ADI SHANKARACHARYA is the central figure in this print. He is attired with a red shawl and is surrounded by his four disciples. He lived in the early 8th Century and primarily focused his life on consolidating the Doctrine of Advaita Vedanta.

The four disciples seated around the Guru are Padmapadacharya, Thotakacharya, Hastamalakacharya and Sureshwaracharya. Adi Shankaracharya ordered his disciples to manage four Mathas or Peetas in the north, east, west and south of India in order to ensure the continued preaching of the Vedanta. He also designated them with Mahavakyas and allocated them with each of the Vedas.

Padmapadacharya was assigned the East and established the Govardana Peetam or Math.

Sureshvaracharya was assigned the South and established the Sringeri Sharadha Peetam.

Hastamalakacharya was assigned the West and established the Dwaraka Peetam.

Thotakacharya was assigned the North and established the Jyothirmatha Peetam.

The Maths have continued to this day.

This print from the Ravi Varma Press derived from a painting of Raja Ravi Varma remains relevant to a Hindu in India.


  • Title: Adi Shankaracharya
  • Creator: Raja Ravi Varma, Ravi Varma Press
  • Date Created: Circa 1904
  • Physical Dimensions: 50 x 35 cms
  • Provenance: The Hemamalini and Ganesh Shivaswamy collection, Bengaluru.
  • Subject Keywords: Raja Ravi Varma, Hinduism, Oleograph, Gigapixel
  • Type: Chromolithograph
  • Rights: The Ganesh Shivaswamy Foundation, Bengaluru
  • Creator's Biography: Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) was a prolific Indian artist who is recognized for his resorting to the academic realistic style of painting. His portraits of English and Indian royalty and aristocracy were well received. His paintings on Hindu religious and mythological subjects and paintings from classical and literary sources were highly sought after even during his lifetime. He painted several copies of his works and this demand led to the suggestion to have his paintings printed in the form of oleographs. The Ravi Varma Fine Art Lithographic Press was established in Bombay (now Mumbai) and commenced operations in 1894. Many of Ravi Varma's paintings were printed as chromolithographs at this Press. These chromolithographs would have a tremendous impact on religion, society and aesthetics. They went on to democratize art leading to immortalize Ravi Varma in the minds of the people of the Indian subcontinent.

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