A Saint is Born...
Srimanta Sankaradeva was born in 1449 AD (1371 of the Saka Era) in the month of Asvina-Kartika, to Kusumavara and Satyasandha Devi. While the Saint himself records the place of his birth as Bardowa - situated in the Nagaon district of Assam - some of his biographers are more specific and refer to a place called Aali-Pukhuri which is located about 8 miles to the west-north-west of modern Bardowa.
Sankaradeva's father Kusumavara was the Siromani or chief of the Bhuyans and was the descendent of the legendary Chandivara of Baro Bhuyan fame. The parents of the Saint were Saivites. Thus the name 'Sankara' - from Sankaravara.
Sankaradeva lost his parents at an early age - in fact,in his very childhood - and the responsibility of the child's upbringing fell on his grandmother, Khersuti who performed this task quite admirably.
The young Sankara, under the tutelage of his grandmother, grew into an intelligent and adventure-loving boy. He spent much of his time in the pursuit of sports and enjoyed playing games like 'ghila' and 'kotora'.
Child Sankara, like young Krishna, also relished the role of a cowherd as he lovingly took care of the cows and roamed around in the fields with them while they grazed. The biographies of the Saint are filled with stories of his adventure-filled childhood. At one time, during the rainy season (month of Bhadra), when the mighty Brahmaputra was in spate, Sankara famously swam across the river ...and back, unaided !
Thus, even at a tender age, Sankara exhibited great powers of mind and body. Many supernatural episodes also occurred around this time which proved that this was no ordinary child.
However, Khersuti would not let her dear grandson live by sports alone. She reminded Sankara of the tradition of scholarly pursuit and erudition which ran deep in the family. And also how important it was for him to study. Hearing these words of his grandmother, Sankara, all of twelve, resolved at once to begin his studies (although he did complain a time or two that it was still too early!)