Adi Shankaracharya was born as Shankara in around 788 AD in a Brahmin family in Kaladi village of Kerala. He was born to Sivaguru and Aryamba a number of years after their marriage. It is said that Aryamba had a vision of Lord Shiva, in which he promised her that He would incarnate Himself in the form of her first-born child. The life history of Adi Shankracharya tells us that he showed great intelligence right from his childhood. He mastered all the Vedas and the Vedanta in gurukul itself and could recite the epics and Puranas by heart. The philosophy and teachings of Adi Sankaracharya were based on the Advaita Vedanta. He preached ‘Non-Dualism’. It means that each and every person has a divine existence, which can be identified with the Supreme God. The mere thought that human being is finite with a name and form subject to earthly changes, is to be discarded. The bodies are diverse, but the soul of all the separate bodies is the same, the Divine One.

He founded four Shankaracharya Peeths in the four corners of India, which continue to promote his philosophy and teachings. These are

• Vedanta Jnana Peetha, Sringeri (South India)
• Govardhana Peetha in Jagannath Puri (East India)
• Kalika Peetha, Dwaraka (West India)
• Jyotih Peetha, Badarikashrama (North India)