The Disciples and Successors of Srimanta Sankaradeva

Birinchi Kumar Barua


In an earlier issue, we had carried an article by Shri Abhijit Bhuyan on the subject of Neo-Vaishnavism and Mahapurush Sankaradeva, the great saint of Assam. One’s understanding of Assam will not be complete without taking into account the great change brought about by the teachings of Sankaradeva. In this issue of Ishani, we are reproducing one chapter from a small but important book on Sankaradeva written by Late Birinchi
Kumar Barua. This chapter deals with the successors and disciples of Sankaradeva. The chief amongst them was Madhavadeva. In fact, the name of Sri Sankaradeva and Sri Madhavadeva are uttered together in most of the discourses or writings on Sankaradeva. Sri Madhavadeva contributed greatly not only in popularising the teachings of Sankaradeva
but also adding his own rich contribution. His conversion from a staunch adherent of the Shakti cult to the path of Neo-Vaishnavism makes an interesting reading. The present reproduction from the book describes the story of how Madhavadeva got converted. This chapter also deals with other disciples and successors of Sankaradeva. It also shows how
the institution of satras came into existence. We also learn of other stalwarts like Sri Damodardeva and others.
One very interesting and significant detail in this write-up is that one of the satradhikars was a woman, Kanaklata, respectfully addressed as Ai Kanaklata. This is very interesting because almost all sects or spiritual movements are male-dominated. The example of Ai
Kanaklata is a case which shows that in the matters of spirituality both the genders are equal. Ai Kanaklata not only presided over a satra, but she also made some original contribution as we find in this write-up. Ishani will like to tell more about her in one of our future issues.
This write-up on disciples and successors of Sankaradeva is very important to understand the growth of eka-sarana sampradaya in Assam and its impact on the people.

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