Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sri Sri IswarHatiSatra Of Sualkutchi

The Institution of Satra/Xatra is a unique feature of Vaishnavism in Assam. The Satra, or Vaishnavite Monastery, is an institution which was established by great social reformer Sankaradeva and Madhavadeva.Satras soon became centres for education and symbol of the art of harmonius living in Assam. Today, the number of Satras in Assam is well over five hundred.Couple of months back  we visited Sualkutchi to see the Annual Boat Race.As preparation for the race were on way we were invited to the house of  Mr .Hemchandra Bharali and Mrs Dipali Bharali . Mr . Bharali had served for Govt as an  Asst . Director Of Sports and Youth Welfare Dept .He is the key member of the race commitee.During conversation I expressed my desire to visit Majuli(abode of the Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture) someday to
see the Satras there.Hearing this Mr . Bharali suggested that we visit three hundred and fifty years old Sri Sri Iswarhatisatra which is famous for it's great wood carvings and paintings.We readily agreed to it and soon followed Mr. Bharali as our guide.(In the picture : Mr. Bharali ).
A Satra has been defined as:-ekanta vaisnava yot nibasa karai . jibako saran diye, tak Satra kai - which means Where the single-minded Vaishnavas reside,where they offer shelter to the souls, that place is called a Satra.They are of great importance because of the fact that they contain manuscripts, artifacts and antiques of immense historical value.
Here we were introduced to the present Satradhikar or the head of the satra.. The bhakats, monks, live here under the guardianship of the Satradhikar .All important activities are conducted under his guidance and supervision.He told us that by calculating working years of different Satradhikars the estimated age of this Satra is over three hundred fifty years old .In the Satras, the Nama Prasanga/prayers are generally held three times a day.The most sacred space is the Manikut . It is the sacred room where the Guru Asana (sacred throne) is located. Manikut literally means 'house of jewels'. It is also here that the other-Satra valuables, wood carvings, metal works, ancient manuscripts etc. are housed. It is a sacred area and beyond a certain limit general devotees are not allowed in.I have pictures of Manikut entrance but not sharing it here on request .
 These Instituitions work both as the hub of religious learning and as residential schools.Here is a view of the assembly hall .The hall always faces the east.
 Satras have always  encouraged the arts and crafts, like dance, drama, music, book-illustration  for the beautification of the Satra interiors .The above carving depicts the scene from Ramayana .Those who are familiar with Ramayana can see the war between Laxman and Kumbhkaran , Hanuman bringing Sumeru Parvat ,Lord Rama and Lanka king Ravana.
 Doors with carvings of lion motifs are called Shimhaduar .The doors had beautiful brass work on them.Wish that the ripped paint and the dirt over the paintings were taken care of.We were told that soon this site is going to be developed as a tourist destination.
 Another panel depicting Sita Haran by Ravana ,the fight between Jatayu and Ravana and Sita at Ashok Vatika.
 This is how the complete wood walls of the main prayer hall/assembly hall look like .The walls are usually left with railings or perforated wood carvings of devotional imagery, which allows light and air at the same timeThe floral carvings look gorgeous on closer look For many days I repeatedly kept on looking at the pictures of these amazing art work.
From Ramayana : Lord Rama ,Laxman and the fight between Sugreeva and Baali. Because of time limit as we had to go to the Boat Race venue we could not see the carvings on the other side .
 These are the pictures of founder Satradhikars.As told by the present Satradhikar they are kown to have lived very long life .
Later 'Bhakats' invited us to their kitchen for some light refreshments.Though the term 'bhakat' means any devotee -Many  devotees live outside the Satra and generally lead a family life.The celibate Bhakats known as Kevaliaa which popularly applied to mean those devotees who either hold office of the Satra or lead the life of a celibate within the Satra campus.We were served Chira ,Curd topped with delicious cream and generous amount of  sugar .
 info courtesy :attribute to sankardeva.org.
Pukhuris or  water tanks are used either for sacred or utility purposes. Each tank or pukhuri is allotted for a specific purpose such as rice washing,bathing  etc.  The environment around had a number of flowering and fruit bearing trees, which provide ample shade. The height of the main structures do not exceed those of the trees around them.

Soon we had to rush as the procession towards the boat race was about to begin.We left the premises with a promise to the villagers that if possible we will visit this beautiful Satra  again so as to see the interiors of the assembly hall which we missed this time.

I will be away for a week visiting our ancestral village for celebrating Magh/Bhogali Bihu (harvest festival).I wish you all A Very Happy Bihu.

(This new feature of reply thread in blogger comment section is great , go to comments- settings and choose Embedded option in Comment Location)

114 comments:

  1. nice pictures as always by you... your blog is one of my most favourites which shows such unique and rich pictures and places that i immediately long to visit all those places...thanks for the pictorial tours :)

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    1. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement Muhammad .

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  2. It is really interesting to know about Vaishanavism in Assam. The pictures are really beautiful.
    Happy Bihu!
    We would also be celebrating the same festival in the name of Pongal, here in South.

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    1. Yes Rama , it is celebrated all over the coutry by different names.Thanks.

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  3. interesting place.. and i loved the pictures .

    and we celebrate it as MAGH too in punjab the harvesting season is coming up..
    have a great time and yes bring some lovely pictures for us to feast on toooo :)

    Bikram's

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  4. I am a Vaishnav too, and living in a particular region changes so much! Loved the pictures, details and description. :)

    Happy new year to you Kavita. Hope you are doing good.

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  5. A fascinating post!!
    Loved the information and the excellent pictures!!

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  6. Enjoyed the pictures and the interesting information of the Satra, Kavita! Nice to know about such an old Satra. Is there information about Shaivism in Assam too?

    Everything you write about Assam is new to us! Keep writing!

    Happy Bihu to you and your family! I remember your post about Bihu, of last year!

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    1. Yes Sandhya ,there are many great Temples built by Shaivites in Assam .Will try to write a post on the subject someday.Thanks.

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  7. Happy Bihu to you and your family, Kavita. Darling pictures of the carvings!

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  8. Anil Kurup Says :
    Hi Kavita,

    I'm afraid that I cannot post comments in some blogs and unfortunately your blog is one . The window that prompts the "Comment as.." do not open . So please see my comments on your new post here below

    Bye
    Anil.


    Here at last! I wondered why you did not come up with a characteristic post now for some time.
    " The height of the main structures do not exceed those of the trees around them".
    Isn't there something special in the idea that man do not grow taller than what is in Nature. Man tried once with the mythical "Tower of Bable". The result is in the Bible.

    Good pics K, and well explained .

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    1. Thanks Anil , i have copy pasted your message here.

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  9. Excellent post. Very informative. I had no know about it.

    Great pictures.

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  10. Happy bihu kavitha to you and to your family.

    Lovely pics and as always wonderful info.

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  11. I always like in such places the multitude of colors!Very good pictures you took

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  12. Kavita Ba, Beautiful post on Sri Sri IswarHati Satra Of Sualkutchi, Assam & Great photographs with beautiful writeup. Thanks lot.

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  13. The Ramayana panels, are they in wood? Exquisite colouring and lively designs. As usual, you have enlightened us on a not much unknown aspect ( to an outsider like me) of Assamese culture! Kavitaji, Pranams! :-)

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    1. Yes Balan ji ,they are in wood .Thanks .

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  14. ... not much KNOWN... (sic) ! :-/

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  15. Oooofff...awesommeeee..i repeatedly told u yar, u r not a doctor, u r a journalist..

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  16. fascinating tour, amazing how each country has it's own culture, history and traditions...

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  17. Hi Kavita,

    Beautiful post once again. I'm sure some publisher will come to you one of these days and ask you to write a book on Guwahati and the nearby places :D

    All the best!

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  18. Thank you for the wonderful GK didi...
    And Happy Bihu to you and your family..

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  19. this is a glorious post! Yes, you must write a book eventually, Kavita.
    Shared with my FB friends-


    Aloha from Waikiki
    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >

    ><}}(°>

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  20. Thank you so much for everything Cloudia .

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  21. Great job Kavita :)
    Wish you and your lovely family a happy Bhogali.

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  22. The paintings and exquisite carvings are treat for the eyes. I got reminded of Buddhist monasteries that I visited recently. The Satradhikar has a long flowing hair; I wish I had that way :)

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    1. Haaa ... I felt the same about his hair Bindu.Thanks.

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  23. What an amazing place! Such a treat for the eyes and soul.

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  24. Great pics...and quite informative too :)

    I remember one of your Bihu posts...waiting for the next one, have a nice time!

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    1. Thanks .Hope I get somethinf different for Bihu this time.

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  25. How interesting to see the banana and palm trees. You have so many of the same kinds of plant life. All your photos are spectacular. This as such an interesting post to see and learn from. I'd like to wish you a Happy Bihu also! :-)

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    1. Yes ,our lands seem like sisters Kay ,a too many similarities.Thanks.

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  26. Kavita, I always learn something new from your blogposts. Amazing pics and description!

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  27. as usual very informative n colourful......

    Thanks for sharing.....

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  28. lovely photographs, and great descriptions....

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  29. I second Ramesh's thoughts! You are a born reporter/journalist! Lovely!

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  30. You have some beautiful photos. I notice a lot of bright colors are used in painting of their buildings and trim.

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  31. The white of these buildings is so pristine, the yellows and blues so vibrant, many thanks for such colorful images and a post tht was both interesting and informative.

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  32. º°❤ Que lugar bonito, maravilhosamente decorado!
    Bom fim de semana!
    Beijinhos.
    Brasil
    °º✿
    º° ✿ ✿⊱╮

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  33. excellent pictures and beautiful narration

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  34. Beautiful and informative article. Well said and presented!!!

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  35. The paintings on the walls of the Satra are amazing. Incidentally Satra denotes a kind of shelter for the people. I believe the Satra would have boasted of a wooden roof in the past. The present corrogated sheets should go. A very happy reunion and a happy Bihu. We are celebrating "Pongal" tomorrow.

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    1. Even I felt the same about the roof ,soon the premises is going for a complete renovation where I hope that they beautify the roof too.Thanks.

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  36. Wonderful post Kavita. Very informative & interesting.Beautiful place so serene & tranquil. It would be nice to spend a weekend in such a place for meditation,prayers & rejuvenation. Happy Bihu & enjoy delicious Sunga Pitha .Here in Coimbatore( and whole of Tamilnadu) we celebrate Pongal.

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  37. Informative! I too have been to the place also famous for the Silk weavers!:)

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    1. .Thanks.Good to know that you have been to Sualkutchi.

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  38. Wonderful place. The paintings and carvings are beautiful.

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  39. such a beautiful write-up kavita & the pics add to the experience of reading. you have done complete justice to the place both with ur words n your pics that you clicked

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  40. Very interesting and insightful, yet again!! Your posts are strengthening our vacation plans for the North East!! :)

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    1. Do visit NE , I am sure it is going to be fun.

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  41. ..I dunno how I missed your posts..(somehow it dint show up)today I came to check your blog to see ..whether everything is alright...
    anyways it never too late to catch up..
    this place seems to be a gallery of art and arty-facts..Simply amazing
    ...love the simplicity of that place and people!Food looks different too..
    thanks for sharing!

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  42. Informative and interesting post.
    First time I have come on your blog.
    Your presentation and beautiful pictures
    are all amazing.
    Many many thanks for the nice presentation.

    If you like Hindi blogs,please visit mine also.

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    1. Thanks.I will surely visit your blog.

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  43. Strangely, there is one common thing across India even though the country was practically divided throughout the entire history (almost) - Its the religious texts/ stories/ scenes of Ramayana and Mahabharat! I have seen it everywhere, but this is the first instance I come across Ramayana in a North Eastern state. Are people in all NE states well versed with these epics or is it limited to a few of them? Nice description with clear pictures. The paintings/ sculptures in the walls are beautiful. Good to know about a 350 year old institution.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. People of Assam are well versed with Bhagwata ,Ramayana ,Mahabharata as majority of the population is Hindu .I have lived for some years in Arunachal Pradesh and there too have seen some ancient temples where Shiva,Krishna,Durga are worshipped.Tripura is another state where such temples and other historical remains are found .

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  44. Kavita,

    You and Ruprekha will ensure that I visit NE again as after reading such amazing posts with such captivating photographs it tempts me so much to do so.

    Take care

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  45. A native from Assam and hence I find it awesome:) great work!

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  46. This is a superb post. The place looks so clean and peaceful, away from the noise and humdrum of city.
    The colorful carvings depicting scenes from the Ramayan are beautifully done.
    And the food at such places is always tasty, pure and sattvik.
    I am just slowly getting back to blogging and commenting.
    Hope you are doing well Kavita:)

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  47. °º✿
    º° ✿ ✿⊱╮
    BOM DOMINGO!
    BOA SEMANA!
    °º✿
    º° ✿ ✿⊱╮

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  48. Wow , quite an informative post of an unknown temple in Assam .

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  49. These photos well depict this beautiful place. Some day I hope to travel to India. Lovely!

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  50. century comments here...Dr K..u r a real blessing to the blog world..pl keep spreading the cheers..wishes always

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  51. century comments here...Dr K..u r a real blessing to the blog world..pl keep spreading the cheers..wishes always

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  52. Kavita you are doing Assam real proud. I have been meaning to go to Majuli. My paternal grand parents were from there. Love the pictures and your narrative.

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  53. Kavita you are doind Assam real proud by writing about the Satras. I have been meaning to go and visit Majuli for a long time. My paternal grand parents were form there. Great visiting your blog. Loved the pictures and your narrative.

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  54. Kavita you are doing Assam real proud by writing about the Satras. I have been meaning to go and visit Majuli for a long time. My paternal grand parents were form there. Great visiting your blog. Loved the pictures and your narrative.

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  55. I learned so much from this post, Kavita! Your descriptions and your photos were both vivid and fascinating. So glad I stopped by today!
    Blessings!

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  56. where are you girl... come back...

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  57. how r you Kavita ji.....its more than a month you havn't updated ur blog.....busy...????

    Take Care...:)

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  58. Wow.. this is just a treat for eyes as well as mind.. The carvings are so beautifully done that my mouth was wide open to see them.. Amazingly Splendid.. Thanks for sharing such an awesome post:)

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  59. the carvings are so nice and colorful!

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  60. Dr K..u know there are so many of us waiting to c your next beautiful post..plz keeep the show going...wishes to u always:)

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  61. i have a desire to visit majuli also..ever since i read it in lonely planet magazine..and you have written a very informative post here......

    http://sushmita-smile.blogspot.in/

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  62. Very much illustrative and informative

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