This page lists key personalities associated with the classical Advaita-Vedanta tradition since the 19th century, including contemporary exponents.
Totāpuri (early 1800s)
A Daśanāmī saṃnyāsin and guru of Rāmakṛṣṇa Paramahaṃsa.
Sacchidānanda Śivābhinava Nṛsiṃha Bhāratī
Head of the Śṛṅgerī Pītha from 1879-1912, he was instrumental in re-discovering Adi Shankaracharya's birthplace at Kaladi and establishing a branch there. His students included Venkataraman (subsequently Bhāratī Kṛṣṇa Tīrtha, the head of the Govardhana Pītha in the early 20th century), K. Ramachandra Aiyar (subsequently Rāmānanda Sarasvatī) and Virūpākṣa Śāstrī.
See main page: Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda sought to present Vedanta not just as a path to mokṣa but as a system that could revitalize India's national consciousness and regenerate pride in its spiritual heritage. Following his epic speech at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, he returned to India and went on to establish the Ramakrishna Math & Mission. While the organization is most well known for its social service activities, it has also produced some scholarly saṃnyāsin-s who have translated some of the Vedanta classics into English, Hindi, Tamil and various other languages and made them available to the general public.
Ramaṇa Maharṣi (1879-1950)
See main page: Ramana Maharshi
See main page: Rama Tirtha
Virūpākṣa Śāstrī (1873-1936)
Born into a Yajurvedin family in 1873, he studied Tarka, Mīmāṃsa and other disciplines from traditional scholars at a young age. Subsequently he came in touch with Śrī Sacchidānanda Śivābhinava Nṛsiṃha Bhāratī of Śṛṅgerī and received from him upadeśa on Vedanta as well as Śrīvidyā. He came to be widely respected for his knowledge, vairāgya and sagely qualities.
After the mahāsamādhi of Śrī Sacchidānanda Śivābhinava Nṛsiṃha Bhāratī, he was charged with the responsibility of training the young Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati on Vedānta, Tarka, Mīmāṃsa and Śrīvidyā. In 1932, he obtained saṃnyāsa under the yogapaṭṭa of Vidābhinava Vālukeśvara Bhāratī and assumed charge of the maṭha at Kudali in Karnataka state.
Śivānanda Sarasvatī (1887-1963)
A descendant of the great Appayya Dīkṣita, Swami Sivananda was born as Kuppusvāmī at Pattamadai near Tirunelveli in the Tamil region. After an early career as a medical doctor, he took up saṃnyāsa at Rishikesh in 1924 and founded an organization named the Divine Life Society. His disciples over the years included such great names as Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Satyananda (of the Satyananda Yoga movement) and Swami Krishnananda.
Candraśekhara Bhārati (1892-1954)
Head of the Śṛṅgerī Pītha from 1912-1954. Born as Narasimha in 1892 to Gopala Sastri and Lakshmamma, he was the 12th child of his parents and the only one to survive infancy. He was a favorite student of the then Śṛṅgerī Pīthādhipati, Srī Sacchidānanda Śivābhinava Nṛsiṃha Bhāratī, and succeeded the latter as pīthādhipati in 1912.
He authored a vyākhyāna in Sanskrit on Adi Shankaracharya's Vivekacūḍāmaṇi.
Candraśekharendra Sarasvatī (1894-1994)
See main page: Chandrasekharendra Saraswati
Anantakṛṣṇa Śāstrī (1886-?)
Hailing from the village of Nurani in what is now the Palakkad district of Kerala, Sri NS Anantakrishna Sastri studied at the traditional pāṭhaśālā-s at Chittoor (Kerala) and Chidambaram (Tamil Nadu) and subsequently joined the Sanskrit College in Chennai. From 1917-1947 he served as a professor at the University of Calcutta.
His works include:
Prabhā: A sub-commentary on Adi Shankaracharya's Brahmasūtra-Bhāṣya
Paribhāṣā-prakāśikā: A sub-commentary on the Vedānta-Paribhāṣā of Dharmarāja-Adhvarin
Śatabhūṣaṇī: A response to the Śatadūṣaṇī of Vedānta Deśika.
Vedānta-Rakṣāmaṇi and Advaita-Dīpīkā: Independent texts on Advaita-Vedanta.
Mīmāṃsa-Śāstra-Saṃgraha: Treatise on Mīmāṃsa
Tapovan Mahārāj (1889-1957)
Tapovan Maharaj, a native of Kerala, was initiated into saṃnyāsa by Janārdhana Giri of the Kailāś Āśram, Rishikesh. He lived a solitary life near Uttarkashi in the Garhwal Himalaya. Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh sent his disciple Swami Chinmayananda to Tapovan Maharaj for instruction in Vedanta.
A great saṃnyāsin and scholar from the Kailāś Āśram, Rishikesh and one of the guru-s of Swami Dayananda Saraswati.
Born Balakrishna Menon in Kerala in 1916, Swami Chinmayananda received his saṃnyāsa initiation from Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh. He then studied Vedanta for 8 years under Tapovan Maharaj at Uttarkashi. He went on to establish the Chinmaya Mission and contributed greatly to the awareness of the classical Vedanta tradition among the English-educated populace in India.
Abhinava Vidyātīrtha (1917-1989)
Head of the Śṛṅgerī Pītha from 1954-1989. Born as Srinivasan in 1917, he was initiated into saṃnyāsa at the tender age of 11 by his guru Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati. Temperamentally inclined to the royal path of yoga, he was given the yogapatta of Abhinava Vidyātīrtha (literally, the "New Vidyātīrtha") in memory of the great sage Vidyātīrtha (Vidyāśaṃkara Tīrtha) who had headed the Śṛṅgerī Pītha in the 13th century and was likewise a master of the yoga-sāstra.
Vidyānanda Giri (1921-2007)
Born Chandan Sharma near Patna in Bihar in 1921, he was the 10th head of Kailāś Āśram, Rishikesh (1969-2007). He obtained saṃnyāsa from Maheśānanda Giri in 1968. Prior to saṃnyāsa he taught at the Dakṣiṇāmūrti-maṭha in Varanasi and the Viśvanātha-Saṃskṛta-Mahāvidyālaya in Delhi.
He is well-known for his numerous Hindi translations and commentaries on classical Vedantic texts. His Sanskrit works include a ṭīkā on the Śrutisārasamuddhāraṇa of Toṭakācārya and a chātratoṣinī (students' guide) on the Tattvapradīpikā of Citsukha.
Dayānanda Sarasvatī (1930- )
Born as Natarājan in the village of Manjakkudi in Tiruvarur district (Tamil Nadu), Swami Dayananda Saraswati is a distinguished teacher of traditional Vedanta. Having taken saṃnyāsa in 1962, he studied classical Vedanta under Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Tarananda Giri and Swami Pranavananda, and soon emerged as one of the most renowned exponents of the traditional teaching methodology in modern times.
The gurukula-s established by Swami Dayananda at Coimbatore, Nagpur, Rishikesh and Saylorsborg (USA) have brought Vedanta to thousands of earnest seekers around the world.
He convened the Hindu Dharma Ācārya Sabhā, an apex body of traditional maṭhādhipati-s from various Hindu sampradāya-s, in 2000, and established the All India Movement for Seva (AIM for Seva, www.aimforseva.org) in 2001.
Godā Venkateśvara Śāstrī
A resident of Chennai, Brahmasri Goda Venkatesvara Sastri is a leading contemporary scholar and exponent of classical Advaita-Vedānta, Mīmāṃsa and Śrīvidyā. He is also recognized as an authority on Ayurveda. He has been teaching Vedanta, Śrīvidyā and allied subjects in Chennai for over 25 years.
Jayendra Sarasvatī (1935- )
Srī Jayendra Sarasvatī is the current head of the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha at Kanchipuram.
Bhāratī Tīrtha (1951- )
Srī Bhāratī Tīrtha is the current head of the Śṛṅgerī Pītha.
Maṇi Drāviḍ Śāstrī
Sri Mani Dravid Sastri, a resident of Chennai and professor at the Sanskrit College in Chennai, is one of the leading contemporary exponents of classical Advaita-Vedānta, Mīmāṃsa and Tarka.
Swami Paramarthananda, a disciple of Swami Dayananda Sarasvati, is one of the leading teachers of classical Advaita Vedanta today. He takes regular classes, mostly in Chennai, on various aspects of the Dharma and is particularly recognized for his clear exposition of key Vedantic texts.