Sai Baba of Shirdi was an important and influential Indian spiritual master. Identified both as a Muslim fakir and a Hindu saint, Sai Baba's teachings are still relevant among Muslim and Hindu communities around the world. While Shri Sai remains a common name for establishments in India, his temples are also located in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Australia, and Asia.
The widely revered Hindu religious leader and saint who had a large following was known for promoting the ancient Indian philosophy of Advaita Vedanta and Bhakti. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was a devotee of Goddess Kali who he worshipped as the universal mother. His marriage to Sharada Devi was never consummated. Swami Vivekanada was the most famous disciple of the Bengal-born mystic.
Sri Aurobindo was an Indian philosopher, poet, yogi, teacher, and nationalist. He was one of the most influential leaders of the Indian independence movement before becoming a spiritual reformer, focusing on spiritual evolution and human progress. He is credited with founding the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, which continues to serve spiritual aspirants from all over the world.
Paramahansa Yogananda was an Indian Hindu monk, yogi, and guru. He is known for introducing the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his organization Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) / Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India to millions across the world. He authored the book Autobiography of a Yogi and is considered the Father of Yoga in the West.
Religious leader Joseph Smith Jr. is known as the founder of the Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement. He also published the Book of Mormon. He established his communities in Ohio and Missouri and eventually founded the city Nauvoo in Illinois, which became the center of his spiritual activities.
Jiddu Krishnamurti was an Indian philosopher, speaker, and writer. Many years after his death, Krishnamurti's supporters oversee several schools based on his views and ideas. The Krishnamurti Foundation runs several schools in India and foreign countries. Among those who were influenced by his works were Toni Packer, Dada Dharmadhikari, and Achyut Patwardhan.
Born Francesco Forgione, Pio of Pietrelcina changed his name after joining the Capuchin order at age 15. He later became famous for exhibiting stigmata, marks on his body symbolizing the wounds of Jesus. He is revered as the patron saint of adolescents and civil defense volunteers.
Pope John XXIII served as the Bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic Church from 1958 until his death in 1963. He took many people by surprise when he called the historic Second Vatican Council, which addressed relations between the modern world and the Catholic Church. Pope John XXIII was canonized on 27 April 2014.
Born to a poet and carpenter, George Gurdjieff grew up reading a lot of science books in his hometown, Kars. He later laid down the concept of The Fourth Way, stating that humans can overcome their state of waking sleep through methods involving a combination of music, dance, and lectures.
Charles Taze Russell was an American restorationist minister who is credited with founding the Bible Student movement, which formed the basis for several independent Bible Student groups. He is also credited with co-founding a not-for-profit, non-stock organization called the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, which is an important publisher of religious books in America.
15 Pope Pius IX
Pope Pius IX served as the longest-tenured pope. His reign also witnessed the first Vatican Council and was thus the last pope who had control over the Papal States. He also issued the Syllabus of Errors and inspired books such as The Pope Who Would Be King by David Kertzer.
16 John Bosco
The founder of the Salesian Order, John Bosco, also known as Don Bosco, started his life as a priest in Turin. He began teaching young boys who came to Turin for jobs and later branched out to form a similar institution for girls too, with St. Mary Mazzarello.
Spanish priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla is remembered as the father of Mexican independence. During the 1808 French invasion of Spain, the Mexicans demanded independence from Spanish rule. Hidalgo’s subsequent call for revolt against the Spanish is remembered as the Cry of Dolores. He was executed by a firing squad.
Father Damien was a Roman Catholic priest best remembered for his ministry, which he led for people with leprosy. He is credited with building schools and hospitals to benefit those in need. After caring for those in the leper colony for 11 years, Damien contracted leprosy and succumbed to the disease. He is referred to as a martyr of charity.
Born to a Sudanese shipbuilder, Muhammad Ahmad grew up to become a Sufi religious leader. His war against the Ottoman-Egyptian rule and his capture of Khartoum led him to establish a vast Islamic state. Named the first Mahdi, he was one of the rare African rulers to defeat the British.
Mary MacKillop, the first Australian to be made a saint by the Catholic Church, was born to poor Scottish immigrants and had taken up the reins of her family at age 14. She got a pedophile priest dismissed and is thus revered as a patron saint of sexual abuse victims.
25 The Bāb
Swaminarayan, also known as Sahajanand Swami, was an Indian yogi and ascetic. He is credited to have revived several central Hindu practices of dharma, ahimsa, and brahmacharya. He was initiated into the tradition of Uddhav Sampradaya by his guru and later became the leader of the tradition. He also undertook reforms for women and the poor.
Hudson Taylor was one of the most popular Christian missionaries in China. His 51-year stint in China witnessed him baptizing over 50,000 people. Apart from converting people, he also mingled with the Chinese at a personal level, adopting their clothing habits, contrary to what other missionaries practiced.
31 Mary Slessor
Born into a Scottish working-class family, Mary Slessor had grown up in the slums of Dundee and had initially been a mill worker. She later went to Nigeria as a Presbyterian missionary. She fought against the Nigerian custom of killing twins and later became the first female British Magistrate.
Born to slave parents, American clergyman Richard Allen became a Methodist convert at 22. He later founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church and served as its first bishop. Apart from establishing the first church for Blacks in the U.S., he worked on various aspects to improve the lives of Blacks.
Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, also known as the Abbé Sieyès, was a French Roman Catholic Abbé, clergyman, and political writer. He was a chief political theorist of the French Revolution and held offices in the French Consulate government. He is credited to have coined the term sociologie in an unpublished manuscript. He led a rather uninvolved social life.
Jemima Wilkinson was an American preacher who later became known as the Public Universal Friend after becoming a genderless evangelist. The Public Universal Friend preached throughout the northeastern US. The Friend's teachings attracted several followers who became part of the Society of Universal Friends.
Joseph Franklin Rutherford was an American lawyer who later developed an interest in the teachings of Charles Taze Russell. Eventually, he joined the Bible Student movement and later became the president of the Watch Tower Tract Society. Also an author, Joseph Franklin Rutherford wrote 21 books and distributed almost 400 million booklets and books.
The son of a clergyman, Charles Kingsley later formed the Christian Socialist movement. Remembered for penning children’s fiction such as The Water-Babies, he had also written socially relevant and historical novels. He had also been a professor at the University of Cambridge and a private tutor of Edward VII.
Leonidas Polk was an American Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. He is credited with establishing an Anglican Christian denomination called the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. A political general of the Civil War, Leonidas Polk is remembered for commanding troops in the Battle of Perryville and the Battle of Shiloh among many other battles.
Oliver Cowdery was an American religious leader who played an important role during the developmental duration of the Latter Day Saint movement in the 1830s. The first baptized Latter Day Saint, Cowdery was also the Second Elder of the church and one of the first apostles of the Latter Day Saint movement.
Initially the owner of a furniture business, Martin Franz Julius Luther later joined the Nazi Party. He had been the advisor to Joachim von Ribbentrop. In 1947, a discovery of documents proved he had been part of the Wannsee Conference that had planned the Final Solution for the Jewish genocide.
Tenskwatawa was a Native American political and religious leader. Remembered for changing his ways after a near-death experience, Tenskwatawa led a purification movement that condemned the consumption of alcohol and promoted unity among Native Americans. He became known as the Prophet among his ethnic group and accumulated several followers.
Wilford Woodruff was an American religious leader. From 1889 until his death in 1898, Woodruff served as the president of the Mormon Church. He is credited with ending the public practice of polygamy among the members of the Church in 1890. Woodruff's journals are regarded as an important contribution to the Mormon Church history.
Born into a family of Anglican rectors, Geoffrey Fisher had served as the bishop of Chester and of London, before becoming the archbishop of Canterbury. He later officiated the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and also crowned her as Queen Elizabeth II. He was later made a life peer, as Baron Fisher of Lambeth.