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Parijata Harana as a literary medium of spreading Vaishnavite religion founded by Sankardeva

Listen everyone, with devotion,

You have no other friend except Hari

so says Sankara, the servant of Krishna.

Lets everyone repeat the name of Rama!


Srimanta Sankardeva is one of the highly honoured, cultural and religious figures of the entire India. Like many other prophets, Sankardeva was involved in preaching the message of humanity among the masses. Till dtae he has been a beacon of light to the Assamese society with darkness all around. Like any other religious prophets, Sankardeva too founded a religion, widely known as ‘Neo-Vaishnavite’ religion which came out from his vast experiences developed from his interaction with the then Vaishnavite religious preachers from across the country. Significantly Sankardeva’s way of preaching was different from others. He adopted the literary form to spread a religious fervour among the masses with a reformist zeal.

Sankardeva’s Neo Vaishnavite religion was a path of reforms and transformation to the then contemporary society- a way from darkness into light and has been a guiding force for the followers for the last six centuries. The term ‘Neo-Vaishnavite’ is associated with the implcations – ‘a friend, philosopher, and guide’. In that sense the relgion serves as a beacon of light for the masses in attaining solace and devotion. His Vaishnavism is known as ‘Ek Sarana Naam Dharma’ which is an embodiment of three aspects – Ek Sarana, Sat Sanga and Naama. Ek Sarana means seeking solace from one God, Sat Sanga refers to an assembly of followers (Bhakta) for obeisance while Naama refers to chanting as a means of prayer for a place at the feet of the Supreme Lord. Sankardeva’s Vaishnavism forbids elaborate rituals and worship of idols while advocating an austere lifestyle for his followers. Naama is considered to be sufficient for the common people as it knows no class distinction in the name of high and low. He emphasized on equality among all people from the aristocrat to the poor and down-trodden.

Unlike most prophets, as we have already stated above, Sankardeva used his literary activities as a platform of prreaching his new Vaisshnavite religion. The Parijata Harana serves as a significant edifice for spreading his religion among the masses. Sankardeva’s Ek Sarana Naam Dharma glorifies Lord VIshnu as the Supreme Guru or God in the Universe. Lord Vishnu is the sole source of solace and salvation to one and all. All the characters in the two stories borrowed from the Bhagavata and Vishnu Purana are employed to convey the spiritual message that Lord Vishnu is the Almighty. Both the stories are meant to glorify the ways of God who took various incarnations from time to time to ease the earth of the burden of sins. While narrating the glory of Lord Vishnu, Sutra says,

“Slayer of Agha, Baka, Dhenuka and Kamsa

You eased the earth of its burden of evil

And became an Avatara for the sake of your devotees.”

Parijata Harana is a play of two plots embedded. The first plot tells the story of Lord Krishna’s victory over the demon Narakasura. Even God Indra, the king of Amravati had to take aid of Krishna to rescue him from the grasp of Naraka. Lord Krishna had delineated in the play as the destroyer of the evil doers and rescuer of faithful or the virtuous. The narrator Sutra while glorifying the Leela of Lord Krishna says,

“Jaya Jaya Murari, crusher of Keshi and Kamsa,

Jaya Jaya to the bearer of Govardhan

To Him who eases the fears of the faithfu;

Jaya Jaya to the crusher of the poisonous Kali

to the dwarf who bettered Bali.”

With these words, as anarrated by Sutra the defeated Indra realizes his sin, repents for that and offers prayer to the Almighty with a prayer for mercy. Lord Krishna is so depicted that even the great Gods like Brahma and Shiva worship Him for endless eons. Admittion the supremacy of Lord Krishna, Indra says, “…. whose lotus feet have been worshipped for endless eons by Brahma and Shiva.”

In that way Lord Vishnu is the supreme commander of the cosmos. Therefore we can see how Parijata Harana is a literary medium for spreading the Vaishnavite religion founded by Sankardeva.

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