Chanakya was an ancient Indian philosopher, teacher, jurist, economist, and royal advisor. Widely regarded as the pioneer of economics and political science in India, Chanakya is believed to have played a key role in the formation of the great Maurya Empire. He authored the ancient Indian political treatise, the Arthashastra, which is considered as one of the seminal texts on statecraft.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was an Indian independence activist, Islamic theologian, and scholar. He played a key role in the Indian independence movement, serving as a senior leader of the Congress. His contribution to the Indian education system is recognized across India by celebrating his birthday as National Education Day.
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.
Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi, also known as Ala-Hazrat, was a renowned Islamic scholar and an Urdu poet. Born in Bareilly, British India, he belonged to a family of Rohilla Pushtuns who had migrated from Qandahar. He wrote about various subjects such as philosophy, science, and astronomy.
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.
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.
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.
British-born priest Bede Griffiths spent 25 years in a Benedictine monastery before moving to India, where he lived in South Indian ashrams and established the Christian Ashram Movement, mingling principles of Christianity and Hinduism. He was also known as Swami Dayananda and penned 12 books on the Christian-Hindu inter-spirituality.
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.
Trained in Islamic education by his father, who established the Madrasah-i Rahimiyah, Shah Waliullah Dehlawi had memorized the Qur'an by age 7. He grew up to be a prominent Islamic theologian who modernized Islam with ideas such as taṭbīq and the practice of ijtihad. Asrār al-dīn remains his best-known work.
Ashraf Ali Thanwi was not just a prominent Indian Sunni Islamic scholar but had also penned countless books, such as Bayan Ul Quran, on various aspects of Islam. Apart from making efforts to retain the authority of Islamic scholarly tradition, he also supported the Muslim League and the creation of Pakistan.