How the King of Kamrup took initiation from Sri Sankardev | Sankardev debate with the Shakta Priests

The Story of Shankar Deva-Part-7

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Sri Shankar Dev tried to escape his way with his dear associates Hari and Sri Madhav Dev to take shelter in Kamrup. Unfortunately, on the way, Hari and Sri Madhav Das were arrested by the Ahom king’s soldiers. Since Sri Madhav Dev had entered the renounced order of life he was spared with due consideration while Sri Hari was executed by the king of Ahom. Sri Shankar Dev however made it to the kingdom of Kamrup. The Vaishnava cult started prospering in the neighboring localities where Sri Shankar Dev had taken shelter, in the kingdom of Kamrup. People from all walks of life joined the Vaishnava movement happening in and around the kingdom of Kamrup. There were many devotees who later on went on to become the pillars of Vaishnava Dharma in Assam after the passing away of Sri Shankar Dev.

However, as the cult started expanding, there were problems in the kingdom of Kamrup too. The priests of the Shakta Dharma now started conniving against the Vaishnavas there. Here too, just as it was in the kingdom of Ahom, the local priests of Kamrup complained to king Nar-Narayana about the threat to Shakta Dharma in Kamrup because of the increasing popularity of the Vaishnava Dharma. They complained against Sri Shankar Dev and started raising issues of caste against him in order to malign him. The king said “I have to hear from both the parties. I will have to understand Sri Shankar Dev’s point of view also. All of you make yourself available in the court and summon Sri Shankar Dev.” Sri Shankar Dev arrived at the court along with his faithful disciples on the agreed day. When the priests started eulogizing the Shakta Dharma as an intrinsic part of Sanatana Dharma, Sri Shankar Dev spoke about the glories of Lord Sri Krishna and Sri Vishnu and established the greatness of the Scripture Srimad Bhagavatham in the court. He said “Just as the Shaktas propound allegiance to Devi Bhagawathi (देवी भगवति), we Vaishnavas consider Sri Krishna or Sri Vishnu as almighty and promulgate their devotion, in the mode of pure Bhakti. Is this against Sanatana Dharma?” It was as if Devi Saraswati (देवी सरस्वती) spoke through his divine throat and the splendor of his persona and facial glow that day was unbeatable. The pundits and priests were entranced by his arguments and watched him with awe as he continued to speak about the glories of Lord Sri Krishna. All this said, the priests and the rest of the Shakta supporters stood dumbfounded and defeated. The King and his brother, the crown prince of Kamrup were enamored by Sri Shankar Dev’s position. They seemed to have found a priceless gem in the form of Sri Shankar Dev. It is to be understood that Sri Shankar Dev was not an ordinary soul but a divine being sent on a mission to Earth.

The King and his younger brother sought Deeksha or spiritual initiation into the Krishna Mantra from Sri Shankar Dev. Sri Shankar Dev however told the king that his path was that of Bhakti which was supposed to be carried out through the mode of renunciation (निवृत्ति प्रधान, Nivritti pradhan) whereas the way the king lead his life was in the material mode, by engaging in material activities (प्रवृत्ति प्रधान, Pravritti pradhan). Sri Shankar Dev said that it was not necessary for the king to follow the principles of the renounced order. He could very well engage himself in the kingly lifestyle because that would be appropriate for him. Sri Shankar Dev nevertheless, advised the king to follow the Shakta order, and said that he would present instructions to the king of what he needs to follow in the Shakta path and what he needed to avoid so as to lead a life of purity. Then Sri Shankar Dev took leave of the king. The king however started consulting Sri Shankar Dev regularly and would invite him often to the palace and spent time with him in satsanga. The King would support the cause of Sri Shankar Dev and helped him with the spread of the Bhakti Dharma. An Ashram was built near the outskirts of the Kamrup that became the official center of preaching for Vaishnava Dharma. Thus the king of Kamrup strengthened his ties with Sri Shankar Dev. The ploy of the enemies of Sri Shankar Dev was now reversed. The concept of “Ek Sharan” (एक शरण, Surrender to One) got established in Assam under the auspices of the King of Kamrup under the guidance of Sri Shankar Dev. 

People who are envious of the pure devotees of the Lord will always find themselves defeated in the end since they become the bearers of sins due to their jealousy and vindictive character. The presence of the Vaishnava Dharma in Assam today, stands testimony to the life of Sri Shankar Dev, approximately 452 years since his departure to the spiritual realm.