Mahapurusha Srimanta Sankaradeva
Mahapurusha Srimanta Sankaradeva (1449 AD -1568 AD) was an exceptional personality in the annals of Indian history. He was not only a religious preceptor, but also a social reformer, who had sanskritized the ethnic groups of the volatile North East India and assimilated them with the national main-stream ( Bharata Varisha). He is considered as the architect of the modern Assamese race. He was a great messiah, who rescued the people from the regressive medieval practices like human sacrifice.
The biography of Srimanta Sankaradeva was written by several authors in the later stage after his death. However, amongst the early group of authors, we come across Guru Caritas by Ramcarana Thakur, Daityary Thakur, Kantha Bhusan Dwija, which are believed as authentic documents of Sankardeva’s life . The late biographies differ from the early group on the count that they ascribe supernatural feats to Sankardev, and describe miraculous events. From all these caritas and including Katha Guru Carita, it appears that the accounts of Guru’s life are narrated in a mythological way. But historical value of these Caritas also cannot be denied, whatever, difficult it may be to determine the chronological events. Sankardeva in any case, was a great socio-religious reformer, a great litterateur, an institution of culture including classical dance and music, an artist and a sculptor and one of the first prose writers in the entire world. (The prose literature is found in the ‘Ankia Naats’). The Neo-Vaishnava faith propagated by Srimanta Sankardeva went a great deal , wherever he went or his religious emissaries cum disciples to eradicate the evils of caste distinction. It is to be mentioned here that prior to the spread of the new faith, Sakta –tantricism held the country. The Saivism was also prevalent. The Yogis and Buddhist Tantric were also spreading black magic. A personality, rich with immense multi-faceted qualities not to be found in any religious reformers of the world, Srimanta Sankaradeva influenced the lives and style of the people around and therefore, is considered by his followers as an incarnation of Lord Krishna, the Jagat Guru. In all the Vaishnava Sattras there is a system of studying and narrating Guru’s life story (Carit tola to eradicate the social evils from the society and to reassert human values including equal vision, sense of equality and nishkam karma). It is the philosophy, direction and guidance to human beings by Mahapurush Sankardeva.