Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948) who had seven Himalayan achievments to his credit, each of which was firmly founded on his faith in spirituality . Any single one of these could have earned him the title of a Mahatma. He guided and conducted the most gigantic revolution of the twentieth century for almost a quarter of a century on the basis of Non-violence. He made the Right Wing agree to changes and reforms and at the same time made the Left Wing agree that changes and reforms could happen only step by step. He convinced politicians steeped in chanakya-like statesmanship agree to accept True Religious Spirituality as the only proper guideline for action. Just as mankind has an ethics and morals of their own he was the one who initiated the thought process that Nations must have also an ethics and morals among the comity of nations. It was he who woke up the Indian masses to be aware of the evils of untouchability, widow ill-treatment, child marriage and drug addiction and made them rise against them. It was he who made the Indian people rise above their religious and cultural prejudices and rise as one nation. It was he who shook up the spineless nature of the nation because of its fear of the police, fear of muscle power and money power, fear from superstitious traditions, fear of beaurocracy, and fear from caste and religious prejudice . His authentic voice of sincerity demonstrated to the world that the inner strength of personal religious convictions could be a great 'force' even to solve political and social problems.
Ramana Maharshi (1879 - 1950), who, before anybody could tell him, even as a boy of thirteen, had spiritual enlightenment, through a personal inner experience. The boy became a saint then and there. He renounced home and spent fifteen long years in deep meditation on the Arunachala Hills, in Tiruvannamalai, Tamilnadu. He had become a Maharshi. Disciples came one by one and the Ramana Ashram grew into a major centre of learning,and training in spirituality. With his tremendous faith in the universal brotherhood of man and the need to attain spirituality by constant questioning of one's own self, the maharshi spread the message of the transitoriness of the material and visible world and the message of divine bliss that is inherent in every Being -- by his preachings, certainly, but even more by his silent transmission of spirituality to those who had the good fortune to sit before him and yearn for that message.His was a monumental example of what an Upanishadic Seer would look like and act like. He is known for the emphasis on the relentless pursuit of the question, Who am I? and thus spiritually illumining millions of minds.
Kanchi Mahaswamigal (1894 - 1994), the sage of Kanchi in Tamilnadu, who was so simple, humble, profound, enlightened, compassionate, scholarly and full of Grace that he naturally and effortlessly touched the hearts of men and women, prince and pauper , around the world. Ascending to the Headship of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt at the age of thirteen as the 68th pontiff in the line of succession from Adi Sankara, he ministered to the needs of the afflicted and the distressed and spread the message of compassion and of a return to the most treasured ancient values . After a mission like this full of action for almost half a century which included a 30-year walking pilgrimage of the entire subcontinent of India, he laid down his headship and devoted his time, for the next forty years, to severe penance for universal welfare. Not one of those thousands who had his darshan every day missed to feel the soul-stirring presence of 'the Living God' in thier veins.
Ma Anandamayi (1896 -1982), who, endowed with divine intuition even as a teen-ager, became India's most popular woman saint in recent times.
J. Krishnamurti (1895 -1986) who, by his life and letters, has provoked thousands to delve into the true knowledge of the self, without having to go through conventional ritualistic standards and prerequisites.
February 4, 1999
Copyright V. Krishnamurthy
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