Shankaracharya is the title generally used for the head of the monasteries/Peeth/Math of the Advaita tradition. Shankaracharya is the post of supreme religious teacher in Hinduism. The tradition of this post was started by Adi Guru Shankaracharya. He established four monasteries in four regions of India for the prestige of Sanatan Dharma. Since then the tradition of the post of Shankaracharya is going on in these four mathas. Following is the list of four Peethas of India and their Shankaracharyas –
- In the north direction, Uttar Math, Jyotirmath, Also known as Joshimath – This Peeth is located in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state. In the present year 2022, H.H. Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati, is the Shankaracharya of this Peeth. Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati was on the post of Shankaracharya of Dwarka Math as well as Jyotirmath. Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati died on 11 September 2022. After the death of Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati was made the Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath.
- In the south direction, the Southern Math, which is called Sringeri Sharada Peeth – This Peeth is situated in Sringeri (District – Chikmagalur, State – Karnataka). In the current year 2022, Shankaracharya of Sringeri Sharada Peetham is H.H. Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha. Bharathi Tirtha was born as Seetharama Anjaneyalu on 11 April 1951 to a Telugu Smarta family from Machilipatnam. In the year 1966, at the age of 15, Anjaneyalu approached the 35th Jagadguru of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Abhinava Vidyatirtha, seeking religious guidance from him. Vidyatirtha accepted Anjaneyalu as the disciple. Abhinava Vidyatirtha appointed Seetharama Anjaneyalu as the successor-designate on the 11 November 1974, when Anjaneyalu received saffron robes, a staff, and a kamandalu (water pot).
- In the East direction, Eastern Math, Govardhan Math – This Peeth is located in Puri (Ordisha State). In the present year 2022, H.H. Jagadguru Swami Shri Nischalananda Saraswati is the Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth, Puri. Nischalananda Saraswati, the son of the Rajpandit of the Maharaja of Darbhanga, was born in Darbhanga (Bihar) in 1943. He decided to become a sanyasi while a student of Tibbiya College and studied scriptures at places like Kashi, Vrindavan, Naimisharanya, Sringeri etc. In 1974 he took initiation from Swami Karpatri and assumed the name Nischalananda. In 1993, Swami Nischalananda took the post of Shankaracharya of Govardhan Math.
- In the west direction is the Western Math called Dwarka Peeth – This math is located in Dwarka district (Gujarat state). In the present year 2022 the Shankaracharya of Dwarka Sharada Peetham Math is H.H. Swami Sadanand Saraswati. In 1982, Swami Swarupananda Saraswati became the Shankaracharya of this Math. Shankaracharya Swami Swarupananda Saraswati died on 11 September 2022. After the death of Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, Swami Sadanand Saraswati was made the Shankaracharya of Dwarka Sharada Math.