Majuli Auniati Satra – Assamese Vaishnavite Monasteries

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The Satras are institutions founded by Sankaradeva and a legacy of his spiritual movement in Assam which has survived almost 60 decades with the teachings of integrity, unity and solidarity among the diverse population of the land. The Satras are a distinctive feature of Vaishnavism in Assam. The first Satra founded in Majuli dates back to the 15th century. The satras are not just monasteries, but seat of traditional performing arts. Borgeet, Bhatima, Jumora, Chali, Paalnaam, Noyua, Apsara, Satriya Krshna, etc., the songs and dances initiated by Shrimanta Sankaradeva are taught and endorsed here.

The satras comprises of a large prayer hall facing a unadorned shrine, surrounded by dormitories and bathing tanks for monks. The idol which receives daily worship in the Satra (Manikuta) is the idol of Lord Krishna called Govinda. Here, Govenda is worshipped through dance, drama, music and poetry. This idol of Govinda was originally brought from Jagannath Kshetra (Puri, Orissa) and installed there with all the Vedic religious ceremony. Apart from the main idol, there are also other idols for worship here.

The Satra has a circular structure with a row of houses called Baha at the fringe and the Namghara (Temple) and Manikuta at the center of it. The Satradhikar resides just near the premises of the Temple. The Deka Satradhikar, the second in command resides in the middle part of the north line and Govinda Puriya resides in the middle part of the east line. All Bhakatas or Devotees live on the four lines of the Satra (East, West, North and South). These are called Hati in Assamese i.e. a row of huts.

Since the inception, Auniati Satra has been the epicenter of the Vaishnavism and Satriya culture in Assam. Apart from the regular holy practices in the Satra, numerous literary pursuits like biographical works of the Vaishnavite Saints, cultural compositions of ‘bhaonas’, ‘Satriya songs and dances’, religious publications and sermons related to religious and social works are the different activities of the Auniati Satra. The Satriya ritual activities of the Auniati Satra include Sharana, Bhajan, Nam-Prasanga, religious festivals and related devotional performances for the gratification of Lord Govinda. The Satradhikar, Deka Satradhikar, Govindapuriya with their vaishnava disciples lead an udasin life i.e. life purely devoted to God. The main prayer in the Auniati Satra continues from morning till evening everyday and the tradition is continuing since the last 350 years and more. The Satriya performances are considered a regular devotion to Lord Govinda by the vaishnavs in the Satra. In addition, there are also special presentations devoted to Lord in presence of the Satradhikar on various occasions and festivals like Paal-naam, Raas-leela, Janmastami, Holi, Dewali, Bohag Bihu or Assamese New Year, Kati Bihu etc. The death anniversaries of the previous Satradhikaras and the Vaishnavite Gurus are also celebrated ritually.

One of the significant festivals of Sri Sri Auniati Satra is Palnaam, commencing from the 25th day of Assamese month – Kartika till the 29th day of the same month. Thousands of disciples gather in the main satra for to offer their prayers during these five days. Other major events include the spiritual guidance called Sharan, Bhajan and Malamantradan under the direct guardianship of the Satradhikar or his delegates.

The Satriya performances of the Auniati Satra include various forms of dances, praying pattern and religious theatrical shows based on the great Indian epics of Puranas, Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Srimad Bhagawat etc. The foremost dance performances of Sri Sri Auniati Satra are Natua, Apsara, Sutradhar, Ozapali in the form of Panchali and Dulari, Sali, Jumura, Krishna Gopi Nritya, Maati Akhara and Gayan-Bayan. The songs or Satriya Geet as they are called includes Gayana Geet, Ozapali Geet, Janmastami Geet, Raas-Geet, Gopal Bairagya Geet, Raja Gharia Geet, Guru Bandana, Deva Bandana &Natarmajar Geet. Naama , Hiya Nam, Deeha Nam, Sabahua Nam, Bairagi Nam, Nam Mangal, Ghosa Mangal, Ras Mangal, Bairaginam, Barnam etc.

Though the Auniati Satra has its head quarter in Majuli there are two more focal establishments of the satra – one in North Guwahati and another in Kaliapani (Teok). With more than 1 million followers across the country the Satra upholds the pride of Satriya culture of Assam in a big way.

How to Reach

Majuli situated at a distance of 20 km from Jorhat is easily accessible. One can take bus or a hired taxi to the Nimati Steamer Ghat from where ferry services ply on regular basis. It takes almost three hours to cover the distance.

JayB

A self-described travel enthusiast...

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