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About Shankaracharyas

Context:

The four Shankaracharyas recently said that they will not attend the inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Relevance:

GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Shankaracharyas
  2. Life and Works of Adi Sankaracharya
  3. What is Advaita Vedanta?

Shankaracharyas

Origins and Title:

  • The term “Shankaracharya” translates to “teacher of the way of Shankara.”
  • It is a religious title held by the leaders of the four Hindu maths established by Adi Shankara in the eighth century.

Purpose and Locations:

  • Adi Shankara founded these maths, serving as centers for imparting knowledge, with components like shrines, temples, libraries, and living quarters.
  • The four maths are situated in Dwarka (Gujarat), Joshimath (Uttarakhand), Puri (Odisha), and Sringeri (Karnataka).

Role and Responsibilities:

  • Shankaracharyas are not only spiritual leaders but also oversee the Dashanami Sampradaya, an order of renunciates following Adi Shankara’s teachings.

Life and Works of Adi Sankaracharya:

Birth and Background

  • Adi Sankaracharya was born in Kaladi, Kerala in 788 CE.

Philosophy and Writings

  • He propounded the Doctrine of Advaita (Monism).
  • He wrote many commentaries on the Vedic canon (Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and Bhagavad Gita) in Sanskrit.
  • His major work is Brahmasutrabhasya (Bhashya or commentary on the Brahma Sutra).

Travels and Contributions

  • He travelled the length and breadth of India spreading Advaita Vedanta.
  • He was responsible for reviving Hinduism in India to a great extent when Buddhism was gaining popularity.
  • He was a devotee of Shiva.
  • He criticised the Mimamsa School of philosophy and explained a major point of deviance between Hinduism and Buddhism.

Legacy

  • Shankaracharya established four Mathas in the four corners of India and the tradition continues to this day.
  • He preached renunciation and adoption of the knowledge path to realize Brahman.

What is Advaita Vedanta?

  • Advaita Vedanta articulates a philosophical position of radical nondualism, a revisionary worldview which it derives from the ancient Upanishadic texts.
  • According to Advaita Vedantins, the Upanishads reveal a fundamental principle of nonduality termed ‘brahman’, which is the reality of all things.
  • The basic theme of Advaita is that the one unchanging entity (Brahman) alone is real while changing entities do not have absolute existence. The world is Maya or illusion and only the Self is real. A person who realises this attains moksha (liberation of the soul).
  • The doctrine says that there is no difference between the Atman and the Brahman. The individual soul is not different from Brahman. Hence, its name Advaita meaning non-duality.

-Source: Indian Express


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