The people of India have always believed spirituality is a way of life. It is not only essential for self realization but also for welfare of the society as a whole. Our parents since our childhood give more stress over the way we build our characters than our academic strengths and talents. Character building is central to the Indian System of education and learning.
The best nurseries of the unique teacher-student relationship where ideas are free to flow are the Mathas in India. This Mathas or monasteries are the cradle of the Indian way of living. Govardhan Math is one of the oldest monasteries in India and was built in the 8th century.
The great spiritual leader of India named Sri Adishankara build the first four Mathas around the country. They were intentionally located along the four corners of the country. One of these was the Govardhan Math in Puri which has remained a major seat of learning in India for over 1300 years.
The importance of the math is not only as a spiritual learning establishment but as an institution of excellence which has produced some of the greatest national leaders. Our current Prime Minister is also a follower of the Govardhan Math.
The Govardhan Math is located not very far from the Jagannath Temple in Puri and just like most of the Temples in Puri; the guardian of the Govardhan Math is Lord Jagannath. The offerings and ceremonies performed at the Math are unique and general public is occasionally allowed to witness special ceremonies. I was lucky enough to witness one such ceremony and the air of serenity and calmness engulfed me completely.
The Shankracharyas are the leaders of the Mathas in India and their guidance is sought not only by Indian but also by foreign leaders. The establishment is a center of national unity and propagates the ideas of nationalism and harmony amongst its disciples. During times of national emergencies like natural disasters, the math disciples work passionately and selflessly following the teachings of the Shankracharyas. The mahavakya or the motto of every math in India reflects its central theme and mission. The mahavakya of the Govardhan Math is Prajnana Brahma.