Famous Indian Spiritual & Religious Leaders

Religion and spirituality hold a significant place in Indian culture. The nation has been known for its spirituality from the past several centuries. Adi Shankara, a philosopher and theologian, is known for consolidating the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta and unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hinduism. Gautama Buddha, the primary figure in Buddhism, was a sage on whose teachings the religion of Buddhism was founded. Some Hindus regard Gautama as the 9th avatar of Vishnu. Mahavira, also known as Vardhamana, was the 24th and last tirthankara, a significant figure in Jainism. He traveled all over South Asia for three decades to teach Jain philosophy. In the late 15th century emerged Guru Nanak who became the founder Prophet of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. He has been called "one of the greatest religious innovators of all time". Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a natural mystic given to spiritual ecstasies from a young age, was regarded as an influential Indian mystic and yogi during the 19th-century. Osho Rajneesh, Kartar Singh Jhabbar, and Maulana Syed Sibte Hasan Naqvi were well-known spiritual and religious leaders of the 20th century. This section provides you information about the life and works of famous Indian spiritual & religious leaders.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Osho Rajneesh

Osho Rajneesh.
14
Famous As: Spiritual leader and Public speaker, Philosopher
Birthdate: December 11, 1931
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kuchwada, Madhya Pradesh, India
Died: January 19, 1990

Osho Rajneesh was an Indian godman and mystic. Also known as Acharya Rajneesh and Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh, he was the founder of the Rajneesh movement. He preached the importance of meditation, mindfulness, celebration,  love, courage, and creativity and called for a more open attitude to human sexuality, because of which he was considered a controversial new religious movement leader. 

 2 Tulsidas

Tulsidas.
5
Famous As: Poet & Saint
Birthdate: 1497 AD
Birthplace: Rajapur
Died: 1623 AD
Tulsidas was a 16th-century Vaishnava saint and poet, who was devoted to the Hindu deity Rama. His most popular works are the Ramcharitmanas, which retells the Sanskrit Ramayana in Awadhi, and the Hanuman Chalisa. He established the Sankatmochan Temple in Varanasi and also began the tradition of Ramlila plays. 
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 3 Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda.
24
Famous As: Indian Monk
Birthdate: January 12, 1863
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Died: July 4, 1902

The founder of the Ramakrishna Mission and Ramakrishna Math, Swami Vivekananda was an Indian Hindu monk, philosopher, and spiritual leader. He is credited with introducing the Indian philosophies of Yoga and Vedanta to the Western world. He is also credited with elevating the status of Hinduism as a major religion in the modern world by raising interfaith awareness.

 4 Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
8
Famous As: Spiritual & humanitarian leader
Birthdate: May 13, 1956
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Papanasam, Tamil Nadu, India

It is believed Indian spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had started reciting the Bhagavad Gita by age 4. After graduating in Vedic literature and physics, he propagated Transcendental Meditation with his guru Mahesh Yogi and later established the Art of Living Foundation, which organizes spiritual courses worldwide.

 5 Neem Karoli Baba

Neem Karoli Baba.
4
Famous As: Guru
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Akbarpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: September 11, 1973

Neem Karoli Baba was a Hindu mystic and devotee of Hanuman. Initially called Baba Lakshman Das, he became known as Neem Karoli Baba after he performed a miracle in the Indian village of Neem Karoli. An extensive traveler, he later gathered a large following, Baba Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) and singer Krishna Das (Jeffrey Kagel) were among some of his prominent disciples.

 6 Sai Baba of Shirdi

Sai Baba of Shirdi.
9
Famous As: Spiritual Guru
Birthdate: September 28, 1835
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pathri
Died: October 15, 1918

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.

 7 Guru Tegh Bahadur

Guru Tegh Bahadur.
7
Famous As: Ninth Sikh Guru
Birthdate: April 1, 1621
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Amritsar
Died: November 24, 1675

Guru Tegh Bahadur, the youngest son of Guru Hargobind Sahib, was the ninth Guru of the Sikhs. His 115 hymns find place in the Guru Granth Sahib. He tried to prevent forced conversion of Hindus and Sikhs into Islam, and was, as a result, executed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

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 8 Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba.
9
Famous As: Spiritual Guru
Birthdate: November 23, 1926
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Puttaparthi
Died: April 24, 2011

Indian guru and philanthropist, Sathya Sai Baba, was both a much-revered and controversial personality. He founded the Sathya Sai Organisation, through which he established a network of free hospitals, clinics, and educational institutions. His devotees believed in his alleged omnipotence and omniscience. His critics have accused him of sexual abuse, money laundering, and fraud.

 9 Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi.
5
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: December 30, 1879
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tiruchuzhi, Virudhunagar, India
Died: April 14, 1950

Indian Hindu sage Ramana Maharshi had run away to Arunachala, a sacred mountain in Tamil Nadu, at 16, and had stayed there throughout his life. He propagated vichara, or self-enquiry, as the primary means of self-realization, instead of the study of scriptures as proposed by the Advaita Vedanta philosophy.

 10 Kabir

Kabir.
4
Famous As: Saint and Mystic Poet
Birthdate: 1440 AD
Birthplace: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: 1518 AD

Kabir was an Indian saint and mystic poet whose works influenced Hinduism's Bhakti movement, which in turn played a key role in the formation of Sikhism, the fifth-largest organized religion in the world. Kabir is an important figure in both Hinduism and Islam and his legacy continues to live through a religious community known as the Kabir panth.

 11 Mahavira

Mahavira.
6
Famous As: Last tirthankara of Jainism
Birthdate: 0599 BC
Birthplace: Vaishali
Died: 0527 BC
Mahavira, or Vardhamana, was the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism. Ancient texts suggest that he was a contemporary of Buddha. Mahavira renounced all worldly possessions at age 30. Following a long life of austerity, he attained Kevala Gyan and Moksha. His teachings came to be known as the Jain Agamas.

 12 A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
9
Famous As: Founder of ISKCON
Birthdate: September 1, 1896
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kolkata
Died: November 14, 1977
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, also known as Srila Prabhupada, was born Abhay Charan De. He founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, better known as ISKCON or the Hare Krishna Movement. He renounced his family and pharmaceutical business to become a Vaishnava monk and was considered a Krishna Chaitanya messenger.

 13 Ramakrishna Paramhamsa

Ramakrishna Paramhamsa.
10
Famous As: Spiritual & Religious Leader
Birthdate: February 18, 1836
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kamarpukur, West Bengal, India
Died: August 16, 1886

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.

 14 Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo.
10
Famous As: Philosopher, Spiritual Leader
Birthdate: August 15, 1872
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Died: December 5, 1950

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.

 15 Jiddu Krishnamurti

Jiddu Krishnamurti.
5
Famous As: Public Speaker & Philosopher
Birthdate: May 12, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Madanapalle
Died: February 17, 1986

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.

 16 Jaggi Vasudev

Jaggi Vasudev.
15
Famous As: Yoga Guru
Birthdate: September 3, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mysore, Karnataka, India

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.

 17 Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda.
6
Famous As: Guru
Birthdate: January 5, 1893
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: March 7, 1952

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.

 18 Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
3
Famous As: Founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Birthdate: February 18, 1486
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nabadwip
Died: 1534 AD

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a 15th-century Indian saint. Some of his disciples consider him to be the combined avatar of Radha and Krishna. His mode of worship characterized by ecstatic song and dance rituals had a deep influence on Vaishnavism in Bengal. He expounded Bhakti yoga and founded Gaudiya Vaishnavism. His birthday is celebrated as Gaura-Purnima by his disciples.  

 19 Guru Arjan

Guru Arjan.
3
Famous As: Fifth Sikh Guru
Birthdate: April 15, 1563
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Goindval
Died: May 30, 1606

 20 Mata Amritanandamayi

Mata Amritanandamayi.
5
Famous As: Spiritual Leader
Birthdate: September 27, 1953
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Parayakadavu, Alappad Panchayath, Kollam District, (now Kerala), India

 21 Ravidas

Ravidas
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1377 AD
Birthplace: Varanasi, India
Died: 1520 AD

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.

 22 Nizamuddin Auliya

Nizamuddin Auliya.
5
Famous As: Sufi Saint
Birthdate: 1238 AD
Birthplace: Budaun
Died: April 3, 1325

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. 

 23 Guru Nanak

Guru Nanak.
4
Famous As: Sikh Guru
Birthdate: April 15, 1469
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nankana Sahib
Died: September 22, 1539

Guru Nanak was the founder of one of the most popular monotheistic religions of the Indian subcontinent, Sikhism. Widely regarded as the first of the ten Sikh Gurus, Nanak contributed 974 hymns to the religion's sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Nanak is worshipped by Sikhs around the world and his birth is celebrated as Guru Nanak Gurpurab.

 24 Guru Gobind Singh

Guru Gobind Singh.
4
Famous As: Warrior
Birthdate: December 22, 1666
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Patna
Died: October 7, 1708
Guru Gobind Singh, the son of Guru Tegh Bahadur, became the 10th guru, or spiritual leader, of the Sikhs after his father was killed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. He established the concept of the “Five Ks” of Sikhs and formed the Khalsa community. He also finalized the Guru Granth Sahib.

 25 Guru Hargobind

Guru Hargobind.
3
Famous As: Sixth Sikh Guru
Birthdate: July 5, 1595
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Amritsar
Died: March 19, 1644

 26 Ramdev

Ramdev.
21
Famous As: Yoga Guru
Birthdate: December 25, 1965
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mahendragarh

 27 Namdev

Namdev
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 26, 1270
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Narasi, India
Died: July 3, 1350

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.

 28 Adi Shankara

Adi Shankara.
0
Famous As: Advaita Philosopher
Birthdate: 0788 AD
Birthplace: Kalady
Died: 0820 AD
Indian philosopher and theologian Adi Shankaracharya, or Adi Shankara, promoted the Hindu philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. His Sanskrit works talk about concepts such as the Ātman and Nirguna Brahman. He criticized the Mīmāṃsā school and explained the differences between Hinduism and Buddhism. He also established four "mathas," or monasteries.

 29 Jnanadeva

Jnanadeva
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1275 AD
Birthplace: Alandi, India
Died: 1296 AD

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.  

 30 Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
4
Famous As: Founder of Ahmadiyya Sect
Birthdate: February 13, 1835
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Qadian
Died: May 26, 1908

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was an Indian religious leader. He is credited with founding the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which is an Islamic revival movement. A prolific author, Ghulam Ahmad wrote over 90 books on various theological, moral, and religious subjects. He continues to be revered as a subordinate prophet by Ahmadi Muslims, which is often debated by mainstream Muslims.

 31 Dayanand Saraswati

Dayanand Saraswati.
5
Famous As: Indian philosopher
Birthdate: February 12, 1824
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tankara, Gujarat
Died: October 30, 1883

 32 Guru Angad

Guru Angad.
3
Famous As: Second Sikh Guru
Birthdate: March 31, 1504
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sri Muktsar Sahib
Died: March 28, 1552

 33 Guru Amar Das

Guru Amar Das.
3
Famous As: Third Sikh Guru
Birthdate: May 5, 1479
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Amritsar
Died: September 1, 1574

 34 Guru Har Krishan

Guru Har Krishan.
3
Famous As: Eighth Sikh Guru
Birthdate: July 23, 1656
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kiratpur Sahib
Died: March 30, 1664

 35 Gaur Gopal Das

Gaur Gopal Das.
4
Famous As: Spiritual Leader, Motivational Speaker
Birthdate: December 24, 1973
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Maharashtra

Gaur Gopal Das is an Indian lifestyle coach and motivational speaker. An alumnus of the College of Engineering, Pune, he worked as an engineer for several years before joining the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). He is the author of Life's Amazing Secrets and has millions of followers on YouTube.  

 36 Guru Har Rai

Guru Har Rai.
3
Famous As: Seventh Sikh Guru
Birthdate: January 16, 1630
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kiratpur
Died: October 6, 1661

 37 Meher Baba

Meher Baba.
3
Famous As: Religious Leader
Birthdate: February 25, 1894
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Poona, India
Died: January 31, 1969

Meher Baba, or the Awakener, is best remembered for his 44-year silence, during which he chiefly communicated through an alphabet board. Born into a Parsi family, he later came under the influence of spiritual leaders such as Hazrat Babajan, and started the Meher Baba Movement, in search of spiritual consciousness.

 38 Swaminarayan

Swaminarayan
3
Famous As: Religious leader
Birthdate: April 3, 1781
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chhapaiya, India
Died: June 1, 1830

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. 

 39 Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
33
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 15, 1967
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sri Gurusar Modia, Rajasthan, India

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is an Indian social group leader best known as the head of a group named Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS). Prior to his rape conviction in 2017, Ram Rahim was a famous religious leader, music composer, actor, singer, songwriter, writer, and director. In 2015, he was named among the 100 most powerful Indians by The Indian Express.

 40 Narayana Guru

Narayana Guru.
3
Famous As: Spiritual Leader, Social Reformer
Birthdate: August 20, 1856
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chempazhanthy, Thiruvananthapuram, India
Died: September 20, 1928

Born in Travancore in India, Narayana Guru was the son of a teacher and studied in a gurukula. He grew up to lead a social reform movement against the caste system that he saw in erstwhile Kerala. He believed in the motto One Caste, One Religion, One God for All.

 41 Madhvacharya

Madhvacharya
6
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 1238 AD
Birthplace: Pajaka, India
Died: 1317 AD

 42 Guru Ram Das

Guru Ram Das.
3
Famous As: Fourth Sikh Guru
Birthdate: October 9, 1534
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lahore
Died: September 1, 1581

 43 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
0
Famous As: Founder of Transcendental Meditation Technique
Birthdate: January 12, 1918
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: India
Died: February 5, 2008

Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is best remembered for pioneering the concept of Transcendental Meditation. A disciple of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, he started the TM-Sidhi program, founded the Natural Law Party, and launched the non-profit Global Country of World Peace. He also set up TM teaching centers worldwide.

 44 Charaka

Charaka
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 0100 AD
Birthplace: India
Died: 0200 AD

 45 Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy.
3
Famous As: Indian spiritual leader
Birthdate: August 27, 1931
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Shakpura Village, Chittagong District, East Bengal, British India (now Bangladesh)
Died: October 11, 2007

 46 Keshab Chunder Sen

Keshab Chunder Sen
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: November 19, 1838
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kolkata, India
Died: January 8, 1884

 47 Gorakhnath

Gorakhnath
3
Famous As: Hindu yogi
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Jais

 48 Swami Sivananda

Swami Sivananda
3
Famous As: Spiritual & Yoga Teacher
Birthdate: September 8, 1887
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pattamadai, Tamil Nadu, India
Died: July 14, 1963

 49 Chandrasekharendra Saraswati

Chandrasekharendra Saraswati
3
Famous As: Leader
Birthdate: May 20, 1894
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Viluppuram, India
Died: January 8, 1994

 50 Vallabhacharya

Vallabhacharya
2
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 27, 1479
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Champaran, India
Died: June 26, 1531