ADI SHANKARACHARYA JI
One of the greatest philosophers ever of India, Adi Shankaracharya Ji founded the Advaita Vedanta, which is one of the sub schools of Vedanta. Adi Shankaracharya ji believed in the concept of the Vedas but at the same time advocated against the distorted rituals and religious practices that were over exaggerated. On a closer introspection of the life history of Sri Sankaracharya, we find that he also started the monastic order known as Dashanami and the Shanmata convention of worship. Given here is a short bio, which will give you valuable insight into the life of this great poet and philosopher.
Adi Shankaracharya Ji Born in a Brahmin family approximately in the 8th century A.D in Kaladi, Kerala, he was named as Shankara and is considered to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva. It is said that Shankaracharya’s mother Aryamba had a vision that Lord himself told her that he would incarnate in the form of her first-born child. Right from childhood he showed a penchant towards spiritual knowledge. He could easily recite the Puranas and the Epics and mastered the Vedas during his early years in Gurukul. Adi Shankara’s teachings were thoroughly adopted by his disciples later on.
Right from childhood, Shankaracharya was interested in Sanyasa and wanted to lead a meaningful life detached from the worldly pleasures. Once, while taking a bath in Purna River, Shankaracharya was attacked by a crocodile. Though his mother wanted to rescue him, she could not and was helpless. Seeing the haplessness of his mother, he asked her permission for letting him renounce the world. She was left with no choice but to agree. As soon as he recited the mantra, the crocodile left him. Shankaracharya began his life as an ascetic from then on. He proceeded towards further down south of India in search of a Guru.
One legend states that Guru Gorakshanath, the “eternal sage” traditionally associated with Hatha Yoga, has been around for thousands of years watching the welfare of humanity. Other legends ascribe different stories to his birth and the period of his worldly existence, and they vary greatly. The Nath Rahasya, which literally translates as “the mystery of the masters”, recounts the birth, work, and death of nine such Naths (masters); and Guru Gorakshanath was the ninth Nath, preceded by his Guru, the eighth Nath, namely, Matsyendranath.
He is the famous saint and worker of miracles; the founder and outstanding teacher of the kivite sect of ascetics, practices of the Hatha Yoga, who are also called Nath Yogis; the great teacher of the Saivite faith, and finally the patron saint and tutelary of the state of Goraksa whose royal house used to rule in Nepal .
SHRI SWAMI RAMKRISHNA PARAMHANSA
Shri Ramakrishna, who was born in 1836 and passed away in 1886, represents the very core of the spiritual realizations of the seers and sages of India. His whole life was literally an uninterrupted contemplation of God. He reached a depth of God-consciousness that transcends all time and place and has a universal appeal. Seekers of God of all religions feel irresistibly drawn to his life and teachings. Shri Ramakrishna, as a silent force, influences the spiritual thought currents of our time. He is a figure of recent history and his life and teachings have not yet been obscured by loving legends and doubtful myths. Through his God-intoxicated life Shri Ramakrishna proved that the revelation of God takes place at all times and that God-realization is not the monopoly of any particular age, country, or people. In him, deepest spirituality and broadest catholicity stood side by side.
The God-man of nineteenth-century India did not found any cult, nor did he show a new path to salvation. His message was his God-consciousness. When God-consciousness falls short, traditions become dogmatic and oppressive and religious teachings lose their transforming power. At a time when the very foundation of religion, faith in God, was crumbling under the relentless blows of materialism and skepticism, Shri Ramakrishna, through his burning spiritual realizations, demonstrated beyond doubt the reality of God and the validity of the time-honored teachings of all the prophets and saviors of the past, and thus restored the falling edifice of religion on a secure foundation.
Swami Vivekananda’s inspiring personality was well known both in India and in America during the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth. The unknown monk of India suddenly leapt into fame at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893, at which he represented Hinduism. His vast knowledge of Eastern and Western culture as well as his deep spiritual insight, fervid eloquence, brilliant conversation, broad human sympathy, colorful personality, and handsome figure made an irresistible appeal to the many types of Americans who came in contact with him. People who saw or heard Vivekananda even once still cherish his memory after a lapse of more than half a century.
In his own motherland Vivekananda is regarded as the patriot saint of modern India and an inspiration for her dormant national consciousness. To the Hindus he preached the ideal of a strength-giving and man-making religion. Service to man as the visible manifestation of the Godhead was the special form of worship he advocated for the Indians, devoted as they were to the rituals and myths of their ancient faith. Many political leaders of India have publicly acknowledged their indebtedness to Swami Vivekananda.
SWAMI SATYANANDA SARASWATI
Shri Swami Satyananda Saraswati was born in 1923 at Almora (Uttarakhand) into a family of farmers. His ancestors were warriors and many of his kith and kin down the line, including his father, served in the army and police force. However, it became evident that Shri Swamiji had a different bent of mind, as he began to have spiritual experiences at the age of six, when his awareness spontaneously left the body and he saw himself lying motionless on the floor.
Many saints and sadhus blessed him and reassured his parents that he had a very developed awareness. This experience of disembodied awareness continued, which led him to many saints of that time such as Anandamayi Ma. Sri Swamiji also met a tantric bhairavi, Sukhman Giri, who gave him shaktipat and directed him to find a guru in order to stabilize his spiritual experiences.
SHRI B.K.S. IYENGAR
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (BKS) Iyengar was born on December 14, 1918 and passed away in August 2014. His father Shri Krishnamachar was a school teacher and therefore Guruji has all his father’s qualities even at this age. Guruji was a victim of malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis in his childhood.
At the age of 16, he was introduced to yoga by his Guru Shri T. Krishnamacharya. At the age of 18, he was sent to Pune, Maharashtra by his guru to teach and preach yoga as he knew a little of English. Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar with his intellectual and spiritual practices has masterminded the techniques which can be used by all practitioners of yoga. “Research based experience” and “experience based research” has helped him in evolving this technique which is now known as “Iyengar Yoga”. He has therefore made it possible for ordinary human beings to experience the wisdom of the yoga sutras.