Hindu Saiva ascetic who belongs to one of the 10 orders (dasnami, "ten names") established by the philosopher Sankara in the 8th century AD and still flourishing in India today. The 10 orders are Aranya, Asrama, Bharati, Giri, Parvata, Puri, Sarasvati, Sagara, Tirtha, and Vana. Each order is attached to one of four monasteries (mathas), also established by Sankara, in the north, south, east, and west parts of India. They are Jyoti (Joshi) Matha (at Badrinath, near Haridwar, Uttar Pradesh state); Srngeri Matha (Sringeri, Karnataka state); Govardhana Matha (Puri, Orissa state); and Sarada Matha (Dwarka, Gujarat state). The heads of the monasteries are called mahants (the head of the Srngeri Matha is called jagadguru, "teacher of the world"); they continue to be consulted on points of doctrine and to be accorded the highest respect by Hindu laymen as well as by the ascetics who follow them.
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