Religious thinkers of India
India has been home to a large number of religious thinkers and spiritualists. The most important of such religious thinkers include Buddha, Guru Nanak, and Mahavira. Buddha and Guru Nanak were the founders of the Buddhist and Sikh religions respectively. Mahavira was the last Jain Tirthankara.
- Mahakasyapa – patriarch of the Buddhist sangha
- Nagarjuna – Mahayana philosopher, known for sunyata
- Asoka – royal patron
- Bodhidharma – 28th patriarch, founder of Zen, introducing Buddhism to China and East Asia
- Bodhisattva - Babasaheb Ambedkar, social reformer and philosopher
- Adi Shankaracharya
- Vedanta Desika
- Manavala Mamuni
- Ayya Vaikundar – Initiator of Ayyavazhi; Social reformer.
- Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
- Ram Mohan Roy – Initiator of the Brahmo Samaj movement, which aimed at developing a universal religion in the nineteenth century.
- Swami Dayananda – Founder of the Arya Samaj.
- Swami Vivekananda – A disciple of Ramakrishna, he started the Ramakrishna Mission, a monastic movement with great stress on humanitarian work.
- Sri Aurobindo – Yoga guru, who proposed yogic tantras to attain divine bliss.
- Jagadguru Swami Sathyananda Saraswathi–Hindu Spiritual teacher,authentic authority on Hinduism,pioneer in Ram Janmabhumi movement and founder of Hindu Aikya Vedi
- Sri Narayana Guru – Social reformer who worked for the upliftment of people from the lower caste in Kerala.
- Moinuddin Chishti – He started the Chishti Order in India.
- Fariduddin Ganjshakar – Another Sufi saint in the Chishti order whose teachings have also been included in Sikhism.
- Amir Khusro – A Sufi poet, and disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya, he is credited with being the founder of both Hindustani classical music and Qawwali (the devotional music of the Sufis).
- Ahmad Sirhindi – He was a prominent propagator of the Naqshbandi Sufi order in India.
- Syed Ahmed Khan
- Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
- Dadabhai Naoroji - Also regarded as one of the most important freedom fighter of the country.
Other important thinkers
The Sikh Gurus undoubtedly were very important in propounding the tenets of Sikhism. Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, is believed to have preached and finally died in India. Saint Francis Xavier also developed a Jesuit missionary method that left a significant impression upon the missionary history of India.