Adi Shankaracharya reorganised the Sannyasis in India into ten main groups known as the Dasanami Tradition of Advaita vedanta. These orders are also allocated to four different maths of the Shankara Order. (The seven Dasanami Akhadas ( Juna, Niranjani, Mahanirvani, Ananda, Atal, Avahan, Agni ) have their own leaders.)
The principal eastern (Purvamnaya), southern (Dakshinamnaya) and western (Pascimamnaya) institutions are at Puri (Orissa), Sringeri (Karnataka) and Dwaraka (Gujarat) , while the northern (Uttaramnaya) Sankaracharya seat is at Jyotirmath (also known as Joshimath) near Badrinath. In northern india are three competing lines, that is the Shankara seat of Jyotirmath, further the Madhava Asrama and the Krishnabodha Asrama.
Swami Brahmananda Saraswati was appointed the owner of the northern chair of Jyotirmath of the Indian Shankara Order, which had been orphaned for over 150 years, in 1941 by a group of monks and experts from Varanasi (Bharata Dharma Mahamandala, Kashi Vidvat Parishad, and the Akhila Bharatiya Dharmasangha).* The Jyotirmaṭha Śaṅkarācārya Lineage in the 20th Century, Vidyāśaṅkar Sundareśan
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (* 12. Januar 1918 as Mahesh Verma Shrivastava or Mahesh Prasad Varma in Pounalulla, India; † 5. Februar 2008 in Vlodrop, Netherlands) was just a sadhu and the secretary of Guru Brahmananda Saraswati, the owner of the northern Shankara seat of Jyotirmath, who suddenly died of poisoning after 12 years of activity on May 20, 1953. (Brahmananda Saraswati ; [video])
The successorship was first offered to Guru Devs disciple Swami Hariharananda Saraswati who refused.
📃 Then a testament of 8.12.1952 became public. In the controversial testament(which had been changed half a year before guru devs death), Gurudev Brahmananda Saraswati had named four candidates as successors, who were all not really qualified. The first was Swami Shantanand Saraswati, who did not at all measure up to the qualifications as described in the Mahanusasana texts. The others were Swami Dvarakesananda Saraswati, Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati and Swami Paramatmananda Saraswati (Ramji Tripathi, Dwarika Prasad, Vishnu Devanand and Parmanand Saraswati).
There was then a dispute over the controversial succession with the above disciple Vishnu Devanand Saraswati since 1953, who had simply settled himself, which had to be clarified lengthy at court.
* Requisite qualifications for a Shankaracharya are contained in the following two verses of "Mathamnaya": "He who is unsullied, has subdued the senses, is well versed in the Vedas and Vedangas, and is conversant with the application of the shastras can obtain my Peeth otherwise, one devoid of these merits even if installed, is to be deposed by the wise and learned."
So relevant organizations (Kashi Vidwatpeeth und Bharat Dharma Mahamandal e.o.) involved in reviving Jyotir Math, proposed instead Swami Krishnabodha Asrama, who resided until his death in 10. December 1973 as the Shankaracharya, despite Shantanand's claim and occupation of Jyotir Math. Though Krishnabodha's choice was 1970 annuled by a civil court, but Krishna Bodhashram continued to claim that he was the real Shankaracharya.
Krishna Bodhashram didn't nominate his successor. Kashi Vidwatpeeth and Bharat Dharma Mahamandal, a group of saints who have got the right to entrust additional charge of a mutt to a revered saint in case the successor is not nominated, handed over the Jyotir Mutt to Swami Swaroopanand in 1973.
Santananda and Vishnudevananda were not invited. It was instead Swarupananda Saraswati, a direct disciple of Brahmananda Saraswati and later of Swami Krishnabodha Asrama, who had represented Jyotirmath parallel until his death in 1973. The rival lineage of Shantananda and his disciples was not endorsed at this time by any of the other Sankaracharyas.
Swami Shantanand Saraswati visited Maharishi in Rishikesh during his teacher training in 1961 and was receipted with all ceremony. He praised Maharishi that he wanted to spread the simple Mantra-Meditation worldwide (at that time still almost costless).
Also later Shanatanand redirected deeper questions regarding Vedanta to Dandi Swami Bhagawatananda Saraswati (Dandi Swami: The Story of the Guru's Will, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Shankaracharyas of Jyotir Math, & Meetings with Dandi Swami,
* alt.meditation.trans : The True Lineage of Jyothirmath
So Shantananda was until 1980 the rival chair owner und then went into the Madhava Asrama. He was followed up by Vishnu Devanand Saraswati, who died 1987, while Shantananda still lived until 1997 in Madhava Asrama.
Parallel Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, a direct disciple of Gurudev and Krishnabodha and meanwhile also Shankaracharya of Dwarka peeth and a harsh critic of Maharishi, clarified Mr. Kropinski about Maharishi in 1987.
Vishnu Devanand Saraswati was followed up by a Vasudevanand Saraswati, who didnt have the necessary qualifications. Vasudevanand was not a Sanyasi before 1989. He was a teacher in a government-aided school and drew salary until November 13, 1989. (* Alt.meditation.transcendental : Vasudevananda)
Vasuedevanand processed since 1989 for his successorship. In 1989 he produced a will of Krishna Devanand, claiming that he was nominated by his guru as the next Shankaracharya. But the court found that Vasudevanand was never a disciple of Krishna Devanand and the 300page document, dated April 7, 1989 produced by him, was fake.
Vasudevanand and Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati processed further, and Vasudevanada was forbidden to collect money under the title of a Jagadguru of the Shankara order.
The next dispute before the Supreme Court in Allahabad ended with the result, that Vasudevanada has no claim and Swami Swaroopanada cannot have 2 chairs. It ordered a new election within 3 months. In the meantime, Swaroopananda was appointed caretaker.
It appears a successor has not yet been appointed, and Vasuedevanand still travels around as unoffiocial Shankaracharya.
* Relevant and critical weblinks :