Assam scholar’s essay on saint-reformer Sankaradeva enters Harvard curriculum

An industrial economist and researcher of medieval Assamese literature and the Sankari culture, Dr. Borkakoti had written the essay some 15 years ago and uploaded it on a website in 2011.

Published: 04th May 2020 02:23 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th May 2020 02:53 PM   |  A+A-

Dr. Sanjib Kumar Borkakoti speaking at an event on the philosophy of Srimanta Sankaradeva (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: The students of Harvard University will now get to read about the life and works of Srimanta Sankaradeva, the 15th-16th century Assamese polymath, saint-scholar, poet, playwright and socio-religious reformer.

The university has prescribed Dr. Sanjib Kumar Borkakoti’s essay “Unique features of Srimanta Sankaradeva’s religious philosophy Vivaratanvada: Comparison with other Sanatana Hindu philosophies” as part of the syllabus for the students of its Department of Religions.

An industrial economist and researcher of medieval Assamese literature and the Sankari culture, Dr. Borkakoti had written the essay some 15 years ago and uploaded it on a website in 2011.

He said he had learned about the Harvard prescribing the essay for its students two days ago while browsing the internet.

“We have an organization called Society for Srimanta Sankaradeva and it has a website We also have a Facebook group Followers of Srimanta Sankaradeva. We had uploaded the essay in question on both platforms. It appears that the Harvard University collected it from one such public domain. They didn’t contact me,” Dr. Borkakoti told The New Indian Express.

He said as libraries are shut globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most universities uploaded their curriculum on their websites for the benefit of students. He said prescribing good publications for their students has been a culture of the world’s leading universities.

Dr. Borkakoti writes mostly researched-based articles and uploads them on the society’s website for global reach. He has so far written 65 books, half of them about Sankaradeva.

“My interest is diverse. I work in the fields of religion, literature, and culture. Sankaradeva’s contributions are multi-faceted. For the past 40 years, I have been exploring the different aspects of his life and works,” the 60-year-old Associate Professor of Economics at Nagaon’s ADP College in Central Assam said.

He said he had sought to depict in the essay how Sankaradeva’s philosophy is unique from Indian Hindu philosophies.

“This is probably the reason why they (Harvard) got attracted. Sankaradeva was the world’s first philosopher who could synthesize the path of knowledge and the path of devotion,” Dr. Borkakoti added.

He has translated some scriptures of Sankaradeva and his disciple Madhavdeva into English. He also penned the English novel “The Redeemer” which is based on Sankaradeva. His books have found a place in libraries around the world.

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