The spiritual head of the Arya Maitreya Mandala is called Mandalacarya (Acarya of the Mandala) or in short Acarya. The term Ācārya includes the root car or carya, which means conduct. Thus the word is used for a personality who teaches others by his conduct or living example. The Acarya of the Arya Maitreya Mandala has many important duties: Among them are the transmission of the oral teachings of Lama Anagarika Govinda concerning the practices of Tantric Sadhana meditation and holding together the family of Lama Govinda’s Order.
The lineage of the Acaryas of the Arya Maitreya Mandala derives from Lama Ngawang Kalzang, also known as Tomo Geshe Rinpoche I (1866-1936). This outstanding master of meditation of the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism was Lama Govinda's most important teacher. Lama Ngawang Kalzang’s spirituality offered a vision of awakened life and love, which is embodied by the coming Buddha Maitreya. Lama Govinda was inspired by his teacher’s vision when founding the Arya Maitreya Mandala.
Lama Anagarika Govinda (1898-1985), born Ernst Lothar Hoffmann, was a Buddhist scholar, mystic, writer, painter and poet. Govinda wrote several books on a wide variety of Buddhist and Daoist topics. His most well known books are The Way of the White Clouds and Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism, which were translated in many languages. Lama Govinda was Acarya of the Arya Maitreya Mandala since its foundation in 1933. After half a century, in 1982 he appointed Advayavajra as his successor.
Advayavajra (Dr. Karl-Heinz Gottmann) (1919-2007) started Buddhist studies when he was fifteen. As a physician he became a renowned specialist in complementary an alternative medicine. In 1953 he was initiated into the Arya Maitreya Mandala. From 1961 until Lama Govinda’s decease in 1985 Advayavajra has been the founder’s major disciple. In 1982 he became the Acarya of the Arya Maitreya Mandala. According to Lama Govinda’s earlier instructions he made Asanga his successor in 1999.
Asanga (Dr. Armin Gottmann) had been a student of Lama Govinda from his early youth. He is a neurologist and Jungian psychotherapist as well as a teacher of Yoga trained by Swami Kuvalayānanda (1883-1966) in Lonavalla (India). Since 1999 Asanga serves as the spiritual leader of the Arya Maitreya Mandala and continues the lineage derived from Lama Ngawang Kalzang. As the current Mandalacarya he is the Dharma Inheritor of Lama Anagarika Govinda and responsible to carry on the founder’s lifework.
Sudarśanavajra (Volker Zotz, born 1956) is an Austrian philosopher, religious studies scholar and prolific author on Buddhist philosophy, Confucianism and history of culture. He held teaching and research positions at Universities in Austria, Japan, Germany and Luxemburg. He became a student of the Order’s founder in 1972 and was chosen as Nayaka Sthavira (“guiding elder”) of the Arya Maitreya Mandala by Lama Govinda in 1983. In 2015 he was appointed Mandalacarya.