Famous Indian Religious Leaders and Saints

Famous Indian Religious Leaders and Saints

What is the role of the Religious Leaders in our Modern Society?

Religious leaders and faith communities are the largest and best-organized civil institutions in the world, claiming the allegiance of billions of believers and bridging the divides of race, class and nationality. More than any other civil society representatives, religious leaders have the experience of establishing and working with international partnerships. Their expertise can greatly benefit the global breastfeeding effort. Religious leaders are often the most respected figures in their communities. Buddhist monks and nuns, imams, pastors, priests, punjaris, and leaders of other faith communities play a powerful role in shaping attitudes, opinions and behaviors because their members trust them. Community members and political leaders listen to religious leaders. Some of the most renowned religious leaders and saints are listed below:

Famous Indian Religious Leaders and Saints:

  • Swami Vivekananda: A spiritual genius of commanding intellect and power, Swami Vivekananda crammed immense labor and achievement into his short life. Vehement in his desire to know the truth about God, he questioned people of holy reputation, asking them if they had seen God. He found such a person in Sri Ramakrishna, who became his master, allayed his doubts, guided him on the spiritual path, and transformed him into sage and prophet with authority to teach. Vivekananda heard the inner call for a greater mission in his life. While most of the followers of Sri Ramakrishna thought of him in relation to their own personal lives, Vivekananda thought of the Master in relation to India and the rest of the world.
  • Dayanand Saraswati: The name of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Ji is particularly extraordinary in the tradition of great sages of India, who did extremely exceptional work for the awakening and progress of this country. Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati was born on February 12, 1824 in Tankara (Gujarat). His father's name was Karsan Ji Tiwari and mother's name was Amritbai. Born in a Brahmin clan, Mool Shankar attained enlightenment on the occasion of fasting on the day of Shivratri. He suddenly left home at the age of 19 and went on a remarkable journey in search of the true Shiva (God). He strongly criticized religious superstitions, social evils etc. Women's education, which was the biggest need of that time and he was the biggest supporter for it and a large section of the society had been isolated due to high-low discrimination, he brought them with the main stream of the society. Describing the biggest evil of untouchability and high-caste society for them, called upon them to raise their standard of living and work for education.
  • Sri Aurobindo: Born on 15 August, 1872, Sri Aurobindo was an Indian philosopher, yogi, maharishi, poet, and Indian nationalist. He was also a journalist, editing newspapers such as Vande Mataram. He joined the Indian movement for independence from British colonial rule, until 1910 was one of its influential leaders, and then became a spiritual reformer, introducing his visions on human progress and spiritual evolution. Aurobindo said he felt a vast sense of calmness when he first came back to India. He could not explain this and continued to have various such experiences from time to time. He knew nothing of yoga at that time and started his practice of it without a teacher, except for some rules that he learned from Mr. Devadhar, a friend who was a disciple of Swami Brahmananda of Ganga Math, Chandod. In 1907, Barin introduced Aurobindo to Vishnu Bhaskar Lele, a Maharashtrian yogi. Aurobindo was influenced by the guidance he got from the yogi, who had instructed Aurobindo to depend on an inner guide and any kind of external guru or guidance would not be required.
  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy: Not only the founder of the Brahmo Samaj, Raja Ram Mohan Roy was the most influential social and religious reformers. He is considered as the pioneer of the modern Indian Renaissance for the remarkable reforms he brought in the 18th and 19th century India.
  • Adi Shankara: Adi Shankara, also known as Adi Shankaracharya, was an influential philosopher, theologian, and scholar who lived in India during the 8th century CE. Regarded as one of the greatest thinkers in Hindu philosophy, Shankara played a pivotal role in revitalizing and reestablishing the foundations of Advaita Vedanta, a non-dualistic school of thought. He composed numerous profound commentaries and treatises on ancient scriptures, including the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Brahmasutras, which continue to be studied and revered to this day. Shankara's teachings emphasized the concept of Advaita, the belief in the ultimate oneness of the individual soul (Atman) with the universal consciousness (Brahman). His intellectual prowess and spiritual depth contributed to the consolidation and preservation of Hindu philosophical traditions, leaving a lasting impact on Indian spiritual thought and shaping the course of religious philosophy in the country. Adi Shankara's profound insights and philosophical contributions continue to inspire seekers of truth and remain an integral part of India's philosophical heritage.
  • Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev: 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.
  • Sri Sri Ravishankar: Ravi Shankar was born in Papanasam, Tamil Nadu, to Vishalakshi and R.S.Venkat Ratnam. He 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 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation. In 1981, he split from the Transcendental Meditation (TM) and founded the Art of Living foundation.
  • Dalai Lama: The 14th Dalai Lama was born to a farming family in Taktser (Hongya Village), in the traditional Tibetan region of Amdo (administratively Qinghai Province, Republic of China). He was selected as the tulku of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1937 and formally recognised as the 14th Dalai Lama in a public declaration near the town of Bumchen in 1939. His Holiness the 14th the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He was born Lhamo Dhondrub on 6 July 1935, in a small village called Taktser in northeastern Tibet. Born to a peasant family, His Holiness was recognized at the age of two, in accordance with Tibetan tradition, as the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama, and thus an incarnation Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion.
  • Paramhansa Yogananda: Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) was a great spiritual leader who mesmerized the West with his teachings and founded the Self-Realization Fellowship in California. He was the first yoga master from India to have made America his permanent residence. Born in India in Gorakhpur city, the spiritual leader traveled to the West in 1920 to spread the spiritual concepts of his native land. He traveled the length and breadth of the United States, lectured to packed audiences across the country and wrote a number of books on spiritualism.
  • Mother Teresa: Mother Teresa (1910–1997) was a Roman Catholic nun who devoted her life to serving the poor and destitute around the world. She spent many years in Calcutta, India where she founded the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation devoted to helping those in great need. In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and became a symbol of charitable, selfless work. In 2016, Mother Teresa was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Teresa.

Sum Up

In conclusion, the rich tapestry of India's spiritual landscape is adorned with the profound teachings and exemplary lives of its famous religious leaders and saints. From the ancient seers and sages to the enlightened masters of more recent times, these luminous souls have left an indelible mark on the country's religious and cultural fabric. Through their teachings, they have inspired millions to seek higher truths, embrace compassion, and embark on the path of spiritual awakening. Their lives serve as beacons of light, illuminating the way for generations to come.

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