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Shankaracharya



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.

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

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.

Shishya

(lineage)

Direction

Maṭha

Mahāvākya

Veda

Sampradaya

Present Shankaracharya

Padmapāda

East

Puri Govardhanmaṭha Pīṭhaṃ

Prajñānam brahma (Consciousness is supreme being)

Rig Veda

Bhogavala

Swami Nischalananda Saraswati

Sureśvara

South

Sringeri Śārada Pīṭhaṃ

Aham brahmāsmi (I am the supreme being)

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

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".



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