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What are Sattras?


Sattras in Assam are like special schools that were established back in the 16th century. They were set up as part of a movement led by a saint named Srimanta Sankaradeva, who wanted to bring positive changes. These schools were created to follow a new way of thinking called Neo-Vaishnavism, which focused on a more reformist approach to the traditional beliefs. So, you can think of Sattras as these cool places where people learned and embraced these fresh ideas in Assam during that time.

Why were they established?

Their mission is to share Sankardeva’s special “worship through art” philosophy. Right now, they’re actively using music (borgeet), dance (sattriya), and theater (bhauna) to bring this approach to life.


  • Every Satra has a central worship hall called a naamghar.
  • Each Satra is led by a significant figure known as the “Satradhikar.”
  • Young monks, called bhakats, join Sattras and start their journey in the spiritual community.
  • Whether or not these bhakats choose a celibate lifestyle depends on the specific Sattra they join.

What is Sankardeva’s philosophy?

  • Srimanta Sankardev, who lived from 1449 to 1568, was an influential figure in 15th–16th century Assam. He was not just a saint, but also a scholar, poet, and a reformer with a strong impact on the region.
  • One of his significant contributions was the promotion of a Bhakti philosophy known as Eka Sarana Naam Dharma. This philosophy emphasized devotion and had a profound influence on the Koch and Ahom kingdoms during the medieval period.
  • In simpler terms, Srimanta Sankardev’s teachings and beliefs played a crucial role in shaping the religious and social landscape of Assam during his time.

Key Features of the Philosophy

  • God (Deva): The philosophy emphasizes the presence of a higher power.
  • Prayers (Naam): Central to the philosophy is the practice of prayer.
  • Devotees (Bhakats): Followers of the philosophy are considered devotees.
  • Teacher (Mentor): A spiritual guide is essential in this philosophy.
  • The philosophy promotes a society that values equality and brotherhood.
  • It rejects caste differences, traditional rituals, and sacrifices.
  • Idol worship is discouraged; instead, focus on devotion (bhakti) to Krishna.
  • Express devotion through congregational activities like listening and singing Krishna’s name and deeds (Kirtan and Sravan).

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