Math is a word for monastery in the Hindi lan-guage. Many Hindu traditions established maths as austere residences where monks could live and study. Most famous are the four maths estab-lished by the great VEDANTA teacher SHANKARA (circa eighth century): BADRINATH in far northern India, DVARAKA (Dwarka) in Gujarat, Shringeri in Karnataka, and Puri in Orissa. Monks from the Dashanami order following Shankara’s teachings now live at these locations. The abbot of each of these maths is referred to as the Shankaracharya (while Shankara himself is referred to as the Adis-hankaracharya, or first Shankaracharya).
   Further reading: Austin B. Creel and Vasudha Naray-anan, Monastic Life in the Christian and Hindu Traditions: A Comparative Study (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990); Ram Niwas Pandy, The Mathas of the Dasanami Sanyasis of Lalitpur, Kathmandu Valley (Kathmandu: Royal Nepal Academy, 2002); Vasudeva Rao, Living tra-ditions in Contemporary Contexts: The Madhva Matha of Udupi (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 2002).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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