Adi Shankara was an 8th century Indian Hindu philosopher and theologian whose teachings had a profound influence on the growth of Hinduism. Also known as Shri Adi Shankaracharya and Bhagavatpada Acharya (the guru at the feet of Lord), he was a religious reformist who critiqued the rituals-oriented schools of Hinduism and cleansed the Vedic religious practices of ritualistic excesses. Adi Shankara is best remembered for his remarkable reinterpretations of Hindu scriptures and his commentaries on the Vedic canon (Brahma Sutras, Principal Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita). He was an exponent of the Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy which refers to the recognition that the true Self, Atman, is the same as the highest Reality, Brahman. His teachings on the philosophy have tremendously influenced various sects of Hinduism and have contributed to the development of the modern Indian thought. Born into a poor family in southern India, Adi Shankara was inclined towards spirituality and religion from a young age. He mastered all the Vedas and the six Vedangas from his guru and travelled widely, dispersing spiritual knowledge and spreading the tenets of Advaita Vedanta. In spite of dying at the young age of 32, he left an indelible mark on the development of Hinduism.