Main Menu

User blogs

Tag search results for: "purnanga katha gurucharit"

by Rupam Kumar Boro

Hagiography is a treasure-trove of moral values and a correct path of leading one’s life, among others, as shown by the saints themselves. Saints occupy a prominent place of worship and is treated as an incarnation of God. When the lives of the saints are penned down in the form of the above genre, the devotees as well as the admirers tune in with the words inscribed on it.

The chief aspect in a hagiography is the element of unquestioning factor. Astounding events and miracles form one of the constituents of this genre. Hagiographers are often direct devotee or disciple. This world of spirituality is an access to enlightening journey for someone while someone may be a doubting Thomas.

In Assamese culture, Gurucharit occupies a significant place in knowing the lives of Srimanta Sankaradeva and Madhavadeva. We however notice three root causes that hinders in reading the Gurucharit. Firstly, unless required for academic purpose, we do not feel any urge to contemplate on this hagiography. Secondly, our traditional notion that Gurucharit, a sacred book, ought to be read in our “ripe old age” as it will lead us to adore spirituality to the core. Thirdly, the various written forms available perplex readers in terms of names and events. Materials appearing in a confusing way can demagnetize an ordinary reader. Under such circumstances a doubt arises regarding the authenticity of the descriptions.

In the midst of these bewilderment and orthodoxically held views, we are glad to receive the book Purnanga Katha Gurucharit, written by Sanjib Kumar Borkakoti. It is a completely research-oriented book, which requires an insightful reading. The writer has focussed his thoughts and sharp observations for several decades towards our Vaishnavite culture in terms of assessing Gurujana’s works. The present book consisting of one hundred ninety five chapters (excluding reference and bibliographical sections) is the result of Borkakoti’s years long devotion and hard work. This is a magnum opus in comprehending our religious life and culture along with diving into the life of the saint.

As events unfold from the cup of the writer’s pen, we receive a halo of the descriptions which were previously smeared with baffling elements. The writer adopts an unique but painstaking efforts in writing this book. For the convenience of the readers, he has cited each event as described by different hagiographers and then it is followed by a comparative study leading to a definite conclusion. This method allows us to visualize the incidents properly, leaving no room for any vague idea. Another interesting aspect which we cannot overlook is the academic background of our writer. Being a student of science, he has done ample justice to the book. Throughout the Gurucharit, readers would notice the procedure in calculation of dates, scientific analysis and deciphering of events thereby giving a hallmark to the book.

The second noteworthy factor is the construction of the language which is done in modern Assamese prosaic form. This indeed helps reader to read with ease and get attuned with the events. We personally offer our gratitude in this regard for such diligence of work aimed with the sole purpose of knowing our culture in its pristine form.

Thirdly, the presence of miracles is always seen to be an unattachable element in hagiography. We cannot question the range of extraordinary events happening around the life of the saints and devotees. Making an attempt to comprehend them catapults us into a cobweb of haziness. For it is the ‘faith’ that reigns supreme. In Purnanga Katha Gurucharit, we can obviously assume this precarious situation faced by the author.  For a scientific bent of mind, these may appear tough to accept. In finding solution to such difficulties the writer reaches out for practical analysis in order to gain a concrete reply. In events where rationality fails to seek the concrete truth, the writer honestly admits the boundary. The very boundary where spirituality inhibits logic and allows only theological aspects as the ultimate way to know the “absolute truth”. We do not find any single trace of forced views from the author. One can go through the chapters "Srimanta Sankaradevar Janma", " Srimanta Sankaradevar Aloukik Shakti aru Brahmanhakalar Bhandami", "Eshware Nije Drabya Khuji Khale" in this regard.

Fourthly, in giving a comprehensive account of the Gurucharit, the author does extensive study for it. Readers could see the explanations coming from various fields of study. Psychoanalytical study of dreams, Yogic Arts, Literature, Climatic study, Medical Science, Mechanical aspects and others -- comes within one umbrella occupying a strong foothold of authenticity. Interestingly this critical way of studying indeed allows us to receive a more accurate and concrete understanding of the events. For instance, in the chapter "Palnam Aru Aakaxigongar Sristi", the explanation of the event by bringing in the concept of 'artesian well' has a sound reason and is worth-reading. In "Brindabani Bastra Toiyar", one can come to a conclusive point regarding the actual measurement of this precious cloth. The description given by the author regarding the process involved in weaving cannot be missed out. Similarly, in "Ramanandar Bilap aru Shrimanta Sankaradevar Baikuntha Prayan", the convincing reason of Gurujana's death, that is chicken pox, is acceptable when one goes through the reasons cited but provided in an organized way of thinking. At the same time, we are assured from the writer's analysis that there were instances of partiality, haphazardness and a lack of scientific temperament among earlier hagiographers that eventually led to twisting of events including historical aspects.

Fifthly, the step taken for ‘field study’ strengthens the gravity of the book. In “Madangopalar Murti Pratistha”, one can witness this evidence. Similarly, readers can visualize in most of the descriptions about the distance of the places cited by the author. The chapter “Shrimanta Sankardevar Upari Puruxhakal” reveals an insight of Gurujana’s lineage methodically arranged and thereby giving us a sense of reliability. Most importantly is the location of Sankaradeva’s birth place, where the disputable instance is refuted with the aid of various evidences. At this point we are pleased to watch that the author has brought new light of confirmation which we can agree on a unanimous note.

Purnanga Katha Gurucharit requires serious study. A few of the “truth(s)” are still open for interpretation, thus retaining an intense curiosity for us. As most of the exaggerations and misinformations are sorted out with concrete evidences and demonstrations, readers will feel the palpability of authenticity in reading. The seeds of the author's fruitful research will help us in knowing Sankaradeva to the core. In it one will see him as a leading humanist figure. His entire life journey, philosophy and literary contributions will draw us a step closer to him.

One important aspect which we cannot overlook is the factor of impartiality rippled in the book. The author himself has stated clearly of adopting this vision in the preface. This tool has indeed become very effective. For the readers will not find any trace of "'I' ness" associated with the writings. No doubt he is open to all ideas but careful enough in meticulously judging them through field study and with scientific parameters. This not only helps the writer but the readers as well who could simultaneously observe this healthy underlying force. The “I”ness has been transformed into ‘Oneness’.

As a result, we get to read this Gurucharit in a unique way. This however does not obstruct our eagerness. It rather invites us to walk on an illuminating journey where at each step truth, religion and philosophy of Sankaradeva envelopes us profoundly.

With this one can proceed the Gurucharit on a new flavour and insight. Published by Aank Baak the cover of the book impels to revisit fifteenth century admiring the days Sankaradeva lived by and our yearning for it! Readers will definitely feel a sense of pride to have a copy of it in their home library.

[Published in The Sentinel, 26 May, 2024]