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Adi shankara
Adi Shankaracharya with his four disciples - Padmapadacharya, Sureshwaracharya, Hastamalakacharya and Totakacharya.

Shankaracharya (Sanskrit: शङ्कराचार्य, IAST: Śaṅkarācārya, "Shankara-acharya") is a religious title used by the heads of amnaya monasteries called mathas in the Advaita Vedanta tradition of Hinduism. The title derives from Adi Shankara; teachers from the successive line of teachers retrospectively dated back to him are known as Shankaracharyas.

Establishment of the tradition[edit]

According to a tradition developed in the 16th century, Adi Shankara set up four monasteries known as Mathas or Peethams, in the North, South, East and West of India, to be held by realised men who would be known as Shankaracharyas. They would take on the role of teacher and could be consulted by anyone with sincere queries of a spiritual nature.[1][2] Another monastery Kanchi Kamkoti Peeth in south India also derives its establishment and tradition to Adi Shankara, however its heads are called "Acharya" or "Jagadguru" instead of "Shankaracharya".

The table below gives an overview of the four main Shankaracharya Amnaya Mathas reputedly founded by Adi Shankara, and their details.[3]

Direction Maṭha Mahāvākya Veda Sampradaya Present Shankaracharya
Padmapāda East Puri Govardhanmaṭha Pīṭhaṃ Prajñānam brahma (Consciousness is Brahman) Rig Veda Bhogavala Swami Nischalananda Saraswati
Sureśvara South Sringeri Śārada Pīṭhaṃ Aham brahmāsmi (I am Brahman) Yajur Veda Bhurivala Sri Bharati Tirtha
Hastāmalakācārya West Dvāraka Sharada Pīṭhaṃ Tattvamasi (That thou art) Sama Veda Kitavala Swami Sadanand Saraswati[4]
Toṭakācārya North Badari Jyotirmaṭha Pīṭhaṃ Ayamātmānam brahma (This Atman is Brahman) Atharva Veda Nandavala Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati (contested)/

Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati (disputed)[5]


The word Shankaracharya is composed of two parts, Shankara and Acharya. Acharya is a Sanskrit word meaning "teacher", so Shankaracharya means "teacher of the way of Shankara".

      1. Naad Vansh
    • Naad Vansh** refers to a lineage or tradition that is established through spiritual sound and vibrations. In this context, the term denotes a spiritual family where the Guru, considered the spiritual father (Bapu), passes down teachings and practices related to the spiritual science of sound (Nada) to their disciples (shishyas). This lineage emphasizes the following aspects:

- **Spiritual Transmission:** Knowledge and spiritual power are transmitted through the practice of sound and vibration, such as in Nada Yoga or other sound-based spiritual disciplines. - **Guru-Shishya Tradition:** The relationship between Guru and disciple is central, with the Guru being regarded as a spiritual parent who imparts wisdom and guidance. - **Focus on Sound:** Practices might include chanting, mantra recitation, and deep listening to internal and external sounds as a means to achieve spiritual growth and enlightenment.

      1. Bund Vansh
    • Bund Vansh** refers to a lineage established through natural biological means, literally meaning born from sperm. This term contrasts with Naad Vansh, indicating a more conventional familial lineage. Key aspects include:

- **Biological Descent:** Lineage is based on genetic inheritance and traditional family structures. - **Natural Birth:** Emphasizes the physical process of birth and biological continuity. - **Conventional Family Lineage:** Involves the passing down of cultural, social, and possibly spiritual traditions through normal familial relationships and inheritance.

This distinction highlights two different modes of lineage: one rooted in spiritual transmission through sound and the Guru-Shishya relationship (Naad Vansh), and the other based on biological and familial inheritance (Bund Vansh).


Further reading[edit]

  • Mukhyananda, Swami (2006) Sri Shankaracharya: life and philosophy: An elucidative and reconciliatory interpretation, 4th ed.; OCLC 426914596; Kolkata; Advaita Ashrama
  • Esoteric Buddhism by A.P. Sinnett, pp 81 ISBN 1438503652

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Waite, Dennis, 1948- (2010). The book of one : the ancient wisdom of Advaita ([2nd ed.] ed.). Winchester, UK: O Books. ISBN 9781846943478. OCLC 573397586.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Barrett, David V. (2001). The new believers : a survey of sects, cults, and alternative religions. Barrett, David V. London: Cassell. ISBN 0304355925. OCLC 44933824.
  3. ^ "Adi Shankara's four Amnaya Peethams". Archived from the original on 26 June 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2006.
  4. ^ "Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati's successors: TWO Shankaracharyas of two different Peeths now - DETAILS here". Zee News. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  5. ^ "Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati's successors: TWO Shankaracharyas of two different Peeths now - DETAILS here". Zee News. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  6. ^ Snow, Michael J. (October 2018). Mindful philosophy. Milton Keynes. ISBN 9781546292388. OCLC 1063750429.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)

External links[edit]