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India's Greatest Minds: Spiritual Masters, Philosophers, Reformers

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Item Code: BAG461
Author: Mukunda Rao
Publisher: Hachette India
Language: English
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 9789389253535
Pages: 514
Cover: PAPERBACK
Other Details 8.00 X 5.00 inch
Weight 380 gm
Book Description
About The Book

A plethora of religions, cultures, languages and peoples have over the ages nurtured a plurality of ideas, beliefs, influences and practices thriving in India. In India's Greatest Minds, Mukunda Rao takes readers on an exhilarating, exhaustive journey through the lives and teachings of India's most illustrious spiritual masters, thinker-activists and philosophers, making their wisdom accessible to all.

Beginning from 700 BCE to the present day, moving across the length and breadth of the subcontinent, and covering every significant school of thought. Rao provides a comprehensive view of the trajectory of Indian thought as it developed over centuries. enriching minds and shaping modern discourse. Whether tackling profound questions on the meaning of life or plunging into the restless urgency of social reform, this book showcases an intellectual and cultural heritage that is uniquely Indian.

From Kapila, Patanjali, Buddha and Mahavira to Andal, Kabir, Guru Nanak. Bulleh Shah and Chaitanya, and from Shishunala Sharifa, Ramakrishna and Vemana to Birsa Munda. Tagore, Gandhi and Ambedkar - the profiles of luminaries in this invaluable compendium will inspire and elevate its readers. Rich in both essence and detail, this treasury celebrates the individuals who rebelled against existing conventions and transcended every divide in their quest for enlightenment, transforming themselves and the world along the way.

About the Author

Mukunda Rao is the author of several insightful philosophical and spiritual works, among which The Biology of Enlightenment, The Buddha and Sky-clad: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Akka Mahadevi are much-read classics. He lives with his wife on a farm outside Bengaluru.

Introduction

THE STORY OF HUMAN EXISTENCE HAS NOT ONLY BEEN ONE OF TIRELESS struggle for survival, security and happiness, but also- and perhaps more importantly-one that has involved a relentless search for answers to existential and metaphysical questions such as, 'Who am I?' 'What is the purpose of my existence?' 'Is there life beyond death?" "What is consciousness? Does God exist?' 'How did life begin?" "What is the Universe made of?' 'What is Time?' and so on.

Around 2500 years ago, when such philosophical enquiries were being seriously explored in different parts of the world, several schools of thought were already prevalent in the Indian subcontinent, tackling these very questions in varied ways.

A significant number of distinguished Western scholars, philosophers and scientists have quite rightly recognized the contribution of Indian thinkers in the fields of spirituality, philosophy and science. For instance, Mark Twain (1835-1910), the famous American writer, called India 'the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition'. (Twain, 1897)

Max Müller (1823-1900), the German scholar who spent his life studying India and its religions, wrote, 'If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant, I should point to India. (Müller, 1883). Henry David Thoreau (1817-62). American thinker and poet, was deeply moved by the wisdom of the Vedas: 'Whenever I have read any part of the Vedas, I have felt that some unearthly and unknown light illuminated me. In the great teaching of the Vedas, there is no touch of sectarianism. It is of all ages, climes and nationalities and is the royal road for the attainment of the Great Knowledge. When I am at it, I feel that I am under the spangled heavens of a summer night.' (Dhawan, 1985). And, Romain Rolland (1866-1944), famous French writer, had no doubt that 'If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India. (Susan Ratcliffe, 2017)

True enough, even before the Buddha came on the scene, the Indian mind was engaged in tackling the hard questions of life through various schools of philosophy, such as Sankhyas, Vaisheshikas, Naiyayikas, Ajivikas, Jainas and so on. During this pivotal period, several significant and far-reaching insights and concepts with regard to the human condition, the nature of reality, mind and experience, and soul or self were proposed. These included Sankhya's notions of prakriti and purusha, Kanada's atomic theory, Patanjali's idea of body as a field of energy. Upanishadic notions of atman and Brahman, Mahavira's principle of ahimsa, Buddha's notion of anatman (no soul) and Nirvana, and so on, which laid the groundwork for the development of Indian philosophy and numerous spiritual traditions and sects.

The richly plural bhakti movement, which spread across India from the seventh to fifteenth century, also had a crucial role in transforming the spiritual and social landscape of India forever. Schools of thought such as Shankara's Advaita, Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita, Madhva's Dvaita, bhakti traditions such as Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Veerashaivism, among others, made an indelible mark on Indian consciousness and influenced its different spiritualities and societies.

**Contents and Sample Pages**



















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