Sankara Deva- Makers of Indian Literature
|SAHITYA AKADEMI, DELHI
Sankaradeva (1449 - 1568) was born at Alipukhuri near Bardowa in present Nagaon District of Assam. He was poet, playwright, actor, director, musician, craftsman, preacher, social reformer-all rolled into one making it impossible to call him by a single epithet as any one of these is as important as the others. The deep and wide knowledge of the Indian classical scriptures, including the Vedas, the epics and the Puranas, that Sankaradeva attained at a comparatively younger age made him realize the antiquity and greatness of Indian civilization and culture. He produced a large corpus of literary works, including songs and lyrics, hymns and panegyrics, longer poems, plays, translations and adaptations and so on. Sankaradeva passed away at Kochbehar in the year 1568 at the age of nearly 120 years. However, despite being the founder of Neo-Vaisnavism in Assam and the North-east and with his multi-faceted qualities in so many roles, Sankaradeva is very little known outside Assam even today.
Dr Pona Mahanta (b. 1943) was Professor of English at Dibrugarh University. A noted theatre critic, researcher, writer, translator and academician, Dr Mahanta has written books like Western Influence on Modern Assamese drama: From 1857 to the Present Time, Natak aru Natyakar, Natakar katha and edited books like Eliot in Assamese literature and volumes of collections of dramas. He has translated, among others, The History of Bengali Literature from English into Assamese.
To write a little book on Sankaradeva within the space given has indeed been a challenging task for me. The long life of the saint was so chequered and his works and achievements are so vast and varied that an attempt like this is bound to be sketchy. I have, however, tried to see to it that no important and significant aspect of the life and work of Sankaradeva is left out in this brief survey. Sankaradeva was poet, playwright, actor, director, musician, craftsman, preacher, social reformer-all rolled into one making it impossible to call him by a single epithet as any one of these is as important as the others. So in order to avoid repetition of the name of Sankaradeva in a sentence or a paragraph, I have used the word 'saint' in line with some scholars of the subject in the absence of any other term I know of which could better represent his multifaceted qualities.
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