Sri Sri Madhab Deva founded the Barpeta Satra more than 500 years back and stayed here for 8 long years, where he written lots of his best literature. For taking his responsibility as a disciple of Sri Srimanta Sankardev, he left the Satra with giving the responsibility to his disciple Sri Mathura Das Burha Ata (1490-1596 AD), who later take care of Satra and he was became the 1st Satria of Barpeta Satra.
It was Burha Ata who systematized the administration of the Satra leading to development of the institution and the region of Barpeta. A democratic system was introduced which is effective till today. Sizable number of followers came to Barpeta; accepted the Vaishnavate faith irrespective of their caste (high or low in society) that created an egalitarian Society and a new work culture developed among the followers. The Satra has multiple buildings. The front gate is named ‘Batsora’. The main ‘Kirtanghar’ is where prayers or ‘Nam Kirtan’ are carried out is an architectural splendor. Earlier built as a Kutcha house and it was concreted with big-pillars and decorative wall paintings in 1952. All the ‘Bhakat’ or ‘devotees’ discussed all kinds of problems in the Jagmohan Ghar. In the ‘Bhajghar’ a lamp is constantly burning for more than 500 years that is called ‘Akhay banti.Constitution formulated by Sri Mathura Das Ata is still in vogue…
Bellow are some details about the Satra Complex.
The areas and various buildings inside Satra Premises:
Satra Premises: Satra premises start with 3 Batchara (Entry Gate of Areas), whereas Main complex is surrounded by Wall, they are (i) Nahati Batchara (westside entry) (ii) Uttar Hati Batchara (North Entry) and (iii Dakshinhati Batchara (Entry from South), there is no entry from East side because a cannel (Hari Jaan) is flow from the east side. People are not allowed (or you can say as a respect and show honour towards Than) enter beyond these Batchara on any vehicles. Locals are following the same, whereas signboards are written in Assamese, Hindi, so that an outsider and tourist can follow the same.
Main Complex: (Surrounded by 7 feet high wall and 3 entry gate)
Entry Gate: As like Batchara, there are 3 entry gates to enter the main complex, i.e Uttar Dwaar (north gate), Dakshin Dwaar (South Gate) and Dalan (on west side). Dalan is consider as a main entry gate to the complex.
Kirtan Ghar (Main prayer hall): Kirtan Ghar is situated in almost centre of the Sarta complex. Main entrance is in the west, Bhaj Ghar is in east and an entry gate from north. In inside near to the main west gate, there are two wooden pillars (traditionally known as Tulashi Kuta) making the support of the main building. There are three Guru Ashans in the end of Kirtan Ghar, these three Guru Ashanas in the Kirtan Ghar are associated with the name of Sri Sankar Dev, Madhab Dev and Mathura Das Burha Ata , which are followed a table and two big Ghacha (A traditional design earth lamp stand). There are two Chairs behind the Guru Ashana (east corner) namely for Burha Satriya and Deka Satria, where they do their day-to-day activities. There are seven Bar Sarais (Traditional Bale metal design food keeper) kept in a line before the Guru Ashan. There is no statue of any God or Goddess inside the Kirtan ghar, but you can see two statues of Garur and Hanuman. Three sides of Kirtan Ghar (outside) are cover-up with a description from Bhagabatha and Purana (north and south). Westside is here with the description of Dasha Avatara of Bishnu.
Bhaj Ghar: This is also known as Monikut, the name cume to the architectural view of the house (bend or curve). Bhaj Ghar has two parts, one is Ghai Bharal, where valuable ornaments of gold and silver are kept along with the treasured belongings of the Satra. There is also a tank of mustered oil over there, lots of history believe in this area (you can know more on this area in various books). Other part of the Bhaj Ghar is known as Monikut. Idol of Kaila Thakur (Lord Krishna) and Rukmini are keeping there.The Bhaj Ghar is formed in the east side of Kirtan Ghar. The Akhay Banti (Earth lamp continuously lightens up more than 500 years) is in the Bhaj Garh.
Pat Chang: The pat chang also carries a special architectural style. The pat chang is a made of wood and tin (now it converted to concrete). It is constructed parallel to the Bhaj Ghar 8(eight) feet away from the latter. The floor of the pat chang is 5 (five) feet above from the ground. Some special meetings are held here. Basically religious and administrative issues of Satra are discussed here. It honours as pure as the pat chang of king Kongsha.
Khatkhati (The bank of Hari Jaan Canel): There is a cannel running to the east side of Satra complex. The bank of the cannel which is touching the Satra complex in the east is known as Khatkhati (the cannel later on block two sides and converted to pool and named as Madhab Sarover, but it now again run as a cannel) . Shree Madhab Deva, the great disciple of Srimanta Sankar Deva used to bathe along with other bhakats in this cannel. All the steps (khatkhati) were constructed with stone. There are statues of child Krishna (kalia Daman) was constructed in between the water of the jaan (cannel). One modern guest house was constructed at the east bank of the cannel.
Math: The math, later constructed on residential place of Mahapurush Sri Madhav deva, with similar architectural style of Ahom kingdom. People make lots of religious activity in front of math and the open space is called as Mathor Sotal. It is a general belief that no one tells a lie in front of the Math.
Sri Ram Ata’s Bhiti: The house (Bhiti means house) of Sri Ram Ata, disciple of Srimanta Sankardeva was established opposite to the house of Madhab Deva (Moth). Now a well is constructed here, the water of this well is assumed as pure and water from this well is used in all the work of the Satra.
Burha Ata’s Bhiti: In the north-east position of the Satra there is just a little but beautiful house constructed on the place where the 1st Satria of Barpeta Satra Mathura das Burha Ata lived.
Badula Padma Ata Bhithi: A beautiful house reconstructed on the place, where one of the best disciples of Srimanta Sankardeva lived in Satra premises. It is situated on the south side of Kirtan Ghar and in between Atithi Griha and Bahgabat Griha.
Bhagawat Graiha: Southern part of Kirtna Ghar there is an open (without wall) English letter L size house, it is used as a prayer house or you can say a Sastra Adhyan Griha ( holy book reading place) , Every evening people come and sit here to listen the Bhagawat. At the time of any festival, there is no Bhagabath path conducted in the evening.
Atithi Graiha : There is a Dormitory guest house inside the complex where people can stay there any time. Satra normally provided the grocery to cook any tourist comes there to stay and the devotees can prepare their meal their self on their stay.
Satria Music School: There is a Satria cultural music school inside the premises in an east-south corner on the bank of Jaan (cannel). There lots of training giving to the people who wish to study in Sankari culture.
Sabha Ghar: Sabha Ghar is also an open house in the north-west position of the Kirtan Ghar. General meeting of “Samoh Bhakat” (Community) is held here. There is a small house on the north side of the Sabha ghar it is known As Jagamohan Ghriha.
Doul : There is a unique design 7th stairs building in the North-West corner (near to North entry gate), which is mainly for keeping the Kaila Thakur on the time of Doul (Holi Festival) . The design just represents that after crossing seven steps you can reach heaven and god reside in heaven.
Ranga Mancha: Previously people may perform art in openly, but later on it is cover-up with boundary and performing on the stage. Ranga mancha is a modern stage for performing art and cultural activity in time by time.
Mathura Das Burha Ata Library: there is a recent addition to complex is a library of Sankari books and literature. You can get lots of books written in Sankari culture you get here.
Apart from the above all, you can get residence of Kewalia Bhakat, managing committee office etc. inside the Satra Complex.