Padmapadacharya was an Indian philosopher, a follower of Adi Shankara. Padmapāda’s dates are unknown, but some modern scholarship places his life around the middle of the 8th century; similarly information about him comes mainly from hagiographies. What is known for certain is that he was a direct disciple of Shankara, of whom he was a younger contemporary.
Padmapada was the first head of Puri Govardhana matha. He is believed to have founded a math by name Thekke Matham in Thrissur, Kerala. Keralites believe that he was a Nambuthiri belonging to Vemannillom, though according to textual sources he was from the Chola region in South India.
Padmapāda, together with Sureśvara, developed ideas that led to the founding of the Vivarana school of commentators. The only surviving work of Padmapāda known to be authentic is the Pañcapādikā. According to tradition, this was written in response to Shankara’s request for a commentary on his own Brahmasūtrabhāsya, and once written was destroyed by a jealous uncle.
The surviving text is supposed to be what Shankara could recall of the commentary; certainly, all that survives of the work is an extended gloss on the first four aphorisms.
Padmapadacharya’s life exemplifies the Guru-Sishya relationship. For Padmapadacharya, the Guru is everything and the command of Guru is ultimate.
Once when he was on the opposite bank of a river, Sankara who was on the other side called him, and Padmapadacharya, without even thinking that he might be drowned in a swollen river began walking and a lotus appeared on every step that he would take and hold his feet from drowning - and that is why he came to be known as Padma-Pada - Lotus - Feet. His devotion exemplifies the relationship of Guru and Shishya.