There are thousands and thousands of great personalities in Hinduism. This part will be continually updated. Adi Shankara was a great teacher too (8th century after Christ). Some contemporary teachers are also mentioned here. I personally think that teachers included here were correctly realized. Hinduism is incredibly diverse. Thus, it is better to say that we generally do not deal with "false" or "proper" Hinduism but with a greater or lesser realization of it. Greater realized Hinduism frowns on conversion practices (like Christians uphold), as they often imply need to manipulate other people. Therefore people of enlightening ideas have always appeared throughout history not with a goal to bring novel words but to shed light on the oldest jewel whose appearance became deformed by our mind dust. Those who search for Truth search for Sanatana Dharma - it is the Heavenly Jewel (Kaustubha) protected and hidden from public eyes. If you want to see IT, pass like a wakening bugle call among the pines and kiss the Sky.
Moraya Gosavi was one of the most devoted
followers of Lord Ganesh. He lived
in the 14th century and was a member of Ganapatyas, a secret
sect devoted to Ganesh. For Ganapatyas Lord Ganesh is Absolute God
and they believe that it is important to visit the eight shrines around
Poona, the main one being at
Jiddu Krishnamurti or J. Krishnamurti
Jiddu Krishnamurti or J. Krishnamurti (May 12, 1895 - February 17, 1986) was a well-known writer and speaker on fundamental philosophical and spiritual issues. He publicly refused attempts of other people to consider him a Buddha's incarnation; he refused all organizations, manipulation, and encouraged people to find the way to self-fulfillment from within themselves.
Paramahansa Yogananda (1893 - 1952), born as Mukunda Lal Ghosh, was a great Indian guru and teacher of yoga. He brought some of the Eastern teachings to the West. In 1920, during his visit in USA, he decided to stay in America where he founded the Self-Realization Fellowship. Its meditation centers are now around the world. Yogananda led his pupils to direct contact (experience) with Absolute Reality in opposition to blind faith in a guru. He used to say, "The true basis of religion is not belief, but intuitive experience. Intuition is the soulís power of knowing God". He was the master of Kriya Yoga, the teaching of which he had received from a mysterious teacher Mahavatar Babaji, whose real name is not known. Mahavatar Babaji said that he was a guru from the past and some important Hindu sages affirmed, too, that Babaji was Krishna Himself. Yogananda in his book Autobiography of a Yogi wrote that Babaji was already beyond death. There are more legends that say that in the remote parts of the Himalayas there is a secret world of eternal masters - Shambala. Paramhansa is often misspelled as Paramahansa. No physical change was observable on his dead body during 20 days after his death, which was a miracle, as physical bodies quickly disintegrate after death.
"My worship is of a very strange
kind. In this Ganga water is not
required. No special utensils are necessary. Even flowers are redundant.
In this puja all gods have disappeared.
And emptiness has emerged with euphoria."
Lahiri Mahasaya (1828 - 1895) was a great
guru who met the Eternal Master Babaji
in person and taught that if one lives honestly there is no need to
alter one's life in any noteworthy way in order to become aware of
God in us. He advised marriage
for most of his disciples along with Kriya Yoga practice. In
his teachings he generally avoided means of organized religion. Sri
Yukteswar Giri and Paramahansa Yogananda were his disciples,
but Yogananda brought Lahiri Mahasaya
to the West. Mahasaya is a Sanskrit
word meaning "great soul".
He was unusual among Indian holy men in that respect that he was a
householder - marrying, raising
a family, and working as an accountant for the British Government.
He achieved a substantial reputation among Hindu religionists.
Sri Ramana Maharshi
Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879 - 1950) was a great Indian sage born in south India (Tamil Nadu). After his liberation at the age of 16 he left his family and identified himself with Arunachala, which is a Shiva's Holy Mountain in South India. Sri Ramana was beyond all caste and religious restrictions, and he did not belong to any lineage of teachers. His teaching is based on self-enquiry (Atma Vichara) and can be explained in his words as simple as this: "Destroy the power of mind by seeking it. When the mind is examined its activities cease automatically. Look for the source of mind. That source may be said to be God or Self or Consciousness. Concentrating on one thought, all other thoughts disappear; finally that thought also disappears."
Shri Karni Mata is the incarnation of Devi Durga (Parvati). All her life was full of miracles and her activities resulted in a number of devotees who awaited her merciful blessings. It is believed that she did not die but disappeared in the divine light.
Shri Karni Mata was born on October 2, 1387 AD in village Suwap in Jodhpur District, Rajasthan. She belonged to the Charan caste. She has a temple - Karni Mata temple, a 600-year-old Hindu temple in Deshnoke (Rajasthan, India).
In Deshnoke, she built a hut-shaped cave where she meditated. In the year 1463 one of her stepsons drowned in a lake and died. His dead body was brought to Deshnoke. His mother prayed to Karni to give him his life back. Karni ordered to keep the body inside the cave. On the fourth day the man came out of the cave alive. Since then, the rats known as "Kabas" have been reduplicating in the Deshnoke temple. There is a legend that when she resurrected the man from the dead, she visited the Yama's abode (Hindu god of death) and had a quarrel with him, because he refused to accept her plea that her followers should circumvent death. She finally found a way how to overcome the Yama's imposition of death - every devotee will bypass Yama and will become a member of the so-called Depawat manifestation (Charan Caste) - that is, a rat (Kaba). These rats - Kabas - will be later reborn. In fact, they are not "rats". This is the reason why these Kabas in the Deshnoke temple are protected like her sons.
People from different cultures - Europeans or Americans - may be surprised, astonished, or even scared when seeing thousands of rats moving to and fro in the temple. In fact, these Kabas are harmless and they do not let any unclean rat come into the temple. For centuries, these Kabas have lived here in isolation from the rest of the world and the world's uncleanness. No disease has ever been reported from drinking the holy Prasad, which is first offered to the holy Kabas and then to devotees.
Khodiyar Maa is goddess from the Naga kingdom - click here.
Aandaal is a
10th century saint (Tamil). She
belongs to Vaishnavism and is credited with
a number of admirable Tamil works (Thirupavai...). Strong devotion
to Lord Vishnu is what made Aandaal
known in Sanatana Dharma; she has some
Ramprasad Sen (1720-1781), almost always referred to as Ramprasad, was a Bengali poet and singer of Hindu devotional songs, especially the ones (Shyama Sangeet) devoted to Goddess Kali. His songs are known as Ramprasadi. His life was full of many mystical stories showing his devotion to Kali. During adolescence, he exhibited spiritual inclinations by writing devotional poetry. Ramprasad is said to have the first vision of Mother Kali in a garden near his house. His body allegedly glowed and people began to be attracted to him.
Ramprasad was initiated into Tantric sadhana by a
great Tantric sadhaka Krishnananda Agamavagisa, the author
of Tantrasara. The Bengali Tantrasara is even today
the foremost source of much of the information on Tantric
Hinduism. Ramprasad practiced the brutal form of Tantric sadhana
- he visited places where most people are afraid to go (cremation
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
Ramakrishna was a great Hindu religious teacher, born in West Bengal. He disliked going to school and was not interested in pursuit of money. He loved nature and spent his time in fields and jungles with his friends. He soon started worshipping Mother Goddess Kali. He was so impatient to see Her that one day he decided to end his life. He seized a sword from the wall, but before he could strike himself with it, he saw waves of light; being overwhelmed by them he fell unconscious onto the floor.
Later, Ramakrishna was initiated into Advaita Vedanta by a wandering monk named Totapuri; this occurred in Dakshineswar (a city). Then he came to be known as Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and is said to have begun to attract many seekers of God. He was a very famous teacher.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981) was a great Indian sage, considered to be one of the twentieth century's most articulate speakers of Advaita Vedanta (a Hindu school of nondualism). A number of his talks were compiled into a book entitled I Am That, which achieved international acknowledgement.
An ancient Indian grammarian of Sanskrit.
He was a monk and social reformer. He lived in the 16th century (Bengal and Orissa in India). Sri Krishna Chaitanya was a proponent of the Vaishnava school of Bhakti yoga (loving devotion to Lord Krishna). He popularized the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra and started the school called Gaudiya Vaishnavism (also known as Chaitanya Vaishnavism). The ISKCON (Hare Krishna) movement is based on this school.
This wonderful woman was born in a poor low-caste family, but one day, while touching the waters of Ganga, a man in a boat got overwhelmed by her beauty. She soon became the wife of this man; his name was Rajchandra Das. She became very rich and the main deity she expressed her devotion to was Mother Goddess, Kali. She was beautiful, liberal, philanthropic, and she fought for human rights, too. There are many stories describing her fearless attempts to support Indians against British enslavement. One such a story, for example, describes how she managed to struggle with the British when they imposed a tax on fishermen whose livelihood strongly depended on fishing in Ganga River. She bought part of the river for the then large sum of 10,000 rupees. She erected a barricade by putting obstacles across the river and when the British demanded that she remove the barricade, she retorted, "If you return the money to me and abolish the fishing tax, Iíll be happy to do as you want." The British Government had to yield. "My Mother Kali will protect me, and if she doesn't then nobody in the world can save me," she often said.
She built the Kali Temple of Dakshineswar, which you can see on the left (picture). The large temple complex was built between 1847 and 1855. The Ramakrishna's brother was chosen as the head priest of this temple, but he soon died. Then Ramakrishna became the head priest. Dakshineswar is a town in India. You can also find a different use of the Rani's name - Rani Rashmoni. This wonderful woman started numerous charitable works and Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was appointed the head priest under her patronage.
Music has always been a key that opens doorways to chakras, perception, and God.
There are many types of music in India, the modern styles too (which duplicate the Western style of music like pop, jazz, etc.). Classical Indian music can be divided into Carnatic music - associated with the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, and Hindustani music - typical for northern India, but also Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Afghanistan. Both genres have their subgenres and they originated in the Vedic period. Great historical composers of Carnatic music are: Purandaradasa, Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar, Syama Sastri, Swati Tinunal and more information about Carnatic music can be found here. The maestros of classical Hindustani music are described on this website.
Lord Krishna's favorite instrument was flute and both genres (Carnatic and Hindustani) are also associated with devotional inner self. My purpose is not to list all important names of Indian classical music, but to give readers a quick guide where to start if willing to listen to this enthralling music. Most of the musicians included herein can be found on Youtube.com (video). The Internet, too, has a lot of information about these unique artists.
Ananda VdoviŤ made one of the best CD's I (and many other people say so) have ever heard.
Anuradha Paudwal (also written as Podwal) is a singer of Hindu devotional music - one of the best I have ever heard. Video.
Ustad Alla Rakha and Ustad
Zakir Hussain are two of the greatest tabla players
in the world.
Anuradha Pal has been internationally acclaimed as an accomplished soloist, a disciple of the above-mentioned world-renowned tabla maestros - Ustad Alla Rakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain. She has performed in India, USA, UK, Europe, Australia, Japan... and with top ranking musicians, too. In 1996, Anuradha formed a female percussion group Stree Shakti. Video on Youtube.com.
Hariprasad Chaurasia is an internationally
acclaimed flautist. He is universally regarded as the greatest
living master of the Bansuri - the North Indian bamboo flute.
In the Indian mythology, flute is associated with Lord
Kala Ramnath was a prodigy child and she, as a violin player, has successfully developed a style of her own uniqueness. The violin that Kala Ramnath plays on is of the same shape and design as the violin used in the Western world. Video on Youtube.com.
Lakshminarayanan Shankar (born
on April 26, 1950), also known as L. Shankar,
Shankar or Shenkar, is a Tamil
violinist (not associated with Ravi Shankar), a
vocalist and composer. See
the video. He is considered to be one of the most prominent world's
virtuosos and his music has a breathtaking spirit. He produced
a very nice collection of CD's (Shakti) with John
McLaughlin, a famous (jazz) guitar player. L.
Shankar was a guest player of Phil Collins, Yoko
Ono and of many other celebrities. A
sample of his music in mp3.
Pankaj Udhas is a pre-eminent Ghazal singer from India. He is credited for bringing this unique singing style to the world. He was born on May 17, 1951, in Jetpur in the Gujarat State of India. He also cooperated with famous musicians such as Zakir Hussain and Vikku Vinayakram. He comes from the Charan community. Video.
Pandit Jasraj is a very famous Indian vocalist (classical music). He is a very important (if not the foremost) exponent of the Mewati Gharana, which is a system of organization of Hindustani classical music (Mewati is the name for this system). Jasraj was born in 1930. This video is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Pandit Nikhil Banerjee was one of the most prominent sitar masters of India. He was born in Calcutta in 1931 and died in 1986. Video.
Begum Parweena Sultana - this woman, also spelled as Parveen Sultana, is a prodigious Hindustani vocalist. She moved to Calcutta from Bombay at her young age. She is considered Queen of Hindustani music.Video.
Balamurali Krishna, sometimes also written as Dr. Balamuralikrishna, is a very famous proponent of Classical Carnatic music. He is a composer, a singer, a poet, an instrumentalist and he was born in 1930. Video.
Abhijit Banerjee is
an excellent tabla player from India. His qualities put him on the
top scene of Indian classical music; he accompanied such luminaries
as Pt. Ravi Shankar, late Pt. Nikhil Banerjee,
Begum Parweena Sultana, Pt. Jasraj, Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma, Dr. Balamurali
has founded Dhwani Academy of Percussion
in Los Angeles, New York, Singapore, and Calcutta attracting
talented students from all over the world.
Subhankar Banerjee is one of the most popular tabla artists on the Indian music scene. His playing combines technical mastery with creativity. Video.
Ustad Mohammad Omar, the finest rabab player from Afghanistan, became the first Afghan musician to teach music in the United States (University of Washington). Video.
Ustad Rais Khan is one of the most gifted South Asian musicians. The magical sound of his sitar has always magnetized audiences. Ustad Rais Khan descends directly from the court musicians of the Muslim Mughal emperors of South Asia, going back to the 15th century AD. Video.
Ravi Shankar, born in 1920 in Benares, India, is a Bengali Indian sitar player/composer. Ravi Shankar is a leading Indian instrumentalist of the modern era.
Sangeeta Shankar was born into a famous family of traditional violinists. Sangeeta Shankar began her musical training at the age of four. Initiated and trained by her mother, she quickly mastered the intricacies of playing the violin and started performing concerts when she was only thirteen. Her career in music has been terrific. Video.
Shahid Parvez - regarded as a prodigy child, gave his first professional performance in Calcutta at the age of eight. Today he is firmly established as one of the greatest sitar players in the modern era of Indian Classical music. Video.
Shiv Kumar Sharma is one of the truly great visionaries in the Hindustani classical music firmament. He was born in 1938 in Jammu Kashmir. His father Uma Dutt Sharma asked him to pursue the development of the Kashmiri Santoor, an Indian stringed musical instrument believed to be derived from the Persian santur. Video.
Shujaat Husain Khan (www.shujaatkhan.com) is perhaps the greatest North Indian classical musician of his generation. He belongs to the Imdad Khan gharana (tradition) of the sitar. Shujaat has performed at numerous musical festivals in India and has traveled around the world performing in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America.
Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, born in Jaipur in Rajasthan in July 1952, is an exponent of Hindustani music. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (also known as V. M. Bhatt) is one of the most celebrated shishyas (disciples) of the sitarist Ravi Shankar. Video.
Vikku Vinayakram excels in the field of Carnatic music. He is an exponent of the ghatam, an Indian percussion instrument, actually a hardened earthen pot. The ghatam is capable to produce high as well as bass tones. Vinayakram is largely responsible for popularization of this instrument. Video.
Rahul Sharma is the son of Santoor virtuoso Shiv Kumar Sharma, who has transformed the rarely played Indian Santoor into a favorite instrument attracting world audiences. Video of the Santoor duet - the father and son.