Principle teachers of the main religious and spiritual movements..
Sri Ramachandra is a principle avatar and teacher within Hinduism. Rama is considered the supreme teacher of dharma – the devotion to duty, self-control and virtue, whatever the circumstances. His life and teaching are incorporated into the ancient text the Ramayana.
Sri Krishna (3/4th Century BC) – Krishna’s teachings to Arjuna form the basis of the Bhagavad Gita, which is considered one of the most sacred texts of Hinduism. Krishna is an important object of worship within the Vaishnava tradition.
Zoroaster / Zarathustra (c 550-523 BCE) was a prophet and spiritual teacher who founded the religion of Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster was a religious reformer teaching a monotheistic religion based on choosing between light and darkness / truth and falsehood.
Buddha (c 560BC – c 460BC) The Buddha left his palace to seek enlightenment in the forests. After attaining nirvana, he spent many years teaching the Buddhist middle path of meditation and enlightenment.
Jesus Christ (around 0 AD – 32 AD) – Jesus taught a new gospel of love and forgiveness. His mission lasted just a few years, but his teachings were passed on from disciples to new Christians and form the basis of the New Testament.
Muhammad (c. 570 – 8 June 632) Prophet and messenger of God. The revelations he shared became the foundation of the Qu’ran and the Muslim religion. His main spiritual teachings were centred on the complete “surrender” (lit. islam) to the One God.
Guru Nanak (1469-1539) Spiritual Guru and founder of Sikhism. Nanak was born in a Hindu family, but taught God was beyond religious distinction and sought to teach that God was in all.
Other Spiritual teachers of the middle ages
Milarepa (c. 1052 – c. 1133) a Tibetan yogi. Milarepa underwent extreme austerities at the behest of his Guru. His devotion and discipline enabled him to be liberated and gain spiritual powers. He became a famous guru in Tibet.
St Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1226) born to a wealthy merchant family in the town of Assisi, Italy, St Francis underwent a religious conversion after coming back from a military campaign. He devoted his life to poverty, chastity and living the truth of the Gospels. He travelled to the Vatican where he miraculously gained permission to start a new order based on the principles of poverty and chastity – the Franciscans.
Meister Eckhart (1260- 1327) a Germany mystic, theologian and philosopher. Eckhart became a popular preacher for his practical philosophy which stressed the inherent divinity of every human soul.
Sri Chaitanya (1486–1534) a devotee of Lord Krishna, Sri Chaitanya’s followers saw him as an incarnation of Vishnu. Sri Chaitanya taught the path of bhakti – devotional love for Sri Krishna – he taught only a simple message, spending most of his time singing devotional bhajans.
Sri Ramakrishna (1836 – 16 August 1886) An influential Bengali mystic and spiritual Guru. Ramakrishna followed the practises of all religions and came to the conclusion that all religions and sects could lead a man to God. He taught his disciples to cultivate devotion to God, and renounce worldly distractions.
Spiritual teachers of the Twentieth Century
Sai Baba of Shirdi (c 1860-1918 ) Sai baba of Shirdi was an Indian Guru, fakir and saint. He was widely venerated by Muslims and Hindus alike, who saw Sai Baba as a saintly, holy figure.
Sri Aurobindo (1872 – 1950 ) A spiritual Teacher, philosopher and poet. He taught an integral yoga – a yoga of world acceptance and divine surrender. His spiritual philosophy was expressed in works such as The Life Divine and Savitri.
Swami Vivekananda (1863 – 1902 ) A direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekananda helped bring yoga to the West. Vivekananda taught both the importance of spiritual practise – meditation and devotion, but also selfless service to the less fortunate.
Paramahansa Yogananda (1893 – 1952) A Spiritual Teacher, who came to the West in the 1920s. Yogananda was a disciple of Sri Yukteswar and from the lineage of Lahiri Mahasaya and Babaji. Yogananda taught Kriya yoga to his disciples
Anandamayi Ma (1896 – 1982) A Hindu saint from Bengal who taught a path of devotion and bhakti. She travelled around India attracting many followers inspired by her spiritual states.
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada: (1896-1977) Founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly known as the “Hare Krishna Movement”. His mission was to spread a form of Vaishnavism in the West.
Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897 – 1981) An Indian Spiritual Teacher and philosopher of Advaita. His book, I Am That – summarises his Advaita philosophy through the many talks with devotees. Maharaj spent many years teaching a very basic philosophy that all was God, and seekers only needed to understand their real nature, which was already within.
Swami Satchidananda (1914 – 2002) Indian spiritual Master who founded Yogaville and promoted an Integral Yoga. Satchidananda was a disciple of Swami Sivananda, and taught spiritual practises which aimed to cultivate the spiritual unity within the world
Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007) born in India, Sri Chinmoy spent 20 years in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram before coming to the US in 1964. He established meditation centres around the world and taught a path base on the spiritual heart and the philosophy of love, devotion and surrender.
Dalai Lama (14th) (1950 – ) the leader of Tibetans both politically and spiritually. The Dalai Lama taught the importance of loving kindness and a practical Buddhism for both Easterners and Westerners.
Amma Mata Amritanandamayi (1953 – ) Indian saint who has embraced millions of pilgrims from around the world.
Famous saints – From different religious and spiritual traditions.
Famous Religious leaders and founders – Key people who helped to found different religions and spiritual movements.