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Adi Shankaracharya

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Adi Shankara was an Indian philosopher and theologian who expounded the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. He renounced the worldly pleasures at a very young age. Shankaracharya amalgamated the ideologies of ancient ‘Advaita Vedanta’ and also explained the basic ideas of Upanishads. He advocated the oldest concept of Hinduism which explains the unification of the soul (atman) with the Supreme Soul (Nirguna Brahman). Though he is best known for popularizing ‘Advaita Vedanta’, one of Shankaracharya’s most important works is his efforts to synthesize the six sub-sects, known as ‘Shanmata.’ ‘Shanmata’, which literally translates to ‘six religions,’ is the worship of six supreme deities. Shankaracharya explained the existence of one Supreme Being (Brahman) and that the six supreme deities are part of one divine power. He also founded ‘Dashanami Sampradaya,’ which talks about leading a monastic life. While Shankaracharya was a firm believer in ancient Hinduism, he condemned the ‘Mimamsa school of Hinduism’ which was purely based on ritual practices. Throughout the course of his journey, Shankaracharya discussed his ideas with various other philosophers and fine-tuned his own teachings from time to time. Shankaracharya founded four monasteries (mathas) that continue to spread his teachings.