GUWAHATI, March 18 - A comprehensive pictorial book introducing Srimanta Sankardev�s first drama, Chihnajatra, was released at a function at the Guwahati Press Club in the presence of a large gathering.
Releasing the book at a function presided over by retired Director General of Indian Museum, Robin Dev Choudhury, senior journalist DN Chakravartty said that it was an unpardonable letdown on the part of Assamese intellectuals and writers in failing to bring to the notice of the world the astounding creations of Sankardev which marked the beginning of modern drama and theatre long before the birth of William Shakespeare and two centuries before the emergence of drama in Indian regional languages.
Narrating the content of Chihnajatra, the written form of which is not yet traceable and narratives of which are available only in various Guru Charits, Chakravartty said that Sankardev even at the age of 20 demonstrated unparalleled genius by performing different roles in the entire process of production and presentation of dramas.
Chakravartty said that saint-reformer Sankardev � besides conceiving and writing the themes and songs of the drama � played various roles as director, music director, dance director, singer, dancer, actor, instrument player, art director and manager of the entire procedure.
What was most unbelievable, Chakravartty said, was the fact that Sankardev played on nine khols at one time and appeared in seven roles of Lord Narayana in seven Baikunthas with six Lakshmis, and playing the role of Narayana solitarily without Lakshmi in the seventh Baikuntha.
It was the dramatic genius and organising skill of Sankardev that he could harness the talents of common villagers, many of whom were given different roles in the drama. While Sankardev played the role of Narayana, Ram Rai played the role of the Sutradhar, and Sarbajoy played the role of Garuda, Ketai Khan was Guri Bayan. There were three other Pali Bayans. Sankardev himself manufactured the musical instruments and the drama continued for seven nights and seven days.
It was most thrilling that even in those days, Sankardev could make lighting arrangements making the entire drama visible from a distance of 300 metres with the audience varying from 10,000 to 15,000, he added.
The pandal was decorated beautifully with floral furnishings and erection of gates with khajuri leaves.
Dr Anita Choudhury, professor of Sanskrit, gave an introductory lecture on Assamese drama. Lohit Chandra Deva Goswami, the writer, and a descendent of a Sattradhikar closely related to Sankardev�s family, said that he made an effort to present the first major work of Sankardev in order to acquaint the modern generation with one of the
finest treasures of world literature.
Dr Robin Dev Choudhury complimented the author for his noble effort.