Sankara knew the real meaning of the Vedic words "mathru devo bhava, pithru devo bhava - let the mother be your god, let the father be your god". Once when his father left the house, he told his son: "My dear son, I am daily worshipping God and distributing naiveidya [offering eatables to the deity or idol; prasâdam] to all the people. So also in my absence and in the absence of your mother, you will please do like that". Sankara promised too so without fail. He poured some milk in a cup, put it before the Idol of the Goddess and prayed to her: "Mother! Take this milk which I am offering". Though he prayed for a long time, the mother did not take the milk, nor did she appear. He was very disappointed.
He said again, "Mother! Mother! You are daily taking the offerings that are given to you by my father. What sins have these hands of mine committed that you are not accepting the offering which I am giving to you?" He prayed to her earnestly from the innermost depths of his heart. He prepared to sacrifice even his life and told himself, "My father asked me to offer this milk to the goddess but I am not able to do so because the goddess is not receiving the offering, which is made. It is better that I die". He went out and brought a big stone to kill himself. The Mother of the Universe is very compassionate and she was very moved and touched by Sankara's sincerity. She at once appeared before him and drank the milk that he offered. She drank the whole milk and placed the empty cup before him. The boy was very glad that the Mother of the Universe came and drank the milk but there was nothing in the cup.
He thought that his father would certainly ask for the naiveidya of the God after his return. He feared that the father may thought that he drank away all the milk and may be angry with him. Therefore he prayed to the Goddess. "Goddess, give me at least one drop of milk so that I may be able to give it to my father". But the goddess did not come. He again sincerely continued to pray; the goddess was moved and she appeared. Because she was not able to give the milk that she drank, she gave her own milk and filled the cup. There is a belief that because Sankara tasted the divine milk, he was able to attain the highest learning, knowledge and wisdom that are ever possible. So the essence of the grace of the goddess became the essence of learning of Sankara. In order to please his father, he tried hard and was able to get the Goddess of the Universe to manifest Herself before him. From this story, we must learn to revere and obey the orders of our fathers implicitly and sincerely.