Sadasiva Brahman,one of the greatest siddhas of all time whose mind was always merged in the Transcendental Absolute so completely that it was transparent to every one who came into contact with him that his body-experiences had no impact on him; Bhakta Ramadas, who built the famous temple at Bhadrachalam and for whom the Lord Himself came to redeem him from his debt to his Muslim monarch; and Bhaskararaya, the mystic devotee of Mother Goddess, whose commentary on the Lalitaa-sahasra-naama is an all-time classic and who remains even now the ultimate authority on all worship of the Divine Mother -- all of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Tayumanavar, famous for the thousands of divine songs oozing out, through their simple Tamil but of profound meaning, the divine bliss he himself enjoyed, and who was known for his emphasis on the unity of all paths to God and of all religions, and, in particular of Vedanta and Saiva Siddhanta; and Ramaprasad, who was a revivalist and silent seeker, whose poems, known for their alliteration, rhyme and lucidity, penetrated the far-flung villages of Bengal -- both of the 18th century.
Tyagaraja (1769 - 1847), Shyama Sastri (1762 -1827) and MuthuswamyDikshidar (1775 - 1834): The three great celebrities in the world of Carnatic music. Their immortal creations, many of them composed while in trance, numbering in thousands, constitute an ocean of devotion and spirituality. Even the layman can enjoy through their music and poetry the highest expressions of devotional sentiments or spiritual enlightenment. Each one of them had the rare combination of philosophy,musicology, poetics and mystic devotion.
Swami Narayan (1781 -1830): Hailing from Gujarat, he became a sannyasi at the age of 12, was thereafter known as Sahajananda Swami and was accepted as a divine incarnation at 24. He fought sati, infanticide and other questionable practices in the name of religion.
Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1824 - 1883) who founded the first formal successful movement against the western political and cultural impact, in the form of the Arya Samaj. With his slogan, 'Back to the Vedas' and his monumental work 'Satyartha Prakash', he paved the way for the reformation of Hinduism through a return to its roots.
Jothi Ramalinga Swami (1823 - 1874) who promoted a casteless society with every one uniformly seeking Grace through the inner light of oneself, whose was a voice which refused to heed any but the voice of one's pious conscience, whose prayers included not only the routine plea to God to show us the Light within, not only the universal prayer for the cleansing of our minds but also the unusual and unique prayer, in compassion, of asking for the dead to be revived by the Lord. He composed thousands of verses breathing universal love and peace, which are all available today as a single book called 'Tiru-arut-paa' and is considered as one of the greatest Tamil poets of the 19th century, in spite of his total lack of any formal education.
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February 4, 1999
Copyright V. Krishnamurthy
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