A verse in praise says:
The Venerable was endowed with intelligence and wisdom, gifted with literary talents,
Principled and sovereign, with unsurpassed eloquence.
Lofty and apart from the mundane, he removed difficulties and solved disputes
Undefiled and immaculate, he subdued practitioners of external paths.
The Venerable was endowed with intelligence and wisdom: He was inherently intelligent and wise.
Gifted with literary talents: He was skilled at speaking Dharma, and also capable of writing and polishing literature.
Principled and sovereign: He set true principle as his goal. He was independent and would not be swayed by others.
With unsurpassed eloquence: His talent in debate was preeminent and incomparable.
Lofty and apart from the mundane: He was noble and apart from worldliness, unlike ordinary people who are unbearably vulgar. His style was different from that of others.
He removed difficulties and solved disputes: He could remove the difficulties of living beings, and solve their disputes.
He subdued practitioners of external paths: As soon as practitioners of external paths who stubbornly held the view of discontinuity or the view of permanence spoke with Mahakatyayana, they would be convinced by him. Previously we mentioned that practitioners of external paths were completely convinced and pleased. This is not easy. Someone may simply profess to be convinced, while in his heart he is actually not. But Mahakatyayana was so persuasive so that practitioners of external paths were sincerely convinced and admired him from the bottom of their hearts. This is called subduing practitioners of external paths.
Undefiled and immaculate: Why was he able to persuade practitioners of external paths? It was because he was undefiled and immaculate, morally pure and strict in observing the precepts.
Another verse says:
Evil people are imprisoned and cannot return.
Good people transcend defilement and do not wish to be stained again.
Foremost in debate, he surpassed the mundane.
With unparalleled eloquence he triumphed over heretical doctrines
Skillfully and expediently speaking all dharmas
With mighty virtue he inspired and transformed all within the trichiliocosm
He liberated limitless people and performed universal meritorious deeds.
With Bodhi perfected, his moral virtue was complete.
Evil people are imprisoned and cannot return: A person who does evil is just like someone who is imprisoned. After he dies he has to undergo retribution for his offenses and cannot return to inform people. It just isn’t possible. A practitioner of an external path came up with such a theory to argue with Mahakatyayana. However, as soon as Venerable Mahakatyayana reasoned with him, this person had nothing to say. Therefore, evil people who have fallen into the hells are like criminals who are imprisoned; they are not free to return.
Good people transcend defilement and do not wish to be stained again. When good people go to the heavens, it is as if they have escaped a toilet; they have left this filthy place. They are not willing to come back here to endure this kind of suffering and defilement.
Foremost in debate, he surpassed the mundane: He stood out from his fellow men.
With unparalleled eloquence he triumphed over heretical doctrines: His eloquence was incomparable, triumphing over the heretical sects and external paths.
Skillfully and expediently speaking all dharmas: A proficient orator of unimpeded eloquence, he could speak all dharmas.
With mighty virtue he inspired and transformed all within the trichiliocosm. Everyone looked up to and was influenced by him.
He liberated limitless people and performed universal meritorious deeds: His merit was also enormous.
With Bodhi perfected, his moral virtue was complete. His cultivation was perfect, and his moral virtue was also full.
We all should not emulate his unsurpassed skills in debate; instead, we should emulate his morality and virtue, and learn to purely uphold the precepts.