A STUDY OF THE PRESENT SCENARIO, PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS OF THEKEWALIYA BHAKATS (CELIBATE RESIDENTIAL MONKS) OF THE VAISNAVITE SATRAS OF MAJULI, ASSAM

 Kaberi Mahanta Choudhury
Research Scholar, Department of Communication and Journalism,
Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam, India


Abstract

To establish the Neo-Vaisnavite movement in Assam Sankardeva introduced many tools and platforms. In this development,Sankardeva brought the concept of ‘Satra’ institution as a centre of religious performances, spiritual knowledge sharing and cultural practices among the Bhakats (monks) and other devotees.Though Satrawas the creation of Sankardeva, it was the two disciples of him namely, Madhabdeva and Damodardeva had the immense contribution in establishing Satras across Assam in a systemic way and spread the most after Sankardeva’s heavenly demise. Because of various socio-cultural, historical reasons we found most of the prominent Satras of Assam within Majuli. Thus, Majuli is regarded as the Holy and the Apex place of the Neo-Vaisnavism of Assam. For the purpose of maintaining the activities of the Satra and preserving the Sattriya Culture the need of the dedicated human resources came up in the Satra system. Thus the concept of Kewaliya Bhakat (Celibate Residential Monk) developed. These Kewaliya Bhakats of Satra have been playing the vital role in keeping alive the SattriyaArt and Culture and by living a unique lifestyle within the Satra premise. But due to the age of Modernity and the effect of globalization the scenario of the Kewaliya Bhakats of Satra is not the same as earlier days. The researcher has made a sincere effort in this article to bring out the present scenario of the Kewalia Bhakats and the problems facing by them, and also tried to study the prospects of the same to keep the heritage alive.

Key words: Neo-Vaisnavism, Satra,KewaliyaBhakat (Celibate Residential Monk), Majuli, Assam

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