In news- Recently, Mahant Ravindra Puri was elected as the new president of the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad, the highest governing body of Hindu saints and seers in the country.
History of Akharas
- The word ‘akhara’ literally means a wrestling arena, and the akhara system is believed to have been started by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century AD to prepare a warrior class that could fight for Hinduism against foreign invaders.
- The reason behind creating a force of monks and seers was that they would not have a family of their own, and hence would not be weakened by materialistic desires.
- Initially, there were four akharas, but their numbers increased with time.
- Currently, there are officially 13 akharas divided by their belief systems.
- The Sanyasi sampradaya has seven akharas – Juna Akhara, Avahan Akhara, Agni Akhara, Niranjani Akhara, Anand Akhara, Nirvani Akhara and Atal Akhara.
- The Vaishnava sampradaya has three akharas, namely Nirmohi Akhara, Digambar Akhara and Nirvani Ani Akhara.
- There are three akharas which worship Guru Nanak Dev – Bada Udasin Akhara, Naya Udasin Akhara and Nirmal Akhara.
About Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP)-
- It was established in 1954 with the main aim of organising and managing the Kumbh Mela.
- Being the highest body of Hindu saints and seers, the ABAP and individual akharas have influence in the society, and are generally vocal about day-to-day social issues.
- The ABAP is an independent body with its own set of rules.
- The akharas have the responsibility of leading religious and intellectual battles without using any weapon, and guiding the society.
- Another duty of the ABAP is to promote coordination between different akharas and settle disputes between them.
- All the akharas have a system of electing their president based on merit.
- For different akharas, the tenure of the president ranges from three to six years.
- The akharas do not have a minimum or maximum age limit, and there have been instances where children have been appointed mahant based on their merit.
- Election of the Akhara Parishad president, on the other hand, takes place by voting among all the 13 akharas.
- He was an Indian philosopher and theologian whose works had a strong impact on the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta.
- Shankara was born in Kaladi, Kerala.
- His works in Sanskrit discuss the unity of the Atman and Nirguna Brahman “brahman without attributes”.
- His works elaborate on ideas found in the Upanishads.
- Shankara’s publications criticised the ritually-oriented Mimamsa school of Hinduism.
- Shankara’s Advaita shows similarities with Mahayana Buddhism, despite his critiques and Hindu Vaishnavist opponents have even accused Shankara of being a “crypto-Buddhist.
- He is also believed to be the organiser of the Dashanami monastic order and unified the Shanmata tradition of worship.
- He founded four mathas, which are believed to have helped in the historical development, revival and propagation of Advaita Vedanta.