A disciple, a devotee, an administrator and a visionary … this was a person who lived a long year (almost 150 year) for reforming Tantikuchi (Present Barpeta).
Sri Sri Mathuradas Burha Ata was born in Tantikuchi in the year 1490 AD as Gopal Tanti in the home of Birshad (father) and Dhairya (mother). The ancestors of Burha Ata is not clear but in people word, his grandfather Birupaksha migrated to Kamrup (Tantikuchi) from vill- Khana- Khokora (Ahom kingdom) of present Sibsagar district of Upper Assam. In due course of time, he had his necessary education in a toll in today’s Issapur Hati of Barpeta and married Sumoti of nearby village, Kurobaha. They had a son named Balai who departed untimely.
He was originally a follower of the path of Sri Chaitanyadev and was very virtuous, thinker and music- lover. He didn’t have any concept of Mahapurush Sri Sri Srimanta Sankardeva and Madhavdeva. When Maharaja Naranarayan (King of Koch Dynasty) asked Mahapurush Sri Sri Sankardeva for describing Krishna Leela, Sankardeva decide to weave the same and came to Tantikuchi in search of a master weaver, who can take care of whole weaving project. He had known about Gopal Tanti, who was excellent in weaving and painting. So, Sankardeva gave responsibility to Gopal Tanti for weaving a cloth which is known as “Brindabani Bastra” and was presented to Maharaja Naranarayan (King of Koch Dynasty).
On the time of Brindabani Bastra weaving he little bit attracted to Mahapurush Sri Sri Sankardeva and Neo-Vaishnavite faith and the later stage of his life, he became attracted to the path of Vaishnavite doctrine founded by Mahapurush Sri Sri Srimanta Sankardeva and got initiated in this path by Sri Sri Madhavdeva at Sundaridiya Satra in 1493 Saka at the age of about 81 years (he not able to do it from Srimanta Sankardeva, because he left for Behar from Patbaushi).
On that time Gopal Tanti regularly visit Sundaridiya and follow the path of Madhavdeva. Madhavdeva about to leave to Sundaridiya because some of his devotees were misbehaved by some people at Sundaridiya, than Gopal Tanti along with Narayan das Thakur Ata and Bhabanipuria Gopal Ata request Mahapurush Sri Sri Madhavdeva to came Tantikuchi. They not only brought Sri Sri Madhavdeva to Tantikuchi, Gopal Tanti made necessary arrangements at Tantikuchi for Mahapurush Sri Sri Madhavdeva, so that he can live and pray as per his wise. Gopal Tanti later procuring a plot of land from an old person, Ramlaruwa Burha, a close relative and Mahapurush Sri Sri Madhavdeva establish a Satra at that place (year 1583AD). Now that Satra is famous as Barpeta Satra.
Gopal Tanti worked as a close associate of Sri Sri Madhavdeva and very instrumental in establishing and raising Barpeta Satra as a hub of neo-Vaishnavite movement. On making of Barpeta Satra, when Sri Sri Madhavdeva distributed various responsibilities related to Satra to other devotees also, Gopal Tanti chose to bear the responsibility of a cleaner like a slave (Das). Pleased with this devotion, Sri Sri Madhavdeva entrusted him with the job and gave him the name “Sri Sri Mathuradas” because devotees start to considered Barpeta Satra as Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna.
After living Barpeta Satra, Mahapurush Sri Sri Madhavdeva stayed in Bheladowa, once the prayer hall (Rangial Griha) of Barpeta Satra was burnt, so Sri Sri Mathuradas Burha Ata , along with some devotees came down to Bheladowa to meet Mahapurush Madhavdeva and told the story about fire and asked how to maintain the same, because they don’t have enough fund to manage the same. Than Mahapurush Sri Sri Madhavdeva gave 2 Nageri taka (one kind of silver coin of that time) to Sri Sri Mathuradas and asked him to go back to Barpeta and build the Satra again. He said fund flow will never end in Barpeta Satra and devotees will always pay something to Satra to continue its works. On the same time, Madhavdeva told that, he was not able to back in Barpeta Satra at that time, so he acknowledging the true merit of Vaishnavite devotion and conferred the responsibility of developing the Satra in religious cultural and social angle and he aptly performed all duties assigned Sri Sri Mathuradas Burha Ata and nominated as a Satradhikar (head of the Satra institute- Later on in Barpeta Satra, Satradhikar is known as Satria) of Barpeta Satra. That was the 1st time, Mahapurush Sri Sri Sankardeva or Madhavdeva nominated someone as a head of their establish Thaan or Satra.
After taking the responsibility as a Satradhikar, Srri Sri Mathuradas Burha Ata introduces many things to reforming art, cultural and social life of Barpeta. Some of his main activities and introduction which is still vogue at Barpeta Satra and Barpeta are fourteen session of prayer (Saidhya prasanga) at Satra, division of communities of devotees in 22 Hati’s as per their work, give title to some of the people and their families and engaging them in various performing in Satra, which is still continue as “Bansara” and most important creation of Sri Sri Mathuradas Burha Ata is micro finance and banking system in every Hati. He was also the 1st person to introduce democracy in the Satra.
Due to lack of research and exposer, his system and management is not known to other part Assam itself, world is so far.
As per people word, Sri Sri Mathura Das Burha Ata keep his human body in earth and way to haven on the year 1641 AD after a long illustrious life of 150 years…..