An acharya ("acariya" in Pali) is an important religious teacher (guru) who teaches by his own example (from Sanskrit 'achara', behavior). Often he is a head of a sampradaya. The word has different meanings in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

In Hinduism

In the Hindu religion, an acharya (आचार्य) is a "Divine personality" (महापुरुश) who is believed to have descended (अवतार) to teach and establish bhakti in the world and write on the philosophy (िसद्धांत) of devotion to God (भगवान्). [ [ Glossary - Encyclopedia of Authentic Hinduism ] ]

Examples of acharyas in the Hindu tradition are:
*Adi Sankaracharya [Although famous for being the proponent of "advaita vad", he established the supremecy of "bhakti" to Krishn.]
*Ramanujacharya [He propagated the "bhakti" of "Bhagwan" "Vishnu". Source: [ Ramanujacharya] ]
*Madhvacharya [His philosophy is called "dvaita vad". His primary teaching is that "the only goal of a soul is to selflessly and wholeheartedly love and surrender to God" Source: [] ]
*Nimbarkacharya [His writings say that Radha Krishn are the supreme form of God.]
*Vallabhacharya ["Pushtimarg"]
*Caitanya Mahaprabhu ["Achintya bheda abheda"]
*Acharya Shree Koshalendraprasadji Maharaj - NarNarayan Dev Gadi)
*Acharya Shree Rakeshprasadji Maharaj (Swaminarayan Sampradaya - LaxmiNarayan Dev Gadi)

In Jainism

In Jainism, an Acharya is a monk who is one of the five revered panch-paremeshtis, and thus worthy of worship. The word "Suri" is equivalent to Acharya.Fact|date=July 2008

An Acharya is the highest leader of a Jain order. He is the final authority in his monastic order and has the authority to ordain new monks and nuns. He is also authorized to consecrete new idols, although this authority is sometimes delegated to scholars designated by him.

Some of the famous Jain Acharyas in approximate chronological order, are:

* Ganahar Sudharma Swami
* Bhadrabahu (undivided sangha, Chandragupta Maurya was his disciple) (325 BCE)
*Sthulabhadra (Svetambar tradition)
*Kundakunda, (Digambar tradition) (2nd century CE)
* Samantabhadra, (Digambar tradition) (3-4 rth century CE)
* Siddhasen Diwakar, (claimed by both) (5nd century CE)
*Haribhadra,(Svetambar tradition), (700-750 CE)
*Virasena, (Digambar tradition), (790-825 CE)
*Jinasena, (Digambar tradition), preceptor of Rashtrakuta rulers, (800-880 CE).
*Nemichandra, (Digambar tradition)
*Hemachandra,(Svetambar tradition), preceptor of Kumarapala, (1089–1172 CE)
*Jagadguru Hira Vijaya Suri, (Svetambar tradition), who was invited by Akbar, the Mughal emperor
*Rajendrasuri (Svetambar tradition)(1827-1906)
*Shantisagar, (Digambar tradition) (1872-1955)

Modern Jain Acharyas include Digambar Acharyas Vidyasagar, and Vidyanand and Svetambar Padma Sagar Suri, Subodhsagar Suri, Yashodev Suri, and Jayantsain Suri. In the Terapantha sub-sect Acharya Bhiksu, Acharya Tulsi & Acharya Mahaprajna, and in the Sthanakvasi sub-sect Acharya Sushil Kumar have been the leading Acharyas.

Some sects, for example the Terapanthi Svetambaras, have a single Acharya. Others have multiple independent Acharyas.

An Acharya, like any other Jain monk, is expected to wander except for the four months of the monsoon (varsha-vas). The Bhattarakas, who head institutions, are technically junior monks, who are permitted to stay in the same place.

Osho, who was born into a Jain community, was known as Acharya Rajneesh until 1971.

In Buddhism

See acariya


External links

* [ Bhaktamar Stotra - Composed by Acharya Manatunga]
* [ Books by Vaishnava Acaryas] Collection of books in PDF Format - ISKCON Media Vedic Library
* [ Scriptural References to 'acarya']
* [ Jain Monks, Statesmen and Aryikas] Dr. K. C. Jain

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