An Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and a missionary, Mother Teresa was the founder of Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation. She was both an admired and controversial figure and was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. While she was admired by many for her charitable work, she also earned criticism for her stance against abortion and contraception.
Marathi poet Sant Tukaram was one of the pillars of the Bhakti movement of Maharashtra. It is believed he began writing abhangas, or religious poetry, after being visited by Vitthal, an avatar of Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna, in a dream. He is revered by the Varkari sampradaya.
Rishi Agastya, one of the Saptarishi, appears in the Puranas and is said to have authored texts such as the Agastya Gita. Legend has it that the Vindhya range lies flat as Agastya had asked it to lie flat till he got back from the South, and then never returned.
Samarth Ramdas was an Indian saint, poet, writer, philosopher, and spiritual master. He worked towards resurrecting the Hindu culture after it was impaired by several foreign invasions in India. He also worked towards promoting and preserving the Maratha culture. He also supported the participation of women in social and religious work, which was uncommon at that time.
Swami Sivananda was an Indian yoga guru and spiritual teacher. Sivananda was working as a physician before embracing monasticism. He is credited with founding a spiritual organization called the Divine Life Society (DLS) which currently has branches around the world. His disciple Vishnudevananda popularized a spiritual yoga system which is named after Swami Sivananda.
Sant Eknath was an Indian Hindu saint, philosopher, and poet who lived in the 16th-century. A devotee of the Hindu deity Krishna, he is considered a major figure of the Warkari tradition. Hindu scholars often view him as a spiritual successor to the prominent Marathi saints Dnyaneshwar and Namdev. He wrote a variation of the Hindu religious text Bhagavata Purana.
Ramananda was a 14th-century Vaishnava devotional poet-saint who lived in India. He is considered the founder of the Bairagi Sampradaya, popularly known as the Ramanandi Sect. He was a pioneering figure of the Bhakti movement and an early social reformer. Unlike many other saints of his era, he accepted disciples without any caste or gender discrimination.
Nizamuddin Auliya was an Indian Sunni Muslim scholar and Sufi saint of the Chishti Order. He stressed love as a means of realizing God and believed that love of God implies love of humanity. He is considered one of the most famous Sufis from the Indian Subcontinent. His teachings were marked by an evolved sense of religious pluralism and kindness.
Basava was an Indian poet, philosopher, social reformer, statesman, and saint who lived in the 12th century AD. He is credited with spreading social awareness through his poems. Although hagiographic texts and traditional legends claim that Basava founded Lingayatism, modern scholars believe that he refined and popularized the already existing religious tradition, which is popular in Karnataka, South India.
Ravidas was an Indian mystic, social reformer, poet-saint, and spiritual figure. An influential personality, Ravidas taught his followers to disregard social divisions of gender and caste that were prevalent in India at that time. The Ravidassia sect, a religious sect of Vaishnavism, is based on Ravidas' teachings. Ravidas is revered even today as a saint by his followers.
Jnanadeva was an Indian poet, philosopher, saint, and yogi who lived in the 13th century AD. He is credited with authoring Dnyaneshwari, the oldest surviving work in the Marathi language. He is also credited with co-founding the Varkari Bhakti movement tradition of Hinduism. Over the years, Jnanadeva's legacy has inspired several saint-poets, including Tukaram and Eknath.
Fourth-century Buddhist philosopher Asaṅga is remembered for establishing the Yogācāra school of idealism. Though born to a high-caste Purusapura court priest, he himself turned to the Mahāyāna tradition of Buddhism and later contributed immensely to the Vijñānavāda, or the Doctrine of Consciousness. Mahāyāna-saṃgraha remains one of his best-known works.
Bahinabai was a renowned Varkari saint from Maharashtra and a disciple of Sant Tukaram. At 5, she was married off to a 30-year-old widower and was herself widowed early. Though illiterate, she evoked a variety of emotions through her oral abhangas, often written down by her son, Sopandev Chaudhari
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
Namdev was an Indian saint and poet best remembered for his devotion to Lord Vitthal of Pandharpur. He is credited with popularizing the Vithoba faith, which first emerged in the 12th century. Along with Ravidas, Kabir, Hardas, and Dadu, Namdev is revered as a guru (teacher) in the Dadupanth tradition of Hinduism.
Thiruppaan Alvar, one of the greatest azhwar saints and Vaishnava musicians of Southern India, was born into the Paanar community of musicians, who were social outcasts to some extent. Also known as Paanar Perumal, he composed the iconic Amalan Adhipiraan, dedicated to Lord Srirangam Ranganathaswamy.
Lalleshwari was a 14th-century Kashmiri mystic. She belonged to the Kashmir Shaivism school of philosophy and originated the style of mystic poetry called vatsun or vakhs. Her works have a significant place in the history of Kashmiri literature. She was known by several aliases, including Lal Ded, Lal Dyad, Lal Diddi, and Lalla Yogishwari/Yogeshwari.
Legend has it that Dadu Dayal was found floating in the Sabarmati river by a rich businessman named Lodhi Ram. Dadu initially worked as a cotton carder but later became a religious preacher who rejected Vedic superiority and caste barriers. He founded Dadu Panth and wrote countless devotional hymns.
Eighteenth-century Bengali poet Ramprasad Sen was one of the finest Hindu Shakta poets, whose works mirrored his devotion to goddess Shakti. Starting his career as an accountant of an affluent Kolkata employer, he later became court poet of Raja Krishnachandra and wrote Bidyasundar, which mixed Tantric elements and eroticism.