Incarnations in the lineage of Mahānirvaṇi Akhāḍā
BHAGAVĀN ŚRĪ KṚṢNA (22nd Incarnation or Avatār)
The most celebrated and revered, Poorna Avatar – complete incarnation – Bhagavan Sri Kṛṣna belongs to the lineage of the Mahānirvaṇi Akhāḍā. Over 5000 years ago, Sri Kṛṣna, in His ultimate teachings in Sri Bhagavad Gita, reveals – ‘सिद्धानां कपिलो मुनि: – siddhānām kapilomuniḥ meaning, “of the perfect complete beings, I am Kapila.” (Bhagavad Gītā,10.26), expressing deep gratitude to his lineage.
Śrī Kṛṣna and his brother Śrī Balarāma went to the Hindu school (Gurukul, an enlightenment-based education system) in Ujjaini, North India in a sacred place called the Sandipani Ashram – which was the key center for learning for the Mahānirvaṇi Akhāḍā. After Haridwar and Prayag, the Mahānirvaṇi Akhāḍā spread around the country and during the divine kingdom and reign of Bhagavan Śrī Kṛṣna, Ujjain was one of the most important centers.
GAUTAMA BUDDHA (23rd Incarnation or Avatār)
Gautama Buddha (earlier known as Siddhartha), also comes from the lineage of Mahānirvaṇi Akhāḍā. He took the sacred vows of Sanyāsa (monkhood) at Mahanirvani Peetha.
There are 52 madhis or branches in Mahanirvani, one of which is Buddhism. The initiated followers of the Buddha receive respect and recognition as belonging to one of the Madhis (branches) of Mahanirvani.
Madhis or Temple Centers – Forerunner of the Akhāḍas
As the Nāgā Sādhus grew in number to tens of thousands, they began forming groups known as ‘madhis’.
All the saints of various madhis in one geographical location would gather together to undergo arms training (shastra-training). A few madhis were working together as one group, and this group was called ‘akhanḍa’ or ‘united’, a term which became ‘Akhāḍā’. The first Akhāḍā to be established was the Atal Akhada, followed by the Awahan Akhada and the Mahānirvaṇi Akhāḍā. Today, there are 14 Akhāḍās in Haridwar, each of them headed by a highly revered Ācārya Mahāmanḍaleśvar, who is supported by a number of Mahāmanḍaleśvars (next in rung to Acharya Mahāmanḍaleśvar).
Mahānirvaṇi Akhāḍā Administration
The spiritual head of Mahānirvaṇi Akhāḍā is known as Ācārya Mahāmanḍaleśvar. He is elected by the Mahāmanḍaleśvars of the Akhāḍā, and his is a lifetime position and responsibility. Currently, the Mahānirvaṇi Akhāḍā has 46 Mahāmanḍaleśvars (spiritual pontiffs). Apart from this, there are administrative positions like Sachiv (secretary), Sri Mahant, Mahant, Karobari / Kothari and Thanapati / Thanedar.
The top administrative body of the Akhāḍā is Shree Panch (the body of five) also known as Pancheshwar, representing Brahma, Viṣṇu, Śiva, Shakti and Gaṇeśa. This body is usually elected every Kumbh Mela by a unanimous decision of senior Akhāḍā members.
The Mahānirvaṇi Akhāḍā as the direct representative of the presiding deity of Sri Paramaśiva governed the whole of Indian kingdom from North to South, East to West with its great ancient kingdoms starting from the Himalayas, the Kuru dynasties at Hastinapura (present day Delhi, India), Kashi, Panchala, Gaya, Magadha, Pundra (Bengal, East), Ayodhya, Kalinga (Orissa), Vidharba, Mallarastra (Maharastra, Central India), Avanti (Ujjain) to Southern kingdoms such as Kanchi, Lanka, to Saurashtra, Dwaraka in the West India.
The Kingdoms of Ancient India (pre-British invasions)