After hearing the words of the Maithili Brahmin, Sri Shankar Dev, remembered the Lord in his heart and prayed thus, “Oh Lord, you are so compassionate and kind, you have known my heart and out of love for me, you have immediately arranged for my pacification. You have done only that, which an ultra-generous being can do for the other. What has come to me, is like, a plate full of sumptuous edibles put in front of a man who has gone hungry for days together. This Maithili Brahmin had gone for your service and you have sent him to serve me. You, Oh Lord, are always anxious to hear your own pastimes from the lotus mouths of your dear devotees. But you have graciously sent this pure devotee for my service, so that I may be able to distribute your pastimes amongst the common folks. You have worried about my problems, giving it the highest priority. Which embodied soul can be so kind and gracious?” Thinking thus, Sri Shankar Dev offered prostrations to the Lord in his heart.
With the coming of the Bhagavatham scripture, in the hands of Shankar Dev, the Lord was overjoyed with the thought that, now He shall be able to hear His own pastimes from the lotus mouths of millions of devotees within the state of Assam. Sri Shankar Dev experienced waves of ecstasy as he pondered about the glories of the Lord. He embraced the Mishra Brahmin in ecstasy, remembering the Love of the Lord. There was a rendition of the verses of the Bhagavatham, the next day and the Mishra Brahmin handed over the handwritten copy of the Bhagavatham to Sri Shankar Dev.
Following that day, Sri Shankar Dev started the poetic translation of the Srimad Bhagavatham into the Assamese language. The Work, was then regarded as the most superior work in Assamese literature even till the current day. Following the Assamese translation of the Bhagavatham, by the grace of the Lord, millions of households started reading this work at their homes as part of devotional service. Such was the effect and efficacy of the work of Sri Shankar Dev.
This was a parallel time, when the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition was proliferating in Bengal under the auspices of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. There was an event when Sri Shankar Dev met Lord Mahaprabhu, at Sri Jagannatha Puri. Yet it is difficult to say whether the cult of Sriman Mahaprabhu had an effect on Sri Shankar Dev. It is a prevalent opinion that Sri Shankar Dev preached the philosophy of servitorship to Lord Krishna while it was a well-known fact that Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu preached the philosophy of conjugal love (परकीय प्रेम) to Lord Krishna, in the mode of Radha Bhava (राधाभाव). Sri Shankar Dev’s compositions, plays, Kirtans and other supportive elements in the devotional mellow was extremely popular and continue to be so, even today, amongst the Vaishnava communities in Assam.
The connection of Sri Shankar Dev with another devotee, Sri Madhava Dev is also quite interesting. The story of surrender of Sri Madhava Dev at the feet of Sri Shankar Dev is quite popular amongst the common folks of Assam. Sri Madhava Dev, was a scholar of the Shakta Shastras (शाक्त शास्त्र), right from young age. He was also adept in Tantric Kriyas (तांत्रिक क्रिया) or Tantric procedures for various purposes.
Once his mother took severely ill. Now Madhava Dev, made a resolve that if his mother were to be cured, he would sacrifice a young child for the pleasure of Devi. The moment he made this resolve, his mother, soon recovered. Following this event, Sri Madhava Dev ordered his brother-in-law (sister’s husband) to look for an infant that could be suitably sacrificed at the feet of the Divine Mother. Madhava Dev’s brother-in-law was in fact a direct disciple of Shankar Dev.
-To be continued