Webinar on Feminist Srimanta Sankaradeva

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As part of the international webinar series on Different facets of Sankaradeva Studies, organized by Society for Srimanta Sankaradeva, the seventh webinar was held on 3rd July, 2022. Dr Gitanjali Hazarika, Associate Professor, Arya Vidyapeeth College was the resource person. He delivered lecture on “Feminist Srimanta Sankaradeva”. The webinar was moderated by Dr Sanjib Kumar Borkakoti, author and scholar of Sankari culture, who is also President of Society for Srimanta Sankaradeva.

Dr Gitanjali Hazarika said that Srimanta Sankaradeva, a polymath and one of the most significant socio-religious figures from Assam belonging to the fifteenth century may also be considered as a feminist. He is a feminist who advocates equal rights and opportunities to women and all others. Srimanta Sankaradeva’s works are greatly influenced by Indian neo-vaishnavite philosophy. His works affirm that all human beings, irrespective of gender, cast or creed have equal rights and should get equal opportunity. Srimanta Sankaradeva’s very own life, work and writings validate this perception that he was a feminist. Dr Hazarika’s lecture focussed on Srimanta Sankaradeva’s feministic behavior, work, thought and literary creations. She highlighted the special attitude of Srimanta Sankaradeva towards female members of his order; she alluded to Khersuti, Barabahi, Kalindi and Chandari in particular.

Several scholars including Dr Pabitrapran Goswami, a leading exponent of Bargeet attended the webinar. Dr Goswami said that Srimanta Sankaradeva took classical music to the masses, women being part of them. Political scientist Dr Renu Keer from New Delhi, Career Counselor Dr Buljit Buragohain, Research scholar Anubhuti Gayan, musician Debojit Bharali etc attended the event. They all appreciated the initiative of the Society and took active part in the deliberations.
Dr Sanjib Kumar Borkakoti in his comment said that Srimanta Sankaradeva was a pioneer of feminism as most of the feminist authors belonged to a period after him. Dr Borkakoti said that the writings of Srimanta Sankaradeva like Nimi Navasiddha Sambada reflected his concern for female education; the saint had exhorted people to educate women in this treatise. He also highlighted the fact that the saint used to train his niece Kamalpriya in music, because of which Chilarai could get to know the saint through the rendering of Bargeet by Kamalpriya.

Dr Sanjib Kumar Borkakoti announced that the lectures in this webinar series would later be brought out in book form. Already seven webinars have been held. Some more are planned with Dr Ananya Barua from Hindu College, New Delhi, Dr Pabitrapran Goswami from Jorhat, musicians Dilip Changkakoti and Rupam Jyoti Bora from Guwahati etc as resource persons.

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