Sanatana Dharma has survived ravages of time, predatory cultures/faiths, & hostile rules. Credit for this largely rests with our Mathas or Peethas who ensured Dharma was protected. Many of us know the role played by ParamaGuru Shri Adi Shankaracharya who established the 4 Mathas
These 4 Mathas were established in 4 parts of India & were assigned to preserve & propagate 1 each of the 4 Vedas
Govardhana Matha,Puri (East) : Rig Veda Sharada Peetha, Shringeri (South) : Yajur Veda Dwarka Peetha, (West) : Sama Veda Jyotir Matha, Chamoli (North) : Atharva Veda
However the oldest Matha/Peetha is Kavale Matha at Ponda, Goa. It was founded by Shri Gaudapadacharya in 740 AD. In the Kali Yuga Swami Shri Gaudapadcharya ji is the 1st exponent of Advaita Vedanta He is the Guru of Govinda Bhagavatpadacharya who in turn is the Guru of Adi Shankaracharya
Gaudapadacharya authored the Maṇḍukya or Gauḍapada Karika aka Agama Shastra, the earliest available systematic treatise on Advaita Vedanta. It is a treatise in verse form on the Mandukya Upanishad, one of the shortest but most profound Upanishads. The Gaudapada Karika is divided into 4 chapters
1st chapter : Agama Prakarana explains how Advaita is supported by the shruti and smruti 2nd chapter : Vaitathya Prakarana proves the unreality of the phenomenal world & its duality & stresses on the noumenon which underlies everything 3rd chapter : Adavaita Prakarana establishes non-duality or Advaita 4th chapter : Alatasanti Prakarana establishes the Atman or soul as the only reality underlying the phenomenal existence
Around 780 AD-Adi Guru Shri Gauḍapadacharya was on a pilgrimage to Kashi with his Sishya Shri Govinda Bhagavatpadacharya. A boy called Shankara who was in search of a Guru reached the ashram. Shri Bhagavatpadacharya asked who he was & Shankara replied in 6 stanzas.
These stanzas summarized the entirety of Advaita Vedanta & is called the Atma Shatakam or Nirvana Shatakam : “Chidananda Rupaha Shivoham Shivoham” Shri Gauḍapadacharya from his power of tapasya found out that Shankara was an incarnation of Lord Shiva https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrZUQh6SpcQ
Shri Gaudapadacharya Swamiji also saw that Shankara was born to uplift the Vedas & Sanatana Dharma. He asked Shri Govinda Bhagvatpadacharya to give Shankara deeksha He also instructed Shankarachaya ji to write a commentary on Brahma Sutras & propagate Advaita. Shri Shankarachaya stayed with his Guru for a while & mastered Vedanta
Shri Bhavanishankar Mahadeva is the Aradhya Devata of the Kavale Matha. The present Mathadheesh is H.H. Shrimad Shivananda Saraswati Swamiji & the followers of this Matha are called Gaud Saraswat Brahmins aka GSB’s
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