Adi Sankara (788-820)
Bhakti or devotional movement incorporated different sections of the society into mainstream politics through the motto of service, surrender and sacrifice. Every layman could understand this motto because Bhakti literary canons were composed in Tamil in simple syntactic and semantic style. But, with the arrival of Adi Sankara Bhakti discourse began in Sanskrit in a philosophical mode.
Against the background of the emerging pan-Indian need for an ideology to evolve statehood, a new doctrine was expounded by Sankara from Kaladi, Kerala. With his new doctrine of Maya (illusion) he held debates with his counterparts from different sects of religions and won over them. Fundamentally, Sankara’s Advaita or non-dualism had its roots in Vedanta or Upanishadic philosophy. His attempts to root out Buddhism and to establish smarta (traditionalist) mathas resulted in the establishment of monasteries in different places viz., Sringeri, Dvaraka, Badrinath, and Puri, which were headed by Brahmin pontiffs. Sankara looked upon Saiva and Vaishnava worship as two equally important aspects of the Vedic religion. Monastic organization and preservation of Sanskrit scriptures were the two major thrusts of Sankara school.