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NCERT asked to highlight saint life

Guwahati, March 14: Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today said the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) should project the true image of Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Xankardeb and ensure that his ideas and creations continued to enrich society in India and elsewhere.

The chief minister was responding to a query from The Telegraph on how the NCERT should project the saint in its books, given the March 8 commitment given by the council to the NGO, Society for Srimanta Sankaradeva, to include the life and contributions of the saint in its curriculum during the next revision.

Dubbing Xankardeb as a colossus and a visionary who changed the socio-economic fabric of Assamese society, Gogoi said it would be wrong to project the saint as a mere religious leader, as he was also a scholar, playwright, litterateur and a social-religious reformer. “The level of creativity of the saint was very rare in the history of India and the world. More importantly, the essence of his creations focussed on humanity and he spoke against human sacrifice, classicism and many other social evils. Even in the 15th century, he talked about women’s empowerment, decentralisation of power and universal brotherhood.”

“My government will move the NCERT, asking it to give a deserving status to Xankardeb in its school curriculum,” Gogoi said.

The Society for Srimanta Sankaradeva had written to the council on March 1, urging it to extensively cover the life of Xankardeb in CBSE books.

In the council’s response letter dated March 8, NCERT department of education in languages head professor Chandra Sadayat had assured the society that a chapter on the life and contributions of Xankardeb would be included during the next revision of the council’s books for CBSE affiliated schools. Sadayat said the issue would be taken up during the orientation programme of teachers.

On September 13 last year, the then Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal had announced that he had told the NCERT that the life and teachings of Srimanta Xankardeb were important not only to Assam but the entire country and should be a part of the NCERT syllabus. Sibal was speaking at a function, Srimanta Sankardeva Movement, Delhi Initiative, in New Delhi.

The event, organised by Trend MMS, with support of Assam Association, Delhi, DoNER ministry and National School of Drama, was attended by the Assam chief minister, former Assam governor Lt Gen. (retd), S.K. Sinha, DoNER minister Paban Singh Ghatowar and Assam transport minister Chandan Brahma, besides a host of luminaries, including filmstars Shabana Azmi and Victor Banerjee.

Reacting to the council’s commitment, Asam Sahitya Sabha president Imran Shah said Srimanta Xankardeb should be projected as a colossal literary and cultural figure. “Xankardeb was a prolific writer and painter. His Xattriya dance and music have been recognised by Sangeet Natak Akademi. Birth of such an individual rarely takes place on this earth,” he said.

Ghana Kanta Nath, the principal of Pitambar Deva Goswami Junior College, Majuli, said though the NCERT had realised it very late that contributions of Xankardeb should be part of the national curriculum, “it is always better late than never. But NCERT must not do the job in a casual manner by just mentioning Xankardeb as a Vaishnavite saint. In my purely personal opinion I feel Xankardeb was on a par with Jesus Christ and Hazrat Mohammad and his place in terms of spreading the message of humanity should be globally recognised.” Ilias Ali, head of emergency medicine at GMCH, said everyone, irrespective of caste, community and religion, was comfortable with Xankardeb’s teachings. He said Xankardeb was unity in diversity personified.


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