Sri Adi Shankaracharya is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva by his followers. He is the world’s greatest Guru (Jagathguru). He preached Vedic knowledge and awareness by teaching judgment, intellect and he instituted the worship of deities as worshipping different forms of the one God.
Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti is observed as birth anniversary of Indian Guru and philosopher Adi Shankara. Vaishakh month holds utmost importance in Hinduism. Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti is observed on Panchami Tithi during Shukla Paksha of Vaishakha month and currently falls between April and May.
Though he lived for only thirty-two years, his achievement was unparalleled. Sankaracharya is said to have founded four mutts (monasteries) in the four corners of India, probably following the Buddhist vihara system. These mutts are at Sringeri (south), Puri (east), Dwaraka (west) and Badrinath (north). The establishment of these mutts was one of the significant factors in the development of his teachings into the leading philosophy of India.
Four Peethas: For spreading Vedanta
Adi Shankaracharya established peethas (monasteries) in the four corners of the country, under the leadership of his four chief disciples. Their successors are heads of these peethas today. Two upa-peethas were also established in Kashi and Kanchi.
Sharda Peetha, Sringeri (Karnataka): Adi Shankaracharya set up his first peetha here for South India
Kalika Peetha, Dwarka (Gujarat): Also called Sharada peetha, established in the western corner of the country
Govardhan Peetha, Puri (Orissa): Established in the eastern corner of the country by Adi Shankaracharya
Jyotir Peetha, Joshimath (Uttaranchal): For north India, established near Badrinath
Kamakoti Peetha, Kanchi (TN): Upa-peetha where Adi Shankaracharya used to perform “linga puja”
Kashi Sumeru Peetha, Varanasi (UP): Upa-peetha (not recognised by some Hindu organisations)
Legend behind Shankracharya Jayanti:
A Brahmin named Shivguru used to reside in Kaladi village in the south. After many years of marriage, he had no children. Shivguru worshiped Lord Shankar with his wife. Pleased with his hard tenacity, Lord Shiva appeared in the dream and asked to ask for a blessing. Then Shivguru wished Lord Shiva for a child whose fame will be in over the world.
After this, when the time came, Shivguru and his wife got a son. They name this child Shankar as he took birth because of Lord Shankar’s blessings. Shankara lost his father at a young age. He then went out in search of truth. At the age of seven, he acquired complete knowledge of the Vedas. By the time he was twelve, he acquired full knowledge of scriptures. Upto sixteen years of age he had composed more than one hundred texts including Brahmsutra Bhashya. With this he started educating the disciples too. For this reason, he got popularity in the form of Adi Guru Shankaracharya.
Adi Shankaracharya passed away at the young age of 32 in the Himalayan region. It is believed that before his birth, his father was given a choice between an ordinary son with a long lifespan and a great son with a short lifespan. In which his father chose the latter one. It is also said that he was a child genius and was supposed to die at the age of eight but was later given the extension of eight years to excavate the truth of Vedas. Looking at his brilliance at monographs and commentaries, Ved Vyasa extended his life by another 16 years so he could spread the idea to the world.