Shivagiri Swamy | Sri Totakacharya

Sri Totakacharya (8th century AD) was a disciple of Sri Adi Sankara, the great Advaita Vedanta Guru. He was the first and foremost pontiff of the Mutt formed by his Guru Sri Adi Sankaracharya in Uttarakhand. He also founded another Mutt in Thrissur, Kerala. His birth name was Shivagiri.

When Adi Sankara was at Sringeri, he met a boy whose name was Shivagiri, and on seeing the innocent face of the boy, Sri Adi Sankara had eagerly accepted him as his disciple. Giri was sincere and straight forward to his Guru, and he served his Guru wilfully, faithfully and honestly.

But however, since Giri was very slow in grasping the Vedic subjects, in order to gift the divine knowledge to Giri, with his great powers, Sri Adishankara had transferred some of his powers to his disciple Shivagiri and made him as an intelligent boy. The enlightened Giri composed Totakastakam, a Sanskrit poem which was written in praise of his Guru Sri Adi Sankara. And hence, from then onwards, the honest disciple Shivagiri came to be known as Sri Totakacharya.

Once when Adishankara decided to test his disciple Shivagiri, and asked to give his life as Gurudakshina, then immediately, Shivagiri had wilfully decided to give up his life as “GURUDAKSHINA” to his Guru, and hence he has taken a knife, handed it to his Guru, Sri Adishankara, and asked to cut him into pieces. On seeing the amazing act of Shivagiri, all other disciples of Sri Adishankara were astonished and praised for his great Guru Bhakti. Then, Adishankara gently took the knife from his hand, thrown it out, embraced Shivagiri, and gave his everlasting blessings to him.

Gurudakshina means paying our great respects to our holy Guru, and we must be willing to satisfy the needs of the Guru, after the completion of our studies in the Gurukulam. This system was an ancient practice which was adopted in the Gurukulam system of Vedic education. The tradition of Gurudakshina can be traced in our ancient texts, and we can find it in Mahabharata.

We can get goodness in our life, only through our Guru Bhakti, which can be developed only through constant practice. But nowadays it is very difficult to find such type of pious people, and hence, we could be able to trace such types of people only from the Puranas and in other holy texts!


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