Padmapada was one among Adi Sankara’s disciples. He was bent more on serving the Guru rather than learning. He used to arrange carefully all things needed by Sankara Acharya for his daily rituals. He was therefore lagging behind in studies. The other disciples used to make fun of him as ‘boorish or foolish’. Shankara Acharya had noticed this.
One day he was washing the Guru’s clothes, when the river turned spate all of a sudden. He heard the Guru calling him to come back. He finished washing quickly, and was anxious to reach the Guru who was on the other side of the river. A moment’s delay might cause inconvenience to the Guru, he thought. So he started walking fast with the sole thought of the Guru in his mind.
He was oblivious to the fact that he was actually walking on the surface of the river that was in spate. Each step of his was miraculously supported by a lotus that emanated on the spot over the water. And he could reach his Guru without any difficulty.
Looking at this, all the other disciples were stunned, and praised him for his dedication towards Guru. As he was able to cross the river with the support of lotuses, he came to be known as ‘Padmapaada’.