Shankara, the great acharya, had four chief pupils: Thotaka, Hastamalaka, Sureswara and Padmapada.
Of these, Padmapada was intent only on service to the Guru. He could not pay attention to the lessons. The others used to sneer at him for his backwardness in studies. But his deep reverence for the Guru made up for it. One day, he washed the clothes of his Guru and dried them on a rock in the middle of the river, but even as he was folding them, the river rose fast in a swirling flood and he had scarce a foothold on the top of the rock. It was getting late. The Guru would need the washed clothes soon. So Padmapada resolved to walk across, over the raging waters. He knew that the blessing of his Guru would rescue him. It did.
Wherever his foot was planted, a sturdy lotus bloomed and bore him on its petals. That is why he came to be called, Lotus-footed, Padmapada! The grace of the Guru enabled him to master all knowledge and shine as a brilliant exponent of the ancient wisdom.
Sri Sathya Sai Balvikas Student (Group III)