I do not know how many of you are aware of the titles of the Matathipathi of Sankara Matams. These titles are recited by people who consider the Sankaracharya as their personal Guru.
Shad Dharsana sthanapachaya (Founder of all six dharshanas or systems of Philosophy)
Sankyathraya prithipadaka (Establisher of Sankhya)
Vaidhika Marga Pravarthaka (engaged in Vaidhika marga)
Sasthram sarira Mimansa devasthu Parameswara
Acharya Sankaracharya santhu me janma janmani
Why did the Smartas do it? Tamil Smartas always talk about Shanmadham, but not about Shad Dharshana.
The basic idea of Smarta religion was to reestablish Vaidic practices. Vedas are non-sectarian unlike the Puranas. There are verses in praise of all Gods. Indra, Varuna, and other Vaidic Gods. Then we have Rudraprasna, Narayana Suktham and Sri Suktham among others. In these verses the god to whom the verses are addressed is considered the Supreme God. Again the Vaidic practices are basically from Karma Kanda and follow Uttara Mimansa. Advaita is Gnana Kanda. Then Yoga has become a part and parcel of Hinduism. Sankhya is the basic philosophy of the Sakthas.
You can not bring about a unity among different sects or revive the Vaidic practices without bring together the six systems of Philosophy.
So Smartaism became Shan Madha and Shad Dharshana. Though it is not stated clearly, Smartas also absorbed the concept of Bhakthi. The various slokas attributed to Sankaracharya are evidence of this.
The followers came from all the sects. Initially we did have sub-classifications of Smarta-Saiva, Smarta-Vaishnava and Smarta-Sakthas. But this disappeared over a period of time. The best part of Smarta religion is that you could continue your sectarian worship. The Panchayathana Puja was a compromise. But here the central deity could be Shiva, Vishnu, Sakthi, Skanda or the Sun. The Smartas went to the extent of even allowing sectarian marks. That is how we have Nama Iyers for example.
[To be continued]