Adi Shankracharya was born to a Brahmin couple Shivaguru and Aryamba who lived in Kerala in 788 A.D. He studied all the four Vedas, when he was still a child. At 7, he mastered all the holy shastra and upanishads.
At the early age of 8 he renunciated the world. He met Shri Guru Govindanath of whom he became an ardent disciple and who conferred on him the degree of ‘Acharya’ meaning professor for his knowledge about Adwait philosophy, Upanishads and other Shastras.
He established Mathas or monasteries at Badrinath, Dwarka, Sringeri, Puri and Kanchi. The heads of the Mathas are named after him while the sanyasins who are his followers are called Dashnamis as they are known by the ten appellations namely, Teerth, Ashram, Vana, Aranya, Giri, Parvat, Sagai; Saraswati, Bharati and Puri.
Shankracharya has also been called ‘Shanmat Sthajianacharya’ because he founded the following six religious cullts: (i) Ganapatyan, (ii) Kaumaram, (iii) Vaishnavam, (iv) Sauram, (v) Saktani and (vi) Shaivam. His literary works include commentaries called Shankar Bhasya. The philosophy that was systematised by Shankracharya was the Adwait philosophy.