Sringeri is the sacred site of the first matha (monastery) established by Sri Adi Sankaracharya, the greatest teacher of Advaita Vedanta philosophy. This little village, housing one of the most important Sankaracharyas of today, is located on the banks of the river Tunga, in the Malnad region of Karnataka, India.
Legend has it that drinking the clear water of the Tunga is comparable to a bath in the Ganga (Ganga Snanam, Tunga Panam). According to tradition, when Adi Sankaracharya was walking by the Tunga river, he saw a cobra with a raised hood, providing shelter from the hot sun, to a female frog that was about to spawn. Impressed with the sanctity of the spot where even the natural enemy of the frog had turned protector, he decided to found his first monastery here. Later he established three other mathas at Dwaraka, Puri and Badrinath. He also organized the Dasanami Sannyasi order of ascetics affiliated with these four mathas.
The name Sringeri is the vernacular version of Rishyasringa-giri, meaning hill of Rishyasringa. According to legend, the Rishis Vibhandaka and his son Rishyasringa lived here. Rishyasringa is famous as the Rishi who brought rains to the drought-stricken kingdom of Romapada, after which he married the princess Santa. Lord Rama's father, King Dasaratha, invited Rishyasringa to be the officiating priest at his sacrifice to obtain sons. This legend connects Sringeri to the ancient epic poem, the Ramayana. There is a temple dedicated to Rishyasringa and Santa at Kigga, a few miles from Sringeri. The Sivalinga consecrated in the sanctum has a horn on the head, depicting Rishyasringa Rishi. The ancient site of Rishi Vasishtha's Asrama is also nearby. Thus, it was fitting that Adi Sankaracharya chose this spot to establish his monastery