Adi Shankara , also known as Adi Sankaracarya and Sankara Bhagavatpadacarya ("the teacher at the feet of God"), c. 788 – 820 CE, was the first philosopher to consolidate the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta, a sub-school of Vedanta. His teachings are based on the unity of the soul and God, in which God is viewed as simultaneously personal and attributeless. In the Smarta tradition, Adi Shankara is regarded as an incarnation of Shiva.
Adi Shankara toured India with the purpose of propagating his teachings through discourses and debates with other philosophers. He founded four mathas ("abbeys") which played a key role in the historical development and spread of Hinduism and Advaita Vedanta. Adi Shankara was the founder of the Dashanami monastic order and the Shanmata tradition of worship.
His works in Sanskrit, all of which are extant today, concern themselves with establishing the doctrine of Advaita (Sanskrit, "Non-dualism"). Adi Shankara quotes extensively from the Upanishads and other Hindu scriptures in forming his teachings. He also includes polemics against opposing schools of thought like Samkhya and Buddhism in his works.
Adi Shankara founded four Mathas , to guide the Hindu religion. These are at Sringeri in Karnataka in the south, Dwaraka in Gujarat in the west, Puri in Orissa in the east, and Jyotirmath (Joshimath) in Uttaranchal in the north. Hindu tradition states that he put in charge of these mathas his four main disciples: Sureshwaracharya, Hastamalakacharya, Padmapadacharya, and Totakacharya respectively. The heads of the mathas trace their authority back to these figures. Each of the heads of these four mathas takes the title of Shankaracharya ("the learned Shankara") after the first Shankara. The matha at Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, claims that it was founded by Adi Shankara
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