Born: 788 AD in Kalady village, Kerala
One of India’s greatest philosopher-sages, Shankaracharya was born in a Namboodiri Brahmin family. Adi Shankara took to contemplation and Vedantic studies at an early age and completed his gurukul studies in eight years. He went on a journey through India, propagating Vedantic Advaita. He firmly established Vedanta in India—all in a short span of 32 years.
Four Peethas: For spreading Vedanta, Adi Shankaracharya established four peethas (monasteries) in the four corners of the country, under the leadership of his four chief disciples. Their successors are heads of these peethas today. Two upa-peethas were also established in Kashi and Kanchi.
Sharda Peetha, Sringeri (Karnataka): Adi Shankaracharya set up his first peetha here for South India
Current Head: Shri Bharati Teertha
Kalika Peetha, Dwarka (Gujarat): Also called Sharada peetha, established in the western corner of the country
Current Head: Swami Swaroopanandji
Govardhan Peetha, Puri (Orissa): Established in the eastern corner of the country by Adi Shankaracharya
Current Head: Swami Nischalanandaji
Jyotir Peetha, Joshimath (Uttaranchal): For north India, established near Badrinath
Current Head: Swami Vasudevanandaji
Kamakoti Peetha, Kanchi (TN): Upa-peetha where Adi Shankaracharya used to perform "linga puja"
Current Head: Swami Jayendra Saraswati
Kashi Sumeru Peetha, Varanasi (UP): Upa-peetha (not recognised by some Hindu organisations)
Current Head: Swami Narendranandji
Who becomes Sankaracharya
"Shankaracharya" is a traditional title for head of the peetha. It is handed over to the disciple by the incumbent Shankaracharya. The person should be a Brahmin by birth and a master in Yoga. He should be well-versed in Vedanta and must be recognised by the other three Shankaracharyas.
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