TEZPUR, Sept 16 - Noted social scientist and former Director of the Centre for Himalayan Studies, University of North Bengal, Professor Baniprasanna Misra has appealed to view the life and deeds of saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva with a new outlook so that a correct and comprehensive picture of the life and works of the great Vaishnava saint could be drawn.
Professor Misra was delivering the seventh Sankaradeva Lecture on �Srimanta Sankaradeva and His Times: Some Further Historical Probings� at the Council Hall of Tezpur University here on Thursday.
Tezpur University Vice-Chancellor Professor Mihir Kanti Chaudhuri inaugurated the function, while Professor Ranjit Kumar Dev Goswami, Head of the Department of the Centre for Assamese Studies and Professor Srimanta Sankaradeva Chair of the University welcomed the guests at the function.
Avoidance of the socio-political scenario of the period in a canvas wider than Assam and Koch Behar, and the syndrome of �emphatically ignoring the neighbours� appear to be responsible for our limitations, and the present exercise is aimed at correcting some of the imbalances by bringing in certain useful dimensions to the subject, said Professor Misra.
He examined the issue of the date of birth of the great saint and arrived at the conclusion that contrary to the usual belief that the saint-reformer might have been born between AD 1479 and AD 1484 at Bardowa and he breathed his last in 1596 at Koch Behar, he thus lived a life that was spread to 112 years or upto 115 years. It is generally believed that the saint lived for 120 years.
There is a clear deficit of investigation into the basics of history for situating Srimanta Sankaradeva properly on time. We know the date of his death for certain, without any knowledge of a definite date of birth or span of his life, excepting what the zealous enthusiasts would have us believe from some extra-historical considerations.
As a result of compromise with date and time, it is well nigh impossible to connect Sankaradeva with people and events satisfactorily, leading to a less than real life size picture being drawn of the great man.
Further, since the focus and the canvas of any history are inter-related, the canvas for studying the emergence of the neo-Vaishnava movement in Assam should be drawn carefully.
It is not clear how an adeqauate study on Sankaradeva can ever be conducted against what Jon M Keune identified as the practice of �emphatically ignoring the neighbour� or �selective geographic orientation,� the two things which he found to have afflicted studies on the origin, spread and some other features of the Marathi Bhakti movement. The compromise with date and time, the haziness of the canvas and the narrowness in its spread all make it difficult to pay due obeisance to Sankaradeva and to do justice to history.
On the relation between Sankaradeva and Chaitanyadeva of Bengal, he said that both Sankaradeva and Chaitanyadeva were contemporaries and had originality in approach and methods adapted for their goal, even while sharing some of the essential objectives and practices in common.�
Sanatana and Rupa, the most important duo of the �six gosvamis� of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, were deputed to Vrindavana�by Chaitanya himself and with them Srimanta Sankaradeva from Assam is reputed to have had a very close inter-relation.
From the accounts left behind by some of the biographers, it appears that during his second visit to Puri in 1532-33, there was also a brief meeting between Srimanta Sankaradeva and Chaitanya.