Dr Amlan Das
Acharjya Ila Ram Das popularly known as “BaapIshwar” among his followers and supporters whose name needs no formal introduction was one of the greatest spiritual reformer, revolutionary preacher of the ethical principles of “Ek Saran Naam Dharma” founded by Mahapurush Shrimanta Shankardeva based on universal brotherhood and equality, finest orator, was indeed one of the incredible and ever talented son of our soil whose lifelong struggles and hardships have changed the lives of many, especially the downtrodden sections of our society. The cries and woes and the miserable and pathetic conditions of the oppressed sections of our society was indeed being a nightmare for him who could not resist from engaging himself for their welfare activities by rescuing them from the web of untouchability, discriminations, illiteracy and other prevalent dogmas during that period just as BabaSaheb Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the founding father of modern India ,the chief architect of the Indian Constitution and the messiah of the oppressed sections fought in the national contexture, was a role model for him. He advocated a simple life based on moral values and became a centre of attraction for the emerging Vaishnavite movement in the mid 90s. His sole dedication as a religious promoter and a sincere missionary of Shrimanta Shankardev Sangha could win the hearts of the great masses, who even sacrificed his lucrative teaching career for his mission. He was a core member of the Saran committee of Shrimanta Shankardev Sangha, and also holds important and dignified portfolios like UpaPadadhikar, who had worked with his contemporary Vaishavite leader and Social activist Sunaram Chutiya. His speeches and discourses became so popular during that time that it was not only restricted among the Hindu masses but was also being greatly appreciated by the followers of Islam, Christians and other religions who conferred him with honorable titles like Auliya (meaning friend, helper, supporter, patron or protector) due to his depth knowledge on various religious scriptures, has been a sole inspiration for establishing global peace and communal harmony and people crowded in huge numbers assemble in the public meetings just to have a glimpses of him. Many eminent personalities of our state like poet Nilamoni Phukan, Ramakanta Muktiar, Dr. Maheswar Neog, Dr Indira Miri, Ex-President of India Fakharuddin Ali Ahmed, Ex-prime minister of India Smt. Indira Gandhi and others have indeed given due recognition to him for his God gifted talents. Once in a public meeting where both Nilamoni Phukan and Ila Ram Das were present, Phukan became mesmerized by his divine speech, said that “People of Assam have given me the title Bagmiveer (meaning maestro of oration) but in real sense son Ila Ram Das deserves this title”. His life took a new turning point in 1971 in the Nehrubali Adhivesan of Sangha at Nagaon where he resigned from Shrimanta Shankardev Sangha due to some ideological differences with his counterparts of Sangha and many of his supporters also came out along with him accordingly. He was so grief stricken after he abandon Sangha that he decided to hibernate himself totally from all sort of socio-cultural activities. His decision has indeed spread like fire all over the state and many of his followers and supporters became deeply lamented and planned to revive him again in all possible way. So on sole demand and humble request from his followers, supporters and well wishers, Baapishwar again resolved to start a new organization of Vaishnavite movement and finally Ek Saran Bhagawati Samaj came into existence. His revival was indeed a new ray of hope for many of his followers and they started promoting and building up organizational base in all over the state with him as the Acharjya (meaning the mentor or spiritual guide). The uniqueness of the Samaj is the divine Gunamala Kirtan and the Palnaam whose melody gives one a state of tranquility and heavenly spiritual experience which act as a boon in this arena of concrete and self-centered life and crave for material aspirations. As the Spiritual Icon of India Swami Vivekananda says “I have faith in my country, and especially in the youths of my country. My hope is in the youths”, similarly Ilaram Das too gave due importance and consideration to youths by starting a youth wing of Ek Saran Bhagwati Samaj named Tarun Vidyarathi Samaj whose prime objective was to impart spiritual and moral values amongst the youths as the youths play a pivotal role in the nation building process. The Prathana Sabha (Prayer Meeting) and various socio-cultural activities conducted by the Tarun Vidyarathi Samaj gives an important message to our new generation that its only by our cultural exploration we can link ourselves to our roots. As Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar says “When a man gets educated his family becomes developed but when a woman gets educated, a society becomes developed”. Keeping this in mind and giving due priority to women, he started a women wing of Ek Saran Bhagawati Samaj named as Sati Radhika Aai Matri Samitee for promoting awareness on women empowerment and motivating them to take important leadership roles for the all round development of our society. He also emphasized on various social prejudices of women prevalent in the society like early marriages, child marriages, birth spacing between births of two children etc and promoted education, vocational programmes for women like weaving under technical expertise and so on. The Naamghosa Rasamrit, Palnaam Tatwa, Nitya Prasangar Arhi etc were one of his superlative literary contributions. The Ek Saran Bhagawati Samaj is now working in all nooks and corners of our state to promote his vision universally. This legendary figure of Assam was awarded with the prestigious Shankardev Award for his outstanding activities by the Assam State Government on 2002. This versatile genius of the state breathed his last on 19th October 2003. His preachings and lifelong contributions will indeed remain as great milestones for the egalitarian Assamese Society and he will never be a forgotten hero.