Over five centuries have gone by since the great Assamese Vaisnavite saint, philosopher and social reformer Mahapurusha Srimanta Sankaradeva weaved together a mosaic of divergent and centrifugal social set ups into a cohesive social entity marked by simplicity, tolerance and mutual respect.
One of his attempts was to build up the edifice of a greater Assamese society latent with inherent solidity to withstand the ravages of time. And this he achieved with flying colours and in the process proved to the world that he was one of the greatest visionaries to tread this planet.
His strategy, based mainly on simplicity and pristine human values, in the matter of weaving the social fabric stood the rigorous test of time, running into centuries, with such impunity that even today the Mahapurusha continues to be a living and roving force in our midst.
His preaching anchored on honesty, simplicity, human values, tolerance and mutual respect for one another laced with his opposition to any kind of discrimination or separation on the basis of language, caste, creed, religion, ethnicity and the like hugely succeeded in drawing people from diverse stock to his fold. Significantly enough, the Mahapurusha had even a good number of Muslim followers. Legends have it that one of his closest disciples Chand Khan, popularly referred to as Chanda Shai or Chanda Kai, was entrusted by the Guru with the task of raising the ‘Laikhuta’ of the first Satra at Bordowa.
The outcome of the great saint’s preaching based on purest of human values was the emergence of a society, the hallmark of which was peace, harmony and brotherhood among all – a society where division on the basis of caste, creed, religion, language, ethnicity or such elements vanished into oblivion.
While the present day society in the state, having withstood severe assault by various forces over the centuries, has witnessed many of the values preached by the great Guru disappearing into the blue, yet even today the basic social structure has not deviated from the edifice built by the Mahapurusha.
Having said that, it must be stated in the same breath that over the years, particularly since the recent past, various forces from various quarters have openly set their anti-Assam agenda in top gear purportedly to tear apart the unity of the Assamese society with the sinister design of achieving some unspeakable political goal.
So far as the unity of the people of Assam is concerned, it is mainly based on the culture of the State. While the culture of Assam is multi-fold, multi-faceted and multi-coloured, the cultural edifice handed down by the great Guru to the posterity, particularly in the Brahmaputra Valley, with a view to the evolving of a greater Assamese social order, continues to be the principal pillar on which our society stands today.
Any deviation from the social order laid out by Mahapurusha Sankardeva can only spell doom for the greater Assamese society, resulting in it being torn apart to be in a shambles.
It may be pertinent to state at this juncture to the state that over the years the very edifice of the greater Assamese society has been subjected to multi-pronged attacks by various forces inimical to socio-cultural ethos of the people of Assam. Drawing roadmaps with sinister designs, these forces have been at work, overtly or covertly, since quite sometime and have seemingly to some extent been successful in striking at the very base of the greater Assamese society.
Fully committed to their anti-Assamese roadmap, these forces are now openly unravelling their cards to the point of posing serious threat to the very existence and identity of the indigenous people. One shudders at the thought as to what would become of the greater Assamese society and the indigenous people if the hostile forces have their way of uprooting the locals from their homes and hearths by imposing aliens and their cultures and in the process mint political and socio-economic mileage for all times to come.
The people of the State and the Northeast for that matter are not fools to smile away at everything. They are fully aware of the horrendous scenario looming large on the horizon at the instance of such forces hostile to the interests of indigenous people. It is not for nothing that millions have joined hands to say ‘no’ at the top of their voice to these forces.
A vital principle of any battle is ‘Don’t underestimate your enemy’. In the instant battle for survival, the people of Assam must bear in mind that they are up against some mighty forces and a long and hard struggle for survival is seemingly on the cards. It is high time that the locals took to the task with renewed vigour and determination.
That renewed vigour can only come from further strengthening the social bond among all communities and ethnic groups, irrespective of caste, creed, language, religion and the like as established by Mahapurusha Sankardeva.
At this hour when anti-Assam forces seem to be assuming the shape of a hurricane, purportedly set to wipe out the culture and sons and the daughters of the soil of Assam, nothing can be a greater source of acquiring further strength to counter such forces than the social path as laid out by the Mahapurusha. At this hour of crisis when doom seems to be hanging overhead, the locals must forget their petty differences for their own survival and rally around the concept of greater Assamese society.
It is this notion of greater unity among the sons and daughters of the soil of Assam that can have the effect of thwarting the evil designs of the anti-Assam forces.
Having said that, it must be borne in mind that the forces hostile to Assam would always be on the lookout for opportunities to split the greater Assamese society with a view to realizing their sinister designs. No doubt that those forces are very much aware that it is the social fabric woven by Mahapurusha Sankardeva that holds the greater Assamese society together.
Hence their prime attempt would be to tear asunder this fabric. While the Satras are the fountain-head of the great mosaic of the multi-faceted Assamese culture, beyond doubt the anti-Assam forces may aim towards the total annihilation of these great centres of culture and Vaishnavism.
While a huge section of the population comprises of youth, as a natural corollary a good deal of the destiny of the Sate lies in their hands. Again, a section of them have seemingly fallen prey to decadent values let loose by some alien cultures and also Bollywood movies. The sooner it dawns upon the younger generation that loss of cultural roots is synonymous with loss of identity which in turn may threaten survival itself, the better.
With the anti-Assam forces going great guns openly, it is not enough that the social cohesiveness and the cultural values as propounded by the Guru remains intact. The paramount need is that these values along with the Satras flourish to greater heights if the indigenous people are to foil all the multi-prong attacks on them.
It is time that the clarion call be made and the social fabric be revisited and reinforced in the manner as preached by the great Guru and prove to our adversaries that we are one and that no force can split us apart. While the adversaries, for sure, would harp on division of the society, any success on their part would only mean a sure loss of our very identity. As of now, ‘Jai Guru Sankara’ appears to be the only survival mantra for the locals.
Talmizur Rahman is a Guwahati based senior journalist and commentator. He can be reached at [email protected]