In Indian religions and society, an acharya (IAST: ācārya) is a preceptor or instructor in religious matters; founder, or leader of a sect; or a highly learned man or a title affixed to the names of learned men. The designation has different meanings in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and secular contexts. It is also a Brahmin surname found in Nepal and across India, including Odisha, West Bengal and Maharashtra.
Acharya is sometimes used to address a teacher or a scholar in any discipline, e.g.: Bhaskaracharya, the mathematician. It is also a common suffix in Viswabrahmin names, e.g.: sankaracharya. In South India, this suffix is sometimes shortened to Achar, e.g., TKV Desikachar.
The term "acharya" is most often said to include the root "char" or "charya" (conduct). Thus it literally connotes "one who teaches by conduct (example)," i.e. an exemplar.
In Hinduism, an acharya (आचार्य) is a formal title of a teacher or guru, who have owned the degree in the Vedanga.
The Five Main Acharyas in the Hindu tradition are:Adi Sankaracharya
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acharya of ISKCON
In Buddhism, acharya is a senior teacher. Notable acharyas:Pema Chödrön (b. 1936) acharya at Gampo Abbey
In Jainism, an acharya is the highest leader of a Jain order. Acharya is one of the Pañca-Parameṣṭhi (five supreme beings) and thus worthy of worship. They are the final authority in the monastic order and has the authority to ordain new monks and nuns. They are also authorized to consecrate new idols, although this authority is sometimes delegated to scholars designated by them.
An acharya, like any other Jain monk, is expected to wander except for the Chaturmas. Bhaṭṭārakas, who head institutions, are technically junior monks, and thus permitted to stay in the same place.Bhaskaracharya
In Sanskrit institutions, acharya is a post-graduate degree.