Sanandana was a very bright and intelligent boy from the southern part of Bharat. After he finished his initial studies in his hometown he decided to lead an ascetic life and travelled all the way to Kashi to meet a Guru under whose guidance he can progress further in his spiritual pursuits. At that time Adi Sankara was in Kashi giving discourses on Advaita Vedanta.
Sanandana was drawn towards Sankara. He offered his respectful prostrations and asked the Acharya to take him as a disciple and initiate him into sanyasa. Seeing the keenness of the young aspirant, the Master agreed and took him as his disciple. He was Sankara’s first disciple. Sanandana stayed with his Guru serving and learning from him. Sanandana was extremely brilliant and absorbed the knowledge three times faster than anyone else. Sankara was highly pleased and appreciated his disciple’s intellectual abilities. However the other students misunderstood and thought that the teacher was more favourable to Sanandana and became jealous. Sankara understood what was going on in their minds, and decided that it was time for them to see for themselves the greatness of Sanandana.
One day, when Sanandana was on the other side of the river Ganga washing clothes, suddenly Sankara called out to him, “Sanandana”. No sooner had he heard his name being called out, Sanandana who was on the other side of the river just started walking towards his Master. The actual path was round the river which would take some time. All that was in the mind of the disciple was that his Guru had suddenly called him and he should be there as quickly as possible. Sanandana was walking on the waters of the river. Normally the water currents would have washed him away. But lo! The moment he stepped onto the water, a full blown lotus sprang up to support his foot. When he put the next step forward, another lotus appeared to support his foot. Sanandana had no idea that he was walking on water. In his anxiety to reach his Guru quickly, he was almost running on water with every step being supported by a lotus! The other disciples who were watching this miracle were dumb-founded. They understood that it was nothing but the faith and devotion that Sanandana had for his Guru which made it possible for him to walk on water!
Sanandana came and prostrated to the Acharya. Sankara smilingly acknowledged. All the others were in a state of utter shock. It was only when Sankara pointed out to him the river behind, that Sanandana looked back and saw that he had literally walked on water. At every step, since a lotus (padma) had appeared below his foot (pada), Adi Sankara gave him the name PADMAPADA : “feet supported by lotus”.
Padmapada was one amongst the four principle disciples of Adi Sankara. He was in charge of the Govardhan Mutt at Puri in the eastern part of Bharat.
"Apart from Him, I don't exist," declares the devotee of Sree Narayana. "Everything of me is already laid at the Feet of the Lord. I do not exist, so I cannot worry over anything. It is all now His worry..... Narayana; Narayana --- it is all yours". - Swami Chinmayananda
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