importance and lie at the heart of Assamese culture.
What is Sankardeva’s philosophy?
  • Srimanta Sankardev (1449–1568) was a 15th–16th century Assamese saint, scholar, poet, and social-religious reformer.
  • He propagated a form of Bhakti philosophy called Eka Sarana naam Dharma. The philosophy had an influence on two medieval kingdoms—Koch and the Ahom kingdoms.Key Features of the Philosophy:
  • Components: The four important components of the philosophy were deva (god), naam (prayers), bhakats (devotees), and guru (teacher).
  • Society: The philosophy espoused a society based on equality and fraternity, free from caste differences, orthodox Brahmanical rituals, and sacrifices.
  • Teachings: The teachings of the philosophy rejected idol worship and focused on devotion (bhakti) to Krishna. Devotion would be in the form of congregational listening and singing his name and deeds (Kirtan) and (sravan).

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