How Sankar Deva faced opposition from the King of Ahom? | Story of Sankardev debate with Brahmin Priests

The Story of Shankar Deva-Part-6

The events that followed the verbal debate between Sri Shankara Dev and Sri Madhav Dev were even heavier on Sri Shankar Dev. The Brahmin priests at the court of King Ahom, of West Assam were irked by the acts of benevolence of Sri Shankar Dev on the common population. His unhindered distribution of the Holy Name regardless of the considerations of caste, creed or gender was now getting too much for the Brahmin class of the King’s court, to tolerate. They started influencing the king by spreading malevolence against Sri Shankar Dev. Unable to bear further, the king summoned Sri Shankar Dev, one day. Sri Shankar Dev presented himself before the royal court on the ordained day.

The king, raising his voice, thundered “The Tantric Brahmins of my court have alleged that you have been preaching and promulgating a new kind of Vaishnava culture amongst the innocent folk and misleading them, for personal gains. They claim that these teachings of yours are against the ancient scriptural injunctions as prevalent within Sanatana Dharma. Do you have to say anything in defense of these allegations?” Sri Shankar Dev promptly replied “On the contrary, I have been propagating the genuine aspects of the Dharma, the original Sanatana Dharma. In fact I have been doing great service to Sanatana Dharma. If you permit me, I shall produce evidence and prove every word that I say.”

The king replied with a sense of satisfaction “Alright, then you shall prove the genuineness of your Bhakti Dharma following a detailed discussion on it with our priests. You may produce all your proofs to the court.” The proceedings of the court thus began. The priestly class of the court was corroded with the rust of egotism, short-sightedness and gloat. Their knowledge about the Shastras and Vedic Dharma was extremely limited and lacked depth. On the other hand Sri Shankar Dev was blessed with incisive command and a deep spiritual vision. His knowledge in connection with all branches of Vedic science was impeccable and precise. The court priests were unable to sustain their arguments about the Scriptures with Sri Shankar Dev, on matters relating to the Dharma and had to embrace defeat, in quick time. Although defeated in the court, the priests could never come to terms with the activities of Sri Shankar Dev and they continued to poison the mind of the king against Sri Shankar Dev, as days and months rolled past.

There was once an occasion of taming wild elephants. The king and his party would engage villagers to surround a wild elephant so as to disallow it from escaping into the wild. In the meantime, it was a custom, that trained soldiers and courtiers would try to engage the elephant in order to tame it. The mission of taming the elephants would happen during different times of the year and on every occasion, there was a certain section of the village that was summoned to curtail the movement of the wild elephant while the trained men went on with their task of taming the elephant. The flip side to the story was that, if the section of villagers failed in curtailing the elephant, while being tamed, and if the elephant managed to break the barriers set by the section of the village, then that section of the village would face direct punishment from the king.

It so happened that on one such occasion, the villagers from the section where Sri Shankar Dev lived, had to curtail the wild animal’s movements as the trainers attempted to tame it. Unfortunately, the elephant broke through the village section and now the villagers had to be summoned for punishment, as was the rule. This was a sought out, golden opportunity for the priests to have Sri Shankar Dev punished, since Sri Shankar Dev was also counted as one among the partisans of the failed mission. Sri Shankar Dev realized that he faced constant dissonance in the kingdom of Ahom. In the hullabaloo that followed the event, he escaped with his dear disciples which included Sri Madhav Das and Hari, to the neighboring kingdom of Koch, whose ruler was Raja Nar-Narayan, the brother of the king of Ahom.

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