Swami Vivekananda ( 12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902), born Narendranath Datta), was an Indian Hindu monk. He was a chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna. He was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world, and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the late 19th century. He was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India, and contributed to the concept of Indian nationalism as a tool to fight against the British empire in colonial India. Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission. He is perhaps best known for his speech which began with the words “Sisters and brothers of America …,” in which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.
Born into an aristocratic Bengali Kayastha family of Calcutta, Vivekananda was inclined towards spirituality. He was influenced by his guru, Ramakrishna, from whom he learnt that all living beings were an embodiment of the divine self; therefore, service to God could be rendered by service to humankind. After Ramakrishna’s death, Vivekananda toured the Indian subcontinent extensively and acquired first-hand knowledge of the prevailing in British India. He later travelled to the United States, representing India at the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Adi Shankara, also called Adi Shankaracharya (Sanskrit: आदि शङ्कर, आदि शङ्कराचार्य, romanized: Ādi Śaṅkara, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya, lit. ’First Shankaracharya’, pronounced [aːdɪ ɕɐŋkɐraːtɕaːrjɐ]), was an 8th-century Indian Vedic scholar and teacher (acharya). His works present a harmonizing reading of the sastras, with liberating knowledge of the self at its core, synthesizing the Advaita Vedanta teachings of his time.Due to his later fame, over 300 texts are attributed to him, including commentaries (Bhāṣya), introductory topical expositions (Prakaraṇa grantha) and poetry (Stotra). However, most of these are likely to be written by admirers or pretenders or scholars with an eponymous name. Works known to be written by Shankara himself are the Brahmasutrabhasya, his commentaries on ten principal Upanishads, his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, and the Upadeśasāhasrī. The authenticity of Shankara being the author of Vivekacūḍāmaṇi has been questioned and mostly rejected by scholarship.The central postulation of Shankara’s writings is the identity of the Self (Ātman) and Brahman, defending the liberating knowledge of the Self, taking the Upanishads as an independent means of knowledge, against the ritually-oriented Mīmāṃsā school of Hinduism. Shankara’s Advaita shows influences from Mahayana Buddhism, despite Shankara’s critiques; and Hindu Vaishnava opponents have even accused Shankara of being a “crypto-Buddhist,” a qualification which is rejected by the Advaita Vedanta tradition, highlighting their respective views on Atman, Anatta and Brahman.Shankara has an unparallelled status in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta, but his influence on Hindu intellectual thought has been questioned.Until the 10th century Shankara was overshadowed by his older contemporary Maṇḍana Miśra, and there is no mention of him in concurring Hindu, Buddhist or Jain sources until the 11th century. The popular image Shankara started to take shape in the 14th century, centuries after his death, when Sringeri matha started to receive patronage from the kings of the Vijayanagara Empire and shifted their allegiance from advaitic Agamic Saivism to Brahmanical Advaita orthodoxy. Hagiographies dating from the 14th-17th centuries deified him as a ruler-renunciate, travelling on a digvijaya (conquest of the four quarters) across the Indian subcontinent to propagate his philosophy, defeating his opponents in theological debates These hagiographies portray him as founding four mathas (“monasteries”), and Adi Shankara also came to be regarded as the organiser of the Dashanami monastic order, and the unifier of the Shanmata tradition of worship.
The title of Shankaracharya, used by heads of certain monasteries in India, is derived from his name.
Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami ( 1 September 1896 – 14 November 1977) or Srila Prabhupada, born Abhay Charan De, was an Indian spiritual teacher and the founder-acharya (preceptor) of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly known as the “Hare Krishna Movement”. Members of the ISKCON movement view Bhaktivedanta Swami as a representative and messenger of Krishna Chaitanya.Born in a Kayastha family in Kolkata (then called Calcutta), he was educated at the Scottish Church College there. Before adopting the life of a novice renunciate (vanaprastha) in 1950, he was married with children and owned a small pharmaceutical business. In 1959, he took a vow of renunciation (sannyasa) and started writing commentaries on Vaishnava scriptures. In his later years, as a travelling Vaishnava monk, he became an influential communicator of Gaudiya Vaishnava theology to India and specifically to the West through his leadership of ISKCON, founded in 1966. As the founder of ISKCON, he “emerged as a major figure of the Western counterculture, initiating thousands of young Americans.”
Abhinavagupta (c. 950 – 1016 CE: 27 ) was a philosopher, mystic and aesthetician from Kashmir. He was also considered an influential musician, poet, dramatist, exegete, theologian, and logician – a polymathic personality who exercised strong influences on Indian culture.Abhinavagupta was born in a Kayastha family of scholars and mystics who whose ancestors were immigrated from Ujjain by the great king of Kashmira, Lalitaditya Muktapida. He studied all the schools of philosophy and art of his time under the guidance of as many as fifteen (or more) teachers and gurus.: 35 In his long life he completed over 35 works, the largest and most famous of which is Tantrāloka, an encyclopedic treatise on all the philosophical and practical aspects of Kaula and Trika (known today as Kashmir Shaivism). Another one of his very important contributions was in the field of philosophy of aesthetics with his famous Abhinavabhāratī commentary of Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharata Muni.
Mahavatar Babaji (IAST: Mahāvatāra Bābājī; lit. ’Great Avatar (Revered) Father’) is the name given to his guru by Indian Yogi Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasaya (1828-1895), and several of his disciples, who reportedly appeared to them between 1861 and 1985, as described in various publications and biographies. According to Yogananda’s autobiography, Babaji has resided for at least hundreds of years in the remote Himalayan regions of India, seen in person by only a small number of disciples and others.
Agastya (Tamil: அகத்தியர், Sanskrit: अगस्त्य, Malayalam: അഗസ്ത്യൻ) was a revered Indian sage of Hinduism. In the Indian tradition, he is a noted recluse and an influential scholar in diverse languages of the Indian subcontinent. He and his wife Lopamudra are the celebrated authors of hymns 1.165 to 1.191 in the Sanskrit text Rigveda and other Vedic literature.Agastya is considered to be the father of Siddha medicine. Agastya appears in numerous itihasas and Puranas including the major Ramayana and Mahabharata. He is one of the seven most revered rishis (the Saptarishi) in the Vedic texts, and is revered as one of the Tamil Siddhar in the Shaivism tradition. He is also revered in the Puranic literature of Shaktism and Vaishnavism. He is one of the Indian sages found in ancient sculpture and reliefs in Hindu temples of South Asia, and Southeast Asia such as in the early medieval era Shaiva temples on Java Indonesia. He is the principal figure and Guru in the ancient Javanese language text Agastyaparva, whose 11th century version survives.Agastya is traditionally attributed to be the author of many Sanskrit texts such as the Agastya Gita found in Varaha Purana, Agastya Samhita found embedded in Skanda Purana, and the Dvaidha-Nirnaya Tantra text. He is also referred to as Mana, Kalasaja, Kumbhaja, Kumbhayoni and Maitravaruni after his mythical origins.
Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj (IAST: Kṛpālu; 5 October 1922 – 15 November 2013) was the fifth original Jagadguru in Indian history.He was the founder of Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat (JKP), a worldwide Hindu non-profit organization with five main ashrams, four in India and one in the United States.He was awarded the title of Jagadguru (world teacher) by Kashi Vidvat Parishat on Makar Sankranti (14 January 1957).
Shyama Charan Lahiri (30 September 1828 – 26 September 1895), best known as Lahiri Mahasaya, was an Indian yogi guru who founded the Kriya Yoga school. In 1861, his non-physical master Mahavatar Babaji appeared to him, ordering him to revive the yogic science of Kriya Yoga to the public after centuries of its guarding by masters. He was unusual among Indian holy people in that he was a householder, marrying, raising a family, and working as a government accountant, an “Ideal yogi-householder.” He became known in the West through Paramahansa Yogananda, a disciple of Sri Yukteswar Giri, and through Yogananda’s 1946 book Autobiography of a Yogi, considering him a Yogavatar, or “Incarnation of Yoga,” since Lahiri himself was chosen by the yogic masters to disseminate the principles of yoga to the world.
Swami Nigamananda Paramahansa (born Nalinikanta Chattopadhyay; 18 August 1880 – 29 November 1935) was an Indian yogi, guru and mystic well known in Eastern India. He is associated with the Shakta tradition and viewed as a perfect spiritual master of vedanta, tantra, yoga and prema or bhakti. His followers idealized him as their worshipped and beloved thakura.
Nigamananda was born into a Bengali Brahmin family in the hamlet of Kutabpur in Nadia district (at present Meherpur district Bangladesh). He was a sannyasi from Adi Shankar’s dashanami sampradaya. After his ordination as a sannyasi, he came to be known as Paribrajakacharya Paramahansa Srimat Swami Nigamananda Saraswati Deva.Nigamananda achieved siddhi (perfection) in four different sadhanas (spiritual disciplines): tantra, gyan, yoga and prema. Based on these experiences, he wrote five Bengali language books: Brahamcharya Sadhana (ब्रह्मचर्य साधन), Yogi Guru (योगिगुरु), Gyani Guru (ज्ञानीगुरु), Tantrika Guru (तांत्रिकगुरु), and Premik Guru (प्रेमिकगुरु). Nigamananda reportedly experienced the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi.After retiring from Saraswata Matha, Nigamananda spent the last fourteen years of his life in Puri. Durga Charan Mohanty, a school student, met him at Nilachala Kutir in 1930 and recognized him as sadguru. Mohanty became Nigamananda’s disciple and wrote books for Nigamananda’s establishment Nilachala Saraswata Sangha and translated Nigamananda’s Bengali books into Odia. Under Mohanty’s encouragement, more than 100 ashrams operate in Odisha. Mohanty continued to spread the message of Nigamananda until his death on 7 December 1985.
Paramahansa Yogananda (born Mukunda Lal Ghosh; January 5, 1893 – March 7, 1952) was an Indian Hindu monk, yogi and guru who introduced millions to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his organization Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) / Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India, and who lived his last 32 years in America. A chief disciple of the Bengali yoga guru Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, he was sent by his lineage to spread the teachings of yoga to the West, to prove the unity between Eastern and Western religions and to preach a balance between Western material growth and Indian spirituality. His long-standing influence in the American yoga movement, and especially the yoga culture of Los Angeles, led him to be considered by yoga experts as the “Father of Yoga in the West.”Yogananda was the first major Indian teacher to settle in America, and the first prominent Indian to be hosted in the White House (by President Calvin Coolidge in 1927); his early acclaim led to him being dubbed “the 20th century’s first superstar guru” by the Los Angeles Times. Arriving in Boston in 1920, he embarked on a successful transcontinental speaking tour before settling in Los Angeles in 1925. For the next two and a half decades, he gained local fame as well as expanded his influence worldwide: he created a monastic order and trained disciples, went on teaching-tours, bought properties for his organization in various California locales, and initiated thousands into Kriya Yoga. By 1952, SRF had over 100 centers in both India and the US; today, they have groups in nearly every major American city. His “plain living and high thinking” principles attracted people from all backgrounds among his followers.He published his book, Autobiography of a Yogi, in 1946, to critical and commercial acclaim; since its first publishing, it has sold over four million copies, with Harper San Francisco listing it as one of the “100 best spiritual books of the 20th Century”. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs had ordered 500 copies of the book for his own memorial, for each guest to be given a copy. The book has been regularly reprinted and is known as “the book that changed the lives of millions.” A documentary about his life commissioned by the SRF, Awake: The Life of Yogananda, was released in 2014. He remains a leading figure in Western spirituality to this day; a biographer of Yogananda, Phillip Goldberg, considers him “the best known and most beloved of all Indian spiritual teachers who have come to the West”.
Raghavendra Tirtha (Śrī Rāghavēndra Tīrtha) (c.1595 – c.1671) was a Hindu scholar, theologian and saint. He was also known as Sudha Parimalacharya (Sudhā Parimaḷācārya). His diverse oeuvre include commentaries on the works of Madhva, Jayatirtha and Vyasatirtha, interpretation of the Principal Upanishads from the standpoint of Dvaita and a treatise on Purva Mimamsa. He served as the pontiff of matha at Kumbakonam from 1621 to 1671. Sri Raghavendra Swamy was also an accomplished player of the Veena and he composed several songs under the name of Venu Gopala. His shrine at Mantralayam attracts lakhs (hundreds of thousands) of visitors every year.
Advaita Acharya (IAST: Advaita Ācārya; 1434–1559), (born Kamalaksha Mishra; কমলাক্ষ মিশ্র), was a companion of the founder of the Gaudiya Vaishnava movement, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and guru of Haridasa Thakur. He was born in the village of Nabagram in Laud (in present-day Sunamganj District, Bangladesh), in 1434, some fifty years before Chaitanya, and spent most of his adult life in the town of Shantipur in Nadia with his wife and family. Advaita Acharya had six sons, Acyutananda Das (who also became a disciple of Chaitanya), Krisna Mishra, Gopala Das, Balarama Das Mishra (whose lineage became the zamindar of Krishna Chandra), Swarupa Das and Jagadisa Mishra.
Advaita Acharya contributed in two Sanskrit literature, named Yogabashishta-Bhaishta and Geeta Bhaishya. The ancestry and life of Advaita Acharya are narrated in a number of hagiographical works, which include the Balyalila-Sutra (1487?) of Krishnadasa in Sanskrit and the Advaitasutrakadacha of Krishnadasa, the Advaitamangala of Haricharanadasa, the Advaitaprakasha of Ishana Nagara and the Advaitavilasa of Naraharidasa in Bengali. Many of his activities are described in the Chaitanya Charitamrta, the Chaitanya Mangala and the Chaitanya Bhagavata.
The Alvars (Tamil: ஆழ்வார், romanized: Āḻvār, lit. ’The Immersed’) were the Tamil poet-saints of South India who espoused bhakti (devotion) to the Hindu preserver deity Vishnu, in their songs of longing, ecstasy, and service. They are venerated in Vaishnavism, which regards Vishnu as the Ultimate Reality.
Many modern academics place the lifetime of the Alvars between the 5th century and 10th century CE. Traditionally, the Alvars are considered to have lived between 4200 BCE and 2700 BCE. Orthodoxy posits the number of Alvars as ten, though there are other references that include Andal and Madhurakavi Alvar, making the number 12. Andal is the only female Alvar among the 12. Together with the contemporary 63 Shaivite Nayanars, they are among the most important saints from Tamil Nadu.
The devotional outpourings of the Alvars, composed during the early medieval period of Tamil history, were the catalysts behind the Bhakti Movement through their hymns of worship to Vishnu and his avatars. They praised the Divya Desams, the 108 divine realms of deities affiliated to Vaishnavism. The poetry of the Alvars echoes bhakti to God through love, and in the ecstasy of such devotions they sang hundreds of songs which embodied both depth of feeling and the felicity of expressions. The collection of their hymns is known as the Naalayira Divya Prabandham. The bhakti literature that sprang from Alvars has contributed to the establishment and sustenance of a culture that deviated from the Vedic religion and rooted itself in devotion as the only path for salvation. In addition, they contributed to Tamil devotional verses independent of a knowledge of Sanskrit. As a part of the legacy of the Alvars, five Vaishnavite philosophical traditions (sampradayas) developed over a period of time.
Ayya Vaikundar (c.1833 –c.1851) (Tamil: அய்யா வைகுண்டர், Sanskrit: अय्या वैघुण्ढर्) also known as Vaikunda Swami is the first and the foremost Purna avatar of Eka-Paran born to Lord Narayana and his consort Goddess Lakshmi at the Sea of Tiruchendur on the 20th of Masi, 1008 K.E (1 March 1833 CE). Embodied with the triune God-heads along with all lesser devas, Lord Narayana assumes his ninth incarnation at the sea-shore of Tiruchendur just before the birth of Ayya Vaikundar. It was this Avatar of Lord Narayana whom give birth to Ayya Vaikundar later, and all these events are part of his grand and systematic framework for the destruction of Kali. Earlier, as the time for the destruction of Kali approaches, Goddess Lakshmi, who includes all Devis (feminine forms of Devas) of the divine cosmos into herself, was sent to Sea of Tiruchendur to grow as a giant golden fish called Makara. It was from her womb the Infant Ayya Vaikundar was born to Lord Narayana and the Vinchai was granted to him immediately after his birth.The mission of the Destruction of Kali involves a joint role of Lord Narayana and Ayya Vaikundar. While the prime obligation of Lord Narayana is to annihilate Kali, the role of Ayya Vaikundar is to prepare the world for the Dharma Yukam. Literally, Ayya Vaikundar acts as the subtle medium on whom Lord Narayana had based his platform in the Kaliyuga to destroy Kali, the foremost evil of the 7 yugas. Since Ayya Vaikundar is born after the severe Tapas of Trimurthi and all other lesser other Devas including the 33 clans of devas and 44 clans of deva-rishis of Seven Logas, Ayya Vaikundar is the supreme God on his own. He is the central character of Kaliyuga as in the narratives and teaching of Akilathirattu Ammanai.
On the other hand, Ayya Vaikundar is an actual Historical figure and most of the preachings and activities found in Akilam and other texts about the life of Ayya Vaikundar was documented historically and detailed in critical contemporary sources externally as well. Though the prime features of Ayya Vaikundar’s mission is revealed through Akilathirattu, he also teaches orally. His oral teaching are compiled in the Books of Pathiram, Sivakanta Athikara Pathiram and Thingal Patham. Though Akilam is directly against creating any form of organised religion or belief, the teachings of Akilam and especially few books of Arul Nool forms the basis of Ayyavazhi belief. The incarnational date of Ayya Vaikundar is celebrated as Ayya Vaikunda Avataram on the 20th of Masi as per the Tamil Calendar (3 or 4 March C.E) and is observed to this date.
Bhaktivinoda Thakur (IAST: Bhakti-vinoda Ṭhākura, Bengali pronunciation: [bʱɔktibinodo tʰakur] (listen)) (2 September 1838 – 23 June 1914), born Kedarnath Datta (Kedāra-nātha Datta, Bengali: [kedɔrnɔtʰ dɔtto]), was a Hindu philosopher, guru and spiritual reformer of Gaudiya Vaishnavism who effected its resurgence in India in late 19th and early 20th century and was hailed by contemporary scholars as the most influential Gaudiya Vaishnava leader of his time. He is also credited, along with his son Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, with pioneering the propagation of Gaudiya Vaishnavism in the West and its eventual global spread.Kedarnath Datta was born on 2 September 1838 in the town of Birnagar, Bengal Presidency, in a traditional Hindu family of wealthy Bengali landlords. After a village schooling, he continued his education at Hindu College in Calcutta, where he acquainted himself with contemporary Western philosophy and theology. There he became a close associate of prominent literary and intellectual figures of the Bengali Renaissance, such as Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, and Sisir Kumar Ghosh. At 18, he began a teaching career in rural areas of Bengal and Orissa until he became an employee with the British Raj in the Judicial Service, from which he retired in 1894 as District Magistrate.
Kedarnath Datta belonged to the kayastha community of Bengali intellectual gentry that lived during the Bengal Renaissance and attempted to rationalise their traditional Hindu beliefs and customs. In his youth he spent much time researching and comparing various religious and philosophical systems, both Indian and Western, with a view of finding among them a comprehensive, authentic and intellectually satisfying path. He tackled the task of reconciling Western reason and traditional belief by dividing religion into the phenomenal and the transcendent, thus accommodating both modern critical analysis and Hindu mysticism in his writings. Kedarnath’s spiritual quest finally led him at the age of 29 to become a follower of Caitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1533). He dedicated himself to a deep study and committed practice of Caitanya’s teachings, soon emerging as a reputed leader within the Caitanya Vaishnava movement in Bengal. He edited and published over 100 books on Vaishnavism, including major theological treatises such as Krishna-samhita (1880), Caitanya-sikshamrita (1886) Jaiva-dharma (1893), Tattva-sutra (1893), Tattva-viveka (1893), and Hari-nama-cintamani (1900). Between 1881 and 1909, Kedarnath also published a monthly journal in Bengali entitled Sajjana-toshani (“The source of pleasure for devotees”), which he used as the prime means for propagating Caitanya’s teachings among the bhadralok. In 1886, in recognition of his prolific theological, philosophical and literary contributions, the local Gaudiya Vaishnava community conferred upon Kedarnath Datta the honorific title of Bhaktivinoda.In his later years Bhaktivinoda founded and conducted nama-hatta – a travelling preaching program that spread theology and practice of Caitanya throughout rural and urban Bengal, by means of discourses, printed materials and Bengali songs of his own composition. He also opposed what he saw as apasampradayas, or numerous distortions of the original Caitanya teachings. He is credited with the rediscovery of the lost site of Caitanya’s birth, in Mayapur near Nabadwip, which he commemorated with a prominent temple.Bhaktivinoda Thakur pioneered the spread of Caitanya’s teachings in the West, sending in 1880 copies of his works to Ralph Waldo Emerson in the United States and to Reinhold Rost in Europe. In 1896 another publication of Bhaktivinoda, a book in English entitled Srimad-Gaurangalila-Smaranamangala, or Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, His life and Precepts was sent to several academics and libraries in Canada, Britain and Australia.The revival of Gaudiya Vaishnavism effected by Bhaktivinoda spawned one of India’s most dynamic preaching missions of the early 20th century, the Gaudiya Matha, headed by his son and spiritual heir, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Bhaktisiddhanta’s disciple A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (1896–1977) continued his guru’s Western mission when in 1966 in the United States he founded ISKCON, or the Hare Krishna movement, which then spread Gaudiya Vaishnavism globally.
Bhaktivinoda wrote an autobiographical account titled Svalikhita-jivani that spanned the period from his birth in 1838 until retirement in 1894. He died in Calcutta on 23 June 1914 at age 75. His remains were interred near Mayapur, West Bengal.
Brahmanand Swami (12 February 1772 – 1832) was revered as a saint of the Swaminarayan Sampraday and as one of Swaminarayan’s Paramahamsa. He was also known as one of Swaminarayan’s Ashta Kavi’s (eight poets) within the Swaminarayan Sampraday In the scriptures of the Swaminarayan Sampraday it was noted that Brahmanand Swami as stated by Swaminarayan that as the name suggests and implies “Brahmanand” is an Avatar of Brahma.
Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (IAST: Svāmī Brahmānanda Sarasvatī) (21 December 1871 – 20 May 1953), also known as Guru Dev (meaning “divine teacher”), was the Shankaracharya of the Jyotir Math monastery in India. Born into a Saryupareen Brahmin family, he left home at the age of nine in search of a spiritual master. At age fourteen, he became a disciple of Svāmī Kṛṣṇānanda Sarasvatī. At the age of 34, he was initiated into the order of Sannyas and became the Śaṅkarācārya of Jyotir Math in 1941 at age 70. His disciples included Swami Shantanand Saraswati, Transcendental Meditation founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Svāmī Swarūpānanda Sarasvatī and Swami Karpatri. According to the partisans of Shantānand Saraswati, Brahmānanda made a will five months before his death in 1953, naming Shantānand as his successor.
Dr Chaturbhuj Sahay (Hindi: चतुर्भुज सहाय ); known as Guru Maharaj, 3 November 1883 – 24 September 1957, was an Indian mystic and capable master (समर्थ गुरु). Due to the spiritual atmosphere at home the love of God was sown within him in early childhood, and his heart was colored with a slight color of detachment. From a young age he used to meet Saints and Yogiraj or learned ascetics (Sanyasi), and was influenced by several religious traditions.
He started spiritual organization Ramashram Satsang, Mathura in the name of his Guru Mahatma Ram Chandra (Lalaji), where the method of transfer of Soul Power has evolved to such an extent that the soul power is transferred not only on one to one basis but from one to many, which has now acquired India wide influence in the spread of spirituality and is spreading to other countries.
The system of meditation he preached is a synthesis between Karma (action), Upasana (devotion) and Gyaan (knowledge), ‘Love’ is mingled in all its methods, central focus is on the Spiritual Master, who by Soul-Power uplifts the aspirants and makes them experience the higher stages of spirituality.
Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī (Bengali: কৃষ্ণদাস কবিরাজ, romanized: Kṛṣṇôdas Kôviraj; born 1496; date of death unknown) was the author of the Caitanyacaritāmṛta, a biography on the life of the mystic and saint Caitanya Mahāprabhu (1486–1533), who is considered by the Gaudiya Vaishnava school of Hinduism to be an incarnation of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa combined.
Pattinathar (Tamil: பட்டினத்தார், romanized: Paṭṭiṉattār) is a name identified with two different Tamil individuals, one of 10th century AD and another of 14th century AD.
(Bengali: রামদাস কাঠিয়াবাবা) (early 24 July 1800 – 8 February 1909) was a Hindu saint of the Hindu Dwaitadwaitavaadi Nimbarka Sampradaya. The 54th Acharya of the Nimbark community, Sri Sri 108 Swami Ramdas Kathia Babaji Maharaj, was known everywhere as Kathia Baba. He was born about two hundred years ago in the village of Lonachamari in the state of Punjab.
Ramakrishna Paramahansa (Bengali: রামকৃষ্ণ পরমহংস, romanized: Ramôkṛṣṇo Pôromohôṅso; pronounced [ramɔkriʂno pɔromoɦɔŋʃo] (listen), 18 February 1836 – 16 August 1886), also spelled Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, born Gadadhar Chattopadhyaya, was an Indian Hindu mystic and spiritual leader. After adhering to various religious practices from the Hindu traditions of Bhakti yoga, Tantra, and Advaita Vedanta as well as from Islam and Christianity, he proclaimed the world’s various religions as “so many paths to reach one and the same goal”, thus validating the essential unity of religions. Ramakrishna’s followers came to regard him as an avatar, or divine incarnation, as did some of the prominent Hindu scholars of his day.
Ramakrishna, who experienced spiritual ecstasies from a young age, started his spiritual journey as a priest at the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, built by Rani Rashmoni. Soon his mystical temperament gained him widespread acclaim amongst the general public as a Guru, attracting to him various religious teachers, social leaders, Bengali elites, and common people alike; initially reluctant to consider himself a guru, he eventually taught his disciples, who later formed the monastic Ramakrishna Order. After his demise, his chief disciple Swami Vivekananda popularized his ideas, and founded the Ramakrishna Math, which provides spiritual training for monastics and householder devotees, and the Ramakrishna Mission, to provide charity, social work and education.
Sant Nirmala (Marathi: संत निर्मळा) was a poet in 14th-century Maharashtra, India. As the younger sister of Chokhamela, she was deemed equally holy with her brother and thus is also deemed a Hindu saint. Nirmala was married to Banka, of the Untouchable Mahar caste. Her writings consist largely of abhangs that describe the injustice and inequalities she suffered as a result of the caste system.Nirmala regretted worldly married life and reveled in the god of Pandharpur. She never mentions her husband, Banka, in her poems.
Nithyananda (born Arunachalam Rajasekaran; 1 January 1978), known among followers as Nithyananda Paramashivam or Paramahamsa Nithyananda, is an Indian Hindu guru, godman and cult leader. He is the founder of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam, a trust that owns temples, gurukulas, and ashrams in many countries.
Following the charges of rape and abduction filed in Indian courts, he fled India and has remained in hiding since 2019. He is subject of a court-issued non-bailable warrant relating to the allegations.In 2020, he announced the founding of his own self-proclaimed island nation called Kailaasa.
Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri
Sri Yukteswar Giri (also written Sriyuktesvara, Sri Yukteshwar) (Devanagari: श्रीयुक्तेश्वर गिरि ) (10 May 1855 – 9 March 1936) is the monastic name of Priya Nath Karar (also spelled as Priya Nath Karada and Preonath Karar), an Indian monk and yogi, and the guru of Paramahansa Yogananda and Swami Satyananda Giri. Born in Serampore, West Bengal, Sri Yukteswar was a Kriya yogi, a Jyotisha (Vedic astrologer), a scholar of the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, an educator, author, and astronomer. He was a disciple of Lahiri Mahasaya of Varanasi and a member of the Giri branch of the Swami order. As a guru, he had two ashrams, one in Serampore and another in Puri, Odisha, between which he alternated his residence throughout the year as he trained disciples.Described by Tibetologist W.Y. Evans-Wentz as being “of gentle mien and voice, of pleasing presence,” and with “high character and holiness,” Sri Yukteswar was a progressive-minded figure in 19th-century Serampore society; he regularly held religious festivals throughout the year around the towns and at his ashrams, created a “Satsanga Sabha” spiritual study organization, established syllabi for educational institutions, and re-analyzed the Vedic astrological yugas. Noted for his sharp mind and insightful knowledge, he became a respected guru throughout the greater Kolkata area to his Kriya yoga students, and also regularly invited individuals from all social backgrounds to his ashrams to discuss and exchange ideas on a range of topics.
As a guru, he was nonetheless known for his candid insight, stern nature and strict disciplinary training methods, as noted by his disciple Yogananda in his autobiography. The rigorous nature of his training eventually prepared his disciples, such as Satyananda and Yogananda himself, for their own intense social work in India and America, respectively. In accordance with the high ideals and “penetrating insight” with which he lived, Sri Yukteswar was considered by Yogananda as a Jnanavatar, or “Incarnation of Wisdom;” Evans-Wentz felt him “worthy of the veneration which his followers spontaneously accorded to him…Content to remain afar from the multitude, he gave himself unreservedly and in tranquility to that ideal life which Paramhansa Yogananda, his disciple, has now described for the ages.”
Trailinga Swami (also Tailang Swami, Telang Swami) (reportedly 27 November 1607– 26 December 1887), whose monastic name was Swami Ganapati Saraswati, was a Hindu yogi and mystic famed for his spiritual powers who lived in Varanasi, India. He is a legendary figure in Bengal, with stories told of his yogic powers and longevity. According to some accounts, Trailinga Swami lived to be 280 years old, residing at Varanasi between 1737 and 1887. He is regarded by devotees as an incarnation of Shiva. Sri Ramakrishna referred to him as “The walking Shiva of Varanasi”.
Hans Ji Maharaj
Hans Rām Singh Rawat, called Shrī Hans Jī Mahārāj and by various other honorifics (8 November 1900 – 19 July 1966), was an Indian religious leader.
He was born in Gadh-ki-Sedhia, north-east of Haridwar in present-day Uttarakhand, India. His parents were Ranjit Singh Rawat and Kalindi Devi. He was considered a Satguru by his students who called him affectionately “Shri Maharaj ji” or just “Guru Maharaj ji.”He had a daughter from his first wife Sinduri Devi, and four sons from his second wife Rajeshwari Devi, later known among followers as “Mata Ji” and “Shri Mata Ji”.
Ronald Henry Nixon (10 May 1898 – 14 November 1965), later known as Sri Krishna Prem or Sri Krishnaprem, was a British spiritual aspirant who went to India in the early 20th century. Together with his spiritual teacher Sri Yashoda Mai (1882 – 1944), he founded an ashram at Mirtola, near Almora, India. He was one of the first Europeans to pursue Vaishnavite Hinduism, and was highly regarded, with many Indian disciples. Later, according to the account of his foremost disciple Sri Madhava Ashish, Krishna Prem transcended the dogmas and practices of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition into which he had been initiated and affirmed a universal spiritual path shorn of “orthodoxy” and blind traditionalism.
Anandamayi Ma (née Nirmala Sundari; 30 April 1896 – 27 August 1982) was an Indian saint and yoga guru, described by Sivananda Saraswati (of the Divine Life Society) as “la fleur la plus parfaite que le sol de l’Inde ait produite” [the most perfect flower the Indian soil has produced]. Precognition, faith healing and miracles were attributed to her by her followers. Paramahansa Yogananda translates the Sanskrit epithet Anandamayi as “Joy-permeated” in English. This name was given to her by her devotees in the 1920s to describe her perpetual state of divine joy.
Matrusri Anasuya Devi (born 28 March 1923 – 1985), better known simply as Amma [“Mother”], was an Indian spiritual guru from Andhra Pradesh.
Andal (Tamil: ஆண்டாள்), also known as Kothai, Nachiyar, and Godadevi, was the only female Alvar among the twelve Hindu poet-saints of South India. She was posthumously considered an avatar of the goddess Bhudevi. As with the Alvar saints, she was affiliated to the Sri Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism. Active in the 8th-century, with some suggesting 7th-century, Andal is credited with two great Tamil works, Thiruppavai and Nachiyar Tirumoḻi, which are still recited by devotees during the winter festival season of Margaḻi. Andal is a prominent figure for women in South India and has inspired several women’s groups such as Goda Mandali.
Anukulchandra Chakravarty (14 September 1888 – 27 January 1969), popularly known as Sree Sree Thakur, was a physician, a philosopher, a spiritual leader and the founder of Satsang, in Deoghar. He was born in a Brahmin family
Arunagirinaadhar (Aruna-giri-naadhar, Aruṇakirinātar, Tamil: [aɾuɳaɡɯɾɯn̪aːdar]) was a Tamil Saiva saint-poet who lived during the 15th century in Tamil Nadu, India. In his treatise A History of Indian Literature (1974), Czech Indologist Kamil Zvelebil places Arunagirinathar’s period between circa 1370 CE and circa 1450 CE. He was the creator of Thiruppugazh, Tiruppukaḻ, [tiɾupːɯɡaɻ], meaning “Holy Praise” or “Divine Glory”), a book of poems in Tamil in praise of lord Murugan.
His poems are known for their lyricism coupled with complex rhymes and rhythmic structures. In Thiruppugazh, the literature and devotion has been blended harmoniously.Thiruppugazh is one of the major works of medieval Tamil literature, known for its poetical and musical qualities, as well as for its religious, moral and philosophical content.
Avvaiyar (Tamil: ஔவையார்) was the title of more than one female poet who were active during different periods of Tamil literature. They were some of the most famous and important female poets of the Tamil canon.
Abidhana Chintamani states that there were three female poets titled Avvaiyar. Among them, the first Avvaiyar lived during the Sangam period (c. 3rd century BCE) and is said to have had cordial relations with the Tamil chieftains Vēl Pāri and Athiyamān. She wrote 59 poems in the Puṟanāṉūṟu.Avvaiyar II lived during the period of Kambar and Ottakoothar during the reign of the Chola dynasty in the tenth century. She is often imagined as an old and intelligent lady by Tamil people. Many poems and the Avvai Kural, comprising 310 kurals in 31 chapters, belong to this period.The third Avvaiyar is the most widely known for her ‘Vinayagar Agaval’, ‘Aathichoodi’, ‘Kondrai Vendhan’, ‘Nalvazhi’ and ‘Moodhurai’.
Atri (Sanskrit: अत्रि) or Attri is a Vedic sage, who is credited with composing numerous hymns to Agni, Indra, and other Vedic deities of Hinduism. Atri is one of the Saptarishi (seven great Vedic sages) in the Hindu tradition, and the one most mentioned in its scripture Rigveda.The fifth Mandala (Book 5) of the Rigveda is called the Atri Mandala in his honour, and the eighty seven hymns in it are attributed to him and his descendants.Atri is also mentioned in the Puranas and the Hindu epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Baba Hari Dass
Baba Hari Dass (Devanagari: बाबा हरि दास) (26 March 1923 – 25 September 2018) was an Indian yoga master, silent monk, temple builder, and commentator of Indian scriptural traditions of dharma and moksha. He was classically trained in the Ashtanga of Patanjali (also known as Rāja yoga), as well as Kriya yoga, Ayurveda, Samkhya, Tantra, Vedanta, and Sanskrit.
Baba Hari Dass took a vow of silence in 1952, which he upheld through this life. Although he did not speak, he was able to communicate in several languages through writing. His literary output included scriptural commentaries to Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Bhagavad Gita, Samkhya Karika, and Vedanta, collections of aphorisms about the meaning and purpose of life, essays, plays, short stories, children’s stories, kirtan, mantras, and in-depth instructional yoga materials that formed the basis of a yoga certification-training program.Upon his arrival in North America in early 1971, Baba Hari Dass and his teachings inspired the creation of several yoga centers and retreat programs in the United States in Santa Cruz County, California, and in Canada at Salt Spring Island and in Toronto. He was an early proponent of Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of health and healing, and helped introduce the practice to the United States.
In an annual rendition of Indian classic Ramayana, he taught performing arts, choreography and costume making. Baba Hari Dass devoted himself to helping others, with an emphasis on selfless service (karma yoga); In 1987 he opened Sri Ram Orphanage for homeless children in Haridwar India. To the local population of Nainital and Almora, Baba Hari Dass was also known as Haridas (lit “servant of Lord Hari”), Haridas Baba, Chota Maharaji (literally “little great king”), or Harda Baba.
Baba Mast Nath
Baba Mastnath (born 1764) was a Hindu saint. He was born in Kansreti village in Rohtak district in the Indian state of Haryana. His Father name Sabla ji belongs to Rebari Hindu community. He is a reincarnation of Guru Gorakshnath ji. He moved to Math Asthal Bohar (established by Chauranginath ji in the 8th century). He rejuvenated it and resurrected the Math. In 2012 his seventh disciple Mahant Chandnath established Baba Mast Nath University in his name. Maharaja was present in his five-physical elements for a hundred years. In his time, the monarchy of Delhi was weakening as a result of the religious fanaticism of Aurangzeb, the independence of the Subedars, the destruction of the foreign invasions and the conspiracy to take away the traditional political power of the European companies. The provinces of Punjab, Haryana etc. were getting dilapidated. Chaurangi Nathji meditated by enlightening continuous fire is known as Dhuna for twelve years.
Bahinabai Chaudhari (24 August 1880 – 3 December 1951) was a Marathi language poet from Jalgaon district of Bombay State, India. She became a noted poet posthumously.
Bamakhyapa (Bengali: বামাখ্যাপা, romanized: Bamakhæpa, lit. ’mad saint’; 1837–1911), born Bamacharan Chattopadhyay, was an Indian Hindu saint who is held in great reverence in Tarapith and whose shrine is also located in the vicinity of the Tara temple in Birbhum. He worshipped Maa Tara as if she was his own mother. He was born at Atla village in Rampurhat subdivision of Birbhum district.
Basava, also called Basaveshwara and Basavanna, was a 12th-century CE Indian statesman, philosopher, poet, Lingayat social reformer in the Shiva-focussed bhakti movement, and a Hindu Shaivite social reformer during the reign of the Kalyani Chalukya/Kalachuri dynasty. Basava was active during the rule of both dynasties but reached the peak of his influence during the rule of King Bijjala II in Karnataka, India.Basava spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanaas. He rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals but introduced Ishtalinga necklace, with an image of the Shiva Liṅga, to every person regardless of their birth, to be a constant reminder of one’s bhakti (devotion) to Shiva. A strong promoter of ahimsa, he also condemned human and animal sacrifices. As the chief minister of his kingdom, he introduced new public institutions such as the Anubhava Mantapa (or, the “hall of spiritual experience”), which welcomed men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds to discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life, in open.The traditional legends and hagiographic texts state Basava to be the founder of the Lingayats. However, modern scholarship relying on historical evidence such as the Kalachuri inscriptions state that Basava was the poet philosopher who revived, refined and energized an already existing tradition. The Basavarajadevara Ragale (13 out of 25 sections are available) by the Kannada poet Harihara (c. 1180) is the earliest available account on the life of the social reformer and is considered important because the author was a near contemporary of his protagonist. A full account of Basava’s life and ideas are narrated in a 13th-century sacred Telugu text, the Basava Purana by Palkuriki Somanatha.Basava literary works include the Vachana Sahitya in Kannada Language. He is also known as Bhaktibhandari (lit. ’the treasurer of devotion’) and Basavanna.
Bhadase Sagan Maraj
Bhadase Sagan Maraj (pronounced [bʰəd̪eːsə səɡənə mərəɟə]; 29 February 1920 – 21 October 1971) was a Trinidadian and Tobagonian politician, Hindu leader, civil rights activist, trade unionist, businessman, wrestler, and author. He founded the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha in 1952, which grew to be the largest and most influential Hindu organization in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean. He also founded the Caroni East Indian Association, the People’s Democratic Party, the Democratic Labour Party, the Democratic Liberation Party, the Federation of Unions of Sugar Workers and Cane Farmers, and The Bomb newspaper.
Dhanna Bhagat, also known Dhanna Jaat or Dhanna Jatt, Dhanna Bairagi, Sant Dhanna (born 1415) was a mystic poet and a Vaishnav devotee whose three hymns are present in Adi Granth.
Hindu Guru Nityananda (November/December, 1897 – 8 August 1961) was an Indian guru. His teachings are published in the “Chidakash Gita”. Nityananda was born in Koyilandy (Pandalayini), Madras Presidency, British India (now in Kozhikode district, Kerala).
Bhakti Charu Swami
Bhakti Charu Swami (IAST: Bhakti Cāru Svāmī, 17 September 1945 – 4 July 2020) was an Indian spiritual leader of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). He was also a disciple of ISKCON’s founder A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Bhakti Tirtha Swami
Bhakti Tirtha Swami (IAST: Bhakti-tīrtha Svāmī; February 25, 1950 – June 27, 2005), previously called John Favors and Toshombe Abdul and also known by the honorific Krishnapada (Kṛṣṇapāda), was a guru and governing body commissioner of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (commonly known as the Hare Krishnas or ISKCON). He was the highest-ranking African American in ISKCON.He wrote 17 books on religious topics and led community development projects in the United States and other countries. He was the founder and director of the Institute for Applied Spiritual Technology in Washington, DC, “a nonprofit, nondenominational organization whose membership represents a variety of spiritual paths and professional backgrounds”. He traveled frequently and served as a spiritual consultant. He also served as chairman of the Third World Coalition. On February 7, 2006 the Council of the District of Columbia recognized him for dedication to social change for residents in the District of Columbia.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati (IAST: Bhakti-siddhānta Sarasvatī; Bengali: ভক্তিসিদ্ধান্ত সরস্বতী; Bengali: [bʱɔktisiddʱanto ʃɔrɔʃbɔti] (listen); 6 February 1874 – 1 January 1937), born Bimala Prasad Datt (Bimalā Prasāda Datta, Bengali: [bimola prɔʃɑd dɔtto]), was a Gaudīya Vaisnava Hindu guru (spiritual master), ācārya (philosophy instructor), and revivalist in early 20th century India. To his followers, he was known as Srila Prabhupāda (an honorific also later extended to his disciple A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada).
Bimala Prasad was born in 1874 in Puri (then Bengal Presidency now Orissa) in a Bengali Hindu Kayastha family as a son of Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinoda Thakur, a recognised Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava philosopher and teacher. Bimala Prasad received both Western and traditional Indian education and gradually established himself as a leading intellectual among the bhadralok (Western-educated and often Hindu Bengali residents of colonial Calcutta), earning the title Siddhānta Sarasvatī (“the pinnacle of wisdom”). In 1900, Bimala Prasad took initiation into Gaudiya Vaishnavism from the Vaishnava ascetic Gaurkishor Dās Bābājī.In 1918, following the 1914 death of his father and the 1915 death of his guru Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji, Bimala Prasad accepted the Hindu formal order of asceticism (sannyasa) from a photograph of his guru and took the name Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati inaugurated in Calcutta the first center of his institution, later known as the Gaudiya Math. It soon developed into a dynamic missionary and educational institution with sixty-four branches across India and three centres abroad (in Burma, Germany, and England). The Math propagated the teachings of Gaudiya Vaishnavism by means of daily, weekly, and monthly periodicals, books of the Vaishnava canon, and public programs as well as through such innovations as “theistic exhibitions” with dioramas. Bhaktisiddhanta is known for his intense and outspoken oratory and writing style as the “acharya-keshari” (“lion guru”). Bhaktisiddhanta opposed the monistic interpretation of Hinduism, or advaita, that had emerged as the prevalent strand of Hindu thought in India, seeking to establish traditional personalist krishna-bhakti as its fulfillment and higher synthesis. At the same time, through lecturing and writing, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupāda targeted both the ritualistic casteism of smarta brahmanas and sensualised practices of numerous Gaudiya Vaishnavism spin-offs, branding them as apasampradayas – deviations from the original Gaudiya Vaishnavism taught in the 16th century by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his close successors.
The mission initiated by Bhaktivinoda Thakur and developed by Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupāda emerged as “the most powerful reformist movement” of Vaishnavism in Bengal of the 19th and early 20th century. However, after the demise of Srila Prabhupāda in 1937, the Gaudiya Math became tangled by internal dissent, and the united mission in India was effectively fragmented. Over decades, the movement regained its momentum. In 1966 its offshoot, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), was founded by Prabhupāda’s disciple Bhaktivedanta in New York City and spearheaded the spread of Gaudiya Vaisnava teachings and practice globally. Prabhupāda’s branch of Gaudiya Vaishnavism presently counts over 500,000 adherents worldwide, with its public profile far exceeding the size of its constituency.
Bhaskara raya (Bhāskara rāya Makhin) (1690–1785) is widely considered an authority on all questions pertaining to the worship of the Mother Goddess in Shakta tradition of Hinduism. He was born in a Maharashtrian Brahmin family at Hyderabad, Telangana. Bhaskara raya was welcomed by king Serfoji II of Bhonsle dynasty in South India, and thereupon he settled in Tamil Nadu. According to Douglas Renfrew Brooks, a professor of Religion specializing in Shaktism studies, Bhaskara raya was “not only a brilliant interpreter of Srividya, he was an encyclopedic writer”, and that he was a “thinker who had the wealth of Tantric and Vedic traditions at his fingertips”. He belonged to the Srividya tradition of the Shakta Tantrism.Bhaskara raya is the attributed author of more than 40 and range from Vedanta to poems of devotion and from Indian logic and Sanskrit grammar to the studies of Tantra. Several of his texts are considered particularly notable to the Shaktism tradition, one focussed on the Mother Goddess:
Commentary on Tripura Upanishad and Bhavana Upanishad
Commentary on Devi Mahatmya, titled Guptavati. Bhaskara raya, in his Guptavati, offers comments on 224 out of the 579 verses of the Devi Mahatmya.
Varivasya Rahasya, is a commentary on Sri Vidya mantra and worship. The Varivasya Rahasya contains 167 ślokas numbered consecutively. It has an accompanying commentary entitled “Prakāśa”, also by Bhaskara raya.
Setubandha is a technical treatise on Tantric practice. It is his magnum opus. It is a commentary on a portion of the Vāmakeśvara-tantra dealing with the external and internal worship of Tripura Sundari. This work was completed either in 1733 AD or in 1741 AD.
“Soubhāgyabhāskara”is a commentary (bhāsya) on Lalita Sahasranama. This work was completed in 1728 AD.His Khadyota (“Firefly”) commentary on the Ganesha Sahasranama is considered authoritative by Ganapatya.The important events of Bhaskara raya’s life is written by his disciple Jagannath Pandit or Umanandnath in Bhaskaravilas Kavyam.
Bijoy Krishna Goswami
Bijoy Krishna Goswami (IAST: Vijaya-kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī; 2 August 1841 – 4 June 1899) was a prominent Hindu social reformer and religious figure in India during the British period.Brahmo Samaj was started at Calcutta on 20 August 1828 by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Debendranath Tagore as a reformation of the prevailing Brahmanism of the time (specifically Kulin practices). From the Brahmo Samaj springs Brahmoism, the most recent of legally recognised religions in India and Bangladesh, reflecting its foundation on reformed spiritual Hinduism with vital elements of Judeo-Islamic faith and practice. Gosaiji’s disillusionment from Brahmo Samaj led him to study the Chaitanya Charitamrita, a biography detailing the life and teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1534), a Vaisnava saint and founder of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya.Bijoy Krishna Goswami belonged to the “Advaita parivar” (family), as the 10th-generation descendant of Advaita Acharya, personal teacher and associate of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Brahmachaitanya or Gondavalekar Maharaj (19 February 1845 – 22 December 1913) was an Indian Hindu saint and spiritual master. Brahmachaitanya was a devotee of the Hindu deity Rama and signed his name “Brahmachaitanya Ramdasi”. He was a disciple of Tukamai, and advocated for Japa meditation using the 13-character Ram Naam mantra “Shri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram” to attain enlightenment.
Jagadguru Shri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Mahaswamigal (born Swaminathan Sharma; 20 May 1894 – 8 January 1994) also known as the Sage of Kanchi or Mahaperiyavar (meaning, “The great elder”) was the 68th Jagadguru Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. Mahaperiyavar’s discourses have been recorded in a Tamil book titled “Deivathin Kural” (Voice of God).
Chandrashekhara Bharati III
Swami Chandrasekhara Bharati (born Narasimha Sastri; 1892–1954 ) was the Jagadguru Sankaracarya of Sringeri Sharada Peetham in 1912–1954. He was one of the most significant spiritual figures in Hinduism during the 20th century. He is a Jivanmukta (Sanskrit for one liberated while alive).
Chattampi Swamikal (25 August 1853 – 5 May 1924) was a Hindu sage and social reformer. His thoughts and work influenced the launching of many social, religious, literary and political organisations and movements in Kerala and for the first time gave voice to those who were marginalised.
Chattampi Swamikal denounced the orthodox interpretation of Hindu texts citing sources from the Vedas. Swamikal along with his contemporary, Narayana Guru, strived to reform the heavily ritualistic and caste-ridden Hindu society of the late 19th century Kerala. Swamikal also worked for the emancipation of women and encouraged them to come to the forefront of society. Swamikal promoted vegetarianism and professed non-violence (Ahimsa). Swamikal believed that the different religions are different paths leading to the same place. Chattampi Swamikal throughout his intellectually and spiritually enriched life maintained many friends from different regions of Kerala. He authored several books on spirituality, history, and language staying with these friends.
Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati (born Balakrishna Menon; 8 May 1916 – 3 August 1993) was a Hindu spiritual leader and a teacher. In 1951, he founded Chinmaya Mission, a worldwide nonprofit organisation, in order to spread the knowledge of Advaita Vedanta, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and other ancient Hindu scriptures. Through the Mission, Chinmayananda spearheaded a global Hindu spiritual and cultural renaissance that popularised these spiritual texts and values, teaching them in English all across India and abroad.
Chinmayananda was originally a journalist and participated in the Indian independence movement. Under the tutelage of Swami Sivananda and later Tapovan Maharaj, he began studying Vedanta and took the vow of sannyasa. He gave his first jñāna yajña, or lecture series about Hindu spirituality, in 1953, starting the work of the Mission. Today, Chinmaya Mission encompasses more than 300 centres in India and internationally and conducts educational, spiritual, and charitable activities.Chinmayananda’s approach was characterized by an appeal to the English-educated Indian middle class and Indian diaspora; he gave lectures and published books in English. Chinmayananda also helped found the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), an Indian right-wing Hindu organization that is considered a member of the Sangh Parivar. In 1964, he convened delegates to create the VHP at Sandeepany ashram and served as the organisation’s first president. He aimed to “awake(n) the Hindus and to make them conscious of their proud place in the comity of nations,” saying that, “Let us convert Hindus to Hinduism, then everything will be all right.”: 42 Chinmayananda authored 95 publications, including commentaries on the major Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. He was a visiting professor of Indian philosophy at several American and Asian universities, and he conducted university lecture tours in many countries.
Chokhamela (Marathi :चोखामेळा) was a Hindu saint in Maharashtra, India in the 14th century. He belonged to the Mahar caste,, which was considered that time one of the untouchable castes in India. He was born at Mehuna Raja, a village in Deulgaon Raja Taluka of Buldhana district. He lived at Mangalvedha in Maharashtra. He wrote many Abhangas. One of his famous Abhangas is ‘Abir Gulal Udhlit Rang”. He was one of the first low-cast poets in India.
Chokhamela lived with his wife Soyarabai and son Karmamela in Mangalvedha. Chokhamela’s task was to guard and work in farms of upper-caste people. His family also followed varkari sect.
Soyarabai – Wife
Nirmala – Sister and her husband Banka (who is brother of Soyarabai): 84
Karmamela – SonChokhamela was initiated into bhakti (spirituality) by the poet-saint Namdev (1270-1350 CE). Once when he visited Pandharpur, he listened to Sant Namdev’s kirtan. Already a devotee of Vitthal (Vithoba), Chokha was moved by Namdev’s teachings.
Later, he moved to Pandharpur. The traditional story is that the upper castes here did not allow him to enter the temple, nor did they allow him to stand in the door of the temple, so he instead built a hut on the other side of the river Chandrabhaga.
While working on construction of a wall in Mangalvedha, near Pandharpur, the wall fell down, crushing some workers. Chokha was one of them. His tomb is in front of the Vitthal temple, Pandharpur, where it can be seen to this day. According to a legend the bones of the dead Chokhamela were still chanting Vitthal , Vitthal, apparently yearning to visit the Vitthal temple. The bones were buried at the footsteps of the Vitthal temple. In early 20th century, the Dalit leader B. R. Ambedkar attempted to visit the temple, but was stopped at the burial site of Chokhamela and denied entry beyond that point for being a Mahar.
Dada Bhagwan (7 November, 1908 – 2 January, 1988), also known as Dadashri, born Ambalal Muljibhai Patel, was a spiritual leader from Gujarat, India who founded the Akram Vignan Movement. He was religiously inclined from the early age. He worked as a contractor for a company maintaining dry docks in Bombay before attaining “self-realization” in 1958. He left business and focused on his spiritual goals. The movement around his teaching grew into the Akram Vignan movement gaining followers in western India and abroad.
Damodardev (1488–1598) was sixteenth century Ekasarana preceptor from Nalaca, Nagaon. Damodardev was a follower of Sankardeva’s Ekasarana dharma order. He started his own order after the death of Sankardeva that came to be called the Brahmasamhati, which admitted Brahmanical rituals and greater adherence to the caste system alongside the namadharma of Sankardev. He was succeeded by Bhattadeva.
Dayananda Saraswati (Ärsha Vidya)
Swami Dayananda Saraswati (15 August 1930 – 23 September 2015) was a renunciate of the Hindu order of sannyasa, a renowned traditional teacher of Advaita Vedanta, and founder of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam and AIM For Seva.
Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, also known as Kashinath and Madhusudandas, was an Indian yogi and author born in Bihar, India. His disciples included Shri Anandi Ma and Omdasji Maharaj. He was a master of Kundalini Maha Yoga who was responsible for popularising it in the United States.
Sant Dnyaneshwar (Marathi pronunciation: [d̪ɲaːn̪eʃʋəɾ]), also referred to as Jnaneshwar, Jnanadeva, Dnyandev or Mauli or Dnyaneshwar Vitthal Kulkarni (1275–1296), was a 13th-century Indian Marathi saint, poet, philosopher and yogi of the Nath Shaiva and Varkari tradition. In his short life of 21 years, he authored Dnyaneshwari (a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita) and Amrutanubhav. These are the oldest surviving literary works in the Marathi language, and considered to be milestones in Marathi literature. Sant Dnyaneshwar’s ideas reflect the non-dualistic Advaita Vedanta philosophy and an emphasis on Yoga and bhakti towards Vithoba, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. His legacy inspired saint-poets such as Eknath and Tukaram, and he is one of the founders of the Varkari (Vithoba-Krishna) Bhakti movement tradition of Hinduism in Maharashtra. Dnyaneshwar undertook samadhi at Alandi in 1296 by entombing himself in an underground chamber.
Droṇa (Sanskrit: द्रोण, romanized: Droṇa), also referred to as Dronacharya (Sanskrit: द्रोणाचार्य, romanized: Droṇācārya), is a major character of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
In the epic, he serves as the royal preceptor of the Kauravas and the Pandavas. He is one of the primary counsellors and warriors featured in the epic. He is a friend of Sukracharya, the guru of the asuras, as well as Mahabali. He is described to be the son of the sage Bharadvaja, and a descendant of the sage Angirasa. The preceptor is a master of advanced military arts, including the divine weapons known as astras. He serves as the second commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army, from the 11th day to the 15th day. The acharya fails four times in capturing Yudhishthira (The 11th day, 12th day, 14th day, and the 14th night). He is beheaded by Dhrishtadyumna when he meditates to release his soul on the battlefield. It is said that Drona is an incarnation of Brihaspati. He is guru to the Pandavas, Kauravas, Jayadratha, and Ashwatthama, his son.
Eknath (IAST: Eka-nātha, Marathi pronunciation: [eknath]) (8 november 1533–1599), commonly known as Sant Eknath was an Indian Hindu saint, philosopher and poet. He was a devotee of the Hindu deity Vitthal and is a major figure of the Warkari movement. Eknath is often viewed as a spiritual successor to the prominent Marathi saints Dnyaneshwar and Namdev.
Swami Gagangiri Maharaj was an Indian Hindu saint and Guru of the Nath Sampradaya. He is one of the most influential Hathayogis of modern India. Gagangiri Maharaj was particularly known for his water penance and intense meditation practices. He is considered as the incarnation of Adi Dattatreya himself. Swamiji was a widely revered figure amongst Indian sadhus, yogis and saints.
Gajanan Maharaj was an Indian Hindu guru, saint and mystic. His origins remain uncertain. He first appeared at Shegaon, a village in Buldhana district, Maharashtra as a young man at age of 30 probably during 23 February 1878. He attained Sanjeevana Samadhi on September 8, 1910; which is thought to be a process of voluntary withdrawal from one’s physical body. This date of his Samadhi is commemorated every year as part of the Shree Punyatithi Utsav. The date of his first appearance is considered an auspicious day and is celebrated as Prakat Din Sohla.
Ayyala Somayajulu Ganapathi Sastry, also known as Ganapati Muni (1878–1936), was a disciple of Ramana Maharshi. He was also variously known as “Kavyakantha” (one who has poetry in his throat), and “Nayana” by his disciples.
Saint Garibdas Ji Maharaj was a spiritual leader and reformer. He took birth in 1717 A.D. to a family of Dhankhar jats in the village Chudani, District Jhajjar, Haryana, India. He was a rich farmer. According to his own account, his spiritual journey started when “Almighty God” Kabir came to meet him and gave him initiation at the age of 10 years. After getting spiritual awareness from “Almighty God Kabir”, he uttered many Banis that are collected as holy book Garib Das ki Granth. Garibdas Panth is also a Kabirpanth. Saint Garib Das Ji told through his Banis that Kabir Sahib is the supreme God in Satlok. Garibdas died in 1778 A.D., and over his remains, a memorial was established.
Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji
Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji (IAST: Gaura-kiśora dāsa Bābājī; 1838–1915) is a well-known acharya from the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism, and is regarded as a Mahatma or saint by followers of his lineage. During his lifetime Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji became famous for his teachings on the process of Bhakti Yoga and for his unorthodox avadhuta like behaviour as a sadhu, or babaji in Vrindavan.
He was born on 17 November 1838 in a simple mercantile family in the village of Vagyana, near to Tepakhola in the district of Faridpur, part of modern-day Bangladesh. After the death of his wife when he was 29 years old, he accepted the life of a Babaji in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition under the tutelage of Jagannatha Dasa Babaji, after meeting the latter’s disciple, Bhagavat Dasa Babaji. He became a mendicant, staying in the holy cities of Vrindavan and Navadwip, deeply absorbed in singing and chanting the sacred names of Radha and Krishna (Bhajan).
he died on his 77th birthday in 1915
In the early 1900s, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura acknowledged that he took initiation (in a night dream) from Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji and given the name ‘Varsabhanavi devi daitya dasa’. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvata would later take an unorthodox form of initiation into the sannyasa order, in which “he simply sat down before a picture of Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji and invested that order upon himself.” This is considered by some a contested topic.
Gnanananda (Nia-na-nan-da) was an Indian guru, referred to by followers as Swami Sri Gnanananda Giri. He was the Chief Disciple of the Sri Sivaratna Giri Swamigal and one of the leaders (Peetathipathis) of the Jyotir Math, one of the four Maths established by Adi Sankara. This lineage of Peetathipathis is also called the ‘Giri’ Paramparai, as seen from the Peetathipathis’ name which ends with ‘Giri’. Gnanananda is a Mahayogi, Siddha Purusha, Himalayan sage and Indian philosopher. He believed in Advaita Vedanta because of his lineage. He had a number of disciples including Vidyananda, Triveni and Dasagiri. He blessed Hari to 1. Haridhos Giri to uplift and help mankind from sufferings through Guru Bakthi Prachara Swami had a number of accomplished disciples through his abnormally long tenure- Bramanamda who took samadhi at Puskar, Achutadasa of Polur. He loved obsurity. He changed identity to avoid being recognised .
Gopala Bhatta Goswami
Gopala Bhatta Goswami (1503–1578) is one of the foremost disciples of the Vaishnava saint, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and a leading historical figure in the Gaudiya Vaishnava school of Hinduism. He was part of a group of Vaishnava devotees known collectively as the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan, who were influential in establishing the philosophical basis of the Gaudiya tradition in formalised writings.
Gopalanand Swami (1781–1852) was a paramhansa of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya who was ordained by Swaminarayan. He worked and guided many followers to spread the Swaminarayan Sampradaya. The Swaminarayan Sampradaya believes that Gopalanand Swami is regarded as one of the yogis who attained the positions of Ashthangyog or the 8 fold paths in the field of sacred yog. It is also believed that Gopalanand Swami was appointed as the head of both Vadtal and Ahemdabad Desh.
Gopi Krishna (yogi)
Gopi Krishna (30 May 1903 – 31 July 1984) was a yogi, mystic, teacher, social reformer and writer. He was born in a small village outside Srinagar, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. He spent his early years there, and later lived in Lahore, in the Punjab of British India. He was one of the first to popularise the concept of Kundalini among Western readers. His autobiography Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man, which presented his personal account of the phenomenon of his awakening of Kundalini, (later renamed Living with Kundalini), was published in Great Britain and the United States and has since appeared in eleven major languages. According to June McDaniel, his writings have influenced Western interest in kundalini yoga.
Sant Gora Kumbhar (also known as Goroba) was a Hindu sant associated with the Bhakti movement and the Varkari sect of Maharashtra, India. He was a potter by trade and devotee of Vithal. Gora Kumbhar, along with other saints, wrote and sung hundreds of Abhangs.
Gora Kumbhar is traditionally believed to have lived in the village of Satyapuri, presently known as Goraba Ter in Osmanabad district of Maharashtra State. He is believed to have been a contemporary of Namdev. He is thought to have lived between c. 1267 and c. 1317 CE. A small temple named after him was built in the village and is visited by devotees.He died on Chaitra Krishna Triodashi, Shake 1239 (April 20, 1317).Other temples are located in Ainpur (District – Rahu (District – Pune)), Daulatabad (District – Aurangabad), Bajajnagar [(District – Aurangabad)], Turkabad Kharadi [(District – Aurangabad)], Kate Pimpalgaon (District – Aurangabad), Kokisare (District – Aurangabad). Satara), Kumbharli (District – Ratnagiri), Selu (District – Parbhani), Karjat (District – Raigad) are other Sant Goroba Kaka temples.
Gulabrao Maharaj (6 July 1881 – 20 September 1915) was a Hindu saint from Maharashtra, India. A blind person, he was credited with giving a vision of life to the people. He wrote 139 books on various subjects containing more than 6000 pages, 130 commentaries and about 25,000 stanza in poetry in his short life of 34 years.
Gunatitanand Swami (28 September 1784 – 11 October 1867), born Mulji Jani, was a prominent paramhansa of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya who was ordained by Swaminarayan: 22 : 16 : 123 and is accepted as the first spiritual successor of Swaminarayan by the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS).: 16 Born into a religious family in the small farming community of Bhadra in Gujarat, India, he first received religious education under his father’s guru, Ramanand Swami before encountering Swaminarayan and becoming a swami under him at the age of 25.: 19 He was revered for his spiritual discourses and divine service
For the BAPS, he embodies an essential element of the doctrine of Akshar and Purushottam.: 92 They believe based on interpretation from the Vachanamrut that “Akshar is an eternally-existing spiritual reality having two forms, the impersonal and the personal”.: 84 Furthermore, BAPS claims that Gunatitanand Swami was believed to be the first personal manifestation of Akshar in the Guru Parampara, an unbroken line of “perfect devotees” who provide “authentication of office through Gunatitanand Swami and back to Swaminarayan himself”.: 16 : 86 The Vadtal and Ahmedabad dioceses of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya do not subscribe to this theory.: 55–60 Gunatitanand Swami held various administrative roles, most notably as the mahant of Junagadh mandir, a position he held for forty years.: 55 : 94 In addition, he was a prominent speaker and was held in high regard as an authority on religious matters in general. A collection of his most important teachings on dharma, knowledge of the atman, detachment, bhakti, and various other matters has been published under the name Swamini Vato.: 16 : 192 : 70 Gunatitanand Swami died in 1867, and a famous shrine known as the Akshar Deri was built upon the spot his cremation rites were performed.: 132
Guru Jambheshwar, also known as Guru Jambhaji, (1451–1536) was the founder of the Bishnoi Panth. He taught that God is a divine power that is everywhere. He also taught to protect plants and animals as they are important in order to peacefully co-exist with nature.
Gurumayi Chidvilasananda (or Gurumayi or Swami Chidvilasananda), born Malti Shetty on 24 June 1955, is the guru or spiritual head of the Siddha Yoga path, with ashrams in India at Ganeshpuri and the Western world, with the headquarters of the SYDA foundation in South Fallsburg, New York.
Gurumayi received spiritual initiation (shaktipat) from her guru, Swami Muktananda, when she was 14, at which time he designated her and her brother Swami Nityananda as his successors. She became a renunciate (sanyassin) in 1982. Muktananda died later that year and she and her brother jointly became the heads of Siddha Yoga. They proceeded to expand the South Fallsburg ashram to accommodate large numbers of devotees. In 1985 Nityananda left the Siddha Yoga path.
She has authored several devotional books, starting with the 1989 Kindle My Heart.
Haridasa Thakur (IAST Haridāsa) (born 1451 or 1450) was a prominent Vaishnava saint known for being instrumental in the initial propagation of the Hare Krishna movement. He is considered to be the most famous convert of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, apart from Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami. His story of integrity and unflinching faith in the face of extreme adversity is told in Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya lila. It is believed that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself designated Haridasa as nāmācarya, meaning the ‘teacher of the Name’. Haridasa Thakura, was a devotee of God, Krishna, and had practiced chanting the names of the Lord, Hare Krishna, 300,000 times daily.
Hariharananda Giri (Bengali: স্বামী হরিহরানন্দ গিরী) (27 May 1907 – 3 December 2002), was an Indian yogi and guru who taught in India as well as in western countries. He was born Rabindranath Bhattacharya in Nadia district, West Bengal. He was the head of the Kriya Yoga Institute, United States, and founder worldwide Kriya Yoga Centers. According to some sources, Hariharananda was a direct disciple of Yukteswar Giri.
Isaignaniyar (Tamil: இசைஞானியார், 7th century), also spelt as Isainaniyar, Isaignaniyaar, Isaignaniar and Isaijnaniyar and also known as Isai-jnani Ammaiyar (Isai-Gnani Ammaiyar), is the mother of Sundarar, one of the most prominent Nayanar saints. She is herself regarded as a Nayanar saint, venerated in the Hindu sect of Shaivism, along with her husband Sadaiya Nayanar. She is generally counted as the last in the list of 63 Nayanars.Isaignaniyar is one of the three female saints. Sundarar is the only Nayanar with both his parents enlisted as Nayanars. The inclusion of Isaignaniyar, streams solely on basis on her association with Sundarar, rather than individual merit. Her sainthood status is seen as a proof of the greatness of her son.
Sadhguru (born Jagadish Vasudev, 3 September 1957) is the founder and head of the Isha Foundation, based in Coimbatore, India. The foundation, established in 1992, operates an ashram and yoga centre that carries out educational and spiritual activities. Sadhguru has been teaching yoga since 1982. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy and Karma: A Yogi’s Guide to Crafting Your Destiny, and a frequent speaker at international forums.
Sadhguru also advocates for protecting the environment against climate change, leading many initiatives like Project GreenHands (PGH), Rally for Rivers, Cauvery Calling, and the Journey to Save Soil. In 2017, he received the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award, for his contributions to spirituality and humanitarian services. Also in 2017, Sadhguru unveiled the Adiyogi Shiva statue, the world’s largest bust, in Coimbatore, India.
Jalaram Bapa (Gujarati: જલારામ બાપા) popularly known as Bapa (Gujarati: બાપા) (4 November 1799 (Samvat 1856) – 23 February 1881 (Samvat 1937)) was a Hindu saint from Gujarat, India. He was born on 4 November 1799, one week after the Hindu festival of Diwali, which is associated with his Iṣṭa-devatā Lord Rama. He is mainly worshipped in Gujarat, but his words and miracles have spread throughout India and many other countries. Thursday is the day that is associated with him in Hinduism. Images of Jalaram Bapa usually portray him as wearing white, with a stick in his left hand and a tulsi mala in his right hand. He is always dressed in simple clothes, to represent that he was a pure person.
Sant Janābāi was a Marāthi religious poet in the Hindu tradition in India, who was born likely in the seventh or the eighth decade of the 13th century. She died in 1350.Janabai was born in Gangākhed 1258-1350, Mahārāshtra to a couple with first names rand and Karand. Under the caste system the couple belonged to the matang. After her mother died, her father took her to Pandharpur. Since her childhood, Janabai worked as a maid servant in the household of Dāmāsheti, who lived in Pandharpur and who was the father of the prominent Marathi religious poet Nāmdev. Janabai was likely a little older than Namdev, and attended to him for many years.
Pandharpur has high religious significance especially among Marathi-speaking Hindus. Janabai’s employers, Damasheti and his wife, Gonāi, were very religious. Through the influence of the religious environment around her and her innate inclination, Janabai was always an ardent devotee of Lord Vitthal. She was also a talented poet. Though she never had any formal schooling, she composed many high-quality religious verses of the abhang (अभंग) form. Some of her compositions were preserved along with those of Namdev. Authorship of about 300 abhang is traditionally attributed to Janabai. However, researchers believe that quite a few of them were in fact compositions of some other writers.
Along with Dnyāneshwar, Nāmdev, Eknāth, and Tukaram, Janabai has a revered place in the minds of Marathi-speaking Hindus who belong especially to the wārakari (वारकरी) sect in Maharashtra. In accord with a tradition in India of assigning the epithet sant (संत) to persons regarded as thoroughly saintly, all of the above religious figures including Janabai are commonly attributed that epithet in Maharashtra. Thus, Janabai is routinely referred to as Sant Janabai (संत जनाबाई).
Sri Jayatirtha (Śrī Jaya-tīrtha), also known as Teekacharya (Ṭīkācārya) (c.1345 – c.1388), was a Hindu philosopher, dialectician, polemicist and the sixth pontiff of Madhvacharya Peetha from (1365 – 1388). He is considered to be one of the most important seers in the history of Dvaita school of thought on account of his sound elucidations of the works of Madhvacharya. He is credited with structuring the philosophical aspects of Dvaita and through his polemical works, elevating it to an equal footing with the contemporary schools of thought. Along with Madhva and Vyasatirtha, he is venerated as one of the three great spiritual sages, or munitraya of Dvaita. Jayatirtha is considered an incarnation of Indra (lord of gods) with amsha of Adi Sesha in the Madhva Parampara.Born into an aristocratic shastika Brahmin]] family, he later adopted the cause of Dvaita after an encounter with the Madhva saint, Akshobhya Tirtha (d. 1365 ). He composed 22 works, consisting of commentaries on the works of Madhva and several independent treatises criticizing the tenets of contemporary schools, especially Advaita, while simultaneously elaborating upon the Dvaita thought. His dialectical skill and logical acumen earned him the distinction of Ṭīkacārya or commentator par excellence.
He entered brundavana in banks of holy river tungabhadra in navabrundavana
Jiva Goswami (Sanskrit: जीव गोस्वामी, romanized: Jīva Gosvāmī; c. 1513 – c. 1598) was an Indian philosopher and saint from the Gaudiya Vaishnava school of Vedanta tradition, producing a great number of philosophical works on the theology and practice of Bhakti yoga, Vaishnava Vedanta and associated disciplines. He is known as one of the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan and was the nephew of the two leading figures, Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami.
Kalki Bhagawan (born 7 March 1949 as Vijay Kumar Naidu), also known as Sri Bhagavan, is a self-styled Indian godman, cult leader, businessman, and a real estate investor. A former clerk in the LIC, he claims to be an incarnation of God (the Kalki Avatar). He is the founder of ‘Oneness’ / ‘Ekam’ cult and White Lotus Conglomerate.Vijay kumar encourages his followers to worship him as God; and claims to be a divine Avatar capable of performing miracles. He has also claimed to be a Messiah destined to give spiritual enlightenment to mankind. In 1989, he launched a New Religious Movement called Oneness, and prophesied to inaugurate a spiritual golden age in the world in the year 2012. When no such event occurred on 21st December 2012, disappointed followers left the cult and it was handed over to his son NKV Krishna (“Krishnaji”) and daughter-in-law Preetha Krishna (“Preethaji”). They have rebranded it under different names like ‘Ekam’, ‘pkconsciousness’, and ‘O&O Academy’.Alongside Ekam, Kalki and his family also own the White Lotus Conglomerate. It is a multimillion dollar group of companies with interests in real estate, mining, entertainment, sport, agriculture, education, finance and manufacturing. Many of these are shell companies and exist only as mailing addresses. Prominent Acharyas in the former Oneness cult like Anandagiri and Samadarshini sit on the boards of these companies.In 2002, social activist Viswanath Swami filed a complaint with the Indian Income-Tax Department, alleging that Kalki Bhagavan had floated multiple trusts for rural development and obtained tax exemption for funds collected by these trusts. Swami also alleged that Kalki Bhagavan was using these funds to help setup multiple corporations for his son NKV Krishna, rather than using the money for the stated purpose.In 2019, Indian law enforcement agencies raided Kalki Bhagavan’s properties and confiscated unaccounted assets worth US$67 Million. The Enforcement Directorate attached 900 acres of land belonging to his ashram and registered a case against him under the Foreign Exchange Management Act.In November 2019, he suffered a heart attack.
Kamlesh D. Patel
Kamlesh D. Patel (born 1956) also known as Daaji among his followers, is a spiritual leader, author and the fourth in the line of Rāja yoga masters in the Sahaj Marg system of spiritual practice. He has been the president of Shri Ram Chandra Mission, a non-profit organization founded in 1945 and associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information, since 2014.He regularly conducts workshops and he has written two books on the topics of meditation and spirituality.
Kanaka Dasa (1509–1609) was a Haridasa saint and philosopher, popularly called Daasashreshta Kanakadasa (ದಾಸಶ್ರೇಷ್ಠ ಕನಕದಾಸ). He was a renowned composer of Carnatic music, poet, reformer and musician. He is known for his keertanas and ugabhoga, and his compositions in the Kannada language for Carnatic music. Like other Haridasas, he used simple Kannada and native metrical forms for his compositions.
Kanhopatra (or Kanhupatra) was a 15th-century Marathi saint-poet, venerated by the Varkari sect of Hinduism.
Little is known about Kanhopatra. According to most traditional accounts, Kanhopatra was a courtesan and dancing-girl. These accounts typically concentrate on her death when she chose to surrender to the Hindu god Vithoba—the patron god of the Varkaris—rather than becoming a concubine of the Badshah (king) of Bidar. She died in the central shrine of Vithoba in Pandharpur. She is the only person whose samadhi (mausoleum) is within the precincts of the temple.
Kanhopatra wrote Marathi ovi and abhanga poetry telling of her devotion to Vithoba and her struggle to balance her piety with her profession. In her poetry, she implores Vithoba to be her saviour and release her from the clutches of her profession. About thirty of her abhangas have survived, and continue to be sung today. She is the only female Varkari saint to have attained sainthood based solely on her devotion, without the support of any guru, male Varkari saint, or parampara (tradition or lineage).
Radha Swami Satsang, Dinod (RSSD) is an Indian spiritual organisation with its headquarters in Dinod village in the Bhiwani district of Haryana state. It promotes the Radha Soami sect that was founded by Shiv Dayal Singh on Basant-Panchami day (a spring festival) in January 1861. The Radha Swami Satsang at Dinod (RSSD) was founded by Tarachand.
Karaikal Ammaiyar (born Punītavatī), meaning “The Revered Mother of Karaikal”, is one of the three women amongst the 63 Nayanmars and one of the greatest figures of early Tamil literature. She was born in Karaikal, South India, and probably lived during the 5th century AD. She was a devotee of Shiva.
Khatkhate Baba (1859–1930) was a Kashmiri saint alleged to have had divine powers.In Kashmir it is believed that an abode of Shiva has in the course of time produced a number of holy men, saints, ascetics and sages with supernatural powers to perform miracles, who had innumerable followers venerating them. One such outstanding holy man was Pt. Shiv Prasad Choudhari, who after attaining sainthood became popular as Khatkhate Baba among his very large number of devotees.His samadhi at Etawah is a pilgrimage centre.
Kirpal Singh (6 February 1894 – 21 August 1974) was a spiritual master (satguru) in the tradition of Radha Soami.Kirpal Singh was born in Sayyad Kasran, Punjab, in what is now Pakistan. He lived in Lahore during the period of his discipleship and attained a high position in the bureaucracy as a deputy comptroller of military accounts.
He was the President of the World Fellowship of Religions, an organization recognized by UNESCO, which had representatives from all the main religions of the world. Beginning with the publication of Gurmat Sidhant, authored by him in the late 1930s and published under his Guru’s name, during the period of his ministry he published many books and circulars that were translated into numerous languages.
The teaching of the Surat Shabd Yoga is a path of personal spiritual attainment under the guidance of a living spiritual master. The basic teachings consist in opening the inner eye or third eye to develop vision of inner light and inner sound. This is considered to be the power of the unmanifested Godhead coming into expression and is called Word in the Bible, and Naam, Shabd, Om, Kalma, and other names in the other scriptures. Kirpal Singh taught that the practice of meditation on the Divine Word, or the Yoga of the Sound Current (Surat Shabd Yoga) was at the spiritual base of all religions.
Thirumuruga Kirupanandha Variyar (1906–1993) was a Shaivite spiritual teacher from India. He was a Murugan devotee who helped rebuild and complete the works on many of the temples across the state. He is known for his discourses on various Shaivite legends.
Coming into prominence at the time when the atheist movement was running hot in the state of Tamil Nadu, he helped to sustain and re-establish Hinduism and Theism in the state. He has also scripted a movie, Siva Kavi. He used all possible mediums to spread Hinduism not restricting himself considering one as inferior and another as superior. In his Detroit discourse on Muruga’s kindness, he proposed that women’s name should also be added as an initial to the child’s name.He always insisted on discipline being as important to devotion saying one without the other would be fruitless. He is considered to be 64th nayanmar by the people of the state.
Swami Krishnananda Saraswati (25 April 1922 – 23 November 2001) was a disciple of Sivananda Saraswati and served as the General Secretary of the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh, India from 1958 until 2001. Author of more than 40 texts, and lecturing extensively, on yoga, religion, and metaphysics, Krishnananda was a prolific theologian, saint, yogi and philosopher.
Krishnananda was President of the Sivananda Literature Research Institute and the Sivananda Literature Dissemination Committee. He served as editor of the Divine Life Society’s monthly paper, Divine Life, for 20 years.
Swami Lakshman Joo (9 May 1907 – 27 September 1991) was a mystic and scholar of Kashmir Shaivism. He was known as Lal Sahib (“Friend of God”) by followers.
Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati (c. 1926–23 August 2008) and four of his disciples were murdered on 23 August 2008 in the State of Odisha in India. Saraswati was a Hindu monk and a Vishva Hindu Parishad leader. Seven tribal people of Christian religion and one Maoist leader were convicted in the case.
Lalleshwari, also known locally as Lal Ded (Kashmiri pronunciation: [laːl dʲad]; 1320–1392), was a Kashmiri mystic of the Kashmir Shaivism school of Hindu philosophy. She was the creator of the style of mystic poetry called vatsun or Vakhs, literally “speech” (from Sanskrit vaak). Known as Lal Vakhs, her verses are the earliest compositions in the Kashmiri language and are an important part in the history of modern Kashmiri literature.Lal Ded (“Mother Lal” or “Mother Lalla”) is also known by various other names, including Lal Dyad (Dyad means “Grandmother”), Lalla Aarifa, Lal Diddi, Lalleshwari, Lalla Yogishwari/Yogeshwari and Lalishri.
Madhavdev (1489–1596) (Pron: ˈʃrɪ ˈʃrɪ ˈmɑ:dəbˌdeɪv) is an important preceptor of the Ekasarana Dharma known for his loyalty to his guru, Srimanta Sankardev as well as his artistic brilliance. Initially a sakta worshipper, he was converted to Ekasarana Dharma by Sankardev and became his most prominent disciple. He became the religious as well as artistic successor of Sankardeva after the latter’s death in 1568. He is known particularly for his book of hymns, the Naam Ghosa, as well as a large selection of songs called Borgeets.
Mahant Swami Maharaj
Mahant Swami Maharaj (born Vinu Patel, 13 September 1933; ordained Keshavjivandas Swami) is the present guru and president of the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a major branch of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya, a Hindu denomination.: 157 BAPS regards him as the sixth spiritual successor of Swaminarayan, following Gunatitanand Swami, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj, and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.: 60–2 He is believed by his followers to be in constant communion with Bhagwan Swaminarayan, and ontologically, the manifestation of Akshar, the perfect devotee of God.: 46–7 Mahant Swami Maharaj received initiation as a Hindu swami from Yogiji Maharaj in 1961. Mahant Swami Maharaj was revealed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj as his future spiritual and administrative successor in 2012, roles he commenced upon Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s passing in August 2016.
Mangayarkkarasiyar (Tamil:மங்கையர்க்கரசியார்) was one of the 63 Nayanmars or holy Saivite saints who are revered in South India. She is one among the only three women who attained this distinction. Her devotion to Lord Shiva is recounted in the hagiographic poem Periyapuranam compiled by Sekkizhar as well as in the Tiruthhthondar Thogai written by the poet-saint Sundarar.
Manik Prabhu Maharaj was an Indian Hindu saint, philosopher, poet and guru. He is also regarded as an incarnation of Dattatreya by the people of Datta Sampraday. Prabhu’s philosophy, the Sakala mata Siddhanta rests on the principles of Advaita Vedanta as propagated by Adi Sankara. Shri Prabhu strongly advocated the essential oneness of all religions. Prabhu’s Muslim devotees revered him as an incarnation of Mehboob Subhani whereas his Lingayat devotees saw him as a form of Basavanna. Shri Prabhu composed numerous bhajans and padas in various languages such as Marathi, Kannada, Hindi, Urdu and Sanskrit. Shri Prabhu was also associated with the First War of Indian Independence in 1857. Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi, Shri Swami Samarth of Akkalkot, Shri Bramhachaitanya of Gondavale and many other contemporary saints are believed to have visited Maniknagar to interact with Prabhu on matters of deep spiritual wisdom. Biographers refer to Shri Prabhu as a saint of great spirituality and mysticism. Shri Prabhu’s teachings emphasize the path of Bhakti. He also moralized on the vedantic truths concerning the spiritual unity of beings. Manik Nagar, Humnabad, Bidar District is the place where he took sanjeevani samadhi. Shri Prabhu’s samadhi at Maniknagar is the nucleus of Manik Nagar and acts as the spiritual center of the activities of Shri Manik Prabhu Samsthan.
Master C. V. V.
Master Canchupati Venkata Rao Venkatasami Rao, popularly known as Master C.V.V. (4 August 1868 – 12 May 1922) was an Indian philosopher, yogi, and guru. Master C.V.V served as the Chairman of Kumbakonam Municipal Council for some time and later became a spiritual reformer, introducing his visions on human progress and spiritual evolution.
Matsyendranātha, also known as Matsyendra, Macchindranāth, Mīnanātha and Minapa (early 10th century) was a saint and yogi in a number of Buddhist and Hindu traditions. He is traditionally considered the revivalist of hatha yoga as well as the author of some of its earliest texts. He is also seen as the founder of the natha sampradaya, having received the teachings from Shiva. He is especially associated with Kaula Shaivism. He is also one of the eighty-four mahasiddhas and considered the guru of Gorakshanath, another important figure in early hatha yoga. He is revered by both Hindus and Buddhists and is sometimes regarded as an incarnation of Avalokiteśvara.
Maharshi Mehi Paramhans is a saint in the tradition of Sant Mat. He was usually known as ‘Gurumaharaj’. He was the guru of ‘Akhil Bhartiye Santmat Satsang’. He studied Vedas, main Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible, different sutras of Buddhism, the Quran, saint’s literature and from this assessed that the essential teaching contained in all of these is one and the same. He gave one and easiest method to get ‘Moksha’. They are ‘Satsang’ and ‘Dhyan'(Meditation). Mehi was a direct disciple of Baba Devi Sahab of Muradabad, Uttar Pradesh.
Mirra Alfassa (21 February 1878 – 17 November 1973), known to her followers as The Mother or La Mère, was a spiritual guru, occultist and yoga teacher, and a collaborator of Sri Aurobindo, who considered her to be of equal yogic stature to him and called her by the name “The Mother”. She founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and established the town of Auroville; she was influential on the subject of Integral Yoga.
Mirra Alfassa (Mother) was born in Paris in 1878 to a Sephardi Jewish bourgeois family. In her youth, she traveled to Algeria to practice occultism along with Max Théon. After returning, while living in Paris, she guided a group of spiritual seekers. In 1914, she traveled to Pondicherry, India and met Sri Aurobindo and found in him “the dark Asiatic figure” of whom she had had visions and called him Krishna. During this first visit, she helped publish a French version of the periodical Arya, which serialized most of Sri Aurobindo’s post-political prose writings. During the First World war she was obliged to leave Pondicherry. After a 4-year stay in Japan, in 1920 she returned to Pondicherry for good. Gradually, as more and more people joined her and Sri Aurobindo, she organised and developed Sri Aurobindo Ashram. In 1943, she started a school in the ashram and in 1968 established Auroville, an experimental township dedicated to human unity and evolution. She died on 17 November 1973 in Pondicherry.
Satprem, who was one of her followers, captured the last thirty years of Alfassa’s life in the 13-volume work, Mother’s Agenda.
Morari Bapu (Moraridas Prabhudas Hariyani) is an Indian spiritual leader and preacher from Gujarat who is known for his discourses on Ramcharitmanas across various cities in India and abroad.
Mother Meera, born Kamala Reddy (born 26 December 1960) is believed by her devotees to be an embodiment (Avatar) of the Divine Mother (Shakti or Devi).
Muktabai or Mukta was a saint in the Varkari Movement. She was born in a Deshastha Brahmin family and was the younger sister of Dnyaneshwar, the first Varkari saint. She wrote forty-one abhangs throughout her life.
Muktanand Swami (1758–1830), born Mukunddas, was a swami and paramahansa of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya.
Swami Muktananda Paramahaamsa (16 May 1908 – 2 October 1982), born Krishna Rai, was a yoga guru, the founder of Siddha Yoga. He was a disciple of Bhagavan Nityananda. He wrote books on the subjects of Kundalini Shakti, Vedanta, and Kashmir Shaivism, including a spiritual autobiography entitled The Play of Consciousness. In honorific style, he is often referred to as Swami Muktananda, or Baba Muktananda, or in a familiar way just Baba.
Shri Sant Namdev Maharaj (Pronunciation: [naːmdeʋ]), also transliterated as Nam Dayv, Namdeo, Namadeva, (traditionally, c. 26 October 1270 – c. 3 July 1350) was a Marathi Vaishnav saint from Narsi, Hingoli, Maharashtra, India within the Varkari tradition of Hinduism. He lived as a devotee of Lord Vitthal of Pandharpur. He is widely regarded as the founder of Varkari tradition.
Namdev was influenced by Vaishnavism and became widely known in India for his devotional songs set to music (bhajan-kirtans). His philosophy contains both nirguna brahman and saguna brahman elements, with monistic themes. Namdev’s legacy is remembered in modern times in the Varkari tradition, along with those of other gurus, with masses of people walking together in biannual pilgrimages to Pandharpur in Maharashtra. He is also recognised in the North Indian traditions of the Dadu Panthis, Kabir Panthis and Sikhs.Some hymns of Shri Sant Namdev are included in the Guru Granth Sahib.
Shree Narasimha Saraswati Swami Or Shree Nrusimha Saraswati Swami (1378−1459) was an Indian guru of Dattatreya tradition(sampradaya). According to the Shri GuruCharitra, he is the second avatar of Dattatreya in Kali Yuga after Sripada Sri Vallabha.
Narayan Maharaj (20 May 1885 – 3 September 1945) was a Hindu Indian spiritual master considered by his followers to be a sadguru. He lived in the village of Kedgaon , east of the Indian city of Pune.
Narayana Guru, IPA: [nɑːrɑːjɐɳɐ guˈru], (20 August 1856 – 20 September 1928) was a philosopher, spiritual leader and social reformer in India. He led a reform movement against the injustice in the caste-ridden society of Kerala in order to promote spiritual enlightenment and social equality.
Tapomurti Sadguru Shastri Swami Shri Narayanprasaddasji (born Girdhar Radadiya; ordained Shastri Swami Narayanprasaddasji, January 14, 1921 – January 30, 2018), also known as Tapomurti Shastri Swami and Guruji by his devotees, was one of the most noted Swami of the Swaminarayan Sampraday who has done a notable work for the Swaminarayan sect. he is also considered as one of the legendary Hindu saints of India.
Narottama Dasa Thakura (c. 1466; date of death unknown), also known as Thakura Mahasaya, was a Gaudiya Vaishnava saint who was responsible for spreading Vaishnava bhakti throughout Odisha in and outside of Bengal in India. Narottama Dasa was the son of King Krishnananda Datta and Narayani Devi who resided in Gopalpur Pargana of the Rajshahi district of Bangladesh. According to some, after the death of his father he entrusted his royal duties to the eldest paternal uncle’s son and left for Vrindavana.
Narsinh Mehta, also known as Narsinh Bhagat, was a 15th-century poet-saint of Gujarat, India, honored as the first poet, or Adi Kavi, of the Gujarati language. Narsinh Mehta is member of Nagar Brahman community. Narsinh became a devotee of Krishna, and dedicated his life to composing poetic works described as bhakti, or devotion towards Krishna. His bhajans have remained popular in Gujarat and Rajasthan for over 5 centuries. Most notably, his composition Vaishnav Jan To was Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite and became popular with freedom fighters across India.
Nayakanahatti Thipperudra Swamy
Nayakanahatti Thipperudra Swamy, (c. 15th or 16th century), also referred as Tippeswamy, Thippeswamy or Thippeswami, was an Indian Hindu spiritual Guru, and social reformer. He is revered by both his Hindu and Muslim devotees.
He preached that Kayakave Kailasa (Work is worship) and that Maadidashtu Needu Bhikshe (Your reward will be as per your work).
The Nayanars (or Nayanmars; Tamil: நாயன்மார், romanized: Nāyaṉmār, lit. ’hounds of Siva’, and later ‘teachers of Shiva ) were a group of 63 Tamil Hindu saints living during the 6th to 8th centuries CE who were devoted to the Hindu god Shiva. Along with the Alvars, their contemporaries who were devoted to Vishnu, they influenced the Bhakti movement in early medieval South India. The names of the Nayanars were first compiled by Sundarar. The list was expanded by Nambiyandar Nambi during his compilation of material by the poets for the Tirumurai collection, and would include Sundarar himself and Sundarar’s parents.The Nalvar (lit. ’The Four’) are the four foremost Nayanars Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar and Manikkavaasagar.
Neem Karoli Baba
Neem Karoli Baba (Hindi: नीम करौली बाबा, romanized: nīm karaulī bābā) or Neeb Karori Baba (Hindi: नीब करौरी बाबा, romanized: nīb karaurī bābā) (c. 1900 – 11 September 1973), known to his followers as Maharaj-ji, was a Hindu guru and a devotee of the Hindu deity Hanuman. He is known outside India for being the spiritual master of a number of Americans who travelled to India in the 1960s and 70s, the most well-known being the spiritual teachers Ram Dass and Bhagavan Das, and the musicians Krishna Das and Jai Uttal. His ashrams are in Kainchi, Vrindavan, Rishikesh, Shimla, Neem Karoli village near Khimasepur in Farrukhabad, Bhumiadhar, Hanumangarhi, and Delhi in India and in Taos, New Mexico, United States.
Nimbarkacharya (Sanskrit: निम्बार्काचार्य, romanized: Nimbārkāchārya) (c. 1130 – c. 1200), also known as Nimbarka, Nimbaditya or Niyamananda, was a Hindu philosopher, theologian and the chief proponent of the theology of Dvaitadvaita (dvaita–advaita) or dualistic–non-dualistic. He played a major role in spreading the worship of the divine couple Radha and Krishna, and founded Nimbarka Sampradaya, one of four main traditions of Hindu sect Vaishnavism.Nimbarka is believed to have lived around the 11th and 12th centuries, but this dating has been questioned, suggesting that he lived somewhat earlier than Shankaracharya, in the 6th or 7th century CE. Born in Southern India in a Telugu Brahmin family, he spent most of his life in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. He is sometimes identified with another philosopher named Bhaskara, but this is considered to be a misconception due to the differences between the spiritual views of the two saints.
Niranjanananda (Senior), born as Nitya Niranjan Ghosh, usually called by the shortened name of Niranjan, was one of the foremost monks of Ramakrishna Mission and was one of the direct monastic disciples of Ramakrishna. Niranjanananda was one of those few disciples, whom Ramakrishna termed as “Nityasiddhas” or “Ishwarakotis” – that is, souls who are ever perfect.
[Niranjanananda is termed Senior since there was another swami, Niranjanananda (Junior) also known as Pandalai Maharaj, later in the Ramakrishna Mission who died in 1972].
Even though his tenure with the newly formed Ramakrishna Mission was short-lived owing to his early death, he left an indelible mark in spiritual and philanthropic activities. He had a majestic appearance, being tall with broad shoulders and strong physique.
Nirmala Srivastava (née Nirmala Salve; 21 March 1923 – 23 February 2011), also known as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, was the founder and guru of Sahaja Yoga, a new religious movement sometimes classified as a cult. She claimed to have been born fully realised and spent her life working for peace by developing and promoting a simple technique through which people can achieve their self-realization.
Nisargadatta Maharaj (born Maruti Shivrampant Kambli; 17 April 1897 – 8 September 1981) was an Indian guru of nondualism, belonging to the Inchagiri Sampradaya, a lineage of teachers from the Navnath Sampradaya and Lingayat Shaivism.
The publication in 1973 of I Am That, an English translation of his talks in Marathi by Maurice Frydman, brought him worldwide recognition and followers, especially from North America and Europe.
Nishkulanand Swami (1766–1848) was a paramhansa and swami of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya.
Nityānanda (Nityānanda; born circa 1474), also called Nitai, was a primary religious figure within the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition of Bengal. Nitai was Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s friend and disciple. They are often mentioned together as Gaura-Nitai (Gaura, “golden one”, referring to Chaitanya, Nitai being a shortened form of Nityānanda Rama) or Nimai-Nitai (Nimai being another name of Chaitanya). Followers often refer to Nityānanda as “Sri Nityananda”, “Prabhu Nityananda” or “Nityananda Rama”.
According to Gaudiya-Vaishnava tradition, Nityānanda is an incarnation of Balarama, with Chaitanya being his eternal brother and friend, Krishna. He is considered the “most merciful” incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (a term popularised by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami).
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati writes: “Nityananda is the Primary Manifestive Constituent of the Divinity. Nityananda alone possesses the distinctive function of the guru. In Nityananda, the function is embodied. Nityananda is the Primary Manifestive Constituent of the Divinity. Nityananda alone possesses the distinctive function of the guru. In Nityananda, the function is embodied. Nityananda is the servant-God.”
Om Swami is a spiritual leader and bestselling author who resides in his ashram in the Himalayan foothills. He is the founder of the Black Lotus App and os.me, a writing platform. Before renunciation, he was a successful tech entrepreneur. Swami is the bestselling author of more than fifteen books on meditation, wellness, and spirituality, such as Kundalini: An Untold Story, The Wellness Sense, and If Truth Be Told: A Monk’s Memoir. He has also documented his experiences on meditation for over 15,000 hours in his well-received book A Million Thoughts.
Pant Maharaj (3 September 1855 – 16 October 1905), born Dattatreya Ramchandra Kulkarni, was a Hindu yogi and guru in the Belgavi region of India and is regarded by his devotees as a saint and an incarnation of Dattatreya.
Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari (24 July 1927 – 20 December 2014) better known as Chariji, was the third in the line of Raja Yoga Masters in the Sahaj Marg System of Spiritual Practice of Shri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM).
Pavhari Baba (1798-1898) was a Hindu ascetic and saint. He was born in Premapur, Jaunpur in a Brahmin family. In his childhood he went to Ghazipur to study under the tutelage of his uncle who was a follower of Ramanuja or Shri sect . After finishing his studies he travelled to many places. At Girnar in Kathiawar he was initiated into Yoga.He then came back to Ghazipur and built an underground hermitage in his house where he used to practise meditation and Yoga for days. He was noted for his humility, politeness and spirit of welfare. One night a thief entered his hermitage. When the thief ran away leaving the stolen things behind, as Pavhari Baba had woken up from sleep, he chased the thief and offered him the things he stole from his house. The incident had deep impact on the thief who later became a monk and a follower of Pavhari Baba.
In 1890 Swami Vivekananda went to Ghazipur and met him. According to Sister Nivedita, Baba died by burning in 1898, which is considered as self-immolation.
Potuluri Veerabrahmendhra swami varu (popularly known as Brahmam garu), was an Indian Hindu saint, who lived in gadapa (now- use kadapa) Andhra Pradesh region. He is most notable in Andhra for his work Kalagnanam, a book of predictions written in Telugu somewhere around 16th century. It forecasts many incidents which are proved to be correct by the posterity. His prophetic texts in Kalagnanam are the Govinda Vakyas and Jeevaikya Bodha.
Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar
Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar (21 May 1921 – 21 October 1990), also known by his spiritual name Shrii Shrii Ánandamúrti (Ánanda Múrti=”Bliss Embodiment”), and known as Bábá (“Father”) to his disciples, was a spiritual Guru, philosopher, social reformer, linguist, author and composer of 5018 songs mostly in the Bengali language. He founded Ananda Marga (the Path of Bliss) in 1955 as a spiritual and social organisation that continues to offer instruction in meditation and yoga. and runs numerous social service and disaster relief projects throughout the world.
Sarkar developed his system of spiritual practice as a synthesis of Vedic and Tantric philosophies. He denounced religious dogmas, casteism, materialism and capitalism, considering all of these as impediments to social harmony, progress and spiritual growth. He described the universe as a manifestation of consciousness coming under the bondage of its own nature, resulting in creation. His spiritual and social philosophies embraced diversity as the law of nature; a result of Singular Consciousness expressing itself in numerous forms. Sarkar advocated for the welfare of humans and the planet through his socio-economic philosophy of Prout, which is rooted in the idea of Neohumanism, a worldview based on inter-connectedness of all beings.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj
Pramukh Swami Maharaj (born Shantilal Patel; ordained Narayanswarupdas Swami; 7 December 1921 – 13 August 2016) was the guru and Pramukh, or president, of the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a major branch of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya, a Hindu denomination. BAPS regards him as the fifth spiritual successor of Swaminarayan, following Gunatitanand Swami, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shastriji Maharaj, and Yogiji Maharaj. He was believed by his followers to be in constant communion with Swaminarayan, and ontologically, the manifestation of Akshar, the eternal abode of Swaminarayan.He received initiation as a Hindu Swami in 1940 from Shastriji Maharaj, the founder of BAPS, who later appointed him as President of BAPS in 1950. Yogiji Maharaj declared Pramukh Swami Maharaj to be his spiritual successor and guru of BAPS, a role he commenced in 1971.
As president of BAPS, he had overseen the growth of BAPS from an organization centered in Gujarat, India, to one spread around the world, maintaining many Hindu mandirs and centers outside of India. He built more than 1,100 Hindu temples, including the Swaminarayan Akshardham temples in New Delhi and Gandhinagar, Gujarat. He had also spearheaded the efforts of BAPS Charities, which is the charitable service organization affiliated with BAPS. He was succeeded as the guru and president of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha by Mahant Swami Maharaj.
Pranavānanda Saraswati (Swami Pranavananda; 28 August 1908 – 28 August 1982) known previously as N. Ponniah was a founding member of the Divine Life Society in Malaysia.
Prem Pal Singh Rawat (born 10 December 1957), formerly known as Maharaji, is an international speaker and book-author. His teachings include a meditation practice he calls “Knowledge”, and peace education based on the discovery of personal resources such as inner strength, choice, appreciation and hope.Prem Rawat is the youngest son of Hans Ram Singh Rawat, an Indian guru and the founder of the Divya Sandesh Parishad, later known as Divine Light Mission (DLM). After his father’s death, eight-year-old Prem Rawat assumed his role. At 13, he traveled to the West and took up residence in the United States. When young adults took interest in his message, the movement grew by tens of thousands. Many in the news media were perplexed by his youth and claims of divine status; he was also criticized for a lack of intellectual content in his public discourses, and for leading an opulent lifestyle.Prem Rawat’s marriage at the age of 16 to a non-Indian severed his relationship with his mother. At that point, the Indian branch of DLM controlled by his mother split from DLM everywhere else; at that point it was established in 55 countries. In the early 1980s, he began to discard references to religion in his speeches and closed the ashrams. The name of the DLM was changed to Elan Vital. Since that time, Prem Rawat has continued to travel extensively, speaking about peace to large and select audiences worldwide. On several occasions he has received recognition for his work and message of peace.
In 2001 he established The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) to support his work and humanitarian efforts. Its Peace Education Program is licensed and utilized by correctional facilities and other service organizations around the world.
Puran Puri (Hindi: पूरन पुरी, alternative spellings Purana Poori or Praun Poory) was an 18th-century sanyasi monk and traveller from India, who travelled from Central India to Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Middle East, Moscow and Tibet. He was a Khatri or Rajput, born c.1742 in the city of Kannauj in what is now the modern-day state of Uttar Pradesh in India.
Jagadguru Ramanandacharya Swami Rambhadracharya (born Pandit Giridhar on 14 January 1950) is an Indian Hindu spiritual leader, educator, Sanskrit scholar, polyglot, poet, author, textual commentator, philosopher, composer, singer, playwright and Katha artist based in Chitrakoot, India. He is one of four incumbent Jagadguru Ramanandacharya, and has held this title since 1988.Rambhadracharya is the founder and head of Tulsi Peeth, a religious and social service institution in Chitrakoot named after Saint Tulsidas. He is the founder and lifelong chancellor of the Jagadguru Rambhadracharya Handicapped University in Chitrakoot, which offers graduate and postgraduate courses exclusively to four types of disabled students. Rambhadracharya has been blind since the age of two months, had no formal education until the age of seventeen years, and has never used Braille or any other aid to learn or compose.Rambhadracharya can speak 22 languages and is a spontaneous poet and writer in Sanskrit, Hindi, Awadhi, Maithili, and several other languages. He has authored more than 100 books and 50 papers, including four epic poems, Hindi commentaries on Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas and Hanuman Chalisa, a Sanskrit commentary in verse on the Ashtadhyayi, and Sanskrit commentaries on the Prasthanatrayi scriptures. He is acknowledged for his knowledge in diverse fields including Sanskrit grammar, Nyaya and Vedanta. He is regarded as one of the greatest authorities on Tulsidas in India, and is the editor of a critical edition of the Ramcharitmanas. He is a Katha artist for the Ramayana and the Bhagavata. His Katha programmes are held regularly in different cities in India and other countries, and are telecast on television channels like Shubh TV, Sanskar TV and Sanatan TV. He is also a leader of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP).
Baba Ramdev (or Ramdevji, or Ramdeo Pir, Ramsha Pir (1352–1385 AD; V.S. 1409–1442) is a Hindu deity of Gujarat and Rajasthan, India. He was a fourteenth-century ruler, said to have miraculous powers, who devoted his life uplifting the downtrodden and poor people. He is worshiped by many social groups of India as Ishta-deva.
Radhanath Swami (IAST: Rādhānātha Svāmī) (born 7 December 1950) is an American Gaudiya Vaishnava guru, community-builder, activist, and author. He has been a Bhakti Yoga practitioner and a spiritual teacher for more than 40 years. He is the inspiration behind ISKCON’s free midday meal for 1.2 million school kids across India, and he has been instrumental in founding the Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Mumbai. He works largely from Mumbai and travels extensively throughout Europe and America. In the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), he serves as a member of the Governing Body Commission. Steven J. Rosen described Radhanath Swami as a “saintly person respected by the mass of ISKCON devotees today.”
Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami
Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami (1505–1579) was a well known follower of the Vaishnava saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and member of the influential Gaudiya Vaishnava group collectively known as the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan. He is regarded by followers in the Gaudiya tradition as an ideal practitioner of the Bhakti yoga system.
Rajinder Singh (20 September 1946 in Delhi, India) is the head of the international non-profit organization Science of Spirituality (SOS), known in India as the Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission. To his disciples he is known as Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj. Singh is internationally recognized for his work toward promoting inner and outer peace through spirituality and meditation on the inner Light and Sound.
Rakeshprasad (Devnagari: राकेशप्रसाद्जी; born 23 July 1966) is a Hindu spiritual leader. He is regarded by the devpaksh faction as the disputed leader of the LaxmiNarayan Dev Gadi. Rakeshprasadji has interests in Sanskrit and Prakrit literature on religion, and that he has established temples and consecrated idols in them.An order by the Gujarat High Court restrained Ajendraprasadji Maharaj from acting as Acharya. This was a temporary order until the concluding court case. Ajendraprasad disputed this and filed a review petition in the Gujarat High Court. A satsang mahasabha headed by monks namely, Nautam Swami, self-appointed Rakeshprasad as their leader. Ajendraprasad’s main ideology was that monks of the fellowship should stay in their prescribed rules and regulations. Especially after some monks had turned towards murdering fellow monks. Ajendraprasad at the time was firm and strong furied many monks to dispose of him.Many of the sects followers, particularly in the siddhant paksh and outside of India, regard Ajendraprasad as acharya of the LaxmiNarayan Dev Gadi. Ajendraprasad is present in Vadtals Raghuveer Vadi; however, the courts are still unclear as to the genuine acharya.
Raghuttama Tirtha (Sanskrit:रघूत्तम तीर्थ); IAST:Śrī Raghūttama Tīrtha) (c. 1548 – c. 1596), was an Indian philosopher, scholar, theologian and saint. He was also known as Bhavabodhacharya (Bhāvabodhacārya). His diverse oeuvre include commentaries on the works of Madhva and Jayatirtha. He served as the fourteenth pontiff of Madhvacharya Peetha – Uttaradi Math from 1557 to 1595, which he occupied, with remarkable distinction for thirty-nine years. He is considered to be one of the most important seers in the history of Dvaita school of thought. His shrine at Tirukoilur attracts thousands of visitors every year.Born in an aristocratic Brahmin family, but was brought up in mutt under the direction of Raghuvarya Tirtha. He composed 11 works, consisting of commentaries on the works of Madhva, Jayatirtha and Vyasatirtha in the form of Bhāvabodhas elaborating upon the Dvaita thought.
Ram Chandra (Babuji)
Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur (1899-1983), also known as Babuji, was a yogi from Uttar Pradesh in northern India. He spent most of his life developing a method of Raja Yoga meditation called Sahaj Marg. He founded an organization called Shri Ram Chandra Mission in 1945, dedicated and named after his teacher, who was also called Ram Chandra.
Ramthakur (Bengali: শ্রীশ্রী রামঠাকুর) (2 February 1860 – 1 May 1949), born Ram Chandra Chakraborty (Bengali: রাম চন্দ্র চক্রবর্তী), was an Indian mystic, yogi and spiritual master during 19th-century India.
Swami Rama Tirtha pronunciation (Punjabi: ਸਵਾਮੀ ਰਾਮਤੀਰਥ, Hindi: स्वामी रामतीर्थ 22 October 1873 – 17 October 1906), also known as Ram Soami, was an Indian teacher of the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta. He was among the first notable teachers of Hinduism to lecture in the United States, travelling there in 1902, preceded by Swami Vivekananda in 1893 and followed by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920. During his American tours Swami Rama Tirtha spoke frequently on the concept of ‘practical Vedanta’ and education of Indian youth. He proposed bringing young Indians to American universities and helped establish scholarships for Indian students.
Thiruvarutprakasa Vallalār Chidambaram Ramalingam (5 October 1823 – 30 January 1874), commonly known in India and across the world as Vallalār, Ramalinga Swamigal and Ramalinga Adigal, was one of the most famous Tamil Saints and also one of the greatest Tamil poets of the 19th century and belongs to a line of Tamil saints known as “gnana siddhars” (gnana means higher wisdom).
The Samarasa Suddha Sanmarga Sathiya Sangam was spread and passed on by him not only in theory but mainly in practice by his own way of living which by itself is an inspiration for his followers. Through the notion of Suddha Sanmarga Sangam, the saint endeavored to eliminate the caste system. According to Suddha Sanmarga, the prime aspects of human life should be love connected with charity and divine practice leading to achievement of pure knowledge.
Ramalinga advocated the concept of worshipping the flame of a lighted lamp as a symbol of the eternal power.
Sadhak Rāmprasād Sen (Bengali: রামপ্রসাদ সেন; c. 1718 or c. 1723 – c. 1775) was a Hindu Shakta poet and saint of eighteenth century Bengal. His bhakti poems, known as Ramprasadi, are still popular in Bengal—they are usually addressed to the Hindu goddess Kali and written in Bengali. Stories of Ramprasad’s life typically include legends and myths mixed with biographical details.It is said that, Ramprasad was born into a Bengali Baidya Brahmin family, and showed an inclination towards poetry from an early age. He was highly influenced by Krishnananda Agamavagisha, a Tantric scholar and yogi. Ramprasad became well known for his devotional songs. His life has been the subject of many stories depicting his devotion to, and relationship with, Kali. Ramprasad’s literary works include Vidyasundar, Kali-kirtana, Krishna-kirtana and Shaktigiti.
Ramprasad is credited with creating a new compositional form that combined the Bengali folk style of Baul music with classical melodies and kirtan. The new style took root in Bengali culture with many poet-composers combining folk and raga-based melodies, mixing every common style of music from classical to semi-classical and folk. His songs are sung today, with a popular collection—Ramprasadi Sangit (“Songs of Ramprasad”)—sold at Shakta temples and pithas in Bengal.
Ravidas or Raidas was an Indian mystic poet-saint of the Bhakti movement during the 15th to 16th century CE. Venerated as a guru (teacher) in the modern regions of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana, he was a poet, social reformer and spiritual figure.
The life details of Ravidas are uncertain and contested. Scholars believe he was born in 1450 CE. He taught removal of social divisions of caste and gender, and promoted unity in the pursuit of personal spiritual freedom.
Ravidas’s devotional verses were included in the Sikh scriptures known as Guru Granth Sahib. The Panch Vani text of the Dadu Panthi tradition within Hinduism also includes numerous poems of Ravidas. He is also the central figure within the Ravidassia religious movement.
Rupa Goswami (Sanskrit: रूप गोस्वामी, Bengali: রূপ গোস্বামী, IAST: Rūpa Gosvāmī; 1489–1564) was a devotional teacher (guru), poet, and philosopher of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. With his brother Sanatana Goswami, he is considered the most senior of the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan associated with Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a hidden avatar (incarnation) of Krishna in Kali Yuga.
Sant Rampal Ji Maharaj
Rampal (born Rampal Singh Jatain on 8 September 1951) is an Indian religious leader of the Kabir Panth religious domination. He is a disciple of Swami Ramdevanand, a local seer and Hindu saint from the Garib Das Panth sect; in 1994, Swami Ramdevanand selected him as his successor, causing Rampal to quit his job as a junior engineer. He and his followers established Satlok Ashram in 1999 in Rohtak, Haryana and would go on to start several other ashrams in Jhajjar and Rohtak.In 2006, Rampal publicly objected to certain parts of Satyarth Prakash, a central book of Arya Samaj. In July 2006, a violent confrontation between the followers of Arya Samaj and the supporters of Rampal took place at the Satlok Ashram, leading to the death of an Arya Samaj follower. Rampal was accused of triggering the confrontation and charged and arrested for murder. After 21 months in jail, he was released on bail in 2008.However, in 2014, authorities again ordered his arrest on contempt charges after Rampal repeatedly failed to appear in court. Police then attempted to storm the Satlok Ashram, where they violently clashed with Rampal’s followers, trying to prevent his arrest. The standoff between the police and his followers would injure multiple people, including those from media crews, and six people were killed during the week-long siege. Afterwards, Rampal was arrested and taken to Chandigarh to be tried. The alleged saint was acquitted of charges on 20th December 2022.Rampal was charged with wrong confinement, murder, sedition, among other charges. In 2018, he and 26 of his followers were found guilty of murder (among other offences) and were sentenced to life imprisonment for the six deaths during the 2014 standoff.
Pt. Sahadeo Tiwari (Trinidadian Hindustani: सहदेव तिवारी) was born in the village of Sarwan in Arwal district, Bihar, India on 25 February 1892. He came to Trinidad and Tobago as an indentured laborer in 1912 upon the vessel SS Sutlej, and later married Sunbass Tiwari (not related). This marriage according to his daughter Kanti, produced two sons: Ramakant and Surrindra and, five daughters: Maianti, Shanti, Savitri, Kanti, and Reanti.
Samarth Ramdas (c. 1608 – c. 1681), also known as Sant Ramdas or Ramdas Swami, was an Indian Hindu saint, philosopher, poet, writer and spiritual master. He was a devotee of the Hindu deities Rama and Hanuman.
Sanatana Goswami (Sanskrit: सनातन गोस्वामी, IAST: Sanātana Gosvāmī; Bengali: সনাতন গোস্বামী; 1488–1558) was a principal follower of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Sanatana wrote a number of important works in the bhakti tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and was the seniormost of the influential Six Goswamis of Vrindavan, among whom was his brother Rupa Goswami.
Srimanta Sankardev (শ্ৰীমন্ত শংকৰদেৱ; , Assamese pronunciation: [sɹimɔntɔ xɔŋkɔɹdew]; 1449–1568) was a 15th–16th century Assamese polymath; a saint-scholar, poet, playwright, dancer, actor, musician, artist social-religious reformer and a figure of importance in the cultural and religious history of Assam, India. He is widely credited with building on past cultural relics and devising new forms of music (Borgeet), theatrical performance (Ankia Naat, Bhaona), dance (Sattriya), literary language (Brajavali). Besides, he has left an extensive literary oeuvre of trans-created scriptures (Bhagavat of Sankardev), poetry and theological works written in Sanskrit, Assamese and Brajavali. The Bhagavatic religious movement he started, Ekasarana Dharma and also called Neo-Vaishnavite movement, influenced two medieval kingdoms – Koch and the Ahom kingdom – and the assembly of devotees he initiated evolved over time into monastic centers called Sattras, which continue to be important socio-religious institutions in Assam and to a lesser extent in North Bengal. Sankardev inspired the Bhakti movement in Assam just as Guru Nanak, Ramananda, Namdev, Kabir, Basava and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu inspired it elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent.
His literary and artistic contributions are living traditions in Assam today. The religion he preached is practised by a large population, and Sattras (monasteries) that he and his followers established continue to flourish and sustain his legacy.
Sant Charandas was a major Hindu religious teacher in Delhi during the eighteenth century.
Soyarabai was a saint from the Mahar caste in 14th-century Maharashtra, India. She was a disciple of her husband, Chokhamela.Soyarabai framed large literature using blank verse of her own devising. She wrote much but only about 62 works are known. In her Abhang she refers to herself as Chokhamela’s Mahari, accuses god for forgetting Dalits and of making life bad. Her most basic verses concern the simple food she gives the god. Her poems describe her devotion towards god and voice her objections to untouchability.Soyarabai believed that “The body only can be impure or polluted, but the soul is ever clean, pure knowledge. The body is born unclean and so how can anybody claim to be pure in body? The body has much pollution. But the pollution of the body remains in the body. The soul is untouched by it.”Soyarabai undertook an annual pilgrimage to Pandharpur with her husband. They were harassed by orthodox Brahmins but never lost their faith and peace of mind.
Sarada Devi (Bengali: সারদা দেবী; Sharodā Debi ; 22 December 1853 – 20 July 1920), born Kshemankari / Thakurmani / Saradamani Mukhopadhyay, was the wife and spiritual consort of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a nineteenth-century Hindu mystic. Sarada Devi is also reverentially addressed as the Holy Mother (Sri Sri Maa) by the followers of the Sri Ramakrishna monastic order. The Sri Sarada Math and Ramakrishna Sarada Mission situated at Dakshineshwar is based on the ideals and life of Sarada Devi. She played an important role in the growth of the Ramakrishna Movement.
Sarada Devi was born in Joyrambati, a village in present-day Bankura District in the state of West Bengal, India. She was married to Ramakrishna in 1859 when she was only six years old and Ramakrishna was 23 years old, but remained with her family until she was 18, when she joined Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar Kali temple. According to her biographers, both lived “lives of unbroken continence, showing the ideals of a householder and of the monastic ways of life”. After Ramakrishna’s death, Sarada Devi stayed most of the time either at Joyrambati or at the Udbodhan office, Calcutta. The disciples of Ramakrishna regarded her as their own mother, and after their guru’s death looked to her for advice and encouragement. The followers of the Ramakrishna movement and a large section of devotees across the world worship Sarada Devi as an incarnation of the Adi Parashakti or the Divine Mother.
Satchidananda Saraswati (IAST: Saccidānanda Sarasvatī; 22 December 1914 – 19 August 2002), born C. K. Ramaswamy Gounder and usually known as Swami Satchidananda, was an Indian yoga guru and religious teacher, who gained fame and following in the West. He founded his own brand of Integral Yoga, and its spacious Yogaville headquarters in Virginia. He was the author of philosophical and spiritual books and had a core of founding disciples who compiled his translations and updated commentaries on traditional handbooks of yoga such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita for modern readers.
In 1991, multiple female members of staff made allegations of sexual manipulation and abuse, more coming forwards after an initial protest. No legal complaints were filed, and Satchidananda denied all accusations.
Satnarayan Maharaj , also known as Sat Maharaj, (pronounced [sət̪ənɑːrɑːjəɳə məɦɑːrɑːɟə]; April 17, 1931 – November 16, 2019) was a Trinidadian and Tobagonian Hindu religious leader, educationalist, and civil rights activist in Trinidad and Tobago. He was the Secretary-General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, a major Hindu organisation in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean.The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha operates 150 mandirs and over 50 schools in Trinidad and Tobago. It was formed in 1952 when Bhadase Sagan Maraj, the father-in-law of Satnarayan Maharaj, engineered the merger of the Satanan Dharma Association and the Sanatan Dharma Board of Control. An affiliated group, the Pundits’ Parishad, has 200 affiliated pundits. The organisation’s headquarters are located in St. Augustine.
Under the Secretary General Satnarayan Maharaj, the Maha Sabha has modernised all 42 schools and built 5 secondary schools as well as 12 early childhood educational centres. Maharaj has also revived the observance of Phagwah and was instrumental in the creation of the Indian Arrival Day holiday and annual celebrations. The Maha Sabha also introduced a Children’s Cultural Festival – Baal Vikaas Vihar.
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
Satsvarupa das Goswami (IAST: Sat-svarūpa dāsa Gosvāmī, Devanagari: सत्स्वरूप दास गोस्वामी) (born Stephen Guarino on December 6, 1939) is a senior disciple of Bhaktivedanta Swami, who founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), better known in the West as the Hare Krishna movement. Serving as a writer, poet, and artist, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami is the author of Bhaktivedanta Swami’s authorized biography, Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta. After Prabhupada’s death, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami was one of the eleven disciples selected to initiate future disciples.
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, (Sanskrit: [sɐtˈsʋɐɽuːpɐ daːsɐ ɡoːˈsʋaːmiː]), is one of the first few Westerners ordained by Bhaktivedanta Swami in September 1966. He is a Vaishnava writer, poet, and lecturer, who published over a hundred books including poems, memoirs, essays, novels, and studies based on the Vaishnava scriptures.
Satya Narayan Goenka
Satya Narayana Goenka (ISO 15919: Satyanārāyaṇ Goyankā; Burmese: ဦးဂိုအင်ကာ; MLCTS: u: gui ang ka; 30 January 1924 – 29 September 2013) was an Indian teacher of Vipassanā meditation. Born in Burma to an Indian business family, he moved to India in 1969 and started teaching meditation. His teaching emphasized that the Buddha’s path to liberation was non-sectarian, universal, and scientific in character. He became an influential teacher and played an important role in establishing non-commercial Vipassana meditation centers globally. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2012, an award given for distinguished service of high order.
Satyananda Giri (Bengali: স্বামী সত্যানন্দ গিরি) (17 November 1896 – 2 August 1971), is the monastic name of Manamohan Mazumder, an Indian monk and a chief monastic disciple of Kriya Yoga guru Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. He was a close childhood friend of, and brother-disciple to, Paramahansa Yogananda. In his later monastic life, he served as the leader of several yoga training institutions in east India.
Satyananda Saraswati (25 December 1923 – 5 December 2009), was a Sanyasi, yoga teacher and guru in both his native India and the West. He was a student of Sivananda Saraswati, the founder of the Divine Life Society, and founded the Bihar School of Yoga in 1964. He wrote over 80 books, including the popular 1969 manual Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha.
Satyapramoda Tirtha (IAST:Satyāpramoda Tīrtha; 1918 – 3 November 1997, was an Indian Hindu philosopher, spiritual leader, guru, , saint and the pontiff of Uttaradi Math, a math (mutt) dedicated to Dvaita philosophy, which has a large following in southern India. He served as the 41st pontiff of Madhvacharya Peetha – Uttaradi Math from 2 February 1948 – 3 November 1997. He had established Jayateertha Vidyapeetha in Bangalore, which has completed over 32 years.
Shaunaka (Sanskrit: शौनक, IAST: śaunaka) is the name applied to teachers, and to a Shakha of the Atharvaveda. It is especially the name of a celebrated Sanskrit grammarian, author of the Ṛgveda-Prātiśākhya, the Bṛhaddevatā, the Caraṇa-vyūha and six Anukramaṇīs (indices) to the Rigveda. He is claimed as the teacher of Katyayana and especially of Ashvalayana, and is said to have united the Bashkala and Shakala Shakhas of the Rigveda. In legend, he is sometimes identified with Gritsamada, a Vedic rishi.
Sri Seshadri Swamigal, also known as the “Saint with a Golden Hand”, was an Indian saint born in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, but predominantly lived in Thiruvannaamalai where he attained Samadhi (state of meditative consciousness).
Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj (24 January 1935 – 28 March 1994) is a yogi who claimed to have attained self-realization through twelve years of arduous tapas, meditating in samādhi (state of total absorption) for an average of twenty hours a day.After he completed tapas, he was given the name Shivabalayogi, which means “Yogi devoted to Shiva and Parvati.” In Hinduism, Shiva is God in the form of a yogi. Bala (Sanskrit: child) is one of the many names for Parvati, God in the form of a yogini. The name reflects that Shivabalayogi is a manifestation of both the male and female aspects of the divine (Ardhanarishwara). Generally, devotees called him simply “Swamiji” meaning “respected Master”.
For three decades he traveled extensively in India and Sri Lanka, initiating over ten million people into dhyana meditation. From 1987 to 1991, he traveled in England and the United States. Shivabalayogi’s teaching is based on the Vedanta, emphasizing the need for sadhana (spiritual practice) to achieve Self-realization.
Sri Shreedhara Swami Maharaj (Devanagari: श्री श्रीधर स्वामी Maharaj, Kannada:ಶ್ರೀ ಶ್ರೀಧರ ಸ್ವಾಮಿ Maharaj) (7 December 1908 – 19 April 1973) was an Indian prominent Kannada-Marathi saint and religious poet in the Hindu tradition. Shreedhar Swami was a devotee of Lord Ram and a disciple of Samarth Ramdas.
Shrimad Rajchandra (11 November 1867 – 9 April 1901) was a Jain poet, mystic, philosopher, scholar and reformer. Born in Vavaniya, a village near Morbi, he claimed to have recollection of his past lives at the age of seven. He performed Avadhāna, a memory retention and recollection test that gained him popularity, but he later discouraged it in favour of his spiritual pursuits. He wrote much philosophical poetry including Atma Siddhi. He also wrote many letters and commentaries and translated some religious texts. He is best known for his teachings on Jainism and his spiritual guidance to Mahatma Gandhi.
Shripad Shri Vallabha
Sripada Srivallabha (Telugu: శ్రీపాద శ్రీవల్లభ, Tamil: ஸ்ரீபாத ஸ்ரீவல்லபர், Hindi: श्रीपाद श्रीवल्लभ, Kannada: ಶ್ರೀಪಾದ ಶ್ರೀವಲ್ಲಭ, Marathi: श्रीपाद श्रीवल्लभ, Malayalam: ശ്രീപാദ ശ്രീവല്ലഭ) is an Indian guru of the Dattatreya Sampradaya (Lineage) who is regarded as an incarnation of Lord Dattatreya. He is considered as one of the first complete Avatars (incarnations) of the deity Dattatreya in Kali Yuga. Of note, Narasimha Saraswati, Manik Prabhu, Swami Samarth, Shirdi Sai Baba , are believed to be other incarnations of Lord Dattatreya that followed Sripada Srivallabha.Sripada Srivallabha was born and lived in Pithapuram, formerly known as Pitikapuram, a town in present-day Andhra Pradesh in India. The grandparents of Sripada Srivallabha belonged to the Malayadri village of Guntur District in the Palnadu area of Andhra Pradesh state in India. Malladi Bapanna Avadhanulu of Harithasa gothra is the maternal grandfather of Sripada. His wife Rajamamba also belonged to a scholar’s family. Her brother was Malladi Sridhara avadhanlu belonged to the same place. Once the two scholars went to ‘Ainavilli’ a remote area in Godavari mandal, and there they conducted a yagna where they actually made Lord Ganapati appear during the time of Poornahuti, which was witnessed by all the people who attended the ‘yagna’. Lord Ganapati had received the Poornahuti with his trunk and to the astonishment of all the people, disclosed that he will take birth as Sripada Srivallabha on Ganesh Chaturdhi. Later both the scholars went to Pithapuram village and settled there.
Sripada Srivallabha took sanyas at the age of 16 years, and lived in his physical form only until the age of 30. Some of the noted holy places that Sripada Srivallabha visited during his lifetime are -Varanasi (Kashi), Badarikashram, Gokarna, Srisailam and Kuravapura. Shripad Vallabha stayed in Kurupuram much of his life. The religious significance of Kurupuram is duly mentioned in the book Shri Guru Charitra and other holy books associated with Shri Dattatreya. Shripad Vallabha did many leelas here. It is believed that the Avatar Sripada Srivallabha is ‘Chiranjeevi’ (immortal) and that he took ‘Jalsamadhi’ in Kuravapura or Kurugaddi, a river island on river Krishna near Raichur, Karnataka. He disappeared since then as a human but still exists in ‘Tejorup’ (in Pure energy form). On the opposite bank of the River is Vallabhapuram belonging to Telangana state which is also sacred. It is also believed that Sripada Srivallabha use to come from Kuruvapuram to Vallabhapuram by walking on the river to grace the devotees at Vallabhapuram and Panchadevpahad.
Shrivatsa Goswami (born 27 October 1950) is an Indian Indologist scholar as well as Gaudiya Vaishnava religious leader.
He was born in the holy Vaishnava pilgrimage site of Vrindavan, into a brahmin family whose members were caretakers of Radha Raman Temple for more than four centuries, one of the most famous Vrindavan temples, founded by Chaitanya’s associate, the saint Gopala Bhatta Goswami. Shrivatsa Goswami’s father, Purushottam Goswami, was the temple leading priest. In accordance with the family tradition, Shrivatsa Goswami became the acharya of Radha Raman temple. In 1972, he founded a scientific and cultural organization, the “Sri Caitanya Prema Samsthana”, to the propagation of traditional Vaishnavism, patronised the arts (Raslila dance and other) and scholarship on Vaishnavism, aspecially in Vrindavan.Shrivatsa Goswami is a graduate in philosophy of the Banares Hindu University, where he later has taught philosophy and religion. In the mid-1970s he was a visiting scholar at the Harvard Divinity School’s Center for the Study of World Religions. Shrivatsa Goswami has been associated with the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (a member of the board of editors of the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophers) and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (that is a sponsor for his Vraja Research Project). His scholarly publications in India and the West focus on Vaishnavite philosophy and theology, as well as theater and other aspects of the religious culture of the Braj region.In addition, Shrivatsa Goswami works in the field of interfaith cooperation. Thus, he is the honorary president of Religions for Peace. And Pope Benedict XVI invited him to represent Hinduism at the 25th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer at Assisi in October 2011.
Shyama Shastri( Telugu : శ్యామ శాస్త్రి) (IAST: Śyāma Śāstri; 26 April 1762 – 1827) or Syama Sastri was a musician and composer of Carnatic music.
He was the oldest among the Trinity of Carnatic music, Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar being the other two.
Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath (17 February 1892 – 6 December 1982) was an Indian spiritual master. Addressed as Sri Sri Thakur Sitaramdas Omkarnath, where “Omkar” signifies the supreme cosmic enlightenment and attaining supreme consciousnes, he was heralded as the Divine Incarnate (Avatar) of Kali Yuga and espoused the doctrines of Sanatan Dharma and Vedic spiritual path to countless devotees from across the world, with central theme and paramount importance on the beneficence of Divine Chanting Naam of Hare Krishna Hare Ram – regarded as the omnipotent “Tarak Brahma Naam” the chant of soul deliverance in Kali Yuga and “Moksha” liberation from cycle of birth and death. As such, his disciples continue to worship him as an incarnation of the Lord himself and is verily regarded as an eternal source of spiritual enlightenment and soul succour to all seekers. because his life had been predicted in a manuscript of Achyutananda Dasa. Sitaramdas Omkarnath wrote more than 150 books to promote the essence of Indian scriptures, built more than 60 temples and ashrams all across India, and founded His spiritual organisation Akhil Bharat Jaiguru Sampradaya, established many groups, temples, mutts, both within and outside the Sampradaya— and was also the initiator of multiple magazines like Pather Alo, Devjan, JaiGuru, Arya Nari, Paramananda, and The Mother.
Sivananda Saraswati (or Swami Sivananda; 8 September 1887 – 14 July 1963) was a yoga guru, a Hindu spiritual teacher, and a proponent of Vedanta. Sivananda was born in Pattamadai, in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, and was named Kuppuswami. He studied medicine and served in British Malaya as a physician for several years before taking up monasticism.
He was the founder of the Divine Life Society (DLS) in 1936, Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy (1948) and author of over 200 books on yoga, Vedanta, and a variety of subjects. He established Sivananda Ashram, the headquarters of the DLS, on the bank of the Ganges at Muni Ki Reti, 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from Rishikesh, and lived most of his life there.Sivananda Yoga, the yoga form propagated by his disciple Vishnudevananda, is now spread in many parts of the world through Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. These centres are not affiliated with Sivananda’s ashrams, which are run by the Divine Life Society.
Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (born Robert Hansen; January 5, 1927 – November 12, 2001) was an American Hindu religious leader known as Gurudeva by his followers. Subramuniyaswami was born in Oakland, California and adopted Hinduism as a young man. He was the 162nd head of the Nandinatha Sampradaya’s Kailasa Parampara and Guru at Kauai’s Hindu Monastery which is a 382-acre (155 ha) temple-monastery complex on Hawaii’s Garden Island.In 1947, at the age of 20, he journeyed to India and Sri Lanka and in 1949, was initiated into sannyasa by the renowned siddha yogi and worshiper of Lord Shiva, Jnanaguru Yogaswami of Jaffna, Sri Lanka who was regarded as one of the 20th century’s remarkable mystics. In the 1970s he established a Hindu monastery in Kauai, Hawaii and founded the magazine Hinduism Today. In 1985, he created the festival of Pancha Ganapati as a Hindu alternative to December holidays like Christmas. He was one of Shaivism’s Gurus, the founder and leader of the Saiva Siddhanta Church.
He is part of the guru lineage of the Sri Lankan Alaveddy Hindus. His various institutions form a Jaffna-Tamil-based organization which has branched out from his Sri Subramuniya Ashram in Alaveddy to meet the needs of the growing Hindu diaspora of this century. He also established a seven-acre (2.8 ha) monastery in Mauritius, which includes a public Spiritual Park called “Spiritual Park- Pointe de Lascars”. He oversaw more than 50 independent temples worldwide.His influence reflected the reach of his publications, including the approximately 30 books he wrote. Subramuniyaswami was described by Klaus Klostermaier as “the single-most advocate of Hinduism outside India”. The book Religious Leaders of America explained Subramuniyaswami’s role as “a pillar of orthodox Hinduism.”
Soham Swami (also known as “Tiger Swami,” Sohong Swami, Parmahangsa Soham Swami or Sohom Swami, Bengali: শ্রীমৎ পরমহংস সোহংস্বামী ) was a Hindu guru and yogi from India. Originally named as Shyama Kanta Bandopadhyay, he was the disciple of the Advaita Vedantist Tibbetibaba. Tibbetibaba was a great yogi and guru of India.Soham Swami was born as Shyama Kanta Bandopadhyay at Adial, a small village in Bikrampur district in the Bengali month of Jaishthya in 1858 and was one of the pioneers of physical prowess of modern Bengal. He had so much physical strength that he could wrestle even tigers. He was known to the public, both Indian and European, as Professor Banerjee, the first tiger tamer of India, and to his admirers in Bengal as BaghaShyamakanta. These tiger bouts took place before he entered into the spiritual path.Soham Swami built a hermitage near a crematorium in Bhawali in Nainital. It was at the Nainital ashram, Niralamba Swami became his disciple. In his early life Niralamba Swami, also known as Jatindra Nath Banerjee, was a great freedom fighter of India.
Sant Sopandeo was a sant of the Varkari and also the younger brother of Dnyaneshwar.
Sopan(19 November 1277 A.D- 29 December 1296 A.D), attained samadhi at Saswad near Pune. He wrote a book, the Sopandevi based on the Marathi translation of the Bhagavad Gita along with 50 or so abhangs.
Sripadaraja (Sanskrit: श्रीपादराज; Śrīpādarāja) or Sripadaraya, also known by his pontifical name Lakshminarayana Tirtha (c.1422 – c.1480), was a Hindu Dvaita philosopher, scholar and composer and the pontiff of the Madhvacharya mutt at Mulbagal. He is widely considered the founder of Haridasa movement along with Narahari Tirtha. He has influenced both Carnatic music and Hindustani music through his compositions. His songs and hymns, written under the mudra of Ranga Vitthala, contain the distillation of Dvaita principles infused with mysticism and humanism. He is also credited with the invention of the suladi musical structure and composed 133 of them along with several kirtanas. He was the advisor of Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya and mentored the young Vyasatirtha. He also authored a commentary on Jayatirtha’s Nyaya Sudha called Nyayasudhopanyasa-Vagvajra. Sripadaraja is believed to be the incarnation of Dhruva.
Chinmoy Kumar Ghose (27 August 1931 – 11 October 2007), better known as Sri Chinmoy, was an Indian spiritual leader who taught meditation in the West after moving to New York City in 1964. Chinmoy established his first meditation center in Queens, New York, and eventually had 7,000 students in 60 countries. A prolific author, artist, poet, and musician, he also held public events such as concerts and meditations on the theme of inner peace. Chinmoy advocated a spiritual path to God through prayer and meditation. He advocated athleticism including distance running, swimming, and weightlifting. He organized marathons and other races, and was an active runner and, following a knee injury, weightlifter.
Sri M (born Mumtaz Ali Khan) is an Indian Yogi, spiritual guide, social reformer and educationist. He is an initiate of the Nath sub tradition of Hinduism and is the disciple of Sri Maheshwarnath Babaji, who was a disciple of Mahavatar Babaji. Sri M, also known as Sri Madhukarnath Ji, lives in Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh, India. Sri M received the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award, in 2020.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Ravi Shankar (born 13 May 1956) is an Indian yoga guru, a spiritual leader. He is frequently referred to as Sri Sri (honorific), Guru ji, or Gurudev. From around the mid 1970s, he worked as an apprentice under Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation. In 1981, he split from the Transcendental Meditation (TM) and founded the Art of Living foundation.
Sudhanshu Ji Maharaj
Sudhanshu ji (born 2 May 1955 ) is a preacher from India and the founder of Vishwa Jagriti Mission(VJM). .He has over 10 million devotees around the world with more than 2.5 million as disciples.
Swami Abhedananda (2 October 1866 – 8 September 1939), born Kaliprasad Chandra, was a direct disciple of the 19th century mystic Ramakrishna Paramahansa and the founder of Ramakrishna Vedanta Math. Swami Vivekananda sent him to the West to head the Vedanta Society of New York in 1897, and spread the message of Vedanta, a theme on which he authored several books through his life, and subsequently founded the Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Darjeeling.
Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha (Devanagari: स्वामी भूमानन्द तीर्थ; Malayalam: സ്വാമി ഭൂമാനന്ദ തീര്ത്ഥ), is an Indian Sannyasin and social reformer. He is known for his talks and discourses on Vedanta, Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads and Srimad Bhagavatam, and their practical application in daily life. He has also organized various movements to end some unlawful rituals practiced by some Hindu temples.
Swami Chidbhavananda (11 March 1898 – 16 November 1985) was born in Senguttaipalayam near Pollachi in Coimbatore District, Madras Presidency, India. His parents named him ‘Chinnu’. He studied in Stanes School, Coimbatore. He was one of the two Indians in his class, the rest being British. His parents wanted him to go to England after completing his degree in Presidency College, Chennai.
While making arrangements for his travel abroad, he came across a book about Swami Vivekananda’s philosophy. The book had a profound impact on his mind. He started visiting Ramakrishna Math in Mylapore often and had discussions with Swamijis. Finally, he decided to become a novice and went to Ramakrishna Mission in Belur, West Bengal. His guru was Swami Shivananda who was a direct disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
As per the wish and advice of Swami Sivananda, he returned to Tamil Nadu and established an Ashram near Ooty. On 14 Jan 1937, he has started a Seva Sangh in a village (Athigaratty) near Ooty and named it Kalaimagal Seva Sangam (KMSSA). In the early forties (1942), he established Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam in Tiruparaithurai, Tiruchi district. Since then, Tapovanam has established several educational institutions in Tamil Nadu and propagates the ideals of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda through religious and social activities such as book publishing.
Swami Chidbhavananda has authored more than a hundred books in Tamil and English. His books address a variety of topics, ranging from deep philosophical enquiry to contemporary social life.
He wrote many dramas based on ancient Hindu scriptures that are performed by students. He died in 1985. C. Subramaniam, was his nephew.
Swami Janakananda Saraswati is a tantric yoga and meditation teacher and a writer, who has had a significant influence in the dissemination of yoga and meditation in Scandinavia and Northern Europe. He is the oldest active sannyasin disciple of Satyananda Saraswati in Europe.
Swami Keshwanand Satyarthi
Shri Swami Keshwanand Satyarthi Ji Maharaj (5 September 1943 – 25 June 2020) was an Indian saint of Shri Nangli Sahib lineage. The spiritual institution Paramhans Satyarthi Mission was led and governed by him. In 1985, Shri Paramhans Swami Ramanand Satyarthi Ji Maharaj anointed him as his spiritual successor and the patron saint of the Paramhans Satyarthi Mission. Swami Keshwanand Satyarthi Ji Maharaj travelled around the world and preached about spirituality and enlightenment. Swami Ramanand Satyarthi Trust, Shri Satyarthi High School, Shri Satyarthi Sevadal and Shri Satyarthi Sandesh Magazine were also administered under his guidance.
Swami Purnachaitanya (Svāmī Pūrṇacaitanya), born as Freek Alexander Luthra on 26 October 1984, is an author, Dutch life coach and public speaker. He works at the Art of Living Foundation in Bangalore, India, teaching yoga around India and abroad, and working on rural development and educational projects run by the foundation in the North-Eastern Region of India.
He is a member of the Art of Living Council for yoga. His work is aimed towards the preservation and revival of ancient Vedic practices and indigenous traditions in these regions.
Swami Rama (Svāmī Rāma; 1925 – 13 November 1996) was an Indian yoga guru. He moved to America in 1969, initially teaching yoga at the YMCA, and founding the Himalayan Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy in Illinois in 1971; its headquarters moved to its current location in Honesdale, Pennsylvania in 1977. He became famous for his ability to control his body in yoga nidra, writing many books including the autobiographical Living with Himalayan Masters. From the 1970s onwards, there were persistent allegations of sexual abuse of his followers; in 1997 a woman won a lawsuit against him for multiple sexual assaults.
Ramanand Swami (born Rama Sharma) to a Brahmin family in Ayodhya in Vikram Samvat 1795 (1738 AD). His parents were Ajay Sharma (father) and Sumati (mother). He was considered to be the incarnation of Uddhava, a close friend of Krishna. Ramanand was the founder and head of the Uddhav Sampraday. Ramanand Swami adopted the Vishishtadvaita doctrine of the Vaishnava which was first propounded by Ramanuja several centuries earlier. In his travels to Srirangam in southern India in his early life, Ramanand Swami said that Ramanuja gave him diksha (initiation) in a dream and appointed him in his line as an acharya. Ramanand Swami then travelled West to Saurastra to spread the philosophy of Ramanuja. Before dying in 1858, Ramanand Swami passed the reins of the Uddhav Sampraday to Swaminarayan.
Swami Ramdas ([sʋaːmiː raːmdaːs]; Sanskrit: स्वामी रामदास, romanized: Svāmī Rāmadāsa, born Vittal Rao on 10 April 1884) was an Indian saint, philosopher, philanthropist and pilgrim. Swami Ramdas became a wandering ascetic in his late 30s and after attaining moksha while still alive established Anandashram in Kanhangad, Kerala. He is the author of several books, the most famous of which is the spiritual autobiography In Quest of God (1925).
Shri Swami Samarth (Marathi: श्री स्वामी समर्थ) also known as Swami of Akkalkot was an Indian spiritual master of the Dattatreya Tradition. He is a widely known spiritual figure in various Indian states including Maharashtra and Karnataka. He lived during the nineteenth century.
Shri Swami Samarth traveled all across the Indian subcontinent and eventually set his abode at Akkalkot, a village in present-day Maharashtra. He is thought to have initially arrived at Akkalkot on a Wednesday, during either September or October in 1856. He resided at Akkalkot for close to 22 years.
His parentage and origins remain obscure. According to legend, once when a disciple asked Swami a question about his birth, Swami responded that he had originated from a banyan tree (vata-vriksha in Marathi). On another occasion, Swami had said that his earlier name was Nrusimha Bhan.
Swami Samarth Maharaj foundation at Dindori & Akkalkot
Swaminarayan (IAST: Svāmīnārāyaṇa, 3 April 1781 – 1 June 1830), also known as Sahajanand Swami, was a yogi and ascetic, who is believed by followers to be a manifestation of God Krishna, or as the highest manifestation of Purushottam, and around whom the Swaminarayan Sampradaya developed.
In 1800, he was initiated into the Uddhav sampradaya by his guru, Swami Ramanand, and was given the name Sahajanand Swami. Despite opposition, in 1802 Ramanand handed over the leadership of the Uddhav Sampraday to him before his death. According to the Swaminarayan-tradition, Sahajanand Swami became known as Swaminarayan, and the Uddhav Sampraday as the Swaminarayan Sampradaya, after a gathering in which he taught the Swaminarayan Mantra to his followers.
He emphasized “moral, personal, and social betterment,” and ahimsa, and is also remembered within the sect for undertaking reforms for women and the poor, and performing non-violent yajñas (fire sacrifices) on a large scale.During his lifetime, Swaminarayan institutionalized his charisma and beliefs in various ways. He constructed six mandirs to facilitate followers’ devotional worship of God, and encouraged the creation of a scriptural tradition, including the Shikshapatri, which he wrote in 1826. In 1826, in a legal document titled the Lekh, Swaminarayan created two dioceses, the Laxmi Narayan Dev Gadi (Vadtal Gadi) and Nar Narayan Dev Gadi (Ahmedabad Gadi), with a hereditary leadership of acharyas and their wives from his own extended family, who were authorized to install statues of deities in temples and to initiate ascetics.
Born Shri Beli Ram Ji, Shri Swami Swarupanand Ji Maharaj (1 February 1884 – 9 April 1936), was an Indian Guru of Shri Paramhans Advait Mat lineage. He is also known as “Shri Nangli Niwasi Bhagwaan Ji”, as “Hari Har Baba”, as “Sadhgurudev Ji” and as “Second Guru”. Born in village Teri in Kohat district, India (now in Pakistan), the young Beli Ram Ji was initiated into the sanyasas in the early 1900s in Teri by Shri Paramhans Swami Advaitanand Ji, who named him Shri Swami Swarupanand Ji. During Swami Advaitanand ji’s life, Swami Swarupanand ji created an order of sanyasis (or renunciates) in northern India and founded several centers with the purpose of disseminating his master’s teachings.Shri Swami Advaitanand Ji Maharaj asked him to meditate in Agra, with the object to preserve the spiritual power to be utilised in future as the reformer of the spiritual Age. Far away from town in a jungle under the Neem tree the Second Guru, absorbed in his own ecstasy, roamed in quite a different world in a gufa (a very tight cave 3–4 feet under the land). Many residents of Agra, who were totally unaware of his name and whereabouts, felt attracted by him and placed some eatables near his seat with a thought he might accept them. But the Yogeshwar, the Second Guru, had no affinity for eating/drinking. He used to eat only boiled neem leaves and as such his divine body reduced to skeleton after 14 years of meditation at that place. A temple has been made around the cave in Agra as is known as Tapobhoomi. Shri Paramhans Swami Advaitanand Ji declared Swami Swarupanand Ji Maharaj as his spiritual successor. Chakauri ashram, (now in Gujrat, Pakistan) a beautiful shrine of pilgrimage built in Punjab at the cost of lakhs of rupees remained the congregational headquarters of Swami Swarupanand Ji Maharaj.
In 1935, he announced his decision to leave Punjab and settle in Uttar Pradesh in the presence of 800 saffron clads Mahatmas and thousands of householder devotees which caused a wave of agony among the gathering. In 1936, he visited Delhi for the last time and stayed there for two months. Leaving behind large Ashrams in the Frontier, Sindh and Punjab, he moved to Nangli village, near Meerut in March, 1936. He proclaimed : “I’ve got four ‘Rotis’ with me. One is meant for Punjab, another one for Gwalior and two for Nangli here, as this place is very close to my heart.”
He left this world a year later on 9 April 1936 in the village of Nangli, near Meerut. Shri Swami Nijatmanand Ji and Swami Abhedanand Ji gave Samadhi to the sacred body at Shri Nangli Sahib as per his testaments in which Sadgurudev Ji had expressed his wish to remain in Shri Nangli Sahib. At the time of his death, Shri Swami Swarupanand Ji Maharaj had more than 10,000 followers and more than 300 ashrams in northern India. Nangli Tirath (Nangli Sahib) village in Meerut District and is few kilometers off the Delhi-Haridwar Highway. It houses the holiest samadhi (grave) of Satguru Shri Swami Swarupanand Ji Maharaj, who sanctified the village by his visit. The path from the main road to the teerth has 84 turns on it, which symbolizes the mukti (salvation) through eighty four lakh yonis. His disciple Shri Paramhans Swami Ramanand Satyarthi Ji Maharaj went on to establish Paramhans Satyarthi Mission .Paramhans Satyarthi Mission is a renowned institute that stands as an epitome of Gurudev’s sublime aura. The patron of this spiritual institute since 2 July 1985 is Swami Keshwanand Satyarthi Ji Maharaj, who was born as a younger son to Shri Swami Ramanand Satyarthi Ji Maharaj. One of the disciples of Shri Swarupanand Ji Maharaj was Hans Ji Maharaj, who went on to establish the Divine Light Mission. According to another account, Shri Swami Swarupanand Ji Maharaj was succeeded by Shri Swami Vairagya Anand Ji Maharaj, also known as the third master of Shri Anandpur.Swami Swarupanand Ji Maharaj is sometimes confused with Anand Swarup of the Radha Soami lineage.
A faqir has no particular religion: he is common to all. Wherever I go there will be no dearth of devotees, as I belong to all, and all belong to me.
Swarupananda (28 December 1886 – 21 April 1984) was a direct monastic disciple of Vivekananda and the first president of the Advaita Ashrama, set up by Vivekananda in 1899 at Mayavati, near Champawat. The ashram is a branch of the religious monastic order, Ramakrishna Math, also set up by Vivekananda on the teachings of his guru Ramakrishna.
Swarupananda remained as editor of Prabuddha Bharata, an English-language monthly journal of the Ramakrishna Order, when it shifted base from Chennai in 1898 and remained so till 1906.Vivekananda exclaimed to Sara Bull and other friends about the young disciple whom he had initiated into the monastic order, “we have made an acquisition today.”
Tibbetibaba also known as Mahasadhak Tibbetibaba or Paramhamsa Tibbetibaba, alternative spellings Tibbatibaba, Tibbati Baba, Tibbeti Baba, Tibbotibaba or Tibboti Baba (“Tibetan Baba” or the Monk from Tibet, when translated into English.) born Nabin Chattopadhhyaya Bengali: নবীন চট্টোপাধ্যায়;Mahasamadhi or death – 19 November 1930) was a famous Bengali philosopher, saint and yogi. He was one of the few saints in India whose life was an amalgamation of the Advaita Vedanta doctrine of Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhist doctrine. Tibbetibaba was a master of all the eight siddhis and supposedly had remarkable healing powers. Even though he was master of all the siddhis, he was not personally interested in using them.
Sant Tukaram Maharaj (Marathi pronunciation: [t̪ukaːɾam]) was a 17th-century Marathi Saint, Hindu sant (saint), popularly known as Tuka, Tukobaraya, Tukoba in Maharashtra. He was a Sant of Varkari sampradaya (Marathi-Vaishnav tradition) – that venerates the god Vitthal – in Maharashtra, India. He was part of the egalitarian, personalized Varkari devotionalism tradition. Tukaram is best known for his devotional poetry called Abhanga and community-oriented worship with spiritual songs known as kirtan.
Thyagaraja (Telugu: త్యాగరాజ) (4 May 1767 – 6 January 1847), also known as Thyāgayya and in full as Kakarla Thyagabrahmam, was a composer and vocalist of Carnatic music, a form of Indian classical music. Tyagaraja and his contemporaries, Shyama Shastri and Muthuswami Dikshitar, are regarded as the Trinity of Carnatic music. Thyagaraja composed thousands of devotional compositions, most in Telugu and in praise of Lord Rama, many of which remain popular today, the most popular being “Nagumomu”. Of special mention are five of his compositions called the Pancharatna Kritis (transl. “five gems”), which are often sung in programs in his honour, and Utsava Sampradaya Krithis (transl. Festive ritual compositions), which are often sung to accompany temple rituals.
Tyagaraja lived through the reigns of four kings of the Maratha dynasty – Tulaja II (1763–1787), Amarasimha (1787–1798), Serfoji II (1798–1832) and Sivaji II (1832–1855), although he served none of them.
Upasani Maharaj, born Kashinath Govindrao Upasni, (15 May 1870 – 24 December 1941) was an Indian spiritual teacher, considered by his disciples to be a satguru. He lived in Sakori, British India, and is said to have received God-realization from Sai Baba of Shirdi. Upasani himself was one of the principal spiritual teachers of Meher Baba.
U. G. Krishnamurti
Uppaluri Gopala Krishnamurti (9 July 1918 – 22 March 2007) was an intellectual who questioned the state of spiritual enlightenment. Having pursued a religious path in his youth and eventually rejecting it, U.G. claimed to have experienced a devastating biological transformation on his 49th birthday, an event he refers to as “the calamity”. He emphasized that this transformation back to “the natural state” is a rare, acausal, biological occurrence with no religious context. Because of this, he discouraged people from pursuing the “natural state” as a spiritual goal.He rejected the very basis of thought and in doing so negated all systems of thought and knowledge. Hence he explained his assertions were experiential and not speculative – “Tell them that there is nothing to understand.”
He was unrelated to his contemporary Jiddu Krishnamurti, although the two men had a number of meetings because of their association with the Theosophical Society.
Utpaladeva (c. 900–950 CE) was an Indian philosopher and theologian from Kashmir. He belonged to the Trika Shaiva tradition and is the most important thinker of the Pratyabhijñā school of monistic idealism. His Īśvarapratyabhijñā-Kārikā (IPK, Verses on the Recognition of the Lord) were the most important and central work of the Pratyabhijñā school. Utpaladeva was a major influence on the great exegete Abhinavagupta, whose works later overshadowed those of Utpaladeva. However, according to the Indologist Raffaele Torella “most of Abhinavagupta’s ideas are just the development of what Utpaladeva had already expounded.”
Vallabhacharya Mahaprabhu (1479–1531 CE), also known as Vallabha, Mahaprabhuji and Vishnuswami, or Vallabha Acharya, is a Hindu Indian saint and philosopher who founded the Krishna-centered PushtiMarg sect of Vaishnavism in the Braj(Vraj) region of India, and the Vedanta philosophy of Shuddha Advaita (Pure Non-dualism).He is the Jagadguru Acharya and Guru of the Pushti Marg bhakti tradition and Suddhadwait Brahmavad (Vedant Philosophy), which he founded after his own interpretation of the Vedanta philosophy.Vallabhacharya was born in a Telugu Tailang Brahmin family that had been currently residing in Varanasi, who escaped to Champaran of Chhattisgarh state while expecting shri Vallabha, expecting a Muslim invasion in Varanasi, during the late 15th century. The name Vallabha means the beloved or lover, and is a name of Vishnu and Krishna.
Vallabhacharya studied the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Shat Darshan as a child, then travelled throughout the Indian subcontinent over 20 years. He became one of the important leaders of the devotional Bhakti movement. Vallabhacharya’s mother was Illamma who was the daughter of a family priest serving the rulers of the empire of Vijayanagara. The biographies written by his followers, just like those for other Bhakti leaders, claim that he won many philosophical scholarly debates against the followers of Adi Shankracharya, Ramanuja, Madhvacharya and others, had visions and miracles.He rejected asceticism and monastic life, suggested that through loving devotion to God Krishna, any householder could achieve salvation – an idea that became influential all over India, proven by Vallabh Digvijay, Sampraday Pradep, Sampraday Kalpadrum and his 84 Baithakjis (Places of worship) in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Goa, Sindh and various other parts of Indian subcontinent. He is associated with Vishnuswami Sampraday, and is the prominent Jagadguru Acharya of Rudra Sampradaya out of the four traditional Vaishnava Sampradayas.He authored many texts including but not limited to, the Anubhashya colloquially also called BrahmaSutrAnubhashya (his commentary on Brahm Sutra), Shodash Granth or sixteen ‘stotras’ (tracts) and several commentaries on the Bhagavata Purana.
Vallabha’s writings and kirtan compositions focus on baby Krishna and his childhood pranks with Yashoda (unconditional motherly love), as well as a youthful Krishna’s protection of the good (divine grace) and his victory over demons and evils, all with allegory and symbolism.His legacy is best preserved with the acharyas of his Pushtimarg Vallabh Sampraday, also in the Braj region, and particularly at Nathdwara and Dwarkadhish Temple in Mewar region of India – are important Krishna pilgrimage center.He is regarded as an incarnation of Agni (Vaishwanar Agni Swaroop of Shri Krishna’s face).
Sri Vadiraja Teertharu (c.1480 – c.1600) was a Dvaita philosopher, poet, traveller and mystic. A polymath of his time, he authored many works, often polemical, on Madhva theology and metaphysics. Additionally, he composed numerous poems and as the pontiff of Sodhe Mutt, renovated the temple complex at Udupi and established the Paryaya system of worship. He is also credited with enriching the Kannada literature of the time by translating Madhvacharya’s works to Kannada, giving impetus and contributing to the Haridasa movement. He has influenced both Carnatic and Hindustani music through his compositions. His compositions are mainly in Kannada and Sanskrit. His mudra is ‘Hayavadana’. His works are characterised by their poetic flourishes, incisive wit and humour.
Vidyaranya (IAST: Vidyāraṇya), usually identified with Mādhavācharya, was Jagadguru of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham from ca. 1374-1380 until 1386 – according to tradition, after ordination at an old age, he took the name of Vidyaranya, and became the Jagadguru of this Matha at Sringeri.Madhavacharya is known as the author of the Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha, a compendium of different philosophical schools of Hindu philosophy and Pañcadaśī, an important text for Advaita Vedanta.
According to tradition, Vidyaranya helped establish the Vijayanagara Empire sometime in 1336, and served as a mentor and guide to three generations of kings who ruled over it. The historical accuracy of this account is doubtful, and may have originated as late as 200 years after the events, as a “political foundation myth, an ideological attempt to represent the authority of the Vijayanagara state as deriving directly from that of the Sultanate.”The Vidyashankara temple in Sringeri is the samadhi of Vidya shankara, the guru of Vidyaranya which was built over the former’s grave by his disciple Harihara. It is maintained by the ASI.
Vishuddhananda Paramahansa or Vishudhananda Paramahansa (Bengali:: Bishuddhananda Pôromôhongśo) (14 March 1853 – 14 July 1937) popularly known as Gandha Baba (‘The perfume saint’) was an Indian yogi, guru, and spiritual master. He spend 12 years in Gyangunj in intense spiritual practice including meditation. He was well-known for spiritual powers which he learnt while staying in Gyangunj. Vishuddhananda later adopted life of a householder yet achieved perfect samadhi. He was born as ‘Bholanath Chattopadhaya’ to Shri Akhil Chandra Chattopadhaya and Srimati Raj Rajeshswari Chattopadhaya in a remote village named BONDUL currently at Bardhaman district in India to pious Brahmin Bengali family.
Sri Vishwesha Tirtharu, officially known as Śrī Śrī 1008 Śrī Viśveśa-tīrtha Śrīpād Kannada: ಶ್ರೀ ಶ್ರೀ ೧೦೮ ಶ್ರೀ ವಿಶ್ವೇಶತೀರ್ಥ ಶ್ರೀಪಾದಂಗಳವರು (27 April 1931 – 29 December 2019), was an Indian Hindu guru, saint and presiding swamiji of the Sri Pejavara Adokshaja Matha, one of the Ashta Mathas belonging to the Dvaita school of philosophy founded by Sri Madhvacharya.
Sri Vishvesha Tirtharu was the 32nd in the lineage of the Pejavara matha, starting from Sri Adhokshaja Tirtharu, who was one of the direct disciples of Sri Madhvacharya. He was the honorary president of Vishva Tulu Sammelana. He had established Poornaprajna Vidyapeetha in Bangalore which has completed over 63 years. Many scholars are trained here on Vedanta. He has also conducted 38 Nyayasudamangalas – graduations for Poornaprajna Vidyapeetha students. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan India’s second highest civilian award posthumously in 2020 for his work and service towards the society.
Vyāsatīrtha (c.. 1460 – c. 1539), also called Vyasaraja or Chandrikacharya, was a Hindu philosopher, scholar, polemicist, commentator and poet belonging to the Madhwacharya’s Dvaita order of Vedanta. As the patron saint of the Vijayanagara Empire, Vyasatirtha was at the forefront of a golden age in Dvaita which saw new developments in dialectical thought, growth of the Haridasa literature under bards like Purandara Dasa and Kanaka Dasa and an amplified spread of Dvaita across the subcontinent. Three of his polemically themed doxographical works Nyayamruta, Tatparya Chandrika and Tarka Tandava (collectively called Vyasa Traya) documented and critiqued an encyclopaedic range of sub-philosophies in Advaita, Visistadvaita, Mahayana Buddhism, Mimamsa and Nyaya, revealing internal contradictions and fallacies. His Nyayamruta caused a significant stir in the Advaita community across the country requiring a rebuttal by Madhusudhana Saraswati through his text, Advaitasiddhi. He is considered as an amsha of Prahlada in the Madhva Parampara.Born into a Brahmin family as Yatiraja, Bramhanya Tirtha, the pontiff of the matha at Abbur, assumed guardianship over him and oversaw his education. He studied the six orthodox schools of Hinduism at Kanchi and subsequently, the philosophy of Dvaita under Sripadaraja at Mulbagal, eventually succeeding him as the pontiff. He served as a spiritual adviser to Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya at Chandragiri though his most notable association was with the Tuluva king Krishna Deva Raya. With the royal patronage of the latter, Vyasatirtha undertook a massive expansion of Dvaita into the scholarly circles, through his polemical tracts as well as into the lives of the laymen through Carnatic classical devotional songs and Krithis. In this regard, he penned several kirtanas under the pen name of Krishna. His famous compositions are Krishna Nee Begane, Dasarendare Purandara, Krishna Krishna Endu, Olaga Sulabhavo and many more. Politically, Vyasatirtha was responsible for the development of irrigation systems in villages such as Bettakonda and establishment of several Vayu temples in the newly conquered regions between Bengaluru and Mysore in-order to quell any rebellion and facilitate their integration into the Empire.
For his contribution to the Dvaita school of thought, he, along with Madhva and Jayatirtha, are considered to be the three great saints of Dvaita (munitraya). Scholar Surendranath Dasgupta notes, “The logical skill and depth of acute dialectical thinking shown by Vyasa-tirtha stands almost unrivalled in the whole field of Indian thought”.
Jnana guru Siva Yogaswami of Jaffna (Tamil: சிவயோகசுவாமி, Sinhala: යොගස්වාමි; 1872–1964) was a 20th-century spiritual master, a śivajnani and anatha siddhar revered by Hindus, however he had a number of Catholic and Buddhist devotees as well. He was 161st Jagadacharya of the Nandinatha Sampradaya’s Kailasa Parampara. Yogaswami was trained in and practiced Kundalini yoga under the guidance of Satguru Chellappaswami, from whom he received guru diksha (initiation).
Yogi Ramsuratkumar (1 December 1918 – 20 February 2001) was an Indian saint and mystic. He was also referred to as “Visiri samiyar” and spent most of his post-enlightenment period in Tiruvannamalai, a small town in Tamil Nadu which is famous for attracting spiritual seekers worldwide and has had a continuous lineage of enlightened souls. He acknowledges the contribution of three of the most well known saints of his time in his evolution to enlightenment. These individuals were Sri Aurobindo, the founder of Integral yoga, Ramana Maharshi, one of the “spiritual supermen” of his time, and Swami Ramdas, Yogi’s eventual guru.
Yogiji Maharaj (23 May 1892 – 23 January 1971), born Jina Vasani, was a Hindu swami and the fourth spiritual successor of Swaminarayan in the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS),: 55 : 10 a major branch of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya. According to the metaphysics of BAPS, Yogiji Maharaj is considered to be the next iteration of Akshar after Shastriji Maharaj in the guru parampara, an unbroken line of “perfect devotees” who provide “authentication of office through Gunatitanand Swami and back to Swaminarayan himself.”: 86 : 634 Together with Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who acted as the administrative head of BAPS, he was instrumental in nurturing the growth of BAPS “through new programs, expansion into new areas, and the construction of temples”.: 50 As guru, he consecrated over 60 temples and visited over 4000 towns and villages.: 10 He was particularly effective in attracting the devotion of youths and initiated a large number of them as ascetics.: 50 Furthermore, his multiple tours to Britain and East Africa were integral in the overseas expansion of BAPS.: 10 : 51 He died on 23 January 1971 after appointing Pramukh Swami Maharaj as his successor.: 178