By Dr. Devakinanda Pasupuleti
An Acharya is a highly learned person with a title affixed to the names of learned subject. The designation has different meanings in Hinduism, Buddhism and secular contexts. Acharya is sometimes used to address an expert teacher or a scholar in any discipline, e.g.: Bhaskaracharya, the expert mathematician.
19) OṀ ĀCHĀRYABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM) –AA-CHĀ-RYA-BHOO-MYAI—NA-MA-HA
ॐ आचार्यभूम्यै नमः
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In ancient India, education, the panacea for all maladies and problems of life, was imparted more by personal contact than by lectures and discourses. The student learned more by observing the teacher’s life than by hearing his teachings. Hence the teacher had to be that which he wanted to make of his student. It is this philosophy of education that is reflected in the word āchārya. It is only he or she who successfully gathers (āċinoti) the essentials of dharma and wisdom from all sources and practices them (āċarati) in his or her own life that deserves the appellation- ‘āchārya’. The word is also frequently used as an honorific for men of great erudition and learning. It is also applied to an adviser or preceptor guiding sacrificial rites. The wife of a āchārya is called āchāryaṇi.
In the strictest sense, the title applies to one, who follows Vedic scriptures, traditions and values in his life and becomes an ideal for his fellow beings In the olden days, during times of oppression by despot kings, foreign invaders and proselytizers, teachers like Sri Śankarāchārya, Sri Ramanujāchārya, Sri Madhvāchārya, Sri Vallabhacharya, Sri Vidyaraṇya swami, Sri Dayānanda Saraswati and many more reformed society and brought fame and glory to the title. They participated in debates with opponents of Vedic religion -like Ćarvāka schools of thought (materialism that denied the existence of all non-temporal objects) and cults which propagated unethical and abominable practices in the name of religion. With their vast spiritual knowledge these āchāryās strengthened the foundations of Hinduism and re-established Sanātana dharma. Even now, there are many ācharyās trying to restore the balance of Vedic values facing stiff opposition from several quarters.
If it wasn’t for these Acharya , our Sanātana Dharma would have been wiped off the face of the Earth, as has happened to many other cultures like Māyan, Incan, Aztec, Roman, and Greek.
The land on which āchāryās and āchāryaṇis walk, is our land- ‘Āchārya Bhūmi.’