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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ploy to win freedom

Sanatana decided that thebest way to free himself from his duties forHusain Shah was to make the king angry athim. He knew the king had great regard forhim and was very dependant on him, so hesent word that he was ill and could not att end the cour t . He then r ema ined a tRamakeli, surrounded by a large group ofpundits, discussing the Bhagavata. Seeingthat Rupa had suddenly disappeared, theking then became suspicious of Sanatana’s‘illness’, and sent some doctors to examinehim. They reported back to the king thatSanatana was well and was discussing thescriptures with some brahmins.

Furious, Husain Shah himself went toSanatana’s house without prior notice and found him seated with the brahmins. ‘Allmy affairs are your responsibility,’ said theking, ‘and yet you abandon all of them andsit in your house. What do you feel in yourheart? Tell me that.’ ‘I cannot work,’ replied Sanatana. ‘Have it done by someoneelse.’ In an apparent reference to Sanatana’selder brother, Raghunandana, the revolutionary, the king said: ‘Your elder brother isacting like a thief; he has punished manyindividuals, and has made Bakala his ownpossession, and now you have ruined all myother affairs.’ ‘You are the independent lordof Gauda,’ said Sanatana. ‘Whatever offence has been committed, give the punishment for that.’

At this, Husain Shah returned to his palace and gave the order thatSanatana was to be put in jail. After a fewdays, thinking that his imprisonment wasenough to bring Sanatana under his control,the king went to the jail and ordered him toaccompany him on his next invasion ofOrissa. But Sanatana refused. He knew thatHusain Shah was going to try to destroy theJagannatha temple at Puri, and he could notbear it. The king then left for Orissa without him. Ultimately his invasion was a failure. The soldiers of Orissa were able todrive his soldiers back.

After Sanatana had been put in jail,Rupa’s messengers returned from Puri andtold him tha t Cha i t anya had l e f t forVrindavana through the Jharkhanda forestwith just one attendant. Rupa then sent amessage to Sanatana, informing him of thisnews and telling him that he and Anupamawere heading there now. Rupa also told himthat he had left ten thousand gold coinswi th the i r me r chant f r i end, and tha the should use the money to buy his freedomand come to Vrindavana. Either in this orin a separate note, Rupa sent the shlokamentioned earlier about the fleeting natureof the world.

Sanatana now saw a ray of hope. Theprison guard had previously been helped byhim, so Sanatana thought that with a littlenudge at his conscience and a little bribery,the guard might return the favour. Afterpraising the guard’s knowledge of the Koranand other scriptures, Sanatana said, ‘If oneallows a prisoner to escape it is his own fortune, for God frees him from samsara.’ Apparently, Sanatana’s servant Ishana hadbrought the gold coins, as Sanatana offeredfive thousand of them to the guard. But theguard was, understandably, afraid of theking.

So Sanatana concocted for him awhole story to tell the king: that Sanatanahad gone out to relieve himself at the bankof the Ganga and he saw him jump in theriver; and with the heavy chains on his feet,he must have drowned and been carriedaway by the current, as no amount of searching could locate him. Sanatana also assured the guard that hewould not remain in Gauda. Rather, hewould become a dervish and go to Mecca.After Sanatana placed another two thousandcoins on the pile, the guard’s heart softened.That night he cut Sanatana’s chains and tookhim to the other side of the river.

Ishana leftwith him. As they could not take the mainroad for fear of detection, the two men wentthrough the forest. But after travelling fortwo days without any food, they came to amountain that was difficult to pass over. Justthen they found a merchant who offered tohelp them, but accompanying him was a fortune-teller, who whispered to the merchant,‘They have eight gold coins with them.’ Sothe merchant thought he would rob and killthem that night. In the mean time, however,he treated them with much respect. But hisrespect raised doubts in Sanatana’s mind,and he asked Ishana, ‘Have you broughtanything with you?’ Ishana admitted that he had brought seven gold coins with him for Sanatana’s service. Sanatana then scolded him and said, ‘These are our death!’

Taking the coins to the merchant ,Sanatana told him to keep them for helpingthe two of them. The merchant then admittedthat he knew they had eight coins and would have murdered them that night if Sanatanahad not brought them to him. Though the merchant told Sanatana to keep the coinsand he would help them anyway, Sanatana insisted that the merchant take them. ‘If youdon’t murder us for them, then someone elsewill,’ he said. ‘You will save our lives bytaking them.’ The merchant then sent fourmen to help Sanatana and Ishana cross themountain. When they had reached the others ide and the me r chant ’ s men had l e f t ,Sanatana asked Ishana, ‘Do you have anything more with you?’ Ishana then admittedhe still had one more gold coin. ‘All right,’said Sanatana. ‘Take this coin with you andgo back home. I don’t need your service anylonge r . ’ I shana wa s deva s t a t ed, but a sSanatana would not relent, he left.

When Sanatana reached Hajipura (possibly in Bihar or Jharkhanda), he met hissister’s husband, Srikanta, who was also inthe service of the king. Srikanta was thereto buy horses for the king. He wantedSanatana to remain there for a few days torest and get cleaned up, but Santana wouldnot hear of it. ‘Help me across the Ganga.I must go at once,’ said Sanatana.15 Srikantathen f ed him, gave him an expens iveBhutanese shawl, and helped him get acrossthe river.

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