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Sri Totakacharya

When Adi Shankaracharya was at Sringeri, He accepted a disciple endowed with great humility named Giri. Giri had neither the learning of Sureshwara and Padmapada nor the realisation of Hastamalaka. However, Giri was unrivalled in scrupulous personal attention to the Acharya. He found pleasure in looking after the personal comforts of the Acharya as a devoted servant. His co-disciples naturally entertained a lesser idea of his intellect. Even Padmapada was not free from this misconception. Once when Giri had gone to the river for washing clothes, the Acharya waited for his arrival before he would begin his exposition. The other disciples were impatient. Padmapada could not restrain himself. He said: ‘Why should we wait for one who is no better than a wall?’ Sri Shankaracharya naturally did not relish this remark. He decided to bless the devout Giri. So by a mental flash, He endowed Giri with knowledge of all the Shastras. When Giri returned from the river, he was literally in bliss. He sang the praise of the Acharya in a few brilliant stanzas in Totaka metre. Since then, Giri got the title of Totakacharya. The stanzas became famous as Totakashtakam. Totakacharya was from then on counted amongst the foremost disciples of Sri Adi Shankaracharya. He condensed the essential teachings of the Upanishads in a small treatise. This treatise is titled Shruti Saara Samuddharanam and is composed in the same Totaka metre.

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