One of the strong reasons why the Hindu philosophy is so vast and great is because it not a “one scripture one messiah” taught religion. The basic scriptures of Hinduism are the four Vedas, the Manu Smriti, Bhagavad Gita, Patanjali yoga sutras and the Brahma Sutras. However from time immemorial to this date, countless Incarnations, Rishis, Saints and Yogis have given commentaries and discourses on these and hence Hinduism adapted and changed with changing times. Realising that one path dose not suit all types of people our saints gave different paths based on the same scriptures. Dvaita is a school Shri Madhvacharya preaches a strict distinction between God and individual souls and based on the same scriptures, the great Adi Shankaracharya preached Advaita or non duality which says the Divine Soul and the Human soul are one!For the ritual minded ones there gave the Poojas, mantras and Tantras; fore devotional types they prescribed the japa and keertans; for the seekers of the ultimate they gave yoga and meditation; for the Shiva devotees they gave the Shaivism path; for the Vishnu devotees they gave Vaisnavism; for the Shakti devotees they gave the Shakti path and even for the non-believers there is the Chavaka path of materialistic and atheistic school!!
There are some paths which preach pure vegetarianism and at the same time we have great Incarnations like Parashurama who in his Parashurama Kalpa Sookta, which preaches the great Sri Yantra worship, permits the Pancha MA’s – Madyam, Matsyam, Mamsam, Maithunam and Modakam ( no restriction on having wine, women, meat, fish)!
You can sit cross-legged in padmasan and worship, or lay flat on shavasan and worship or stand on head with feet up and worship, or on one leg or stand in neck deep water or sit on a bed of nails – all because our liberal minded saints gave a path for everyone.
While the holy saints are truly great, there are many others who have shown us a new path or a new perception or a great way of life. Today the world keeps shouting loudly about wildlife conservation and forest conservation but how many remember that king Ashoka was the first one in the history to have started a wild life conservatory, the first veterinary hospital and decreed the protection of large trees? How many people know that King Aghamarshana was the first one to start democracy and election of the leader of a kingdom? After becoming a king he declared that one should not become the leader of a country by inheritance or conquest but by choice of the people and declared elections and won the election!!
In this section I’ll be covering about the life and works of most of the great saints and stalwarts of India from ancient day Dattatreya, Shankaracharya, Ashoka etc. to the modern day saints like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Mahatma Gandhi, Sivananda & Paramahamsa Satyananda.
For the time being you can read about the following: