a r t i c l e s    o n    h i n d u i s m
INFLUENTIAL HINDU RELIGIOUS PERSONALITIES OF THE CENTURY.
By Unknown contributor

1. BHAGWAN RAMANA MAHARISHI 1879 -1950

 Venkataraman was born on December 30, 1879 near Trichi in Tamil Nadu. His father was a pleader in the town. He had his early education in Dindugal, and later in Madurai. When Ramanar was sixteen, an elderly relative narrated to him about the glories of Tiruvannamalai. From that day onwards Ramanar was fascinated and dwelled on Tiruvannamali (holy Light Mountain) and its presiding deity, Arunachala.

At the age of eighteen, he left his house without telling any one for Tiruvannamali with just three rupees. Once he reached the temple, he was thrilled and ecstatic and, threw away all his clothes, and entered the mandapam only in a small piece of loincloth.  For the next several decades he sat in deep meditation in the basement of the temple with little food. Urchins used to throw stones at him.  Snakes and venomous spiders mutilated his body - his body was covered with ulcers and pus. But nothing deterred Ramanar from his deep mediation.  For the next twenty years or more, Ramanar lived in the many caves of the holy hills  of Tiruvannamali - infested with wild beasts.

 It was many decades later that his devotees built a small ashram for him to live. Ramanar made no distinction of caste, color or creed. He was very fond of animals, and had many of them with him. He believed in the Adwait philosophy with its aim as self-realization. He wrote several books on self - inquiry and "who am I'.

At the age of seventy-one he fell victim to Cancer, and allowed the illness to run its course. He attained Mahasamdhi on 14th April 1950. Hundreds of people converged at Thiruvannamali saw a bright light
shooting from the hills towards the sky as the Maha rishi attained his samadhi.

SRI AROBINDO GHOSH 1872- 1950

 Arobindo was born on August 15, 1872 in Calcutta.  His parents were highly westernized and sent Arobindo to England for higher education. Returning to India, he joined the Baroda College as a professor. Here,
he jumped in to politics, secretly planned an armed struggle to achieve complete independence as the final goal of the Indian freedom struggle. He was jailed for his political activities. It was in jail that he started to practice Pranayam- a form of yoga- and study of Upanishadas, which led vast horizons of spiritual awakening and new realizations. After his release from jail, due to a divine command he went to the former French colony of Pondicherry in 1910. In 1926, he withdrew himself in to a solitary room and cut himself from the outer world. It is believed that it was during this period that he attained many Yogic and Siddhic powers. It was during this time - November 23, 1926, and the day Sathya Sai Baba was born - that Arobindo was reported to have seen a huge ball of bright light racing from the sky towards the earth.

 Arobindo developed new understanding and an idea of the supermind. He wrote " The supermind is in its very essence a truth consciousness, a consciousness always free from the ignorance which is the foundation of our present natural or evolutionary existence and from which nature in us is trying to arrive at self knowledge and world knowledge and a right consciousness and the right use of our existence in this world.

Arobindo met the 'Mother' - a French lady - who would become his spiritual companion. Together they founded the Arobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. The Master laid aside his mortal body on December 9th1950.

YOGAR SWAMI 1872-1964

It is a pity that Eelam Tamils -especially Jaffna Tamils- neither understood nor utilized the immense spiritual potencies of Yogar swami. He was born in 1872. His parents were from the historic town of
Maviddapuram. To date no one knows his childhood name He had his early education at St. Patrick College in Jaffna, where he was known as John. After his secondary education, his father - who ran a business in Maskeliya- took his son to help him with his business. Finding that his young son was not at all interested with his work , he sent him back to Columbuthurai. After some time he joined as clerk at the Iranamadu tank scheme in Killinochi.  In 1897, when Swami Vivekananda visited Jaffna, Yogar swami participated in the religious procession.

It is said that Yogar swami's baptism in to the religious life began when he met his guru Chellapa swami opposite the famous Nallur temple. Chellapa swami lived on the streets and ate with dogs, and was considered as a psychotic by most of Jaffna people  - what a shame that Jaffna Tamils again missed to identify a great saint.

Yogar swami established his ashram in Columbuthurai. It is believed that he belonged to the Kailasa Paramparai  (the order begins with Thiumular, Rishi, Kadi Swami (1804-1891), and Chellapa Swami
(1840-1915), Yogar swami, and Subramanya swami (American born, the present head, who has his ashram in Kauai, Hawaii).

 Yogar swamy was a highly evolved spiritual soul.  He was omnipotent, omniscience and omnipresence.  When the Tamils complained to him about the 1958 riots, he is believed to have said, " what is this beating? Wait for 1983."  Though outwardly he appeared to be tough - he was famous for scolding and chasing people out of his ashram- inwardly he was loving and caring for his devotees.  He wrote several books in Tamil, the famous one being the  ' Natchintanai '.

Yogar Swami left his mortal body in 1964 after having being ill for some time.

PARAMAHAMSA YOGANANADA 1893- 1952

 Mukunda Lal Gosh was born January 5, 1893 in Gorakapur to a well -to-do-Bengali parents. He had his education at the Serampore College in Calcutta. At the age of seventeen, he met and became the disciple of a great Yoga master, Yukteswar (Yukteswar's guru was another famous god man, Yogavatar Lahiri Mahasaya. Lahiri's guru was the famous Babji -known as the deathless guru, and estimated to be more than 1000 years
old. There have been many sightings of Babaji, especially at the famous Kumbha Mela festivals. The next festival will take place in Allhabad in 2001).

In 1920, Yogananda established the Self- Realization society to disseminate worldwide the ancient science and philosophy of Yoga.  He practiced and preached the  'Kirya" Yoga. In the early twenties, he met the deathless guru, Babaji - Yogananda met him only twice- who personally requested Yogananda to go to west and spread the  'Kiriya' Yoga. He established the Self -Realization church in Los angles in 1924.
Some of his western devotees included horticulturist Luther Burbank and poet Edwin Markham.

 Yogananda was the author of several books, the famous one being the ' Autobiography of a Yogi'. He entered Mahasamadhi on March 7th, 1952 in Los Angles.  It is said that even twenty days after his death  - no embalming was done- his body showed no sign of decay.

BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA 1896- 1977

 The founder of the Hare Rama Hare Krishna movement was born as Abhay Charan De on September 1, 1896 in Calcutta in an aristocratic Bengali merchant family. Even as small child, Abhay, was enamored with the Ratha-Yatra festival of Lord Jaganatha, held yearly in Calcutta.

Abhay had his education in Calcutta. In the class one year ahead of Abhay was a spirited nationalist, Subaha Chandrabose  - who would later become the leader of the Indian National army, calling for an armed struggle to throw out the British. Abhay was attracted to the Indian freedom movement and was aligned with Mahatma Gandhi 's party for some time. He was married while still at college. He then obtained a job as a phamarceutical salesman.

His life changed when he met his guru, Bhaktisiddnta Saraswathi in 1922, who asked Abhay to spread the Krshna consciousness. There were constant misunderstandings between him and his wife over his religious life style. He continued to maintain his wife and his children.  The final break up came at the age of fifty-six he found out that his wife of more than thirty years had exchanged his beloved Bhagwad Gita book for a few evening biscuits. In 1950, he moved to Vrndavana- place where Krishna was supposed to have played with the Gopis'. He published three volumes of Bhagavata Purana.

 At the age of seventy, he arrived in New York (1965) on a cold day with one suitcase, an umbrella, and a supply of dry cereal, and penniless, to fulfill his guru's wish - to broadcast Vedic knowledge in English in the west. Initially he attracted the hippies and the drug addicts who were wandering the Hyde Park. A year later, with greatest difficulty he established the International society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). He taught them simple songs of Lord Krishna. Slowly the his movement attracted a large number of followers. To day, The Hare Rama Hare Krishna movement could be found all over the world with more than 350 missions.

After a few years in the west, He moved back to Virindavan .He gave up his mortal body on November 14, 1977.

SR CHANDRASEKHARENDRA SARASWATHI SWAMI OF KANCHI 1894 -1994

Swaminathan was born on May20, 1894 in Villipuram in Tamil Nadu to a pious Kannada Brahmana family. He had his early education at the American mission school in Tindivanam.  He had his upanayanam in 1905.
In February of 1907, one of his cousins was installed as the 67th head of the Kanchi Mut
(established by Adi Sankara). This 67th chief died a few days after assuming duties and Swaminathan was then appointed as the 68th head at the tender age of thirteen.

 He was very well versed in all the Hindu scriptures. He walked the length and breadth of India -like his guru, Adi Sankara- and until his death never once used the modern transportation.  He took a keen interest in the social well being of the poor. Unlike the present head, he never got involved in the  ' Hindu ' politics.

A small made man, with luminous eyes and wisdom of a guru, he lived simply, commanding respect from not only Hindus, but also from people belonging to other religions. His life spanned the greater part of the twentieth century. He lived for 100 years and attained Mahasamadhi on January 8, 1994.

SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA 1887- 1963

Sivananda was born on the 8th September, 1887 in Tamil Nandu. After having graduated as a Medical doctor, he went to Malaysia to practice. He was the editor of a health journal and wrote extensively on health problems. Returning to India after some time, he gave up his lucrative medical practice, and took a life of renunciation to qualify him for ministering to the soul of man. He settled down at Rishikesh in Himalayas in 1924, practicing intense austerities and shone as a great sage.

In 1932 he started the Sivanandashram. In 1936 he started the Divine Life society. In 1950 he visited Ceylon. He is the author of over 300 books and has disciples all over the world. On July 14, 1963 he attained mahasamadhi.

SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA 1916 - 1993

 Balakrishna Menon was born on May 8, 1916 in a noble aristocratic Malayalee family in Ernakulam, Kerala. At the age of five, he lost his mother, and his father re- married. In 1940, he joined the Lucknow University where he studied English literature and Law. Following this, he joined the Indian independence movement, spending several months in the prison. After the independence, he joined the editorial staff of the National Herald paper.  Menon soon discovered the 'emptiness' of the so-called good life he had while in Delhi- expensive clothes, late night parties and fancy goods.

Disillusioned with life, he traveled to Rishikesh in 1947 and met Swami Sivananda of Divine life society.  In  1949, he became a monk under its order, assuming the name, Swami Chinmayananda. For the next eight years on the advise of his guru, he would study GNANA YOGA under Sri Swami Tapovan  - a strict disciplinarian and a demanding teacher -in the high Himalayas in Uttrakashi. After this he traveled the length and breadth of India wandering as an enunciate, living as a beggar.

 In 1951, with the blessings of Swami Tapovan, he started his mission to bring the rich and forgotten Vedantic philosophy to every corner of the world. His primary aim was "To convert Hindus to Hinduism". For the next forty-two years he traveled around the globe, facing many difficulties to achieve his mission.  He never stayed in one place for more than a week. His mission motto was' Give maximum happiness to the maximum people for the maximum time". Giving special attention to the children, he established the Bal Vihar classes.

To day, the mission sponsors sixty-two schools in India, and Bal Vihar Sunday schools in every major metropolis in US. Swami Chinmayananda left his bodily form in San Diego on August3, 1993.

SRI NARYANA GURU 1854 - 1928

Narayana Guru was a social reformer, who transformed the fabric of the Kerala society. He is credited for the enviable position of Kerala in the field of social development.

 He was born on August 20, 1854 in the suburbs of Thirvnanathapuram in an' Ezhavas ' family. Kerala at that time had the worst caste system in the whole of South India. Even Swami Vivekananda described Kerala as a lunatic asylum of class bigotry.  Nambudiris were the dominant section of the Brahmins. Non Brahmins ranged from most untouchables to the least touchable. Ezhavas acted as a buffer group between the touchable and the untouchables.  Malayalee Brahmins practiced the most heinous crime of keeping woman of a certain section of the Hindu community as concubines without having the obligation of a responsible husband or father.

He had his early education at Karungapally. He married his uncle's daughter in 1882- she would die after some years. His quest for absolute truth began at this stage, and wondered for many years doing penance in caves.  He had the privilege of meeting both Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi.

Sri Narayana Guru fought hard to end the heinous cast system in Kerala. He fought against the widely practiced animal sacrifice. He preached that consumption of liquor was evil. He fought for the entry of all men and women in to the Hindu temples. 
Naryana Guru attained Maha Samhadi on September 20, 1928.


SRI SATHYA SAI BABA  1926 -

 Sathyanaryana Raju was born in Puttarpathi in Andra Pradesh on November 23, 1926. It is said that when the boy was born, the musical instruments in the room started to play on its own, and a cobra was found under the bed. Even at a child, Sathya was supposed to have performed many miracles, which surprised the poor villagers. At the age of fourteen, he renounced his family, saying that he does not belong to them any more, and he has come to serve the people.

Since then, Sathya Sai Baba had lived among his devotees. He moved to his present abode- Prashanthi Nilayam- in 1950. Year by year his devotees grew in number, and today he has followers from all faiths, and from every single country on this earth.  Even his ardent critics - this included some of India's top scientists- have become his followers.  He is believed to have performed thousands of witnessed and not witnessed miracles - including giving life those who were presumed to be dead, curing incurable illnesses, and appearing in person to help his devotees all over the world.

Today, the once small village of Putarpathi has his own airport and a super specialty hospital- where some of the India's top rated doctors work voluntarily for the benefit of the poor patients. Sathya Sai Baba has predicted several things to happen in the future. Some of them are: 1) He will live until ninety-six years of age- he will celebrate his 75th birthday next year.
2)  Muslims will be the last one to accept his divinity -eight years before he leaves this world.
3) His previous incarnation was Shridi Sai baba - a great saint who lived in the early part of this century in Maharastra. He will take his third and final  incarnation  - Prema Sai - eight years after he leaves his present body. Prema Sai will be born in a village near Mysore in karnataka.

Sai Baba's teachings revolve around peace to all, and ' love all, serve all'.

 

 

Copyright 2001 - All Rights Reserved.

a r t i c l e s    o n    h i n d u i s m