Breaking Celibacy Vow: Was forced into satra, says Assam pontiff

Goswami, a commerce graduate, revealed that he had first proposed to give up celibacy in 2004.

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Jhanji (sivasagar) | Updated: May 14, 2015 6:09:24 am
Satradhikar, Haridev Goswami, vaishnavite monastery, Garamur Satra, satradhikar tradition, Vaishnav satradhikar, Assam pontiff, Assam priest quit celibacy, Asom Satra Mahasabha, indian express, nation news Haridev with his wife on Wednesday, a day after they tied the knot.(Express Photo by: Parikhit Saikia)

The sole celibate of Garmaur Satra, a 360-year-old Vaishnavite monastery in Majuli island, who tied the knot on Tuesday night said he was “forced into the satra system”.

Speaking to The Indian Express soon after his wedding here, Haridev Goswami, who quit as satradhikar of the monastery last week, said: “It was October 1983. I was in college… I was not even aware that my parents had consented to give me away to a satra. A delegation from the satra came and asked my parents to give me away to the satra. I was almost forced into the satra system.” His wife Mrinalini Devi was seated beside him.

Goswami, a commerce graduate, revealed that he had first proposed to give up celibacy in 2004.

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“My decision to get married is nothing new. I had first made such a proposal before the bhakats of my satra in 2004. That time they could not arrive at a decision. But, this time when I also had a dream, and that two twice, where our 11th satradhikar Pitambardeva Goswami appeared and asked me to go ahead, my bhakats too gave me the green signal,” he said.

The former satradhikar also pointed out there was nothing new or “earth-shaking” in getting married as a section of people were trying to project. “In fact a proposal for the satradhikar of Garamur Satra to get married was first mooted by our 11th satradhikar Pitambardeva Goswami way back in 1915. What I have done is to fulfill that exactly 100 years later,” Goswami said.

“Sankaradeva, who founded the bhakti movement in mediaval Assam, also led a family life.”

Describing his life in the monastery as “terribly lonely”, 53-year-old Goswami said: “When I landed in the satra in 1983, I was the lone bachelor in the entire satra campus amid 120 bhakats all of whom were married and had families… I always looked forward for a life partner.”

Goswami and his wife Mrinalini Devi, who has a Master’s degree in Political Science, were given a rousing reception at Majuli after they reached there in a special ferry on Wednesday morning.

Despite quitting the Satra, Goswami was provided an accommodation in Garamur Saru Satra, a smaller satra attached to the Vaishnavite monastery.

He, however, refused to confirm or deny whether it was an old love story that finally came to a happy ending. “As I have told you, I also saw a Shiva temple where a woman was waiting for me. I am happy Mrinalini agreed to my proposal,” he said. Mrinalini Devi refused to speak as to why she had taken to Shiva worship and did not get married all these years.

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