The Neo-Vaisnavite movement initiated by Sankaradeva (1449-1568) was not merely a
religious movement, but was also a cultural movement which had far-reaching impact on
literature, song, dance as well as `abhinaya' and drama. He composed six plays called the
`Ankiya Natas' in `Brajavali' language during the 15th-16th century Assam for the
propagation of the `Vaisnava' cult, known as the `Eka Sarana Nama Dharma.' This book gives
a faithful representation of the texts of all the six plays of Sankaradeva, in
transliteration along with their English translation for the first time.
`Ankiya Nata' is a special genre which includes only the six plays of Sankaradeva and a
few of Madhavadeva. These plays were the first written form of vernacular drama in India
and the first formal prose in `Brajavali' language in Assam. The stories in the plays are
the bona fide representations from the original Vaisnava Scriptures. The `sutradhara,' is
a unique creation of the composer. The `slokas,' the songs and particularly the
`bhatimas,' are specimen of some most beautiful poetic compositions. A brief analysis of
the plays, their characteristics, various components, art of presentation in the form of
`bhavana' are also given in the book. For better understanding the purpose of composition
of the plays, the social, political and religious conditions prevalent at that time, a
short history of the life of Sankaradeva and his various contributions along with an
introductory note on the `Vaisnava' Movement in Assam are also given.
For all those people engaged in studies on Indology, Language, Religion, Bhakti Cult,
Bhakti Literature, Comparative Literature, Lives of Saints or Hagiographies, Culture
Studies, Studies of the North-East India and most importantly Drama and other performing
art forms like Songs and Dances this book will be a valuable reference.