The Rise of Neo-Vaishnavism in the Brahmaputra Valley

December 27, 2019 7:33 am 0 comments

One of the most impactful religious movements in the Brahmaputra valley is Neo-Vaishnavism or the Bhakti movement. In modern times, we cannot even imagine the socio-cultural life of Assam without it.

But why it is so important to Assam? How did this movement start in the valley? Where it came from? Who brought it? A lot of amazing questions will be solved in this article.

So, let’s try to solve them with some very simple question answers.

What is neo-Vaishnavism or the Bhakti movement?

Neo-Vaishnavism is a new form of old Hinduism. This religious belief is completely one god centric. Except for the 33 crore deities of the old Hinduism, here people pray Lord Vishnu as their only devotional deity.

This new religion was born to remove various superstitions and misconceptions, inherent in the old Hindu religion. As per Hinduism history, it was born in the 8th century (South India) but developed with a great speed from the very first part of the 16th century.


Where was it born and how it evolved?

History says it seeds first evolved in the southern part of India. There, a great Bhakti saint Ramananda played a significant role to keep the movement fire alive. Although the movement was born in the 8th century; but at that time there was a lack of good leaders to develop it.

Ramananda was the leader of the 14th century. After he established its impact in south India, he brought the movement to the northern part of the country.

In North India, this religious movement received so many great leaders. They were Nitai, Chatyanya Mahaprabhu (Chatyanyadeva), Ramaraju, Vallabhacharya and more. Among them, one of the saints was also from Assam. He was Assam’s great human Mahapurusa Srimanta Sankardev.

Sankardev brought the movement to the Brahmaputra valley. It all happened during his 2nd pilgrimage session.


Why Sankardev brought it to Assam?

Sankardev was an all-time great human of Assam. Till the date, a great man like him has not been born in the land of Assam.

He realized the traditional religious blind believes, superstitions, and harmful impacts of old Hinduism in Assamese society. But till then, no such great idea came into his mind to remove them all completely.

During his 2nd pilgrimage time, when he saw the Bhakti movement impact in other parts of India, he realized that this could make a big change in the Assamese society. And finally, he and his associates brought it to the land to reform the traditional Assamese society.

Did the Bhakti movement succeed in Assam?

Bhakti movement has some greatest impact in Assamese society. Under its influence, many people of Assam also left old Hinduism and converted own-self into Neo-Vaishnavism.

Example: – Sankari Sangha people are the biggest example of its impact. Present-day there lakhs of Assamese people are the part of Sankari Sangha. Their social rules and regulations are quite different from traditional Hindu society and even we see them free from some unnecessary old blind beliefs.

However, there are also a lot of people, who still follow old Hinduism in Assam. But day by day people start converting themselves into Vaishnavism believers.



How Sankardev took the Bhakti movement among common people?

The character of the Bhakti movement was completely derived from mythological Indian scriptures, such as the Bhagavad Gita, Purana, Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc.

But then a problem arose over it.

The main problem here was that Assamese society was illiterate at that time. Therefore, it was almost impossible for the common people to get knowledge of all these great books.

As a way to give the great knowledges to the common people, Shankardev introduced some very interesting ways to easily carry the stories of great texts like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Gita, and Purana among people.

Those ways are Bhaona, Borgeet, Namghar, and some other of his great creations.  His creations also got a lot of success.

Over time, it started helping people a lot understand, what neo-Vaishnavism actually was and why they should follow it.

Contemporary Scenario

Present-day Neo-Vaishnavism is in a very strong position. It is also helping the old Hinduism to get refined more and more.

We hope that in the future, this religion will make a huge contribution to eliminating blind faith and other misconceptions from our societies.

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