64. Global Influence Of Indian Spiritual Gurus

There are innumerable gurus , who are born in this holy land. They come and go unnoticed; yet they would have worked wonders for the spiritual awakening of millions, the real unsung & unknown heroes. Here let us discuss a few great personalities in brief to inspire ourselves.

Gautama Buddha (5th Century B.C.) :

Buddha, the ever-shinning lamp of India whose effulgence has spread throughout the world, is a personification of peace, compassion and wisdom. He strolled on the sacred soil of India 2500 years ago, preaching the gospel of salvation and social rising up.

Born amidst pleasures in a royal family, the Siddhartha accidentally hit upon the human sufferings. He came out from his golden cage, straight into human agony. His quest took him to every ascetic person, but could not find the answer for his quest. At last at Gaya (in today's Bihar), under a Bodhi tree, he realized his self and found the cause for the human sufferings. Henceforth he became the Buddha and delivered the greatest solutions for human sufferings in most systematic and scientific way.

Buddhism had spread to many parts of the world and mostly influenced China and other parts of Asia. With the spread of Buddhism, the Indian culture had also spread into the world


Mahaveer (B.C. 599-527) :

The Founder of the Jain religion. In his thirties he left his family and became a wandering monk in search of reality. He attained 'Jnana' and wandered spreading and explaining the truth, to all people alike, that was revealed to him.


Adi Sankaracharya (1st Century B.C.) :

Today "Modern Science" has recognized the universe to be undivided single stream of consciousness. But two thousand years ago the same knowledge was made known to the world by Adi Sankara, through his doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. Because of sincere & enduring penace the sacred couple Aryamba and Sivaguru could beget such a brilliant child "Sankara". He was born in a Village called Kaladi in Kerala. This boy wrote his first book at the age of six. At his young age, many Kings & great personalities used to consult him to seek knowledge and get their doubts cleared on subtler aspects of religion. At the age of eight he sought the permission from his mother to take up Sanyasa and attained it after great difficulty. Afterwards, without caring what to eat and where to go, he wandered from Kerala to Madhya Pradesh on foot and met his Guru "Govindapada" on the bank of Narmada River.

After completing his education, Sankara with the blessings of his guru started writing commentaries (Bhashyas) on Upanishads. He wrote commentaries for Bhagwad Gita, Upanishads and Brahmasutras, which are known as PrasthanTraya and were praised even by great pandits.

Kabir Das (1440-1518) :

In the medieval ages, India was gifted with many great souls who had drenched this land with gigantic tides of devotion and spirituality. One such crown jewel is "Kabir". He was a devotee of Ram, though born in a Muslim family. He advocated the impersonal aspect of God and wrote several books full of "Saakis" (devotional songs of spiritual wisdom) He stood as the symbol of confluence of Sufi (Muslim philosophy and Bhakti tradition of Hindusim).

Guru Nanak (1400-1539) :

The founder of Sikh religious thought. He strongly believed that the whole universe is God's creation and all beings are his children. God is the only reality and is the omnipresent creator, protector and assimilator. "One should never hurt others" is the central theme of his philosophy. Today, Gurunanak's followers are spread throughout the world.

Meera Bai (1547-1614):

Meerabai is India's external symbol for devotion. Her songs on Lord Krishna, the Giridhara Gopala, still echo in every Indian heart.


Chaitanya Maha Prabhu (1485-1533) :

He is the Adi Guru who who pronounced the Krishna Tatwa to the world. Krishna Chaitanya or Chaitanya Maha Prabhu hailed from Bengal. His travel to Gaya had brought within him great transformation. Days together he used to spend in constant meditation, without food and sleep. Among his writings only eight slokas are available (Siksa Ashtakas), Chaitanya's devotional eulogies about Lord Krishna remain as eternal inspiration to many.


Sant Tulasi Das (1532-1623) :

When we hear the name, "Rama Charita Manas", we remember Tulasi Das. Ram Charitra Manas is also known as, "Tulasi Ramayan". Goswami is the other name of Tulasidas. Every Indian household, whether in South or North of India recite Ramacharitamanas with devotion and sacredness. Along with Lord Rama, Tulasi's eternal words remain in the hearts of millions of Indians. Though he was a Sanskrit scholar, he wrote many books in colloquial languages of Awadhi & Vraja. His books are Vinaya patrika, Krishna Geetavali and Dohavali and Kavitavali.

Surdas (1479-1589) :

Surdas was blind by birth. He could see everything with his mind's eye. Once his parents had lost two Gold coins, he pointed them, where they lay inspite of his blindness. He was a child prodigy. He propagated Bhakti marga and wrote many devotional songs. Surdas practiced the "Pushti marga", which is filled with devotion, compassion and contentment. He wrote about one lakh devotional songs called "Sura Sagar", but today only 8000 songs are available. He lived on the banks of the Ganga.

Saint Thyagaraja (1767-1847) :

Saint Thyagaraja is considered to be the pillar of Carnatic music. Being a devotee of Lord Rama, Thyagaraja showed the world that devotion is the best way to obtain liberation. He had written thousands of Kirtanas, each composed in specific melody or raga. His songs remain to us as the treasure house of carnatic music. He had also written musical works like Nauka Charitham and Prahalada Bhakti Vijayam. Thyagaraja is considered to be a personification of Narada, Paraasara, Pundareeka and Prahlada. He had the darshan of Lord Rama and obtained Samadhi. Indian music is eternal so is the name of Thyagaraja.

Swami Narayan (1781-1830) :

As Ramanuja of South, Swami Narayan of Gujarat belongs to broad minded Vaishnava tradition. Countless followers from all walks flocked around him. He continued his mission of transporting and transforming the man from material realm to spiritual domain. At the age of seven, he had mastered, Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads by heart. At the age of eleven, he renounced the world.


Swami Dyananda Saraswati (1824-1883) :

The founder of Arya Samaj. He dedicated his entire life to re-establish the vedic truths and Vedic dharma; shunning idolatory. His childhood name was Moola Shankar. He left home in search of truth after an incident on Shivratri day. In 1860, he became a disciple of Virajananda, at Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. In 1875, he started Arya Samaj and wrote his eternally powerful book "Satyartha Prakash" (Light of Truth). He traveled length and breadth of the country holding discussions with scholars, initiating followers into Arya Samaj by inducing them to adhere to Yagnas. He wrote interpretations to Vedas and tried his best to revive the Vedic knowledge.


Shirdi Saibaba (1836-1918) :

Today millions and millions of people in India worship Shirdi Saibaba, as the greatest Satguru, who appears to them, in the form of their Ishta devata (adoring Godhood like Rama, Krishna, Siva, Ganesha, Durga etc). Nobody knows the background of Saibaba. But he was brought up as a Sufi Fakir and later Venkusha became his guru. He appeared at Shirdi in the year 1954 and stayed there in a dilapidated mosque, the rest of his life. His life was filled with miracles and he had transformed many materialistic persons into spiritual seekers. He has Muslim and Hindu followers.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa (1836-1885) :

He lived as an ordinary priest; but manifested the extraordinary devotion towards Mother Kali. He propagated that truth is one but scholars say it differently. He had found the point of convergence of various religious paths in Sanatana Dharma, the Universal Religion. Today, in his name stands the Ramakrishna Mission, which is rendering spiritual, cultural and social service to the mankind. The branchers of Ramakrishna mission are present worldwide.

His companion was Sri Sarada Devi, who had been the embodiment of purity and motherhood. She had become the real mother of many spiritual seekers. Sri Ramachandra looked upon every woman as manifestation of Divine Mother including his wife.

Aurobindo (1872-1950) :

Aurobindo was a great revolutionary turned spiritual guru, who had influenced Westerners into Yogic way of living. Born at Calcutta in the year 1872, he had his education at Cambridge, passed his Civil Service Examination and returned to India in 1893. After working as professor and administrator for sometime at Baroda, he went to Bengal and joined active politics and started a revolutionary paper called "Bande Mataram". He was jailed for his anti-government activities in Alipur. He suddenly realized his spiritual mission and arrived at Pondicherry and stayed there for the rest of his life, teaching many spiritual seekers the Yogic way of life.

The greatest classics written by Aurobindo are "The Life Divine", "Synthesis of Yoga" and the famous epic "Savithri". His famous disciple is a French lady called Mirra, whom the world calls as Holy Mother.

Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) :

The young Indian rebel monk criss-crossed the world and proudly proclaimed the greatness of India. To the world, he thundered "India never dies nor did it die". It only went into a temporary slumber and bound to wake up surely with rejuvenating vigour very soon.

He was a man of words and actions too. He awakened the nation, trained the young sanyasins to work for the poor & downtrodden. He established Ramakrishna mutt. He invited foreigners to come and work for India. He only asked them to love his country (India) as a reciprocatory gesture (Guru Dakshina) for teaching them Vedanta.

His childhood name was Narendranath Dutta and was a youth of reasoning nature. He wanted to meet a person who had seen God and that search took him to a divine incarnation Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa. The first meeting ended in an ever lasting bondage between them. He was chiseled, moulded and was prepared for the great task by the noble master Sri Ramakrishna. Naren became the leader of a core group of disciples after the demise of Sri Ramakrishna. He took sanyasa and wandered the length and breadth of the country feeling for the plight of Indians, meeting Maharajas and explaining to them about their duty towards the Motherland.

He travelled to the West with a mission of helping the West spiritually and taking the help from the West materially to rouse India. He became instantly popular at the world Parliament of Religions and his first address and his first words, "Brothers & Sisters of America", stirred the hearts of millions. A wave of spiritual awakening drenched the land of opportunities (America) and India became a land of sacredness to Westerners who heard him. From 1893 to 1897, he went round America and Europe and returned to India. In his last two years of life, he moulded many young sanyasins of Ramakrishna order and finally left the body to become a voice without form in the year 1902.

He lives today in spirit and inpires many about India and Spirituality. Netaji, Gandhiji, Nehru, Aurobindo, Tilak, Dr. Hedgewar, Guru Golwalkar, Jamshedji Tata, Mysore Maharaja, Rajas of Khetri, Ramnad etc were all inspired by his teaching and became the Architects of National Independence movement. He had even inspired Westerners like Rockfeller, Henry Ford, Leo Tolstoy, Margaret Nobel, Roman Rolland and many reputed singers, artists, millionaires and even commoners about spiritual living and social service.


Paramhansa Yogananda (1893-1952) :

Mukundalal Ghosh was born in 1983. After completing his education; he met his master "Sri Yukteswara Giri" in 1910 and became a sanyasin in 1917 and was called Swami Yogananda. His small effort of making the kriya yoga popular had become the gigantic spiritual institution of "Yogada satsang". In 1920 he left to America to propagate the Indian Yogic way of life and "Kriya Yoga" among Westerners. He became popular and was very much sought after. In 1946, he published his book named "An Autobiography of an Yogi". It is the international best seller and has sold more than 20 million copies after being translated into many Indian and foreign languages. He passed away in the year 1952 in America. His body remained fresh & pure for twenty days after his demise. This was a wonder to the medical community and the above fact is clearly mentioned in the post mortem report of this great Yogi.


Brahma Baba (1876-1869) :

Brahma Baba is the founder of Brahmakumari's World's Spiritual Univerisity Movement, which propagates the core values of human life Patience, Tolerance, Sacrifice, Kindness and Love. These values become the foundation of spiritual progress, human relations and better living. Today this spiritual institution has become a global phenomenon with its branch centres spread all over the world.

Brahma Baba's childhood name was Lekhraj Kripalani. He was a successful jewellery merchant. At the age of sixty he had continuous spiritual visions, which guided his spiritual mission. Since then he moulded many young people with the core spiritual values of life. In October 1937, Brahma Baba formed a Managing Committee of eight young women and in February 1938, he surrendered all his property and assets to a Trust administered by them.

Jiddu Krishna Murthy (1895-1986) :

Krishna, the eighth child of an employee working in the Theosophical society at Madras, had the good fortune of being associated with great souls and noble philosophers from his childhood. He had been identified as a future messiah by a great crystal gazer called "Lead bearer". Thesophical society considered him to be the future head of the movement and had sponsored him to study in England. Young Krishnamurthy went to England along with his brother. The sudden demise of his brother had brought a change in him and he started expounding the philosophical intricacies in an independent manner. He had grown beyond the banner the Theosophical Society and exhorted to everybody that spiritual pursuit should be always independent and individualistic. He travelled throughout the world, yet distanced himself from the followers and "Gurudom". At the age of ninety he returned to India and visited all his places of childhood. He delivered a lecture in UN and received a UN peace medal. He lived in tune with the nature and he wanted everybody to accept nature as one's own and live a blissful life with awareness.


Ramachandraji Maharaj (1899-1983) :

Sri Ramchandra was a spiritual guru. He hails from Shajahanpur (UP). He was the founder of Shri Rama Chandra Mission. According to the commandment of his guru Lalaji Maharaj of Fatehgarh (fondly called Shri Ram Chandra), he established the Shri Ram Chandra Mission and the path is called Sahaja Marg. God can be realized through meditation on the heart. The spiritual powers transmitted from the master through the preceptor to the Abhyasi (disciple). The transmission enhances the spiritual energy of the aspirant. As the aspirant practices the meditation regularly with certain moral disciplines; the sadhak or abhyasi excels in his spiritual progress. Today this mission has world wide following and reputation. This method is combination of Bhakti Yoga (devotion & surrender to guru) & Raja Yoga (spiritual transmission).


Swami Chinmayananda (1916-1993) :

Bala Krishna was born in 1916 in Cochin. He was a bright child and good thinker on national issues and human problems. He worked as journalist before independence and had been to jail. He met many sadhus and saints at Rishikesh and had assimilated knowledge of Vedanta. He took Sanyasa with the name "Chinmayananda" and became a world famous personality by that name. He had awakened Indians and Westerners to spiritual values of life. He had established Chinmaya Mission, which has 250 branches throughout the world. He conducted discourses on Gita and Upanishads across the world. He had trained many spiritual seekers in Vedantic Literature and advised them to spread the message of Vedanta. He had established many schools for Children and even a University at Mumbai. Today Chinmaya Mission has the worldwide presence.

Mahesh Yogi (1917-) :

Maharshi Mahesh Yogi's institutions are visible to us throughout the world. Millions and millions of foreigners are practicing Mahesh Yogi's method of transcendental meditation. He hails from Jabalpur of North India. A graduate in Physics from Allahabad University, he became the secretary to Sri Brahmananda Saraswati of Joshi Math, Badrinath and served from 1940 to 1953. He did severe penance at Uttarkashi before he became the Maharshi Mahesh Yogi. In 1957 he started a movement called Spiritual Regeneration Movement. That small sapling, is today's gigantic banyan tree of Mahesh Yogi's International Universities and Institutions spread across the world with spirituality being it's under spread.

Mata Amritanandamayi (1953-) :

Mother gives us birth. Mother protects us. Mother nourishes us; Mother teaches us; Mother loves us; Mother patiently withstands our faults and absolves us. Mother scolds us and corrects us; Mother wants her children to be happy and progressive. Today world is gifted with such a spiritual mother, who wanted her children to be happy and to progress in the domain of spirituality. "Amma" or "Ammachi" or Mata Amirtanandamayi is our spiritual morther, who embraces the millions every day to give them spiritual awakening and spiritual warmth. Millions of spiritual seekers from all parts of the world rush to her and pour out their hearts; millions of devotees are attracted towards her and confess their material difficulties; scholar, saint, president, peon, rich person, sinner and sick patient, all are loved equally by her. Once she sat continuously for twenty hours and had embraced fifty five thousand people; she sings devotional songs in 30 languages; she has initiated many service activities like establishing schools, colleges, hospitals, rural development programmes etc. She cleans the wounds of leprosy patients personally and even embraces them.

The saga of transformation of the little girl Sudhamani from a remote fishing hamlet of Kerala to the Universal Mother is replete with hurdles, difficulties, slanders and even brickbats. She accepted every situation in life and completely surrendered herself to the divine power by eternally manifesting, her heart of nectar "Amrita hridayam". Modern Indian is fortunate to have such a divine dynamo in its midst.


Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (1956-) :

To make life blissful, one should learn the art of living. Tensions, targets and treachery; the corporate world is filled with them and executives or professionals of 21st century in every country of the world are its victims. A guru from South India went around the world and motivated them the art of living to unfold their personalities and to overcome their material difficulties with calm and cool mind. His meditation techniques, his value oriented spiritual tips are attracting intellectuals and professionals in every part of the world. He tours 35 countries every year to awaken the spiritual potential to millions.

Baba Ramdev :

Western world and modern India are crazy about health. Yoga assures them of health. Ramdev Baba is a gigantic Yogic wave that has lit the millions and millions of hearts throughout the world with the light of yoga. He has not limited himself to Yoga; He had couples the ancient Indian medical knowledge of Ayurveda with Yoga and is propagating the efficacy of both the Indian systems throughout the world. He had established a huge therapy centre and research unit at Haridwar through his "Divya Yoga Sadhana Trust" His guru Sri Baldevji had blessed him to undertake this divine mission of enlightening the world with Yoga, Ayurveda and Indian values.

India never lacked in spiritual talent. It is eternally filled with spiritual talent. The above-mentioned list of gurus is not an "all-inclusive list". They only represent the tip of the spiritual iceberg that lies inside the Spiritual Ocean of consciousness.



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