Madhavadeva: Biography [3]

Gayāpāni, in his search for the goats, happened to come to the place where Sankaradeva had been. The magnet of Sankaradeva’s personality was too strong for him and Gayāpāni fell prostrate at his feet at the first sight even without knowing whom he thus respected. Sankaradeva asked him affectionately who he was and what mission brought him to the place, and Gayāpāni frankly told him about it. Saying so, Gayāpāni maintained silence, and on hearing him, Srimanta Sankaradeva said:

Hear me Gayāpāni, I speak to you. You have not certainly heard of the great religious work, Bhāgavata.

Then he explained to Gayāpāni how, according to scripture, sacrifice before the goddess was simply a sin:-

One, who worships Durga with sacrifices, is a great sinner. One who worships (Durga with sacrifice of animals), one who organizes the worship, one who cooks (the sacrificial flesh), one who eats (that cooked meat), one who decapitates (the animals), and one who buys (the animals for sacrifice), - all the six of these are responsible for the loss of life (of the animals).

Further, Sankaradeva quoted:-

If he, who decapitates animals in sacrifices and makes the earth muddy with the blood-shed, can go to heaven, who else is destined to hell?
[Satvata Tantra]

On hearing these words of Sankaradeva, Gayāpāni became fearful and returned home without buying any goat.

According to the account of other biographers, however, Gayāpāni who was renamed by Sankaradeva as Rāmadāsa, had an early acquaintance with the Saint and had been initiated into his faith while Madhava was at Bāndukā. Either way, Gayāpāni was now a Vaisnava, averse to animal sacrifices, and deferred the purchase from day to day. At length it could no longer be put off and Madhava pressed him very hard.

Rāmadāsa refuses to buy the goats

Madhava: Two goats must be had now.
Rāmadāsa: Well, what do you propose to do with them?
Madhava: What do I propose! Don’t you know that they have to be sacrificed before the goddess?
Rāmadāsa: Yes, I know. But why do you so propose? - Ah! If you would but care to know the consequences of goat-sacrifice!
Madhava: Well what are they?
Rāmadāsa: He that sacrifices the goat becomes a goat in his turn in the next birth and the goat is born a human being to offer him as sacrifice in his turn...
Madhava: But I don’t care if the table will be thus turned. Just tell me plainly whether you mean to purchase the goats for me or not.
Rāmadāsa: But why should you be so impatient? There can be no harm if you will take time to pause and consider what I have just said.
Madhava: You are Hokarā (‘Howling’, Gayāpāni or Rāmadāsa’s nickname), and you must be dull of intellect. I gave you money and yet you failed to purchase the goats?I do not like to pay heed to your words. - Pray, where did you learn all these things from?
Rāmadāsa: Why, all these are in the scriptures.
Madhava: You speak things as though I were a dunce. You interpret religion as though I knew nothing of it. I have studied the scriptures. Do you venture to throw new light on them?
Rāmadāsa: No, that I can’t. But if you would like, I might take you to one who is competent to do so. You boast of yourself as a great scholar. But once you are in the presence of Sankara you are bound to become nervous.

So saying Rāmadāsa took Madhava to Sankaradeva so that he might himself discuss these things with the great Vaisnava reformer.

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