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Adi shankara
Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya with his four disciples - Padmapadacharya, Sureshwaracharya, Hastamalakacharya & Totakacharya

Shankaracharya (IAST: Śaṅkarācārya, Shankara acharya) is a commonly used title of heads of monasteries called mathas in the Advaita Vedanta tradition. The title derives from Adi Shankara, an 8th-century AD reformer of Hinduism.[1] He is honored as Jagadguru, a title that was used earlier only to Krishna.

The popular view among historians[who?] is that there were four Mathas or Peethas (religious orders):[1]

It is believed that after establishing the above four mathas and appointing his four disciples as head of these mathas, Adi Shankara established a fifth matha at Kanchipuram as the dakshina moolamnya sarvajna peetham and became the head of that matha till his life time.[2] This fifth matha is called Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham

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

Direction Maṭha Mahāvākya Veda Sampradaya
Padmapāda East Govardhana Pīṭhaṃ Prajñānam brahma (Consciousness is Brahman) Rig Veda Bhogavala
Sureśvara South Sringeri Śārada Pīṭhaṃ Aham brahmāsmi (I am Brahman) Yajur Veda Bhūrivala
Hastāmalakācārya West Dvāraka Pīṭhaṃ Tattvamasi (That thou art) Sama Veda Kitavala
Toṭakācārya North Jyotirmaṭha Pīṭhaṃ Ayamātmā brahma (This Atman is Brahman) Atharva Veda Nandavala

Shankaracharya is also seen as an avatar of Shiva (Shankara). Shankaracharya is responsible for founding many punyakshetras along the length and breadth of India, by taming avatars of Parvati and imprisoning her essence in Sri Chakras.

Adi Shankaracharya wished to grace the Indian subcontinent by establishing five major mathas in the four corners of the peninsula – north (Jyothirmath), south (Sringeri,Kanchi ), east (Puri), west (Dwaraka) – to propagate the philosophy of advaita vedanta and to promulgate the concept of Sanatana dharma, thus establishing dharma or righteousness, as the way of life of people. His primary four disciples and himself took charges of each math and thus established a strong Guru-Sishya parampara (a lineage of masters-disciples) in every math, that continues to guide people to this day.

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]


External links[edit]