Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the second President of India and served from 1962 to 1967. He is regarded as one of India’s most eminent scholars and wrote extensively on Indian philosophy and religion. Lifelong he defended Hindu traditions and culture against criticism from the West. September 5, his birthday, is observed as Teachers Day in India, in his honour.
Savitribai Phule was a revolutionary social reformer who dedicated her life to educate girls and bring about gender equality in the face of resistance from the conservative Indian society. Phule, who was illiterate till her marriage, went on to become a teacher, a feat considered first by an Indian woman. With her husband, she established schools for girls in Maharashtra.
Anand Kumar is an Indian educator who teaches mathematics. He is renowned for his educational program called Super 30, which selects 30 economically underprivileged candidates and trains them for IIT-JEE, potentially giving them an opportunity to get into the Indian Institutes of Technology. His life and career inspired the film Super 30, in which Anand Kumar's character was played by Hrithik Roshan.
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was an Indian social reformer and educator. He is best remembered for his efforts to modernize and simplify Bengali prose for which he is widely regarded as the father of Bengali prose. As a social reformer, Vidyasagar played a crucial role in enacting the Hindu Widows' Remarriage Act, which legalized the remarriage of Hindu widows in India.
Known for her humility and simplicity, Indian philanthropist and author Sudha Murty had humble beginnings as a TELCO engineer. She is married to Infosys co-founder Narayan Murty and heads the Infosys Foundation. The Padma Shri winner has penned over 200 titles, such as Dollar Bahu, in both Kannada and English.
The recipient of Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award of India, Jaggi Vasudev is a mystic, yogi, and author. His spiritual program called inner engineering is famous all over the world, particularly in the Western world. Popularly known as Sadhguru, Jaggi Vasudev's yoga programs, environmental initiatives, and educational and social initiatives have earned him celebrity status in India.
Madan Mohan Malaviya was an Indian educational reformer and politician. He is best remembered for playing an important role in India's freedom struggle. He served as the president of the Indian National Congress on three occasions and founded a political party named Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha. He also co-founded Central Hindu College and worked towards promoting modern education in India.
Ramon Magsaysay Award-winning Indian author Mahasweta Devi is regarded as a gem of the Bengali literary world. She had also been a left-wing social activist, and her works such as Hajar Churashir Maa and Rudali have either tribals or people from the marginalized communities as their protagonists.
Mohan Agashe is an Indian actor and psychiatrist. Best known for his work in the fields of psychopharmacology and clinical psychology, Agashe played a major role in founding the Maharashtra Institute of Mental Health. As an actor, Mohan Agashe has won many prestigious awards, such as the Sahitya Akademi Award, Thespo Lifetime Achievement Award, and Filmfare Best Villain Award.
Dhondo Keshav Karve was an Indian social reformer who worked for women's welfare in India. A pioneer in supporting widows' education, Karve also promoted widow remarriage. He also walked the talk by marrying a widow. Karve is credited with founding SNDT Women's University, India's first women's university. In 1958, he was honored with India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.
Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi was an Indian Islamic scholar. A member of the famous Naqshbandī Sufi order, Sirhindi was widely known as a reviver for his work in resurrecting Islam during Mughal Emperor Akbar's reign. He is also remembered for his contributions to Sufi practices and epistemology. There is a shrine named Rauza Sharif dedicated to Sirhindi in Sirhind, Punjab, India.
Henry Louis Vivian Derozio was an Anglo-Indian poet who became the assistant headmaster of Hindu College, Kolkata. He was born to a Christian Indo-Portuguese father and an English mother in British India. A brilliant young man, he was a radical thinker of his time, and his activities kindled the intellectual revolution in Bengal. Unfortunately, he died at the age of 22.
Bhai Vir Singh was an Indian poet, scholar, and theologian. He was a prominent figure of the Sikh revival movement and made significant contributions to the renewal of Punjabi literary tradition. The son of a physician, he received both traditional indigenous training as well as modern English education. He was one of the founders of the Punjab & Sind Bank.
Ebrahim Alkazi was an Indian drama teacher and theatre director. Alkazi is credited with directing more than 50 plays, including popular productions like Tughlaq, Ashadh Ka Ek Din, and Andha Yug. A noted art collector, Alkazi is also credited with founding the Art Heritage Gallery. In 2010, Ebrahim Alkazi was honored with the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian award.
T. Balasaraswati was an Indian dancer best remembered for her contribution to the popular classical dance form, Bharatanatyam. Balasaraswati is credited with popularizing the dance form throughout India and in different parts of the world. In 1977, she was honored with India's second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan. In 1981, she received the prestigious Sangeetha Kalasikhamani award.
Along with his brother Sanatana Goswami, Rupa Goswami had arrived in Vrindavan as a servant of spiritual leader Lord Chaitanya, who is considered an incarnation of Lord Krishna. A Gaudiya Vaishnava philosopher, he wrote on the science of rasa-tattva. His followers are known as Rupanugas.
Indian-born poet Meena Alexander spent most of her childhood in Sudan, owing to her father’s job. She then acquired a PhD in English from the U.K. and moved to the U.S., where she wrote and taught. Known for works such as Illiterate Heart, Meena experimented with themes such as migration.
Rama Tirtha, also known as Ram Soami, was a 20th-century religious leader who propagated the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta. Initially a math professor, he developed an interest in Advaita Vedanta after meeting Indian monk Swami Vivekananda. He eventually left his family to turn into an ascetic and later drowned in the Ganges.
Founder of Buddhist epistemology and reasoning, Dignāga is best known for his magnum opus, Compendium of the Means of True Knowledge (Pramāṇa-samuccaya). Composed in highly elliptical verse format, the treaty laid the foundation of Buddhist logic, influencing Buddhist scholars in India and Tibet for centuries to come, also exerting great influence on Hindu thinkers of the Nyaya School
The son of former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in India, Akhilesh Das was not just a qualified lawyer but also boasted of a PhD in management. A talented badminton player, he had also headed the Badminton Association of India. He had also represented the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Śāntaraksita was an Indian Buddhist philosopher of the Madhyamaka School. An influential and important philosopher, Śāntaraksita is credited with founding Tibet's first Buddhist monastery, Samye. Śāntaraksita influenced several generations of philosophers; among his notable students were Dharmamitra, Haribhadra, and Kamalaśīla.
Known for his mastery over English, Indian orator V. S. Srinivasa Sastri was also a noted independence activist, politician and writer. A close follower of Gopal Krishna Gokhale and a friend of Mahatma Karamchand Gandhi, he took part in various international delegations and was seen as too sympathetic to British rule in India by many nationalistic leaders, including Jawaharlal Nehru.
Indian academic and labor leader Abdul Bari is remembered for his involvement in the freedom struggle, his historic deal with the Tatas, and his efforts to curb slavery and other social ills. He was shot dead while on his way home while serving as the Bihar Provincial Congress Committee president.
Surendranath Dasgupta was an Indian scholar, teacher, and writer. An influential scholar, Dasgupta is best remembered for his book A History of Indian Philosophy, which is among his most-read works. He also served as a professor in popular institutions like Chittagong College and Presidency College.
Apart from being the grandson of famous Islamic scholar Shah Waliullah Dehlawi, Shah Ismail Dehlvi was also associated with the jihad of Syed Ahmad Barelvi. He was part of the Tariqah-i-Muhammadiyah, a movement, meant to cleanse Islam from Hindu practices, and was later killed in a battle with Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Jitendra Nath Pande was an Indian pulmonologist remembered for his association with the All India Institute of Medical Studies where he worked as a professor, apart from serving as the Head of Medicine. He was also associated with Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science & Research where he worked as a senior consultant. Pande was awarded the Padma Shri in 2021.
Mayadhar Raut is an Indian dancer, choreographer, and teacher. An exponent of Odissi, Raut played a key role in giving the dance form its classical status. A revered teacher, Mayadhar Raut has taught at various institutions including Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra. He has won many prestigious awards like the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and the Padma Shri Award.