Birth and Childhood
Kusuma or Kusumbara was unhappy at the lack of a son and to ensure the birth of one, worshipped Siva and Visnu. Kusuma's wife Satyasandhya then had a dream in which Siva appeared to her. Ramananda begins his account of this event six generations earlier when Sankaradeva's ancestor Krishnakanti was given a vision of Visnu mounted on Garuda and a son named Landadeva. The patten was repeated in each succeeding generation.
Nature's reaction to the birth of Sankaradeva is dramatic:
subhaksana subhalagna naksatra milila
sehi bela Kusumara putra upajila.
dobhaga rajani andhakara tanomaya
sutikara grhagota bhaila jyotirmaya.
madhura garjjane meghasabe garajaya
ghorasava cinari uthila atisaya.
When at an auspicious moment,the stars joined in auspicious conjunction,
the son of Kusuma was born.
It was the second watch of the night and the darkness was thick,
the lying-in room became filled with light,
the clouds rumbled softly,
and horses neighed loudly.
Ramcharan Thakur, describing the childhood of Sankaradeva, speaks of his 'extra-ordinary' (biparita) lila.The child's effulgence enraptures all who see it and when he is eighteen days old, the gods themselves descend to earth to visit him:
Brahma adi devagana kari ati ranga mana,
svarga hante asilanta lari
Sankaraka dekhibaka aila sabe devajaka
Brahma Hare kare tuti achanta Sankara suti
prthibita janu sire pari
Brahma climbed on his swan mount and
along with the other gods rushed down from heaven.
Full of delight, all the gods came to see Sankara.
With bended knee, touching their heads to the ground
Brahma and Siva praised Sankara as he lay [in his cradle].
A Remarkable child
Some episodes in the life of Sankaradeva are reminiscent of the young Krishna's heroic aspect. While still in his cradle, Sankaradeva kicks it so violently that he knocks it over.
When an adolescent, he is warned to avoid a bull (sada) as big as a water buffalo that is terrifying the area. One day, when Sankaradeva is out walking alongwith a companion, the horned monster appears, sees the boys and charges. Sankaradeva seizes the bull by its horns, stopping its charge and twists its head to the side, causing it to urinate and defecate from pain. As he holds the beast in his grip, Sankaradeva gives the bull such a fierce stare that it closes its own eyes in terror. When the boy releases the animal, it flees into the jungle, not daring to look back. Thereafter, everytime the bull saw Sankaradeva, it ran for the woods. As Bhusana Dvija notes, Sankara overcame the beast the same way Krishna threw the bull-demon Arista:
yena aristaka pehlaila lilai