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, a 9th century CE reformer of Hinduism. He is honored as Jagadguru, a title that was used earlier only to Lord Krishna. The popular view among historians is that there were four mathas established by Ādi Śankara:

  • the Uttarāmnāya matha, or northern matha at Jyotir Math in the city of Jyotirmath
  • the Pūrvāmnāya matha or eastern matha, the Govardhana matha, at Puri
  • the Dakshināmnāya matha, or the Sringeri Sharada Peetham, the southern matha, at Shringeri
  • the Paśchimāmnāya matha, or the Dvaraka Pitha, the western matha, at Dwarka .
  • Kanchi Kamakoti Pitha matha in Kanchipuram as a central matha to oversee the other four.Like other religions and sects, some rivalry exists between some groups who claim to have been initiated into the Shankaracharya Order.

The existence of such multiple mathas occurs because a Guru/or descendant of the Shankaracharya lineage could have had many disciples. This could have resulted in the branching out of the parent institution. It is also possible that a Guru might have died without naming a successor, leading to the formation of rival groups. For example, the Jyotir Math and Govardhan matha have had broken lineages and were later revived.

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.

Kolkota: A Sri Chakra exists on the dietys tongue.

Read more about Shankaracharya:  Further Reading