Prime minister Narendra Modi on Friday paid rich tributes to Srimanta Sankaradeva – the 16th century saint-reformer of Assam – and said that he not only pioneered eradication of untouchability in India, five centuries ago but also took spiritualism to a new heights by painting it with the colours of lives of the common man.
“It is unbelievable and unthinkable that a saint-reformer launched a mass movement five centuries ago to eradicate untouchability and other social evils, and that too in far away Assam. He also inspired thousands of his followers to be prepared to even make the supreme sacrifice for protection of the motherland, tradition and culture,” Modi said, speaking as chief guest at the 85th Srimanta Sankaradeva Sangha session at Rupohipathar in Sivasagar, about 350 kms from capital Guwahati.
Wondering how the teachings of a 16th century preacher could continue to draw lakhs of people in modern times, Modi pointed out that Sankaradeva did it by applying scientific methods of various forms and mass media to propagate neo-Vaishnavism among the people.
“There was no cinema, camera, television or telephone during Sankaradeva’s time. Yet, he spread his messages to far-away places by appropriately using theatre, dance, music, lyrics, songs, paintings and poetry to reach out to the people. And six centuries later those are still in practice. That itself is amazing. People in rest of India will be surprised to know about him,” he said.
Speaking about Sankaradeva’s spirit of nationalism, Prime Minister Modi also said he was full of respect for the saint-reformer, who could inspire the people here to become such good Assamese who would then also become very good Indians. “He was such a mahapurush who, despite living in a far-flung region, inspired the people to become good Assamese so that they could also become good Indians,” he said.
“Sankaradeva spoke of and worked for nation-building, he strived for building human capital. He gave strength to community efforts through spiritual consciousness. He travelled across the sub-continent to spread his gospel,” the prime minister said.