Govardhan Math

H.H. Jagadguru Swami Shri Nischalanada Saraswati, The Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peetham, Puri, Odisha

Purvamnaya Sri Govardhana Peetham is one amongst the four cardinal peethams established by the 8th century philosopher-saint Adi Shankara to preserve and propagate Sanatana Dharma and Advaita Vedanta, the doctrine of non-dualism. Located in Puri in Odisha, India, it is the Eastern Amnaya Peetham amongst the four Chaturamnaya Peethams, with the others being the Sringeri Sharada Peetham (Karnataka) in the South, Dvaraka Kalika Peetham (Gujarat) in the West, and Badri Jyotishpeetham (Uttarakhand) in the North.[2] It is associated with the Jagannath temple[3]

The deities here are Jagannath (Lord Vishnu) and the devi is Vimala (Bhairavi). The mahavakya is Prajnana Brahma. There are Shri Vigraha of Goverdhananatha Krishna and Ardhanareshwara Shiva installed by Adi Shankara.[4]

The whole of the Eastern part of the Indian subcontinent is considered as the territory of Sri Govardhan Peeth.[5] This includes the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh till Rajamundry, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, and Uttar Pradesh till Prayag. The countries Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan are also considered spiritual territory of the math . Puri, Prayagraj, Gaya and Varanasi are some of the holy places under this Math.

Govardhana matha is one of four cardinal institutions established by Adi Shankara (c. 8th century CE), the reviver of Vedic Sanatana Dharma.[6] Shankara's four principal disciples, Padma-Pada, Hasta-Malaka, Vartika-Kara and Totakacharya were assigned to these four learning centers in the north, south, east and west of India.[7] The subsequent leaders of each of these four monasteries are known as Śaṅkarāchāryas in honor of the math's founder, Adi Shankara.[8] As such they are the leaders of the Daśanāmī Saṃnyāsins who are considered to have custody of Advaita Vedānta[8] These four principle seats of learning are located in Purī (Odisha), Śṛṅgeri (Karnataka) and Dvārakā (Gujarat) with[8] the northern (Uttarāmnāya) monastery being located in the city of Jyotirmaṭh (also known as Joṣīmaṭh).[8]

Padmapadacharya became the first leader of the matha. The matha has historical connections with the Jagannath temple, which is also located in Puri.[3] It is called the Govardhanathatha, and has sub-location called the Sankarananda Math.

Swami Bharati Krishna Tirtha, who was then the leader at the Dvaraka matha, assumed the leadership position at the Govardhana matha in 1925; Shankara Prushottama Tirtha supervised the Matha on his behalf while he visited the Self Realization Fellowship in the USA.[3] After Bharati attained Mahasamadhi in 1960, Yogeswaranda Tirtha succeeded him who also attained Mahasamadhi a year later in 1961. In 1964, after a "period of uncertainty" Niranjana Deva Tirtha, a disciple named in Bharati's will, was installed by Aghinava Saccindananda Tirtha of Dvarka.[3] Nirnjana Deva Tirtha became known for his unpopular political views affecting the Hindu people.[9] In 1992, he stepped down after nominating Niscalananda Saraswati as his successor.[3][10]

Niscalananda Saraswati was born in Darbhanga in 1943, the son of the raj-Pandita of Maharaja of Darabhanga.[11] He decided to enter sanyasa while being a student in the Tibbia College and spent time studying the shastras at Kashi, Vrindava, Naimisaranya, Shringeri etc. In 1974, he took diksha from Swami Karpatri who gave him name Niscalananda.

On 11 February 2018 silver jubilee (25th anniversary) of the pattabhisheka of Swami Nischalananda Saraswati was celebrated in Puri in the presence of chief minister Naveen Patnaik, former Nepal king Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb of Puri.[12]

A person named Swami Adhokshyananda has sometimes claimed to be the Sankaracharya of Puri[13][14] He is known for having been invited by the American Federation of Muslims of India (AFMI) and by Shankersinh Vaghela in 2002.[15][16]

The Samudra arati is a daily tradition started by the present Shankaracharya 9 years ago.[4] The daily practise includes prayer and fire offering to the sea at Swargadwara in Puri by disciples of the matha. On Paush Purnima of every year the Shankaracharya himself comes out to offer prayers to the sea.