Padmapada is one of Sri Sankara's four first disciples. He was
from a family of worshippers of Ranganatha of Sri Rangam. [There
was no concept of Sri Vaishnavism during Sankara's times. Sri
Ramanuja came 600 years later. There were only Siva worshippers
and Vishnu worshippers. Padmapada has written a number of
original Advaitic granthas and also commentaries for Sri Sankara's
works. He was a little arrogant about his learning, though he
was also self realized. Sri Sankara wanted to put him to test.
Padmapada went to Sri Rangam, to stay with his maternal uncle
for sometime. He showed his uncle the advaita granthas. Somehow
the uncle did not like Padmapada and his erudition. When Padmapada was away for some work outside the town, the jealous uncle burnt
the house with all the granthas. Padmapada returned home and
the uncle wept artificially for the loss of the granthas. Padmapada
then told his uncle: "Uncle, do not worry. All these are in my
mind. I can re-write them all in a few days." The uncle was
again disturbed. He gave him then the juice of unmatha flowers along
with his food and Padmapada became totally mad! He was laughing,
crying, dancing, moving his limbs here and there in epilepsy. Somehow he managed to go to Sri Sankara who was then probably
staying in Sringeri or Kanchipuram and amidst his madness, he told
Sri Sankara about his loss of mental balance as also the loss of
granthas. Sri Sankara said: "Do not worry. Even in the state of
madness, only your brain is affected, your mind is safe with the
Self within the Heart. The Self Realization is in no way disturbed
by the brain problems.
He then placed his hands on Sri Padmapada's head and cured
his madness. Sri Padmapada then rewrote all the granthas under
Sri Sankara's further guidance. The state of Self Realization if
permanent, does not get affected by the madness that is due to
the brain dysfunction. Many devotees have behaved in a weird
manner in their state of self realization. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu,
and Sri Ramakrishna [to some extent] and Sri Seshadri Swamigal,
[perhaps as a cover to ward off devotees] are the classic examples!
This madness (from the point of view of others) is also called, on some occasions, as Mahabhava!