Sri Ādi Śankarācārya is an incarnation of Paramaśiva, who assumed the body in the 8th century. He organised and unified the main thought currents (Truth threads) that exist within Sanātana Hindu Dharma, in the form of various traditions or Sampradāyas called Akhāḍās. He is the reviver of the Dashanami Sampradāya (the monastic tradition), organizing a section of the Ēkadaṇḍi monastics (monastics carrying a single staff) under an umbrella grouping of ten names (‘daśa’ meaning ten, ‘nām’ meaning name in Sanskrit). He also revived and organized the Mahanirvani Akhāḍā. He formally organised it in 748 C.E constituting a democratic structure giving stability and legitimacy to Hinduism’s core spiritual traditions (sampradāya) in the form of the Akhāḍās or Apex bodies of Hinduism.
The Ekadandi Sanyāsis (wandering renunciates and monks bearing a single staff) were organised into ten sects (daśanāma; dasa – ten; nama – name), which fell under four Mathas or monasteries under the sacred system entirely based on the guru-disciple tradition, where the lineage of each sect was maintained and inherited from Guru to disciple.
(left) The Deity of Ādi Shankara at Kedarnath Temple, Kedarnath, North India; (right) image of Ādi Shankara ruling the kingdom seated on the Mahanirvani Peetha, while being worshipped and served by the regent Kings along with his disciples.
All the knowledge and traditions of Sanātana Hindu Dharma (Hinduism) are traced back to the original source, which is Paramaśiva. The Guru-parampara (Guru’s lineage) begins with Paramaśiva as the primordial Guru, who descends as the Incarnation from time to time to transmit, preserve and protect the Science of Enlightenment and the enlightenment ecosystem to for his disciples and humanity at large. This is the Daiva-Paramparā, which is followed by the Rishi-Parampara, where the enlightened seers were able to transmit the direct words of Paramaśiva to the next generation of seekers. Finally, comes the Mānava-Paramparā, where the disciples who received this knowledge maintain and uphold the tradition from one generation to the next.