Dasnami Sampradaya One of the major achievements of Acharya Shankaracharya was to organize the Hindu monasticism. He divided the Hindu monks into ten sects called "Dasnami" and organized them under four heads with the Headquarters at Dwaraka in the West, Jagannatha Puri in the East, Rameswaram in the South and Badrikashrama in the North. These became the four sacred "Dhams", "Holy Places" of the Hindus. He also enumerated other details of the order of Hindu monks grouped under these heads for their identity. Although there are today a number of Hindu monastic sects, the most authentic are the ten established by Acharya Shankaracharya .
Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanat-Kumara and Sanat-Sujata were the four mind-born sons of Lord Brahma. They refused to enter the Pravritti Marga or worldly life and entered the Nivritti Marga or the path of renunciation. The four Kumaras were the pioneers in the path of Sannyasa. Sri Dattatreya also is among the original Sannyasins. The Sannyasins of the present day are all descendants of the four Kumaras, Dattatreya and Sankaracharya.Sri Sankaracharya, regarded as an Avatara of Lord Siva and the eminent exponent of Kevala Advaita philosophy, established four Maths (monasteries) one at Sringeri, another at Dvaraka, a third at Puri and a fourth at Joshi Math in the Himalayas, on the way to Badrinarayana shrine.Sri Sankara had four Sannyasin disciples, viz., Suresvara, Padmapada, Hastamalaka and Totaka. Suresvara was in charge of Sringeri Math, Padmapada was in charge of Puri Math, Hastamalaka was in charge of Dvarka Math and Totaka was in charge of Joshi Math.The Sannyasins of Sringeri Math, the spiritual descendants of Sri Sankara and Suresvacharya, have three names, viz., Sarasvati, Puri and Bharati. The Sannyasins of the Dvaraka Math have two names, viz., Tirtha and Asrama. The Sannyasins of the Puri Math have two names, viz., Vana and Aranya. The Sannyasins of the Joshi Math have three names, viz., Giri, Parvata and Sagara.The Dasanamis worship Lord Siva or Lord Vishnu, and meditate on Nirguna Brahman. The Dandi Sannyasins, who hold staff in their hands, belong to the order of Sri Sankara. Paramhansa Sannyasins do not hold staff. They freely move about as itinerant monks. Avadhutas are naked Sannyasins. They do not keep any property with them.The Sannyasins of the Ramakrishna Mission belong to the order of Sri Sankara. They have the name Puri.Then, there are Akhada Sannyasins, viz., Niranjana Akhada and Jhuni Akhda. They belong to the order of Sri Sankara. They are Dasanamis. They are found in the Uttar Pradesh State only.Rishikesh and Haridwar are colonies for Sannyasins. Varanasi also is among the chief abodes of Sannyasins.