Here is a slideshow of famous meditators through the ages.
Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थगौतमबुद्ध; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhismwas founded. The word Buddha is a title for the first awakened being in an era. In most Buddhist traditions, Siddharth Gautam is regarded as the Supreme Buddha (P.sammāsambuddha, S. samyaksaṃbuddha) of our age, “Buddha” meaning “awakened one” or “the enlightened one.” [note 1] Siddhārtha Gautama may also be referred to asGautama Buddha or as Śākyamuni (“Sage of the Śākyas“). The Buddha found a Middle Way that ameliorated the extreme asceticism found in the Sramana religions.
The time of Gautama’s birth and death are uncertain: most early 20th-century historians dated his lifetime as c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE, but more recent opinion dates his death to between 486 and 483 BCE or, according to some, between 411 and 400 BCE. UNESCO lists Lumbini, Nepal as a world heritage site and birthplace of Gautama Buddha. There are also claims about birth place of Gautama Buddha to be Kapilavastu at Piprahwa, Uttar Pradesh, or Kapileswara, Orissa, modern India.He later taught throughout regions of eastern India such as Magadha and Kośala.
Gautama is the primary figure in Buddhism, and accounts of his life, discourses, and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarized after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition, and first committed to writing about 400 years later.
Bodhidharma was a Buddhistmonk who lived during the 5th/6th century CE. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Ch’an (Sanskrit: Dhyāna, Japanese: Zen) to China, and regarded as the first Chinese patriarch. According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the Shaolin monks that led to the creation of Shaolinquan.
Little contemporary biographical information on Bodhidharma is extant, and subsequent accounts became layered with legend. There are three principal sources for Bodhidharma’s biography: Yáng Xuànzhī’s (Yang Hsüan-chih) The Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Luoyang (547), Tánlín’s preface to the Two Entrances and Four Acts (6th century CE), and Dàoxuān’s (Tao-hsuan) Further Biographies of Eminent Monks (7th century CE).
These sources vary on their account of Bodhidharma being either “from Persia” (547 CE), “a Brahman monk from South India” (645 CE), “the third son of a Brahman king of South India” (ca. 715 CE).Some traditions specifically describe Bodhidharma to be the third son of a Pallava king from Kanchipuram.
The accounts also differ on the date of his arrival, with one early account claiming that he arrived during the Liú Sòng Dynasty (420–479) and later accounts dating his arrival to theLiáng Dynasty (502–557). Bodhidharma was primarily active in the lands of the Northern Wèi Dynasty (386–534). Modern scholarship dates him to about the early 5th century.
Several stories about Bodhidharma have become popular legends, which are still being used in the Ch’an and Zen-tradition.
Bodhidharma’s teachings and practice centered on meditation and the Lankavatara Sutra.
The Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall (952) identifies Bodhidharma as the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism in an uninterrupted line that extends all the way back to the Buddha himself.
Patañjali (Sanskrit: पतञ्जलि, IPA: [pət̪əɲɟəli]; fl. 150 BCE or 2nd c. BCE) is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice. According to tradition, the same Patañjali was also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a commentary on Kātyāyana‘s vārttikas (short comments) on Pāṇini‘s Aṣṭādhyāyī as well as an unspecified work of medicine (āyurveda).
In recent decades the Yoga Sutra has become quite popular worldwide for the precepts regarding practice of Raja Yoga and its philosophical basis. “Yoga” in traditional Hinduism involves inner contemplation, a system of meditation practice and ethics.
Shiva (/ˈʃɪvə/; Sanskrit: शिव Śiva, meaning “auspicious one”) is a major Hindudeity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a sage at Mount Kailash. In the Shaiva tradition of Hinduism, Shiva is seen as the Supreme God and has five important works: creator, preserver, destroyer, concealer, and revealer (to bless). In theSmarta tradition, he is regarded as one of the five primary forms of God. Followers of Hinduism who focus their worship upon Shiva are called Shaivites or Shaivas (SanskritŚaiva).Shaivism, along with Vaiṣṇava traditions that focus on Vishnu and Śākta traditions that focus on the goddessShakti, is one of the most influential denominations in Hinduism.
Lord Shiva is usually worshipped in the abstract form of Shiva linga. In images, He is represented as a handsome young man immersed in deep meditation or dancing the Tandava upon Apasmara, the demon of ignorance in his manifestation of Nataraja, the Lord of the dance, goodness, humility, and every good quality a human should have. It is said that He looks like an eternal youth because of his authority over death, rebirth and immortality. He is also the father of Ganesha, Murugan (Kartikeya), and Ayyappan (Dharma Sastha).
Laozi (Chinese: 老子; pinyin: Lǎozǐ; Wade–Giles: Lao Tzu; also romanized as Lao Tse, Lao Tu, Lao-Tsu, Laotze, Laosi, Laocius, and other variations) was a philosopher of ancientChina, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching (often simply referred to as Laozi). His association with the Tao Te Ching has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of philosophical Taoism (pronounced as “Daoism”). He is also revered as a deity in most religious forms of Taoist philosophy, which often refers to Laozi as Taishang Laojun, or “One of theThree Pure Ones“.
Laozi is an honorific title. Lao (老) means “venerable” or “old”, such as modern Mandarin laoshi (老师), “teacher”. Zi (子), Wade-Giles transliteration tzu, in this context is typically translated “master”. Zi was used in ancient China as an honorific suffix, indicating “Master”, or “Sir”. In popular biographies, Laozi’s given name was Er, his surname was Li (forming Li Er,李耳) and his courtesy name was Boyang. Dan is a posthumous name given to Laozi, and he is sometimes referred to as Li Dan (李聃).
According to Chinese traditions, Laozi lived in the 6th century BCE. Historians variously contend that Laozi is a synthesis of multiple historical figures, that he is a mythical figure, or that he actually lived in the 5th–4th century BCE, concurrent with the Hundred Schools of Thought and Warring States Period.
A central figure in Chinese culture, both nobility and common people claim Laozi in their lineage. He was honored as an ancestor of the Tang imperial family, and was granted the titleTaishang xuanyuan huangdi, meaning “Supreme Mysterious and Primordial Emperor”. Xuanyuan and Huangdi are also, respectively, the personal and proper names of the Yellow Emperor. Throughout history, Laozi’s work has been embraced by various anti-authoritarian movements.
The Bhagavad Gītā (Sanskrit: भगवद्गीता, ˈbʱəɡəʋəd̪ ɡiːˈt̪aː(help·info), Song of God), also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic the Mahabharata. Since the Gita is drawn from the Mahabharata, it is classified as a Smṛiti text. However, those branches of Hinduism that give it the status of an Upanishad also consider it a śruti or “revealed” text. As it is taken to represent a summary of the Upanishadic teachings, it is also called “the Upanishad of the Upanishads”..The book consists of sayings of Lord Sri Krishna to Arjuna .
The context of the Gita is a conversation between Lord Krishna and the Pandava prince Arjuna taking place in the middle of the battlefield before the start of the Kurukshetra War with armies on both sides ready to battle. Responding to Arjuna’s confusion and moral dilemma about fighting his own cousins who command a tyranny imposed on a disputed empire, Lord Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and prince, and elaborates on yoga, Samkhya, reincarnation, moksha, karma yoga and jhana yoga among other topics. This has led to the Gita often being described as a concise guide to Hindu theology and also as a practical, self-contained guide to life. During the discourse, Lord Krishna reveals his identity as the Supreme Being himself (Svayam Bhagavan), blessing Arjuna with an awe-inspiring vision of his divine universal form.
It has been highly praised not only by prominent Indians such as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi but also by Aldous Huxley, David Henry Thoreau, Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer,Ralph Waldo Emerson, Carl Jung, and Herman Hesse. Thoreau notes, ” In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmological philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.”
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī (Persian: جلالالدین محمد بلخى Persian pronunciation: [dʒælɒːlæddiːn mohæmmæde bælxiː]), also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī (جلالالدین محمد رومی Persian pronunciation: [dʒælɒːlæddiːn mohæmmæde ɾuːmiː]) and popularly known as Mevlānā in Turkey and Mawlānā (Persian: مولانا Persian pronunciation: [moulɒːnɒː]) in Iran andAfghanistan but known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273) was a 13th-century PersianMuslimpoet, jurist,theologian, and Sufimystic.Rūmī is a descriptive name meaning “Roman” since he lived most of his life in an area called “Rumi” (then under the control of Seljuq dynasty) because it was once ruled by the Eastern Roman Empire. He was one of the figures who flourished in the Sultanate of Rum.
It is likely that he was born in the village of Wakhsh, a small town located at the river Wakhsh in Persia (in what is now Tajikistan). Wakhsh belonged to the larger province of Balkh, and in the year Rumi was born, his father was an appointed scholar there. Both these cities were at the time included in the greater Persian cultural sphere of Khorasan, the easternmost province of Persia and was part of the Khwarezmian Empire.
His birthplace and native language both indicate a Persian heritage. His father decided to migrate westwards due to quarrels between different dynasties in Khorasan, opposition to the Khwarizmid Shahs, who were considered deviant by Bahā ud-Dīn Walad (Rumi’s father), or fear of the impending Mongol cataclysm. Rumi’s family traveled west, first performing the Hajj and eventually settling in the Anatolian city Konya (capital of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, in present-day Turkey). This was where he lived most of his life, and here he composed one of the crowning glories of Persian literature which profoundly affected the culture of the area.
He lived most of his life under the Sultanate of Rum, where he produced his works and died in 1273 AD. He was buried in Konya and his shrine became a place of pilgrimage.Following his death, his followers and his son Sultan Walad founded the Mevlevi Order, also known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, famous for its Sufi dance known as the Samaceremony.
Rumi’s works are written in the New Persian language. A Persian literary renaissance (in the 8th/9th century) started in regions of Sistan, Khorāsān and Transoxiana and by the 10th/11th century, it reinforced the Persian language as the preferred literary and cultural language in the Persian Islamic world. Rumi’s importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders. His original works are widely read in their original language across the Persian-speaking world. Translations of his works are very popular in other countries. His poetry has influenced Persian literature as well as Urdu, Punjabi and other Pakistani languages written in Perso/Arabic script e.g. Pashto and Sindhi. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and transposed into various formats. In 2007, he was described as the “most popular poet in America.”
Guru Nanak –
Guru Nanak was born on 15 April 1469, now celebrated as Prakash Divas of Guru Nanak Dev, into a Hindu Khatri family in the village of Rāi Bhōi dī Talwandī, now called Nankana Sahib, near Lahore, Pakistan. Today, his birthplace is marked by Gurdwara Janam Asthan. Some are of the opinion that 20 October is his enlightenment day rather than his birthday. His father, Mehta Kalyan Das Bedi, popularly shortened to Kalu Mehta, was the patwari (accountant) of crop revenue for the village of Talwandi in the employment of a Muslim landlord of that area, Rai Bular Bhatti. Guru Nanak’s mother was Tripta Devi and he had one elder sister, Bibi Nanaki who became a spiritual figure in her own right.
Nanaki married Jai Ram and went to his town of Sultanpur, where he was the steward (modi) to Daulat Khan Lodi, the eventual governor of Lahore. Guru Nanak was attached to his older sister, and, in traditional Indian fashion, he followed her to Sultanpur to live with her and her husband. Guru Nanak also found work with Daulat Khan, when he was around 16 years old. This was a formative time for Guru Nanak, as the Puratan Janam Sakhi suggests, and in his numerous allusions to governmental structure in his hymns, most likely gained at this time.
Commentaries on his life give details of his blossoming awareness from a young age. At the age of five, Guru Nanak is said to have voiced interest in divine subjects. At age seven, his father, Kalu Mehta, enrolled him at the village school as was the custom. Notable lore recounts that as a child Guru Nanak astonished his teacher by describing the implicit symbolism of the first letter of the alphabet, which is an almost straight stroke in Persian or Arabic, resembling the mathematical version of one, as denoting the unity or oneness of God.
Isaac (ben Solomon) Luria Ashkenazi (1534 – July 25, 1572) (Hebrew:יִצְחָק בן שלמה לוּרְיָא אשכנזי Yitzhak Ben Sh’lomo Lurya Ashkenazi), commonly known as “TheARI“ (meaning “The Lion”), “ARI-Hakadosh” [the holy ARI] or “ARIZaL“ [the ARI, Zikhrono Livrakha] was a foremost rabbi and Jewish mystic in the community of Safedin the Galilee region of Ottoman Palestine. He is considered the father of contemporary Kabbalah, his teachings being referred to as Lurianic Kabbalah. While his direct literary contribution to the Kabbalistic school of Safed was extremely minute (he wrote only a few poems), his spiritual fame led to their veneration and the acceptance of his authority. The works of his disciples compiled his oral teachings into writing. Every custom of the Ari was scrutinized, and many were accepted, even against previous practice.
Saint Pio (Pius) of Pietrelcina, O.F.M. Cap., (25 May 1887 – 23 September 1968) was a Capuchin Catholic priest from Italy who is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church. He was born Francesco Forgione, and given the name Pius (Italian: Pio) when he joined the Capuchins, thus he was popularly known as Padre Pio. He became famous for his bearing thestigmata. On 16 June 2002, he was canonized by Pope John Paul II.