Like Sankardev, Shri Shri Madhavdev also owned versatility. He was a preacher of the same religion, a devotee, a poet, a playwright, and a singer. He is an important preceptor of the Ekasarana Dharma known for his loyalty to his guru, Srimanta Sankardev as well as his artistic brilliance. Initially a known worshiper, he was converted to Ekasarana Dharma by Sankardev and became his most prominent disciple. After Gurujana’s death in 1568, he became Sankardev’s religious and artistic successor. Madhavdev composed a lot of songs at the behest of Gurujana Shankardev. Nam Ghosha is a remarkable work of Madhavdev’s life.
Biography of Shri Shri Madhavdev
|Name||Shri Shri Madhavdev|
|Date of Birth||1489|
|Place of Birth||Lateku Pukhuri, Narayanpur|
|Died||1596, Bhela Satra, Koch Bihar|
Early Life and Education of Shri Shri Madhavdev
Shri Shri Madhavdev was born in 1489 at Baligrama in Lakhimpur district of Assam. Madhavdev received his early education at Narayanpur in Lakhimpur. His father’s name is Govindagiri Bhuyan and his mother’s name is Manorama Devi. Govindagiri was a descendant of Hari Bhuyan (Haripal) who went to Kamrupa with Shankardev’s forefather Candivara. Govindagiri became a Majinder at Banduka, (in Rangpur District, in present day Bangladesh) and established his family (wife and son) there. On the death of his wife, he migrated to Bardowa, Nagaon District, present day Assam, and married Manorama of the Bara-Bhuyan clan. But he became homeless due to the warfare between Bara-Bhuyans and the Kacharies and he and his wife was given shelter at Letekupukhuri by Harasinga Bora, an officer of the Chutiya Kingdom. Letekupukhuri is located between Narayanpur and Bihpuria. Harasinga Bora arranged for Madhavdev’s early education in Narayanpur.
A famine induced the family to move again, and the family was sheltered by a boatman named Ghagari Maji at Habung, a place near Dhakuakhana in Lakhimpur district. Madhavdev’s sister Urvasi was born here. After nearly 10 years in Habung, the family rowed down the Brahmaputra river to Rauta-Tembuwani (present day Bordowa), where Urvasi was married to Gayapani Bhuyan. Soon after, Madhavdev accompanied his father back to Banduka leaving behind his mother with his sister and brother in law, where he continued his education under a teacher named Rajendra Adhyapak. Here, Madhavdev was well versed in the Tantras, Tarka-shastra, Purana and other literature related to Saktism. Soon after, his father Govindagiri died.
Leaving his half brother (named either Damodara or Rupchandra), Madhavdev with the news returned to his brother -in-law Gayapani and was associated himself with trade in betel-leaf and areca nut business. But his half brother, who was a Majinder at Banduka, fell ill, Madhavdev returned there to shoulder his responsibilities. At Banduka, he got the news of his mother’s failing health, and he immediately returned to Dhuwahat, where Gayapani had moved with his wife and mother-in-law after Kacharies had uprooted the Bara Bhuyans.
Madhavdev’s education continued in Banduka (now Rangpur district of Bangladesh) under Rajendra Adhyapak. He studied Puranas, Tantras etc., Madhavdev met Sankardev at the age of 32. After four and a half hours of long debate, Madhavdev accepted Srimanta Sankardev as his Guru. Sankardev considered him as his life friend and later appointed him as his successor.
At the age of 32, Madhavdev joined the cause of ‘Ekasarana Dharma’ and started following the path and teachings of Srimanta Sankardev. Though Madhavdev was a disciple of Shankardev, till his death he considered Madhavdev a ‘Pran Bandhu’ (friend of the soul). To keep himself fully dedicated to ‘Ekasarana Dharma’, Madhavdev decided never to get married.
Madhavdev was a great poet and writer. His first literary creation was Janmo Rahaisya, which was about the creation and destruction of the world. He composed Namghosa, which is considered equally important as Sankardev’s Kirtan Ghosha. Another great creation of his was Bhati Raantavali. He also wrote the last two chapters of Sankardev’s Kirtan Ghosa. Other important works of Madhavdev include Naam Malika, Guru Bhatima etc. He wrote several solo plays (Jhummura) and 191 Borgeets.
Also Read : Biography of Srimanta Sankardev
Madhavdev’s meeting with Sankardev
Shri Shri Madhavdev had grown into a staunch Sakta lying in his education and practice, and after receiving the news of his mother’s illness while in Banduka, he resolved to sacrifice two goats to predict the goddess. Meanwhile his brother Gayapani converted to Ekasarana religion and refused to procure the goats for the sacrifice. A controversy arose and now Gayapani named Ramadasa, took Madhavdev to meet Sankardev to discuss the conflict. The debate lasted for four and a half hours, when Sankardev uttered a verse from Bhagawat Purana:
Madhavdev was convinced and he accepted Sankardev as his Guru. At the age of thirty-two, he joined his profession, literature and musical talent for Ekasaranism. Sankardev adopted him as his soul bandhava (friend of the soul), and later anointed him as his successor ‘Sankardev and Madhavdev’s union is called Manikanchan Milan.’ Madhavdev conversion occured in the year 1522. After converting, Madhavdev broke his betrothal and resolved never to get married. The saint passed in Bhela Satra, in Koch Bihar in 1596.
Literary Works of Shri Shri Madhavdev
As a writer and saint-poet, Madhavdev’s contribution to his gurudharma is immense. He is the author of the holy Namghosa, which is as great a composition as Sankardev’s Kirtan Ghosa. Namghosa kavya is also known as Hazari Ghosa (thousand oscillator books). The English version of this book was subtitled as The Divine Verses translated by Soroj Kumar Dutta in 1997 in lucid verse. Another important work of his is Bhakti Ratnavali. He is the composer of many Borgeets besides nine Jhumuras (one-act plays). His first literary work is the Janma Rahaisya, based on the creation and destruction of the world. His other outstanding contributions are Nam Maalika and the Assamese rendering of the ‘Adi Kanda of Valmiki’s Ramayana. His long poem of praising his guru Srimanta Sankardev “Guru Bhattima” is also very popular. He also composed a third chapter on having lost the two chapters composed by Sankardev, of the Kirtan-Ghosa titled ‘Dhyana Varnana’.
Arjun Bhajan, Chordhara, Pimpara Guchowa, Bhumi Letowa, Bhojan Bihar. Apart from Arjun Bhajan, his other plays are called Jhummura.
Janma Rahaisya, Bhakti Ratnavali, Nammalika
Madhavdev’s best work is Namghosa. The book shows the full expression of Madhavdev’s spiritual life. It is a full manifestation of his experience in scriptures, poetry, religious doctrine, spiritual ideals and religion. The book reveals the conclusions derived from the teachings of the Guru. Dr. Banikanta Kakati Dev has termed Madhavdev’s Namghosa as a great prehistoric song.
The great man Shri Shri Madhavdev was the most beloved disciple of Srimanta Sankardev. The lives of Shri Shri Madhavdev and Sankardev were very deeply connected. This was because, if Madhavdev had not met Sankardev, his extraordinary organizational and philosophical talent would have died before it was revealed. Also, if Sankardev had not met Madhavdev, his religious views would not have been widely propagated among the people of Assam. Both Sankardev and Madhavdev together made such contributions to the Assam community on the basis of which the entire society’s entity developed. Though Madhavdev wrote his literary works based on Sankardev’s ideology, his own creativity was recognized by the society. Madhavdev, a great man of versatility, was a religious preacher, a singer, a poet, a playwright and a lyricist. The main feature of his life was Gurubhakti. Madhavdev’s works are invaluable contributions to Assamese language literature.
1. When and where was Madhavdev born?
Ans: Shri Shri Madhavdev was born on 1489 at Baligrama in Lakhimpur district of Assam.
2. Who was the guru of Madhavdev?
Ans: Srimanta Sankardev.
3. Where did Sankardev meet Madhavdev?
Ans: These two great saints met at a place named Belguri in 16th century.
4. Who composed Nam-Ghosa?
Ans: Shri Shri Madhavdev.
5. How many Borgeets were written by Madhavdev?
Ans: Madhavdev wrote around 157 Borgeet.
6. When did Madhavdev died?
Ans: Madhavdev died in Bhela Satra, in Koch Bihar in 1596.
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