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.