Medieval Indian Aerobics and Sankardeva

Medieval Indian Aerobics and Sankardeva.
Deepak Bhuyan.

Sankardevas Mati Akhora – the medieval Indian aerobics and its effects on human psychophysical aspects with reference to its practice in the present Neo-Vaishnavite monasteries of Majuli. This may be a subject of research which is still laying untouched. But before elaborating the subject it would be well to notice at the outset some benefits of aerobics and its origin according to the available data on the subject. It is known that Dr Kenneth H. Copper a physician at the San Antonio Air Force Hospital in Texas devised a form of exercise that helped to prevent coronary artery diseases . He named the system as aerobics. Though it was invented for astronauts but gradually it has become an important style of exercise for general people. Dr Copper in his book Aerobics, expressed the effects of aerobics on human psychophysical aspects which was published in the year1968.

According to the latest research the benefit of aerobics can be explained that it strengthen heart and lung , helps heart by increasing its blood stroke volume and increases good cholesterol , decreases the bad cholesterol to continue good health . It also effects the cardiovascular system and makes it sound. In case of aerobic dance we observe that aerobic dance combines exercise and dance movements in a rhythmic way. It is beneficial exercise to stay fit for all sorts of physical and mental activities. Today it is a popular exercise among the people of this Globe .

In short this is the modern chapter of aerobics history which covers five decades of its existence. The word aerobics may be a modern innovation but the concept of today's modern dance aerobic was first revealed in the medieval period of Assam. It is evident according to the Indian cultural history that the utmost rhythmic and musical exercise of mind and body which can be compared with the present widely practiced aerobics , was invented by Sankardeva in the medieval period of Assam. The aerobics of Sankardeva is known as MATI AKHORA – the ground exercise which is indispensable for Sankaria dance and drama. Sankardeva created a kind of nrittya which is known as Sankaria or Sattria nrittya as an accompaniment of his theater. Today Sattria nrittya is one of the eight principal classical Indian dance tradition.


Observing the various aspects of Sattria dance and drama Nadine Delpech a French writer wrote a book on Sattria tradition through which French film maker Emmannell Petit was inspired to make a documentary DANS LES BRUMES DE MAJULI. The Sankaria or Sattria dance and dramas are still in practice through the Neo-Vaishnavite monasteries of Majuli – the great river island of Assam. But the inner facts are still uninvestigated for proper evaluation . In case of Mati Akhora it can be stated that the benefits of Mati Akhora is not yet been proved scientifically. According to the verbal information passed through generation to generation it is told that it has a tremendous effect on human psychophysical aspects. Today observing its nature everyone is capable of realizing the truth. But it is still laying as a research subject for the concerned persons of the field worldwide.

The complex posture and the technique of body movements [ which are required for Sattria Nrittya ] are produced through the Mati Akhora. The joints and fundamental anatomical bone structures of human body are made fit for any kinds of complex dance postures. It increases the vital energy of the performer. Though the Mati Akhora is stated as the grammar of Sattria dance but its qualities show indispensability of psychophysical fitness for all walks. Mati Akhora is consist of 64 folds and every fold is consist of a series of postures which has a particular name and rhythm [Tala]. The postures of Mati Akhora are related to PRANAYAMA , through which the benefit of the following aspects are attained .

1. The heart increases its blood stroke volume.
2. Oxygen is used more efficiently resulting in increased fat burning during performance.
3. Protects from diabetes and other diseases.
4. Increases good cholesterol and decreases bad cholesterol .
5. Maintains body weight.
6. Builds flexibility which improves body movements and postures.
7. Nourishes brain and prevent memory loss . Increases the power of mental concentration.
8. Strengthen bones and nerve system.
9. Increases the immunity and protects from various diseases.
10. Keeps Skin, Eye, Heart and Lung Function intact.

These information are found in verbal from the practitioners of Sattriya dance but all these aspects are yet to be proved through proper investigation. However it is believed that the list of above mentioned benefits will be increased through proper scientific investigation on the subject. Some people get puzzled in case of aerobic and anaerobic exercise . The literal meaning of aerobic is oxygen. So it can be defined as the exercise of using oxygen to produce energy . On the other hand anaerobic exercise makes the body to produce energy without using oxygen. According to the characteristics of aerobic and anaerobic exercise it is perfect that Sankardevas Mati Akhora combines both aerobic and anaerobic exercise for maintaining overall health.


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