“Since Assam is part and parcel of India, its cultural legacy belongs to the whole nation. When this legacy comes under any threat, it becomes the responsibility of the entire country to protect it. We, all the Sattradhikars from Assam, have assembled in New Delhi to apprise the countrymen as to how the traditional culture of Assam and the great sattra tradition formed by Shrimant Shankardev are facing onslaughts. The Bangladeshi infiltrators and the conversion on gun-point have made the life of local people miserable,? said Shri Bhadrakrishna Goswami, president of the Asom Sattra Mahasabha while talking to Organiser in New Delhi. He was participating in the two-day sattra darshan function organised by the Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture (VKIC), Guwahati, on November 25 at the Satya Sai International Auditorium.
He said the Bangladeshis are grabbing their land forcefully and the administration appears helpless and ineffective. ?People are being converted on gun point. Economically, too, we are living in a very miserable condition. It has become very difficult for our people to survive and preserve the centuries old legacy. We hope people of the country and the government officials sitting in Delhi would listen to our woes and address them without wasting time. Almost all the Sattradhikar Prabhus, head of the sattras, expressed similar concern. An exhibition on Srimant Shankaradev and Vivekananda Kendra was inaugurated by Shri Janardhan Dev Goswami, Sattradhikar and Sri Sri Uttar Kamalabari Sattra.
Besides over 450 scholars, intellectuals and educationists of Delhi, 15 Sattradhikar Prabhus, 14 scholars and 26 artists from Assam participated in the function that concluded on November 26 at the Chinmaya Mission Auditorium. Assam Chief Minister, Shri Tarun Gogoi was expected to attend the concluding ceremony but he did not turn up. At the inaugural ceremony, Shri P. Parameswaran, president, Vivekananda Kendra, Kanya-kumari, welcomed all the Sattradhikar Prabhus and dignitaries by presenting them holy angavastram of Assam. Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Coimbatore, Lt. Gen. (retd.) Shri S.K. Sinha, Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Shri D.N. Bezboruah, founder editor of The Sentinal and Shri Narayan Chandra Goswami of Sri Sri Natun Kamalabari Sattra, Majuli, were among the prominent personalities who were present at the inaugural ceremony.
It was a spiritual, intellectual and cultural journey though the sattra institution, which symbolises collective consciousness for collective good of humanity. The cultural activities presented on the occasion by Assamese artists brought Assam alive in Delhi. Extending total support to the sattra movement, Swami Dayanand Saraswati said destruction of culture is taking place in Assam and the Hindus of the country have to protect it from the aggressive forces. He said Hinduism has the twin role of not only upholding its values but also withstanding the onslaught of aggressive forces. ?We can learn a lot by studying the history of the sattras and the role they have played in preserving our dharma in Assam. Sattras are great institutions founded by a great visionary Shankardev. Since he had a vision, he founded the sattras that later preserved the dharma,? he said further adding that the aggression against Hindu dharma is highly organised, well planned and ruthless. ?When I look at the Hindu dharma, I feel if it has to survive, a lot of things have to be done. The study of sattras will help us in this cause. It will help the sattras also,? he added.
Speaking at the concluding ceremony, Shri P. Parameswaran said Shrimant Shankardev did the multi-dimensional work and gave a new direction to the Assamese society. He said the idea behind starting the sattra tradition was not only for Assam, but also for the entire nation. Talking about the threats of demographic imbalance and conversion in the northeast region, he said only the sattra tradition can hold Assam back. He said if Assam is lost, India would be crippled. Only the sattras can provide the leadership. Looking at the importance of sattra vis-?-vis India, he said, the world is looking to India for spiritual sustenance. The whole world needs Bharat, Bharat needs Assam and Assam needs the sattras.
Lauding the initiative of the sattra darshan, Lt. Gen. (retd.) S.K. Sinha who has a long association with Assam, said Shankardev represented a unique institution. ?He tried to break the barriers of caste. He believed that the caste should not be on the basis of birth but on the basis of karma. Both Swami Vivekananda and Shankardev were not Brahmin by birth, but they proved themselves greatest Brahmins of their time. Today we see caste dominating politics all over the country, but in Assam it has no role because of the great legacy of Shrimant Shankardev. I feel this legacy should not confine only to Assam but should spread across the country,? said the former Governor of Assam who started his army career at the age of 18 from Assam itself.
Shri Sinha expressed concern over the growing demographic aggression in Assam. He said the identity of Assam is going to be compromised and the day is not far when the indigenous people of the state would become minority in their own land. ?The infiltration from Bangladesh has posed a great thereat to the national security of the entire nation. Though I passed several researched reports on it, but they failed to bring any change,? he added.
Shri D.N. Bezboruah said it is impossible to think of Assam without the sattras. ?If there is no sattra, there will be no Assam. It is the duty of the entire country, including the government, to promote and preserve such a great tradition,? he said. He further added that during the freedom movement also the sattras and the Sattradhikar Prabhus played an important role. ?Some sattras are today facing a severe financial crisis. They must be trained to earn better. They should explore new possibilities and should adopt modern technology and tools. I feel the Sattra Mahasabha should formulate a 50-year long programme to undertake certain things,? he said. The terrorism in the state had affected everything and everyone. ?The government is not helpful. The most unfortunate thing is that the democratically elected government too supports the Bangladesh immigrants who have developed demographic imbalance in the region,? he added.
Shri Balakrishna, national vice president of Vivekananda Kendra said the VKIC is successful in instilling the spirit of nationalism in the people of north-eastern region. Calling the sattras as soul of Assam, he said the VKIC has been trying to strengthen and spread them in remote areas of the region. He pointed out that the Vivekananda Kendra has a large network of service centers in north-east region. Describing it a national yajna, he called upon the countrymen to help in this cause. Shri Dipok Barthakur, chairman of the VKIC, said there are about 862 big and small sattras in Assam but their existence is unknown in the country. ?This event is an effort to make people familiar with this great tradition,? he said.