3rd post

Koch capital and Bheladanga

On receiving repeated complaints that Sankardev was corrupting the minds of the people by spreading a new religion Nara Narayan, the Koch king, ordered Sankardev’s arrest, and Sankardev went into hiding.[49] Chilarai—the general of the Koch army, half-brother of the king and married to Kamalapriya the daughter of Sankardev’s cousin Ramarai—then convinced the king to give Sankardev a hearing instead.[50]

For the audience with Nara Narayan, as he moved up the steps to the court, Sankardev sang his Sanskrit totaka hymn, composed extempore, to Lord Krishna madhu daanava daarana deva varam and as he sat down, he sang a borgeetnarayana kahe bhakati karu tera, playing on the name of the king. At the debate with the court pundits that followed, Sankardev was able to refute all allegations against him. The king declared him free and furthermore honored him with a seat close to the throne. Sankardev began to attend Naranarayana’s court regularly, and received the freedom to propagate his teachings.

Chilarai was instrumental in keeping Sankardev safe and supporting his work. Many of Sankardev’s literary and dramatic works were completed in his domain with his patronage and protection. Sankardev acknowledged his appreciation in his play ‘Ram Vijaya‘.

Sankardev shuttled between Kochbehar the capital and Patbausi his seat. He was often hosted by Chilarai, and on his request agreed to have the images of the childhood days of krishna at Vrindavan woven on cloth. He engaged the weavers of Tantikuchi, near Barpeta, to weave a forty-yard long tapestry panel. Sankaradeva provided the designs to be woven, chose the various colours of thread to be used, and supervised the weaving. It took about a year to complete and, deriving its name from its theme, came to be known as the Vrindavani Vastra . It was presented to Chilarai and Naranarayan. A section of this cloth is preserved now in the Victoria and Albert museum in London.

Chandsai, a Muslim tailor serving the Koch king became a disciple of Sankardev at Kochbehar. When Sankardev returned to Patbausi some time later, Chandsai too came with the saint. Sankardev frequented the capital for more than 20 years and enjoyed unstinted royal patronage for the first time.