Auniati Satra of Majuli
22nd Feb 2011
Satras are the Assamese Vaishnavite monasteries for religious practices. These great Vaishnava monasteries were founded at the initiative of the Ahom Kings of Assam in the middle of the 17th century. Satra is an institution, which motivates the minds of the people through ritual performances to realize the existence of God. They are places where the Vaishnavs dedicate themselves to serve God and also preach the followers for devotion towards God. They are also the centre of art and culture in Assam. They make the use of various ritual and devotional performances to make the mass people understand and practice the doctrine of the Vaishnavism and realize belief in one God and the means of the ultimate eternal peace.
Ahom King Sultanla established Auniati Satra in the year 1653 A.D. He was given the name Jayaddhaja Singha after he adopted the Hindu Religion (Vaishnava) from the first Satradhikar of Auniati Satra Sri Sri Niranjan Deva. Auniati Satra is located at Majuli Island in Jorhat District of Assam. The slightly elevated land of Majuli, where this Satra was established, was full of Auni Paan (a kind of betel creeper plant). Ati means elevated place. There from the name Auniati Satra came into being.
The ruling deity of this Satra is Sri Sri Govinda. This idol was originally brought from Jagannath Kshetra (Puri, Orissa) and installed there with all the Vedic religious rituals. The main prayer in the Auniati Satra continues from morning till evening everyday and is being continued without interruption for more than last 350 years. The Satriya performances are usually a regular devotion to Lord Govinda by the vaishnavs in the Satra in the general prayer hall (Naam-ghar). Apart from the main idol, there are also other idols for worship here. This Satra is known to be of Brahma Sanghati. In this Satra there is Bhagavata Shravana-Kirtana and Saidhya(fourteen) devotional worship or Naam Prasanga. In addition there are three additional devotional worship each day as daily devotional song. The Satradhikar is the supreme authority of the Satra Auniati.
The Satriya performances of the Auniati Satra include various forms of prayers, dances and religious theatrical shows based on the great Indian epics of Puranas, Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Srimad Bhagawat etc. The foremost dance performances of Sri Sri Auniati Satra are Natua, Apsara, Sutradhar, Ozapali (Panchali and Dulari), Sali, Jumura, Krishna Gopi Nritya, Maati Akhara and Gayan-Bayan. The Songs (Satriya Geeta) includes Gayana Geet, Ozapali Geet, Janmastami Geet, Raas-Geet, Gopal Bairagya Geet, Raja Gharia Geet, Guru Bandana, Deva Bandana & Natarmajar Geet. Naama , Hiya Nam, Deeha Nam, Sabahua Nam, Bairagi Nam, Nam Mangal, Ghosa Mangal, Ras Mangal, Bairaginam, Barnam etc. One of the significant festivals of Sri Sri Auniati Satra is Palnaam, commencing from the 25th day of Assamese Kartika Month to the 29th day of the same. Thousands of followers (disciples) gather in the main Majuli satra for offering their prayers during these days. Other major activities include the spiritual guidance (preaching) called Sharan, Bhajan and Malamantradan under the direct supervision of the Satradhikar or his delegates. There are three Gosains including the Satradhikar. Under the Satradhikar there is Deka Satradhikar and Govindapuria. Govindapuria has no responsibility of the Satra. Deka Satradhikar may have same satriya responsibility.
There are twelve branches of this famous Satra in various parts of Assam. The main branch of Auniati Satra is at North Guwahati, just opposite to Guwahati city, which was established in 1915 A.D. by His Holiness Sri Sri Kamal Dev Goswami by possessing 60 bighas of land from Aswaklanta Devalaya. The 14th Satradhikar Bhagawat Bhaskar Sri Sri Hem Chandra Deva Goswami rebuilt the old Satra in 1959 to its present condition. The present Satradhikar SriSri Dr. Pitambar Dev Goswami built the Kaliapani branch of the Satra in the year 2003.