CLASSIFICATIONS

 

ADVAITA ASHRAMAS

VAISHNAVITE ASHRAMAS

DVAITA ASHRAMAS

NIMBARKA ASHRAMAS

RAMANANDI ASHRAMAS

OTHER VAISHANA SECTS

SHAIVA SIDDHANTHA ASHRAMAS

LINGAYATISM

OTHER SHAIVA SECTS

OTHER MONASTIC GROUPS

 

ADVAITA ASHRAMAS


Organised monasticism in Hinduism was started by Sri Sankracharya in 8th Century AD. It was he who consolidated the doctrine of Advaitha Vedantha and unifying the main currents of thoughts in Hinduism. He established four monasteries in the four corners of India. They are (1) Sringeri Math in South, (2) Sarada Math in the West, (3) Jyothir Math in North and (4) Govardhan Math in the East. Sankaracharya had four disciples. They were Sureswara who was put in charge of Sringeri Math, Hasthamalaka of the Sarada Math, Totaka of the Jyothir Math and Padmapada of the Govardhan Math. Sankaracharya also divided the monks owing allegiance to the above Maths into ten sects called Dasanami Sanyasins. Other major Advaita Vedanta Ashramas are Svarnavalli Math, Ramachandrapura Math, Chitrapur Math (at Karnataka), Kanchi Math (at Tamil Nadu) Shri Gaudapadacharya Math, Sri Samsthan Dabholi Math (at Goa) and Ramakrishna Ashrama (Ramakrishna Mission).

VAISHNAVITE ASHRAMAS


Disagreeing with the Advaitha idealism, Ramanuja, a student of Advaitha Vedantha monastery, launched Vishishtadvaitha philosophy and founded Vaishnavite Ashrams paralleling those at Advaita monasteries of his time.  He established about 700 Maths all over India. Later, the Vaishnavism Ashrams were subdivided into two, those with Tenkalai (southern) tradition and Vadakalai (northern) tradition of Vaishnavism.  The Tenkalai-associated mathas are headquartered at Srirangam, while Vadakalai mathas are associated with Kanchipuram. Major Vaishnavism monasteries are Melukote  matha, Srirangam, Vanamamalai, Tirukkurungudi,  Kanchipuram, Ahobila, Parakala etc.

DVAITA ASHRAMAS

Madhvacharya, the founder of Dvaita Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy established eight mathas in Udupi by early 14th century. These are referred to as Madhva Mathas, or Udupi Ashta mathas. These eight surround the Anantheswara Krishna Hindu temple. Today there are Madhava Mathas all over India. The main center of Madhva's tradition is in Karnataka.  Major Dvaita monasteries are Palimaru Math, Adamaru Math, Krishnapura Math, Puttige Math, Shirur Math, Sodhe Math, Kaniyooru Math, Pejavara Math (all at Uduppi), Kashi Math, Gokarna Math, Uttaradi Math, Rāghavendra Swami Math, Vyasaraja Math etc.

NIMBARKA VAISHNAVA ASHRAMAS

Nimbarka, also called Nimbaditya, was a scholar dated to be in 13th century and the founder of the devotional sect called Nimbarkas, or Nimavats, who worshipped the deity Krishna and his consort, Radha. Nimbarka proposed a compromise stating that everyone is right, that truth is simultaneously Advaita, Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita at the same time, calling his philosophy as Dvaitadvaita or Bhedabheda system. He moved to Vrindavan-Mathura, and launched a matha centered on loving devotion to Radha-Krishna (Radheshyam) worship. This group emphasized togetherness of community, public singing and constant bhakti. Important Mathas of this group are Kathia Baba ka Sthaan at Vrindavan, Nimbarkacharya Peeth at Rajasthan, Ukhra Mahanta Asthal at West Bengal, and Howrah Nimbarka Ashram at Howrah (WB).

RAMANANDI VAISHNAVA ASHRAMAS

Ramananda, a Vaishnava devotional poet and social reformer of 14th Centrury started Lord Rama based Vaishnavism movement. He is recognized as the founder of Ramanandi Sampradaya which is considered as the largest Hindu monastic community of modern era. Ramananda and its Ashrams accept disciples without discriminating any by gender, class, caste or religion. His disciples included later Bhakti movement poet-sants such as Kabir, Ravidas, Bhagat Pipa and many others.  The largest Ashrams of the Ramanandi tradition are in Ayodhya and Varanasi. Ramanandi monks are also known as Bairagis or Vairagis. The Ramanandi Mathas are historically notable for being part of warrior ascetic movement in medieval India, where monks metamorphosed into a militant group, trained in arms, rebelled against Islamic rule. His ideas also influenced the founding of Sikhism in 15th century, and his teachings are included in the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib.

OTHER VAISHANA SECTS

Madhawa Gauriya, Udasi, Swami Narayan, Dhami, Dharnishwari, Mahanubhawao, Harishchandi, Malookdasi, Parinami, Rasik, Parasrami, Radha Vallabhi, Radha Ramni, Baba Lali, Charandasi, Dariyadasi, Nirankari, Kayam, Radha Soami etc are some other monastic sects that follow Vaishnava tradition.

SHAIVA SIDDHANTHA ASHRAMAS

Shaiva Siddhartha is a theistic school of Shaivism based on dualism (i.e., human soul and God are different), and it started establishing Ashrams or Mathas from 1st millennium CE. Historical evidence shows that Shaiva monks were active in spreading Shaiva ideals throughout India. An influential Shaiva Sidhantha Ashrama named after Mattamayura was in existence during 700 CE. One of the major monasteries following Shaiva Sidhantha is the Golaki matha that existed by the 10th century, which was a centre for Vedic studies with parallel studies of Buddhist literature. There were several Shaiva monasteries in the Deccan. In Karnataka, Queen Alhanadevi established Shaiva Ashrams.

NATH YOGI ASHRAMAS

The Nath tradition is a syncretic Yoga and Vedanta schools of Hindu philosophy based on Shaiva tradition that reveres Shiva and Dattatreya. Its founding is attributed to the ideas of Matsyendranath and Gorakshanath, developed further with an additional seven other Siddha Yoga Gurus called “Naths”. The Nath Yogi sampradaya and monastic organizations grew starting with the 13th century headquarters in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. Many of their Ashrams are found in almost all part of India particularly in the Himalayas. The Kadri Matha, legendary monasteries in the Nath. Gorakhnath temple and matha in Gorakhpur is one of the major modern matha of the Nath Shaiva tradition. The Chola dynasty sponsored many influential Nath Shaiva Mathas.

LINGAYATISM

The monastic organization has been active since the emergence of Lingayat movement in Karnataka around the 12th century. They have enjoyed community support, and have served as the center for Shaiva studies as well as Lingayat community's educational, cultural and philanthropic activities. There have been six active large Lingayat monasteries, one each at Kedaranath (Himalayas), Kashi (Varanasi, Ganges), Srisaila (Andhra Pradesh), Kalyana, Rambhapuri-Balehalli and Ujjain (all three in Karnataka).There are smaller Vira-Shaiva monasteries, and rural branch monasteries, across India. Dharmapuram Adheena Ashram, Thiruvaduthurai Adheena Ashram, Sivatirtha Matha, Haridwar Matha, Nasik Matha are some of major Lingayat monasteries in India.

OTHER SHAIVA SECTS

Kanphata, Agori, Veerashaiva, Keenarami, Shivoham, Karalingi, Sat Sain, Kapalik, Shakta are some other major monastic sects that follow Shaiva tradition.

OTHER MONASTIC GROUPS

Brahma Kumari, Kabir, Dadu, Nirmala, Bhagat, Dariyadasi, Nirankari, Kayam, Radha Soami, Dhariya, Gheesa, Garib Dasi, Gulab Dasi, Nirjani, Nambhari, Nirakari, Paltu Sahabi, Prem Prakashi, Panap, Suthara, Seva, Bawari, Anandamargi, Muni Samaji, Kumbhi Patia, Kaumara are some of the major monastic sects that follow various other customs than Vaishnava or Shaiva traditions.

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