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Daśanāmis


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An ascetic and monastic order said to have been founded by Śaṅkara in the 8th century ce, but according to some scholars up to six hundred years later than that. It derives its name from a division along caste lines into ten sections (four of them specific to brahmins): Āraṇya (‘wilderness’), and Vana (‘forest’), based at Purī (the seat of the head of the order, the jagadguru); Giri (‘mountain’), Parvata (‘mountain’), and Sāgara (‘ocean’), at Jyotirmaṭh (near Badrināth); Tīrtha (‘ford’), and Āśrama (‘hermitage’), at Dvārakā; Purī (‘city’), Bhārati (‘learning’), and Sarasvatī (‘speech’), at Śṛṅgeri. Daśanāmis, distinguished by their ochre robes and the Śaiva sectarian lakṣaṇa of four horizontal white lines on the forehead, are generally renowned for their learning. They adhere to an Advaitin form of Vedāntic orthodoxy, with a markedly Śaiva affiliation. Initiated members (who add their ‘caste’ name as a suffix to their monastic name) are normally resident in monasteries (maṭhas) under the direction of their guru or Śaṅkarācārya. It is claimed that Śaṅkara founded a fifth maṭha at Kāñcī(puram), and so it too has become the seat of one of the Śaṅkarācāryas. Because they were recruited as protectors of the order, some sources consider the naked warrior-ascetics, the Nāgas, to be part of the Daśanāmi tradition.

Subjects: Hinduism.


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