Religious Reformers of India

India is a multi-cultural country. A country with different languages, traditions, religions, social norms and rituals definitely calls upon a lot of social reformers and religious activists too. Religion comprises of a very subtle sentiment for people not only in India, but people around the world. 

Owing to this, religious followers have evolved into religious reformers and religious thinkers. People tend to follow these leaders and strictly abide by the rules set by them. 

The religious thinkers of India have evolved over the years and today they occupy a very elevated position in the society and people also give them their due of respect and reverence.


Some of the religious reformers of India have been Swami Vivekananda; Swami Dayanand Saraswati; Ramkrishna Paramahansa, Guru Govind Singh, Guru Nanak, Gautam Buddha, Osho, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Satya Sai Baba, Sri Aurobindo and many others. Know more about them.

Gautama Buddha: Also known as Shakyamuni, Lord Buddha was a sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. Born as Siddhartha he was native of the ancient Shakya republic in the Himalayan foothills, and taught primarily in northeastern India. Read more

He taught a Middle Way between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism found in the Sramana (renunciation) movement common in his region. He later taught throughout regions of eastern India such as Magadha and Kosala.

Lord Mahavira: Mahavira also known as Vardhamana, was the twenty-fourth and the last tirthankara of Jainism religion. At the age of 30 he left his home in pursuit of spiritual awakening. For the next 12 years he practiced intense meditation and severe penance, after which he achieved enlightenment. 

He travelled all over India to teach his philosophy which is based on Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya and Aparigraha. Mahavira attained Nirvana after his physical death at the age of 72.

Moinuddin Chishti: Also known as Gharib Nawaz "Benefactor of the Poor", Moinuddin Chishti is the most revered Sufi saint of the Indian Subcontinent. Moinuddin Chishti practiced the Sufi Sulh-e-Kul (peace to all) concept to promote understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Guru Nanak: Born in 1469 in Nankana Sahib (Pakistan), Guru NanakJi is the founder of Sikhism. He is the first of the ten Sikh Gurus, the eleventh guru being the living Guru, Guru Granth Sahib. Read more

Guru Nanak travelled to places far and wide teaching people the message of one God who dwells in every one of God's creations and constitutes the eternal Truth.

Guru Angad: He was the second of the tenth Sikh Gurus. He becoming the second guru of the Sikhs. He continued on the work started by the first Sikh Guru. He popularized the present form of the Gurmukhi script. It became the medium of writing the Punjabi language in which the hymns of the Gurus are expressed.

Guru Har Gobind: The sixth of the Sikh gurus, Guru Har Gobind became Guru on 25 May 1606 following the footsteps of his father Guru Arjan Dev. He was a brilliant martial artist (shastarvidya) and an avid hunter. Hargobind encouraged people to maintain physical fitness and keep their bodies ready for physical combat.

Guru Har Krishan:
Guru Har Krishan was the eighth of the eleven Sikh Gurus. He became Guru Ji on 7 October 1661, succeeding his father, Guru Har Rai. After his death from smallpox, his granduncle Guru Tegh Bahadur became the next Guru Ji of the Sikhs.

Guru Tegh Bahadur: He became the 9th Guru of Sikhs on 20 March 1665.  Tegh Bahadur was the youngest of the five sons of Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh guru, and his wife Nanaki. Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed on the orders of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi.

Guru Gobind Singh: The tenth of the ten Sikh Gurus, Guru Gobind SinghJi contributed much to Sikhism and to the continual formalisation of the faith was founded in the 15th century by the first Guru Guru Nanak. 

Guru Gobind Singh, the last of the living Sikh Gurus, initiated the Sikh Khalsa in 1699, passing the Guruship of the Sikhs to the Eleventh and Eternal Guru of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib.

Srimanta Sankardeva: He was a 15th - 16th century Assamese saint-scholar, playwright and social religious reformer. The ‘Mahapuruxiya Dharma’ started by him was part of the Bhakti movement. Considered ‘Mahapurush’ or a great man, his literary and artistic contributions are living traditions in Assam today. Read More

Adi Shankaracharya: He was a Hindu philosopher from Kaladi in present day Eranakulam district, Kerala. He consolidated the doctrine of advaita vedanta. His works in Sanskrit establish the doctrine of advaita, the unity of the atman and nirguna brahman, brahman without attributes. His works elaborate on ideas found in the Upanishads.

Swami Dayanand Saraswati: He was one of the most radical socio-religious reformers in the history of India. Swami Dayanand Saraswati was the founder of Arya Samaj and propagated egalitarian approach of the Vedas at a time when widespread casteism was prevalent in the society.

Ramakrishna Paramhansa:  Known as the saint of Dakshineswar, Ramakrishna Paramhansa was a mystic and a yogi who played key role in the social reform movement in Bengal in 19th century. Born on February 18, 1836, he Provided spiritual enlightenment to the people of Bengal and was the priest of Dakshineswar Kali Temple in Kolkata.

Swami Vivekananda: Swami Vivekananda was an Indian Hindu monk and chief disciple of the 19th-century saint Ramakrishna. He was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the western world. He was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India and contributed to the notion of nationalism in colonial India.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy: He is known as the 'Maker of Modern India'. He was the founder of the Brahmo Samaj and played a major role in abolishing the role of Sati. Raja Rammohan Roy was a great scholar and an independent social activist.

Sri Satya Sai Baba: Sri Satya Sai Baba was born as Sathyanarayana Raju on 23 November 1926. He was an Indian guru, spiritual figure, musician, mystic, composer, choreographer, poet, author, orator, reputed miracle worker, philanthropist and educator. 

He claimed to be the reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi who was considered by his followers to be an avatar, spiritual saint and miracle worker, who died in 1918.

Osho: Osho was an Indian mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher who garnered an international following.A professor of philosophy, he travelled throughout India in the 1960s as a public speaker. 

His outspoken criticism of socialism, Mahatma Gandhi and institutionalised religion made him controversial. He also advocated a more open attitude towards sexuality, a stance that earned him the sobriquet "sex guru" in the Indian and later international press.

Mata Amritanandamayi Devi: Born as Sudhamani Idamannel on 27 September 1953, she id primarily known simply as Amma. She is a Hindu spiritual leader and guru, who is revered as a saint by her followers. She is widely respected for her humanitarian activities.She has been described as "The Hugging Saint".

Sri Aurobindo: Sri Aurobindo was an Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, guru and poet. He joined the Indian movement for freedom from British rule, for a while became one of its influential leaders and then turned into a spiritual reformer, introducing his visions on human progress and spiritual evolution. 

He evolved a new method of spiritual practice, which he called Integral Yoga. The central theme of his vision was the evolution of human life into a life divine. Read More

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: He is a famous spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Livng Foundation which aims to relieve individual stress, societal problems and violence. 

In 1997 he established a Geneva-based charity, the International Association for Human Values, an NGO that engages in relief work and rural development and aims to foster shared global values.

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