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 and the arguments of his birth place is still going on.
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. 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. During the first days of Sankara’s coming to school, the teacher asked the senior students, by whom Sankara was sitting, to compose a few verses by themselves at home on the deities whom they adored. Sankara, who now knew the consonants alone and not the vowels except the first, and was yet to be acquainted with them, taking it to be an injunction on himself too, composed a beautiful poem on Hari with only the consonants and the first vowel.
Karatala kamala kamaladala nayana,
bhavadava dahana gahana vana sayana.
Napara napara para satarata gamaya,
sabhaya mabhaya bhaya mamahara satataya.
Kharatara varasara hatadasa vadana,
khagachara nagadhara fanadhara sayana.
Jagadagha mapahara bhavabhaya tarana,
parapada layakara kamalaja nayana.
Mahapurusha Srimanta Sankaradeva [1449-1568], saint-scholar, playwright, social-religious reformer, is a colossal figure in the cultural and religious history of Assam, India. He is credited with providing a thread of unity to Assam straddling two major kingdoms (Ahom and Koch kingdoms), building on past literary activities to provide the bedrock of Assamese culture, and creating a religion that gave shape to a set of new values and social synthesis. [Courtesy Wikipedia]
We remember him and his great works towards Assamese literature. The patron saint of Assam, India, Sankaradeva was a versatile genius under whose warmth of mind Assamese culture and society blossomed like a lotus with a thousand petals (Sahasradala Kamala).