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 Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda
18
Famous As: Indian Monk
Birthdate: January 12, 1863
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India (present-day 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.

 2 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.

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 3 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.

 4 Kabir

Kabir
0
Famous As: Saint and Mystic Poet
Birthdate: 1440 AD
Birthplace: Varanasi
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.

 5 Jiddu Krishnamurti

Jiddu Krishnamurti
0
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.

 6 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.

 7 Mahavira

Mahavira
2
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.
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 8 Ramakrishna Paramhamsa

Ramakrishna Paramhamsa
2
Famous As: Spiritual & Religious Leader
Birthdate: February 18, 1836
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kamarpukur
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.

 9 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.

 10 Neem Karoli Baba

Neem Karoli Baba
0
Famous As: Guru
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Akbarpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: September 11, 1973

 11 Tulsidas

Tulsidas
0
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. 

 12 Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo
2
Famous As: Political and Spiritual Leader
Birthdate: August 15, 1872
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kolkata
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.

 13 Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
0
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.

 14 Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda
0
Birthdate: January 5, 1893
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gorakhpur
Died: March 7, 1952

 15 Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi
0
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: December 30, 1879
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tiruchuzhi, Virudhunagar, India
Died: April 14, 1950

 16 Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
0
Famous As: Founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Birthdate: February 18, 1486
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nabadwip
Died: 1534 AD

 17 Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
2
Famous As: Spiritual & humanitarian leader
Birthdate: May 13, 1956
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Papanasam, Tamil Nadu, India

 18 Meher Baba

Meher Baba
0
Famous As: Religious Leader
Birthdate: February 25, 1894
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Poona, India
Died: January 31, 1969

 19 Swaminarayan

Swaminarayan
0
Famous As: Religious leader
Birthdate: April 3, 1781
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chhapaiya, India
Died: June 1, 1830

 20 Gaur Gopal Das

Gaur Gopal Das
0
Famous As: Spiritual Leader, Motivational Speaker
Birthdate: December 24, 1973
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Maharashtra

 21 Narayana Guru

Narayana Guru
0
Famous As: Spiritual Leader, Social Reformer
Birthdate: August 20, 1856
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chempazhanthy, Thiruvananthapuram, India
Died: September 20, 1928

 22 Nizamuddin Auliya

Nizamuddin Auliya
0
Famous As: Sufi Saint
Birthdate: 1238 AD
Birthplace: Budaun
Died: April 3, 1325

 23 Guru Arjan

Guru Arjan
0
Famous As: Fifth Sikh Guru
Birthdate: April 15, 1563
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Goindval
Died: May 30, 1606

 24 Ravidas

Ravidas
0
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.

 25 Charaka

Charaka
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 0100 AD
Birthplace: India
Died: 0200 AD

 26 Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy
0
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

 27 Madhvacharya

Madhvacharya
2
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 1238 AD
Birthplace: Pajaka, India
Died: 1317 AD

 28 Abhinavagupta

Abhinavagupta
0
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 0950 AD
Birthplace: Kashmir
Died: 1016 AD

Abhinavagupta was a 1st-century philosopher, mystic, and aesthetician from Kashmir. He was also known as a musician, dramatist, theologian, and poet. Born into a family of scholars and mystics, he received his training from multiple teachers. His best-known work is Tantrāloka, an encyclopedic treatise covering a wide range of topics. Despite traveling widely, he was not a wandering monk. 

 29 Atīśa

Atīśa
0
Famous As: Religious reformer
Birthdate: 0980 AD
Birthplace: Bikrampur, India
Died: 1054 AD

 30 Ramprasad Sen

Ramprasad Sen
0
Famous As: Poet-saint
Birthdate: 1718 AD
Birthplace: Halisahar, near Calcutta, Bengal, India
Died: 1775 AD

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.

 31 Dadu Dayal

Dadu Dayal
0
Famous As: Hindu saint
Birthdate: 1544 AD
Birthplace: Ahmadabad, India
Died: 1603 AD

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.

 32 Buddhaghosa

Buddhaghosa
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Famous As: Buddhist scholar
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Bodh Gaya, India

 33 Asaṅga

Asaṅga
0
Famous As: Scholar
Birthdate: 0300 AD
Birthplace: Peshawar, Pakistan
Died: 0370 AD

 34 Candrakīrti

Candrakīrti
0
Famous As: Buddhist Scholar
Birthdate: 0600 AD
Birthplace: India
Died: 0650 AD

 35 Osho Rajneesh

Osho Rajneesh
6
Famous As: One of the most controversial spiritual leaders and public speakers
Birthdate: December 11, 1931
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: 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. 

 36 Jaggi Vasudev

Jaggi Vasudev
9
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.

 37 Sai Baba of Shirdi

Sai Baba of Shirdi
4
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.

 38 Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh

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

 39 Ramdev

Ramdev
13
Famous As: Yoga Guru
Birthdate: December 25, 1965
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mahendragarh

 40 Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba
2
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.

 41 Dayanand Saraswati

Dayanand Saraswati
2
Famous As: Indian philosopher
Birthdate: February 12, 1824
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tankara, Gujarat
Died: October 30, 1883

 42 Guru Tegh Bahadur

Guru Tegh Bahadur
4
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.

 43 A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
6
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.

 44 Mata Amritanandamayi

Maa Amritanandamayi
2
Famous As: Spiritual Leader
Birthdate: September 27, 1953
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Parayakadavu, Alappad Panchayath, Kollam District, (now Kerala), India

 45 Jnanadeva

Jnanadeva
0
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.  

 46 Guru Hargobind

Guru Hargobind
0
Famous As: Sixth Sikh Guru
Birthdate: July 5, 1595
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Amritsar
Died: March 19, 1644

 47 Guru Ram Das

Guru Ram Das
0
Famous As: Fourth Sikh Guru
Birthdate: October 9, 1534
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lahore
Died: September 1, 1581

 48 Shah Waliullah Dehlawi

Shah Waliullah Dehlawi
0
Famous As: Muslim Scholar
Birthdate: February 21, 1703
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Delhi, India
Died: August 20, 1762

 49 Guru Angad

Guru Angad
0
Famous As: Second Sikh Guru
Birthdate: March 31, 1504
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sri Muktsar Sahib
Died: March 28, 1552

 50 Guru Har Krishan

Guru Har Krishan
0
Famous As: Eighth Sikh Guru
Birthdate: July 23, 1656
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kiratpur Sahib
Died: March 30, 1664