India has always been a philosophical nation driven by the concept of learning and teaching. In this context, Indian yogis or better referred to as philosophers are revered and loved across nations and beyond. Here we present a few influential yogis with great spiritual essence and followers.
- Jagadish Vasudev
Fondly known as Sadhguru, Jaggi Vasudev is the perfect amalgamation of contemporary storytelling and ancient tales. A guru riding motorcycles, speaking impeccable English, witty with words and Indian in roots, Sadhguru has won the hearts of Indians and foreigners alike, with his philosophies explained suitably to the palette of the current generation.
Practising and preaching yogic sciences and spirituality, Sadhguru stays impactful through his activities that include ISHA Foundation, Rally for Rivers, Gramotsavam (Rural Games Festival), Education, Plantation, Agriculture, Ecology, Mental Health, Bike rally to understand native Americans and more. He is the most active and followed philosopher in the modern age living up to his name of “YouTube Guru” with his channel The Mystics of India and is an active Twitter member.
- Shri Shri Ravi Shankar
Famous for his teachings through “The Art of Living,” Shri Shri Ravi Shankar has the dream of building a world where people are content with themselves as well as with others. Standing apart from teachings solely focused on spirituality, Shri Shri Ravi Shankar’s interaction never adheres to any particular religion, caste, or creed. He also practices what he preaches through various programs supporting the economically and socially backwards and believes that spirituality magnifies basic human values.
- BK Shivani
More relevant and known by the name sister Shivani, BK Shivani is a member of the Brahma Kumari’s and is quite famous on social media through her outlook on life and philosophies. Coming from a background of Engineering and marriage, sister Shivani truly understands the two sides of life and searches for the answers of peace and contentment within oneself rather than from the reprieve gained from the materialistic world. Her speeches and seminars mostly concentrate on the motivational aspect urging the young generation as well as all those who follow her to find inner peace.
- Mata Amritanandamayi
Affectionately referred to as “Amma” meaning mother in most South Indian languages, Mata Ammritanandamayi is a spiritual guru with religious roots. With strong devotion towards her beloved deity Lord Krishna, Mata Amritanandamayi believes and preaches that knowledge,
action and devotion are the three elements that drive humanity towards a better and caring world.
Her compassion is so great that people lovingly call her “Hugging Saint” for the affectionate hugs that she gives to those seeking her irrespective of their caste, creed, ethnicity, and religion. She believes that she has to serve the people and through these bring about changes in the world.
Quite possibly the most controversial spiritual head to have ever existed is Osho. He is known, followed, and also scorned by various people of the society for his unique philosophies. With the given name Rajneesh, Osho is said to have attained the divine sate of Samadhi at the age of 21. He has not been aligned with any religion, but the philosophical nature embedded in the Indian culture. His teachings concentrate on importance of freethought, meditation, mindfulness, love, celebration, courage, creativity, humour, and sexual freedom, that according to the widely believed religious philosophies need to be absconded to understand the true nature of life which he opposed.
He has come to be known as the “Sex Guru” for his unconventional belief that sex is a natural part of life and does not have to be avoided for attaining spiritual fulfilment. He died on 19 January 1990 at the age of 58, but his teachings and philosophies live on through his disciples.
- Dalai Lama
The current Dalai Lama is undoubtedly belonging to both the countries of Tibet and India, and it is not an exaggeration to include his name in the list of the most followed spiritual gurus of India. A winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, Dalai Lama has a huge political impact though his teachings are based on Buddhist religious and spiritual practices.
Believed to be the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama, the current Dalai Lama is revered in India and has conducted many seminars and humanitarian works in schools, colleges, offices, and other institutions around the world.
- Swami Gyanvatsal
Popularly known as the Management guru, Swami Gyanvatsal is the founder of Swami Narayan Sanstha, preaching the principles of unity, non-violence, selflessness, good karma, and faith according to Hinduism. He believes and implements that morality is the highest pinnacle of spirituality and urges everyone to follow Dharma.
A mechanical engineer by profession and a saint by nature, Swami Gyanvatsal gives motivational speeches about stress management, depression, and even modern topics like how to be a good boss.
- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
The pioneer of transcendental meditation, a meditation technique recommended even by psychologists, Maharshi Mahesh Yogi studied under Guru Dev for 13 years. He is the one who introduced this form of meditation to the Western world, specifically to America and Europe. The Beatles and other famous people once used this technique, but they have since left it. Nevertheless, it is still widely used to enhance mental health.
- Gaur Gopal Das
Better known as a monk, Gaur Gopal Das has been a practising monk for 23 years. Fulfilling the role of a storyteller, life coach, author and friend to millions, Gaur Gopal Das preaches and discusses spirituality and delivers motivational speeches. His logical anecdotes, humour and wit associated with Vedanta teachings have made him a great keynote speaker. His speech “The Monk who stole his Ferrari” at Ernst and Young, London is by far the most famous of his speeches.
- Swami Mukundananda
A spiritual leader who has a simplistic way of explaining scriptures, Swami Mukundananda has dedicated three-and-a-half decades of his life studying and practising the principles of mind management. He has great proficiency in Vedic scriptures, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavatam and the Indian and Western systems of philosophy. His teachings explained in simple-yet-scientific approach, have garnered a large following worldwide.