Totakacharya (Thotakacharya) was one of the chief disciples of Sri Adi Shankaracharya, who composed an octad of verses in praise of the Master.

Every word of this beautiful hymn portrays the utter devotion of its author (Thotakacharya) to Adi Sañkaracharya who was his Guru (and everything to him). There is nothing equal to the Guru; nothing superior to him. The Guru is the dispeller of the darkness of ignorance. There can be no greater good than the removal of ignorance.

The spirit of devotion of the disciple is best expressed in the soul-moving song


Meaning of the lyrics goes something like this…

Be Thou my refuge, O Master, Shañkara

O Thou, the knower of all the milk-Ocean of Scriptures!
The expounder of the topics of the great Upanisadic treasure-trove!
On Thy faultless feet I meditate in my heart,
Be Thou my refuge O Master, Sankara!

O the Ocean of compassion!
Save me whose heart is tormented by the misery of the sea of birth!
Make me understand the truths of all the schools of philosophy!
Be Thou my refuge, O Master, Sañkara.

By thee the masses have been made happy,
O Thou who hast a noble intellect, skilled in the inquiry into self-knowledge!
Enable me to understand the wisdom relating to God and the soul.
Be Thou my refuge, O master, Sañkara.

Knowing that Thou art verily the Supreme Lord,
There arises overwhelming bliss in my heart.
Protect me from the vast ocean of delusion.
Be Thou my refuge, O Master, Sankara.

Desire for the insight into unity through Thee
will spring only when virtuous deeds are performed in abundance and in various directions.
Protect this extremely helpless person.
Be Thou my refuge, O Master, Sañkara.

O Teacher! For saving the world
the great assume various forms and wander in disguise.
Of them, Thou shinest like the Sun.
Be Thou my refuge, O Master, Sañkara.

O the best of Teachers! The Supreme Lord having the bull as banner!
None of the wise is equal to Thee! Thou who art compassionate to those who have taken refuge!
The Treasure-trove of truth!
Be Thou my refuge, O Master Sankara.

Not even a single branch of knowledge has been understood by me correctly.
Not even the least wealth do I possess, O Teacher.
Bestow on me quickly Thy natural grace.
Be thou my refuge, O Master Sañkara.


When we learn something from someone, respect your teacher (Guru). Approach them and let yourself open up and learn from them. Being open-minded and willing to take the leap of faith and learn is critical, as the Guru has the unique ability to take us from wherever we are, to where we need to be. Loving service to the Guru purifies our mind and enables us to tune ourselves with him so that the knowledge is absorbed without obstruction. When the mind is steady and clear, it is easier to reflect and assimilate the knowledge gained effortlessly.

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