and millions of people have treaded upon this country and each one has shaped
this country according to his actions and beliefs. It is hard to recollect all
the contributors to the making of the new India that is now prevailing, instead
let us see a few examples from myriad fields.
was born around 600 B.C. in Bihar. His father King Siddhartha was the ruler of
Kundalpur. Since childhood, he was very brave and intelligent.
He strongly opposed
animal sacrifice when he grew up. He left for the woods at the age of thirty for
meditation. He was the 24th Tirthankar of the Jain religion. He attained "Nirvana"
or Salvation in 527 B.C.
( 544 B.C)
A number of legends
are connected with the birth of Gautama Buddha who was born in the year 544 B.C.
His childhood and youth days were spend in pleasure as he was born a Prince. He
married and got a beautiful son. Once, when he set out of his palace for a walk
he found the suffering and the poverty of the common man, that he left the palace
for a forest for meditation and to understand the truth behind lives. One day
when he was resting under a Bodhi tree he got enlightment and then he went out
preaching men about "Nirvana".
a Kshatriya noble, who belonged to the Nanda family of Magadha. With the help
of his adviser, Kautilya, he organized an army and seized the power of Magadha,
with Pataliputra as the capital. Kautilya took care of his administration. He
had a great army of about 600,000 men. It is said that his Government, the Gupta
Empire was the most efficient one that India has ever had.
Great mounted the throne in 273 B.C. He ruled the entire India except the extreme
South. He had the governing spirit of his grandfather, Chandragupta. But the great
Kalinga War, which claimed the lives of thousands of his enemies, changed him.
He joined the Buddhist Order and gave up hunting and stopped eating meat. His
edicts carved upon rocks and pillars are found all over India and the famous Asoka's
Pillar has been taken as the National Emblem of India.
Nanak was born in 1469, at Talwandi. He was born in a Hindu family. Around 1500,
he was changed by a spiritual experience and he settled in Punjab, gathering with
him the first of the Sikhs and taught them his principles. Most of his preaching
is in the form of Hymns and they are of great poetic beauty. Ascetic practices
were put aside according to him and emphasis was put on "Nam Dan Insan".
was the one who opened the Mughal chapter in India. He was a rebel Prince from
Samarchand related to Timur and Chengiskhan. Today we remember him all for the
big mosque that bears his name in Ayodhya.
Humayun's exile, his wife gave birth to his son and named him Akbar, meaning "The
Great". As he grew up he was good at all arts and at the age of 18, he took up
the administration. He managed the administration very well and forbade sati,
child-marriage. He dreamt of a whole united India. He brought up the best parts
of all the Indian religions in his newfound religion, Dee-e-ilahi, but
it could not survive after his period. He was the greatest of the Mughal Emperors.
is the supreme poet of Hindi. When he was born his parents abandoned him as he
was born in an unlucky star. A hermit adapted him and taught him the Ramayana.
He married and the death of his son saw him to the forests. It was in the forests
that he wrote the "Ramacharita Manas", where he retold the story of Rama. Gandhiji
has said that the Ramayana of Tulsidas is the greatest devotional book that he
ever has read.
was one of the greatest poets of India. He was a weaver of Benares and he wanted
to unite Hinduism and Islam. He became a devotee of Rama and wrote couplets that
gave way to his ideas of no temples, no idols, no caste but only one God. When
he died there was a dispute between the Hindus and Muslims as to how he should
be laid to rest. When the cloth covering him was removed they found only flowers,
and the Hindus burned half of them and the Muslims buried the other half.
was always a big magnet for invaders. But the biggest resistance that any invader
could not face was by the Marathas funded by the great Shivaji. He set up the
first Nation state in India. He was a liberator and an epic hero.
was the son of Shahji, a chief in the state of Bijapur. He was born at Junnar
in 1627. He was brave and revolted against the state of Bijapur. He attacked the
Mughals and organized the Marathas into a strong force. Aurangazeb invited him
into his court for negotiations but imprisoned him. But Shivaji, found his way
out treacherously. He died in 1680 and his successors were not strong like him.
His Maratha power was responsible for the fall of the Mughal Empire
RAMMOHAN ROY (1772-1833)
in an affluent zamindar Brahmin family in Radhanagar, Rammohan received a classical
image-worship and advocated monotheism and greatly protested against the evil
of Sati system. He founded the Brahma Samaj in 1828 responsible for religious
and social reforms. He specifically denounced the caste system. He promoted English
learning and fought conservative Hindu and Christian Missionaries simultaneously.
CHAND VIDYASAGAR (1820- 1898)
man was born in a poor family in Bengal, in Midnapore district on September 26,
1820. He acquired the title of "Vidyasagar" later in his life meaning, "Ocean
of knowledge". He contributed to the upliftment of the society in general. He
hardly ever wore good dresses as he gave them when he saw poor men without proper
dress. He was a great Sanskrit scholar and a great reformer. He did a lot for
the upliftment of women including widow remarriage and their education and child
education. He also preached for the remarriage of widows, which was a taboo in
those days. In a sense he is the originator of the modern Bengali language.
was the first religious reformer of modern India who out of his own curiosity
had delved deep into the scriptures to find the true interpretations. He was born
in 1825 in a well-to-do Audichya Brahmin family at Tankara in Morvi state in Kathiawar.
He learnt a lot from the blind Swami Vriganand of Mathura who changed his name
to Dayananda Sarawathi after Diksha.
ideas and preachings were far from the narrow confinement of religion alone. He
was a great social reformer. He championed for the emancipation of women, widow
remarriage, abolition of caste systems, child marriage, polytheism, doctrine of
incarnation, untouchability, idol-worship and was against to salvations by observing
BAI (RANI OF JHANSI)(1835-1858)
of India's women, also known as the "Joan of Arc" of India, Lakshmi Bai was born
on 16th November, 1835 at Kashi near Banaras. She blossomed into a beautiful and
intelligent girl of dominating personality and generous disposition. Her only
son died in infancy and later her husband too. Lord Dalhousie annexed Jhansi under
the Doctrine of Lapse and Lakshmi Bai was forced to leave her royal Palace. She
fought bravely against the British for two weeks and then escaped to Kalpi on
horseback with her small-adopted son. There with the help of Tantia tope and Rao
Sahib she decided to continue her fight. Lakshmi Bai fought in the thick of battle
with swords in both the hands and the horse's rein in her mouth. On June16th 1858,
she fell in the battlefield.
the British were undermining the foundations of India's native economy, one Indian
quietly went about laying new foundations for a new industrial and economic future.
He built up the great industrial empire of India, and set charities and foundations
and visionary institutions for science education and fundamental research. He
was a great entrepreneur with a pioneering spirit.
was born of Parsi parentage in 1839 at Navrasi and was educated at Elphinstone
Institution in Bombay. Dissatisfied with the traditional businesses in India,
he started his own textile mills in Nagpur.
concern for India's economic progress resulted in the establishment of the Iron
and Steel works at Sakchi now in Jamshedpur. A rich man, he used his wealth as
a trust, organizing his charities in a systematic way.
Besant, the famous Theosophist was born in London in October 1847.Annie Besant
became committed to socialism and free thought and organized trade unions in London.
In 1893 she came to India, and took part in the freedom struggle. She started
the "Home rule League". She also established the "Indian Boy Scouts Association"
and the "Women's Indian Association". The National University was established
by her at Adyar in 1918.She was a woman of keen intellect and fiery zeal and she
did many constructive things for the country. She died in September 1933.
thousands of years the Indians worshipped gods and goddesses without any specific
form. The task of giving recognizable visages to Shiva, Vishnu, Rama and Krishna
and to much number of Apsarases was left to the royal artist Ravi Varma. He was
the first Indian to acquire expertise in oil portrait technology.
was a simple man who fought against caste oppressions. His simple mantra was:
One caste, one religion and one God for man. His ideas helped transform social
conditions in Kerala and shake the foundations of discrimination everywhere. Oppressed
people across the land bestowed the status of divinity on him.
GANGADHAR TILAK (1856-1920)
widely as "The father of Indian unrest", Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born on
23 July, 1856 in an orthodox chitpavan family in Ratnagiri in Maharastra. He was
a brilliant student with a bachelor degree in Mathematics and Sanskrit and ultimately
a Law degree in 1879. After education, Tilak refused many lucrative jobs and plunged
into the cause for a national awakening. Tilak's political and social outlooks
were contradictory. He believed in the age-old traditions of untouchability and
came on the national scene as a symbol of radical youth. His extreme political
views alarmed the members of the Congress. He played an important role in turning
the national movement of India into a truly mass movement. He was an educationist
and editor based in Pune. He linked the national aspirations with the culture
of India. His powerful journalism eventually led to his exile to the dreaded jail
in the Andamans on charges of sedition. He died on 1st August, 1920 before the
country got its independence.
CHANDRA BOSE (1858- 1937)
was one of the greatest Indian scientists. He was born on November 30th, 1858
in Mymensingh in Bengal He had his education at Cambridge University of London.
. He was a pioneer in Physics, Electro-Physics and plant Physiological researches
in India. He worked on Biochemistry and founded the famous Bose Institute in 1917
for the purpose of plant physiological researches. He was involved in the study
of responses in the living and non-living things and demonstrated the effect of
different types of stimuli, such as heat, drugs, electrical excitation on animal
and vegetable tissues and also on certain inorganic systems.
His important achievement was the discovery that plants are living beings. Through
successful experiments he proved that plants eat and breathe as we do. He also
developed instruments like the Cresco graph, which could magnify the small movements
of plants, conductivity balance, photosynthetic recorder and radiometer. He died
Tagore was the son of Davendranath Tagore, a Bengali Thakur and a man of riches
and culture. He was born on 7th May, 1861, in Jorasanko house in Calcutta. He
was the fourteenth child of his parents. Devendranth was one of the organizers
of the "Brahma Samaj". Rabindranath was brought up in an atmosphere of comfort,
culture, music and poetry. From childhood he had a sensitive, observant and affectionate
nature. He created wonderful songs based on nature and women. He was a man of
amazing versatility and genius. . He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913 for his
work of devotional songs called "Gitanjali". The British knighted him but he returned
the knighthood after the Jallianwalabagh massacre.
He was one of the great
minds of India who gave expressions to the soul in the Subcontinent, which was
under turmoil. He composed the National anthem of our country. He was a novelist,
playwright, poet, painter, traveler and educationist. He wrote over a thousand
poems, over two thousand songs, in addition to a large number of short stories,
novels and dramas and essays on the most diverse of topics.. He was a musician
of the highest order too. He took to painting only when he was 70 years old and
yet he had produced about three thousand paintings of good artistic quality. He
established the "topovana School" where it would be possible to link learning
and living with nature. "Shantiniketan " is the culmination of this idea. He passed
away on 7th August 1941, in Calcutta after a surgical operation. There was no
one like him before, and no one since.
M. VISWESVARAYA (1861-1962)
Viswesvaraya was born in an orthodox middle-class Brahmin family in a village
near Nandi hills in Mysore state. He passed Engineering in 1883 from Poona College,
topping the list of graduates. Viswesvaraya started his career as an Assistant
Engineer in the Public Works Department of the Bombay Government. At the desire
of the Maharaja of Mysore he joined the state's service as chief Engineer and
initiated the scheme of the 124 feet high Krishnaraja sagar Reservoir across the
Cauvery. In November 1912 he became the Dewan of Mysore state. He was responsible
for the establishment of the Mysore Bank, The Mysore University and several Engineering
schools in the State of Karnataka. He received the Bharat Ratna in 1955 and he
died on April 14th, 1962.
was a staunch follower of Rama Krishna. His real name was Narendra Dutt. He was
born in a Kayastha family on 12th January, 1863 and he was the sixth child to
his parents. He studied in the Presidency College. In 1882, he found Sri Ramakrishna
at Dakshineswar and accepted him as his "Guru". Sitting on the rocks in Kanya
Kumari, the southern tip of Peninsula India, he visualized a solution for the
suffering of the masses.
did not like the myths and superstitions with which the religion is generally
associated. Under the able guidance of his guru he began to believe in God as
the totality of all souls. He advised people to practice religion through complete
devotion to men and not through ascetism and meditation. He strengthened the spiritual
legacy of India in the 19th century. He never hesitated to condemn evils like
casteism, but his pride in the philosophy of Hinduism combined with his catholicity
of views turned the Parliament of Religions in 1893 into a historical event. He
exhorted the nation to "Arise, Awake and stop not till the goal is reached".
On 1st May, he established the Ramakrishna Mission and the following year the
KRISHNA GOKHALE (1866-1915)
was born on May 9th, 1866 in a poor Chitpavan Brahmin family in the Ratnagiri
district of Maharastra. After education he devoted himself completely to public
life and the national freedom struggle. In 1889, he became a member of the Indian
National Congress. Being a liberal man, he saw the advantages of western education
and advocated it strongly. He was a political moderate and did not agree with
Tilak's extremist views. He started the "Servants of India Society" a group aimed
at dedication of themselves to the service of the country. He died in 1915.
Ghosh was born in Calcutta on 15th August,1872. He went to England for his schooling.
He passed the Indian civil service Examination. In 1905, the Partition of Bengal
brought him into the open as a leader. He started the Bengali daily, "Yugantar"
and also joined the English daily "Bande Mataram". His provocative articles made
the British to arrest him but he flew to Pondicherry , a French settlement where
the British could do him no harm. There a change came over him and he gave up
all his political activities and devoted himself to literature and philosophy.
A French couple Paul Richard and his wife who later became the famous "Mother"
cooperated with him. An Ashram grew up in Pondicherry attracting disciples from
all over the world. Auroville, an experiment in harmonious international living
was begun in 1965. Sri Aurobindo passed in 1950 and the Ashram still remains a
center of spiritual regeneration under his disciples.
rule stifled patriotism so repressively that many turned revolutionary while some
turned spiritual. This man traversed both courses to provide unrivalled inspiration
to those who came in contact with him. He treated himself and became a yogic recluse,
but his power to influence minds swelled all.
Sardar vallabhai Patel was born on
October 31, 1875 in a middle class peasant family of Nadiad, Gujarat. He studied
law and was drawn into politics by the leadership of Gandhi. He was made the Deputy
Prime Minister when India became independent. He made the greatest contribution
to the country- namely the integration of the princely states. In less than a
year's time he managed to reduce the number of princely states from 562 to 26
administrative units. He was called the Iron Man of India. He foresaw the
necessity of a strong Indian military force and was responsible for the reorganization
of the armed forces.
an organizer he was unparalleled and as a government head he was clear-headed.
For the firmness and farsightedness with which the map of India was consolidated
through the integration of the princely states and the rupture of the princely
egos, the nation is debted to Vallabhai Patel. He died on December15, 1950.
called the "Nightingale of India" Sarojini Naidu was born in a Bengali
Brahman family in Hyderabad on 13th February 1879. Daughter of a remarkable scientist
cum philosopher father and a poetess mother, Sarojini displayed great talent at
poetry and wrote melodious Indian poems. After 1917, Sarojini joined active politics.
She was elected Congress president in 1925. After Independence, India honored
her the first woman Governor of Uttar Pradesh. On 2nd March 1949, she died as
a woman who was loved and respected by all classes of people.
CHAKAHRAVARTI RAJAGOPALACHARI (1879-1972)
Rajagopalachari was born in a middle class Brahman family in December 1879, in
Salem district of Tamilnadu. He graduated from the Presidency College, Madras,
at the age of 18 and then studied Law and started practicing as lawyer. He married
in 1900 but his wife died early in 1917. Gandhi became his political leader although
at times he differed from Gandhi openly. The Rowlett Act and the Jallian wala
Bagh massacre prompted him to join the freedom Movement. He led the famous Salt
Satyagraha march in Tamilnadu. He was the General Secretary of the Indian National
Congress from 1921-1922. He was also the first Chief Minister of Madras in 1937-1939
and later in 1952-1954. Gradually he moved away from the Congress and formed the
Swatantra Party. A man of great intellect, he believed in practicing what he preached.
He was never afraid of criticizing others.
was born on 11th December 1882 at Ettayapuram in Tirunelveli District, Tamilnadu.
He became a Tamil scholar and he was awarded the title "Bharathi" when he won
a prize in a literary contest sponsored by the Raja of Ettayapuram.He joined a
Tamil daily in Madras and while here he developed a taste for politics and social
reforms and he wrote his expressions into patriotic poems.
was associated with the extremist movement in the Congress. His patriotic poems
include the powerful "Janma bhoomi" and his devotional songs pay homage to the
Goddess Kali. Subramani Bharathi was one of the pioneer advocates of national
integration as he stressed in most of his poems.
of the greatest mathematicians the world ever produced, Srinivasa Ramanujam was
born in a South Indian Iyengar Brahman family at Erode on 22 December, 1887. His
father was an accountant. Even at his early stages he possessed an uncanny familiarity
with numbers and could give the values of various mathematical entities to any
number of decimal places. He passed the Matriculation exams in Kumbakonam, a small
town in Tamilnadu and he was also fighting poverty. In 1909 he got married.
H. Hardy, the great mathematician had some questions and the solutions were found
in Ramanujam's work and so Ramanujam was introduced to the world as a great genius.
Ramanujam got a Research
scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge and while working there he contracted
tuberculosis in 1917. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society and also a Fellow
of the Trinity College in 1918 and during this time he made the greatest contributions
to mathematics. Early in 1919 he returned to India and again his health broke
down and he died on 26th April, 1920, at the youthful age of 33 years.
rule, the Indian scientists did not even have a well-equipped laboratory. Yet,
Raman was able to refract light and discovered the great Raman Effect. He also
worked on Surface Tension. The Raman effect he discovered became significant in
the studies of the constitution and properties of various substances. He established
academies, journals and institutes and evolved new ideas on the measurement of
photons spins and the magnetic properties of crystals. He won the Nobel Prize
for Physics and the Bharat Ratna in 1954.
Chandrasekhara Venkataraman was born on 7th November 1888 at Thiruchirapalli.
After independence, Raman was made the first "National Professor" in 1948. Raman
was also well versed in literary and religious classics. He was also a great speaker.
He passed away in 1970 at the age of 82.
first Prime Minister of Independent India, Nehru was born on 14th November, 1889,
at Allahabad.Son of Motilal Nehru, a leading Barrister of the country and a staunch
nationalist, Nehru was introduced to politics from his early days. He received
his education at Harrow and Cambridge and returned to India. Then he married Kamala
Kaul, a frail girl of seventeen, chosen by his parents. Their only child was Indira
Priyadarshini who was to later become the Prime Minister. Kamala died a premature
death in 1936.
was an aristocrat who embraced the life of suffering and joined those who plunged
into the freedom movement. He more or less became the successor for the principles
of Gandhi. Nehru also has the unique distinction of being elected the President
of the Congress for five times. He became the first Prime Minister of India and
remained so until his death .As the first Prime Minister of India, he attracted
critics as well as admirers. Some of his policies came in for strong criticism.
His was a rule of international prestige and the pioneering concept of Non-alignment
was his proud legacy. All over the world he was hailed as "The Messenger of
Peace". He was one of the architects of the Non-aligned Movement. He was a
great Statesman and a Visionary. He wrote great works that include his Autobiography,
Discovery of India, Glimpses of World History, etc. He passed away on 27th May,
was a leader of the depressed classes and fought relentlessly for their emancipation.
He was born in Mhow, on the 14th of April, 1891 for untouchable parents and had
his early education in Satara. He went to study in USA on a scholarship from where
he went to England to prepare for the bar. Once back in India, he began to fight
for the cause of the untouchables.
led various satyagrahas to establish the civil rights of the untouchables. From
1930 he entered the national politics. He came into conflict with Gandhi on the
issue of separate electorates for the untouchables. He was nominated to the Constituent
Assembly. He was Law Minister in the Nehru Cabinet and Chairman of the Drafting
Committee to frame the Indian constitution. He prepared the Hindu Code Bill. He
has also authored many books.
the evils of casteism and untouchability, which were in vogue in our country then,
some people rose to the top on their own inherent worth. Ambedkar rose high enough
to become an architect of the country's constitutional foundations. So spirited
was his life-long campaign for equality and justice that the powerful Dalit movement
finds a perennial source of sustenance even now.
Chandra Bose was the ninth of fourteen children to his parents and he was born
on January 23rd, 1897, in Cuttack, Odisha to Janaki Nath Bose and Prabhabati Devi.
He studied at the Presidency College, Calcutta and passed the ICS examinations
in England. During the Jallianwalabagh incident, his nationalism got better and
he resigned from the ICS and joined Gandhi in the freedom struggle. After the
World War II he fell out with Gandhi. He formed the forward Bloc. He struck up
alliance with Germany and Japan, which were the Brtishers enemies, on the principle
that "my enemy's enemy is my friend".
1943, he arrived in Singapore and organized the Indian National Army out of the
Indian prisoners of war and proclaimed the Government of Azad Hind that
same year. Hailed as Netaji by the Army as well as the Indians in East Asia, he
liberated the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The INA headquarters were shifted to
Rangoon in January 1944 and with the cry "Delhi Chalo" on their lips the
soldiers crossed the Indian border on March 18th, 1944. The brave army came up
to Kohima and Imphal taking one after the other, the British outposts. But the
fall of Japan made them retreat. He was reportedly killed in an air crash over
Taiwan on August 18th, 1945.
the beginning of this century science was considered as a monopoly of the West.
The new fledging India could not even dream of science as its bedrock. If it is
now in the forefront of the world with good nuclear and space capabilities, the
credit goes to Bhabha. He was a visionary of extraordinary luminescence who understood
that India has the capability.
Homi Jahangir Baba was born on October 30, 1909 at Bombay. He belonged to a Parsi
family. He had his higher studies in England and later entered into the research
field in India. His field was "Nuclear energy". At Bangalore he founded
the Institute of Science. The production of nuclear energy in India was all because
of him. He was appointed Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. He was awarded
the Padma Bhushan. He died in an air crash on January 24th.
Daughter of Jawaharlal
Nehru and Kamala Nehru , Indira Gandhi was born in Allahabad on November
19th, 1917. She had her education in Switzerland, Geneva, Poona, Bombay,
shantiniketan and Oxford. She was married to Feroze Gandhi on March 26th,
1942 and had two sons Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. From childhood, freedom
struggle became her passion, as her family was full of freedom fighters.
During the Quit India Movement, she was imprisoned. She became a member
of the Indian National Congress after independence in 1955 and was elected
the President in 1978. He Parliamentary career began from her election as
a member of theRajya Sabha. She joined the Shastri cabinet as Minister for
Information and Broadcasting. She rose to occupy the post of Prime Minister
in January 1966 to March 1977 and again in January 1980.
She has the distinction of
being awarded honorary doctoral degrees from a number of Indian and Foreign Universities.
Her numerous achievements in the field of arts and science brought her many laurels.
She received the Bharat Ratna in 1972 and the U Thant Peace Prize for East- West
Understanding in 1982. Finally her Sikh bodyguards assassinated her in her home
due to her decision to send the Army into the Golden Temple at Amritsar to flush
out the Sikh terrorists who were hiding there.
was the only country in the East, the Lumiere brothers visited to popularize cinematography.
India became the world's largest producer of movies. In terms of quality and standards,
one man took the art form to great pinnacles. He had a worthy number of successors,
but the breadth of vision, fidelity to details and sustained creativity remained
his forte. An Indian filmmaker and among the dozen or so great masters of world
cinema, he is known for his humanistic approach to cinema. He made his films in
Bengali, a language spoken in West Bengal, the Eastern state of India, and Bangladesh.
In 1992, Satyajit Ray received the Honorary Academy Award.