Patbausi Sattra (a Vaishnavite monastery) in lower Assam’s Barpeta district is a treasure trove of Assamese culture left behind by Srimanta Sankardeva, a medieval Vaishnavite saint and social reformer (A.D. 1449-1568), who propagated Eka-Sarana-Hari-Nama-Dharma, or Mahapurusia dharma-- a form of Vaishnavite faith, devoted to a single god, Krishna, and founded the unique sattra institution of Assam. Located south of Barpeta town the sattra has kept preserved several of his nearly five centuries-old manuscripts. Local residents of Patbausi believe that Sankardeva, a creative genius, compiled 27 literary works including one-act-plays apart from composing numerous songs during his more than 18 years long stay at Patbausi. The Sattra, established by the Vaishanvite saint himself in 1546, has kept preserved several original manuscripts of Sankardeva including his famous works such as Kirtan Ghosha, Kaliya Daman, Gunamala, Rukmini Haran, Parijat Haran, Patniprasad, Keligopal, Prathamskandha Bhagawat. Banamali Misra in his book titled Jagat Guru Srimanta Sankardev Than and Patbausi Sattra (a brief history of Patbausi Sattra published by the Patbausi Sattra Management Committee) claims that Sankardeva started writing Kirtan Ghosha at Bardowa sattra and completed it at Patbausi Sattra.
The Sattra treasure trove also includes original manuscript of Bhakti Ratnavali by Madhabdeva, the chief apostle of Sankardeva. Other Collections of this sattra include wooden masks used in Bhaona(staging of one-act-play) during Sankardeva’s stay at Patbausi, a door made of copper plates made at the time establishment of the sattra, bed used by Kalindi Aai, wife of Sankardeva, footprints of Sankardeva.
Photo and text – Badal Das