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Mati Akhora


Mati Akhora—A Regimen of Ground Exercises



         With the spread of the great bhakti tradition created and nurtured by Srimanta Sankardeva and blossomed through a well organized structure of the sattra institutions, the faithful thronged the sattras. Here they  found heightened  devotional  fervour  in their way  of life through a recourse taken to pursuit of dance and music, skilfully inherited by the  teachers and passed on to generations. Over the ages, the pursuit had acquired palpable distinctiveness—developing in the process, its large repertory—including grammar, footwork, stylized expressions and hand gestures etc. Certain kinds of the sattras follow the practice of bringing children at the tender age of 5-7 years. They are acculturated into the monastic order by a well drawn out system of daily routine and rituals under the supervision of senior monks taking up responsibility for individual child as the foster fathers. In the process, the children come to learn various aspects of sattra discipline, including the performing arts of music, dance and drama.

         Noted connoisseur of the dance form, Raseswar Saikia Borbayan writes, “the training in Sattriya dance is carried out through a rigorous syllabic process based on ground exercises called mati-akharas. Some of the mati-akharas are meant as fitness exercise, while some form components of various dance postures. Thus the mati-akharas are the basic grammar of the Sattriya dance without which nobody can learn the art form perfectly.” The mati-akharas were earlier taught just as physical training. However since 1967, Saikia was instrumental in associating instrumental music (Khol) in the training of these mati-akharas for the sake of adding an aesthetic touch to the exercises themselves. It is now established that there are more than 60  numbers of such mati-akharas traditionally prevalent in the sattra.




Besides shaping the physique of the child, mati akhora also guides the child to  synchronize the body and mind into a spiritual unit. As an art of healthy living, the applicability and scientific tenets of Yoga are also inherent in mati akhora.  The way the dance part of Bhaona was curved out and established as an independent form, similarly curving out mati akhora from the purview of dance may lead to enormous possibilities of establishing it as a medium of health development in the social sphere of our society.

            Yoga in medical science is accredited by World Health Organization as an applied therapy to get rid of diseases like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, headache, nervous disorder laziness, insomnia. Similarly mati mkhora can also be accepted as an art of curing disease, ensure healthy lifestyle and making of a beautiful and peaceful society. The possibility of scientific research is also very bright by application of specific mati akhora to a specific disease and by taking the help of modern medical science and techniques.

             Mati akhora is characterized by historical tradition, glorious knowledge, science, and an art form, practised to ensure a healthy body and develop a mind with a direction from outward to inward. Therefore by accepting it as a sentinel of social health, we can include it in the wider educational world.


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