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FAMOUS INDIAN PERSONALITIES
Gautam Buddha was one of the greatest religious teachers that the world has seen. He is the founder of Buddhism, a religion that is popular in Burma, China, Japan, Thailand and other South Eastern Countries.
The Buddha was born in 563 B.C. as Siddhartha, the prince of Kapilavastu (In Nepal). Gautam Buddha's mother died at childbirth and he was brought up by his mother's sister Prajapati Gotami.
It was predicted that Siddhartha would give up worldly pleasures and follow a simple life. Siddhartha's father the King wanted to avoid this at all costs and did not let him out of the palace. He hoped that Siddhartha would one day become king.
The name Siddhartha means "wish-fulfilled" or "one who has accomplished his goal".
When Siddhartha became a young man he ventured out of the Palace and saw suffering, pain and death for the first time. This experience changed his life. Though Siddhartha was married to a beautiful princess called Yashodhara and had a son Rahul, at the age of about 30 years Siddhartha left the palace in search of the truth about life.
He spent many years in the company of saints and finally one day when he was sitting under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya (Bihar, India) he was blessed with the divine light. This was the turning point, as he realized the truth is within every human being. The search outside was pointless. After this he was known as ' Buddha' or the enlightened one.
For 45 years, Buddha spread his message of a spiritual life with 8 - fold path towards salvation -
Right thinking and
According to Buddhism, by following this path one could overcome desires, which are the root cause of grief and misery.
Buddha died in 483 BC at the age of 80 years.
Rani Laxmibai was born in 1830 at Banaras in a wealthy family and was named Manukarnika at birth. She learned to read, write, use weapons at an early age.
She accepted the name Lakshmi Bai when she married Gangadhar Rao, the Maharajah of Jhansi and became the Rani of Jhansi at the tender age of 14. Gangadhar Rao's grandfather had signed a treaty with the British which granted him and his heirs and successors title to rule Jhansi.
Gangadhar Rao did not have any children and he adopted one of his relatives Damodar Rao as his heir. After Gangadhar Rao's death in 1853 the British(who had colonized most of India by then) refused to accept Damodar Rao as the legal heir of Jhansi and wanted to annex the kingdom into their rule.
According to Hindu law Damodar was the legal heir. Rani Laxmibai appealed to the British rulers in London to accept Damodar as the legal heir to the throne of Jhansi and not annex the kingdom but the British refused. Despite her appeal the British took over.
It 1857 there was a mutiny in the British Army at Meerut. In Jhansi also the army rebelled and killed the British Army Officers. This led to a state where the Rani was left to defend herself and her kingdom from a coup. She took over the administration of the kingdom once again.
In 1858 the British army once again marched towards Jhansi. Not willing to let the British takeover her kingdom the Rani built an army of 14,000 volunteers to fight the British. The soldiers of Jhansi fought very bravely for 2 weeks and the Rani led the forces in this battle. However after 2 weeks of fighting the British took control of Jhansi. The queen escaped on horseback to the fortress of Kalpi.
Here she organized a few other kingdoms to rebel against the British. These rebel forces captured Gwalior from the British. The British were determined to win back Gwalior and lay siege there in 1858. It is during this battle that the Rani lost her life.
She became a symbol of courage and freedom for the people of India.
Narendranath Dutt or Swami Vivekananda was a great social reformer and Indian nationalist of the 19th century. Vivekananda was the disciple of the great social reformer, Ramakrishna Paramahansa. After his master's death, Vivekananda organized the Ramakrishna Mission for the upliftment of the poor folk whom he called the 'Daridra Narayan.'
The following speech was delivered by Vivekananda at the Parliament of world religions on 11 September, 1893. In those times not many people knew about India and its great religious heritage. The presence of Swamiji was greeted with much enthusiasm and helped spread awareness about the religious tradition in our country.
HIS FAMOUS SPEECH AT THE PARLIAMENT OF WORLD RELIGIONS (on September 11, 1893)
Sisters and Brothers of America,
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome, which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.
My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honour of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration.
I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation, which has sheltered the persecuted, and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.
I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion, which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation.
I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: "As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee."
The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a, vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: "Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me."
Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.
Sri Ramkrishna was born on 18.02.1836 in Kamarpukur, Hoogli of Khudiram Chattopadhay and Chandramoni Devi. He was the 4th child of his parents, after Ramkumar, Katyayani, and Rameswar and a sister, Sarbamangala. Nicknamed as Gadadhar he was a very reckless but god fearing boy since childhood, and was deeply devoted to serve the mother goddess Kali from a young age. He was inspired by the leelas of Lord Krishna and tried to imitate his feats. As a child he was matured for his age and earned the love of all. He had an unusual memory interested in Hindu mythology.
Once while playing the part of Shiva in the plays performed during Shivaratri, he attained Vhava Samadhi. His elder brother Ramkumar took him to Dakhineswar to assist him in his works as a priest in the temple. In 1855 Rani Rashmoni of Janbajar offered him the job of the priest of the Goddess Kali at Dakkhineshwar Temple. Onlookers would crowd to see Ramkrishna performing puja as they wanted to see the love and devotion with which it was performed. At the age of 23, May 1859, he married Saradamoni of Jairambati, whom he thought would be his ideal life companion. Soon after, the urge of finding the truth of life made him take sannyas under the sage Totapuri who gave him the sobriquet, Paramhansa.
His quest for truth continued with Bhairavi Ma and sages in other religion. Though he attained Bhava Samadhi very often, he was inclined to know the truth about human existence. He started Adyitya Sadhana and realised god exist in every form of life. In Jan 17, 1868, he stared for a Tirthayatra along with Mathur Babu and his nephew Hridoy. He visited places like Deoghar, Varanasi and Vrindavan. He even worshipped Saradamoni in the same way he worshipped the mother goddess which was known as Shorshi puja.. He preached universal brotherhood, and soon stalwarts like Kesab Sen, Shibnath Sastri, Girish Ghosh and Narendranath Datta (later Swami Vivekananda) became his disciples.
He developed a strange theological relation with Narendranath and soon moulded him in his own way. He taught Naren the truth of life by letting him see a glimpse of the holy spirit. He taught Naren the truth of life by letting him see a glimpse of the holy spirit. It was Vivekananda in later days, who held high the teachings of Sri Ramakishna to the world by forming the Belur Math. In Jan 1st, 1886 in Kashipur Garden an ailing Ramkrishna touched some of his disciples. Those who were touched felt an unearthly feeling never felt before. While some went speechless for a short while, others moved into a state of Samadhi. This incident is remembered by his disciples as Thakur taking the form of a Kalpataru. The great preacher passed away in 16th August, 1886.
Rajput (from Raj-Putra i.e. prince or literally "king's son")
The Rajputs are a brave and a chivalrous race who were feudal kings in ancient India before the Mughals came. They were the first to resist the Mughal invaders and many wars were fought between the Rajputs and the Mughals. Though the Mughals captured the north of India they were unsuccessful in capturing central India where they faced tough opposition from the Rajput kings there.
Akbar wanted to control the whole of India and used a mix of tolerance, generosity, and force to over come the Rajput kings. One of the most gallant Rajput kings was Rana Pratap who did not want to give up his kingdom to the Mughals.
Rana Pratap was the Grandson of Raja Udai Singh (Udaipur is named after him), the king of Chittod.
Rana Pratap led the Rajputs against the army of Akbar to preserve the independence of Mewar. Rana Pratap not only had to face the mighty Mughals but also had to fight against other Rajput kings(Raja Todar Mal and Raja Man Singh ) who aligned with the Mughals.
In the Battle of Haldighati(1576) fought between Maharana Pratap and the Mughals; the Rajputs were not able to overcome the combined strength of the Mughals and the renegade Rajput princes who had played the role of traitors. Maharana Pratap was badly hurt in the battle and was saved by his wise horse Chetak, who took him in an unconscious state away from the battle scene.
Rana Pratap died in 1597 when his son Amar Singh took over the kingdom.
Although Maharana Pratap was not able to thwart the Muslims successfully, the saga of Rajput resistance to Muslim rule continued till the 17th century when the baton of the struggle for Indian Independence from Mughals was taken up by the upcoming power of the Marathas, who brought about an end to Muslim domination of India.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1627-1680)
Shivaji was born of a Maratha family in 1627 A.D. His father was a chief of the kingdom of Bijapur. Though he was high up, he was not allowed to control any fort. In his early youth, Shivaji inspired the local peasant youths around Poona to follow him in his idealistic pursuits.
In his early, his band attacked the mountain fort of Torna about twenty miles from Poona. He took control from the fort as Governor. It was characteristic of him immediately send a word to the King of Bijapur, that he had done purely in the king's interest as the ex-governor was not given all the revenue due to the king. This brought more time, and Shivaji used this technique of cunningness to conquer more and more such forts. The king eventually ordered Shivaji to stop these activities. But Shivaji knew that by now the whole region was behind him and thus ignored any warnings from the King of Bijapur.
The King then sent a small army under Afzal Khan to catch him dead or alive. Shivaji now portrayed even more cunning techniques. He pretended to be extremely afraid of Afzal Khan and his army, and offered to surrender personally to him provided his well-being was guaranteed. He suggested that he should be accompanied by two unarmed followers to meet Afzal Khan and two of his guards personally. This was agreed to. When the meeting took place, Afzal Khan (a big, stocky and giant of a figure, compared to short and agile figure of Shivaji) tried to kill Shivaji with a big embrace and stab at Shivaji. Shivaji was however prepared with a short knife under his palm. With a swift action, he slayed the giant.
When the ruler in Delhi heard of this he sent his general Shaista Khan to suppress this uprising which was gaining momentum at great speed. Shivaji had to abandon temporarily the plains to a much more powerful Moghul army. With the help of the locals, he could enter into the living quarters of the general with his followers and created chaos. He had caused irreversible injury to the generals� body and pride, so much so that he was recalled to Delhi.
Due to requirement of maintaining a large army, Shivaji felt the need of finance. His next crusade was to loot the Mughal city of Surat, which was the centre of the rich, traders from all over. He is likened here to Robin Hood here. No injury to women, children of elderly was ever caused. This wealth gave Shivaji sufficient wherewithal to continue his crusade.
This time the Mughal emperor sent a vast army under its senior general, Jai Singh. After a few skirmishes Shivaji thought it prudent nominally to accept the emperor's sovereignty and offered to come to court itself to pay homage. The trick worked and his army remained intact. He proceeded to Agra to present himself at the mughal court. However the perfidious emperor arrested him. As is well known, Shivaji tricked his jailors and escaped. By the time he returned to Poona, his army was in good condition. This was his opportunity to give a crushing defeat to the retreating armies.
Shivaji drew strength from the guidance of his guru, Guru Ramdas who together with mata Jijabai in his young life, made him a national hero.
Now Shivaji had an unquestioned sway over a big area. Fort Raigad was to become the centre of power and prowess. During the coronation ceremony he gave magnificent gifts to holy men and the poor. He died after three years. His son could not amass sufficient strength to finish the work of liberation throughout Bharat. Nevertheless, Shivaji had laid the foundation of a great Hindu empire which lasted for two centuries.
Sri Krishnadevaraya (1509-1529 CE) was the most famous king of Vijayanagara empire. Presiding over the empire at its zenith, he is regarded as a hero by Kannadigas and Telugu people, and one of the great kings of India. Emperor Krishnadevaraya also earned the titles Kannada Rajya Rama Ramana, Moorurayaraganda (meaning King of three kings) and Andhra Bhoja. Much of our information about his reign comes from the accounts of Portuguese travelers Domingo Paes and Fernao Nuniz. Krishnadevaraya was assisted in administration by the very able prime minister Timmarusu, who was revered by the king as a father figure and was responsible for his corronation. Krishnadevaraya was the son of Nagala Devi and Tuluva Narasa Nayaka an army commander under Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya, who later took control of the reign of the empire to prevent it from disintegration. The king's coronation took place on the birthday of Lord Krishna and his earliest inscription is from July 26, 1509 AD. He built a beautiful suburb near Vijayanagara called Nagalapura in memory of his mother.
Akbar is considered to be one of the greatest Mughal rulers as during his reign the Mughal empire tripled in size and wealth.
Akbar was the 3rd ruler of the Mughal empire. Son of Humayun, Akbar was born in Umarkot (Pakistan), and succeeded to the throne at the age of 13 when his father suddenly died. For the next 5 years Bairam Khan (regent) helped Akbar rule the kingdom. In 1561 Bairam Khan died and Akbar took over the government in his own hands.
Akbar knew that, to be a successful ruler of the India subcontinent he needed to integrate the Hindus in his empire. He won the allegiance of the Rajputs (Hindu warriors) by a good mix of tolerance, generosity, and force. He won over the Hindus by appointing them to important military and civil positions, conferring honours upon them, and marrying a Hindu princess.
Having got the cooperation of the Hindus, Akbar built his kingdom that extended from Afghanistan to the Bay of Bengal and from the Himalayas to the Godavari River.
Did You Know Akbar's greatest achievement was the establishment of a very effective administrative system. He was also very tolerant towards other faiths and religions and let people practice their faiths independently. He also was a reformist and abolished laws that were unfair. All this made Akbar very popular with his subjects.
Abul Fazal's 2 works - Akbar-nama and Ain-I-Akbari are accounts of Akbar's court.
The famous singer Tansen was a part of Akbar's court.
Under his rule Arts and Architecture flourished. He had a library of over 24,000 books and he setup a department for translation in his court. He ordered the translation of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. He built the Red fort at Agra and also Fatehpur Sekri in honour of Sheikh Salim Chishti.
Birbal was one of Akbar's courtiers who adopted the Din-E-Illahi as his religion.
He introduced a new religion, Din-E- Illahi, in 1582. It contained the teachings mainly from Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. He did not force the religion on his people and the religion did not become very popular.
Akbar died in 1605 and was succeeded by Jahangir, his son from his Hindu wife Jodhabai.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
For Indians around the world, the name Mahatma Gandhi needs no introduction.
Probably the most famous freedom fighter in the struggle for India's independence, Mahatma Gandhi is fondly referred to as the father of the nation. A lawyer by profession Mahatma Gandhi first came in the limelight for his defense of the rights of Indians in far away South Africa.
His principles of fearlessness, non-violence and social equality won him many followers. He soon emerged as the leader of the Indian freedom movement and led the country to independence in 1947.
The following speech was given by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942 while starting the Quit India movement.
DO OR DIE
Congress committee meeting, Mumbai August 8, 1942
Nevertheless, the actual struggle does not commence this moment. You have only placed all your powers in my hands. I will now wait upon the Viceroy and plead with him for the acceptance of the Congress demand. That process is likely to take two or three weeks. What would you do in the mean while? What is the program, for the interval, in which all can participate? As you know, the spinning wheel is the first thing that occurs to me. I made the same answer to the Maulana. He would have none of it, though he understood its import later. The fourteen fold constructive Program is, of Course, there for you to carry out. What more should you do? I will tell you. Every one of you should, from this moment onwards, consider yourself a free man or woman, and act as if you are free and are no longer under the heel of this imperialism.
It is not a make-believe that I am suggesting to you. It is the very essence of freedom. The bond of the slave is snapped the moment he considers himself to be a free being. He will plainly tell the master: 'I was your bond slave till this moment, but I am a slave no longer. You may kill me if you like, but if you keep me alive, I wish to tell you that if you release me from the bondage of your own accord, I will ask for nothing more from you. You used to feed and clothe me, though I could have provided food and clothing for myself by my labour. I hitherto depended on you instead of on God, for food and raiment. God has now inspired me with an urge for freedom and I am today a free man and will no longer depend on you.'
You may take it from me that I am not going to strike a bargain with the Viceroy for ministries and the like. I am not going to be satisfied with anything short of complete freedom. Maybe, he will propose the abolition of salt tax, the drink evil, etc. But I will say 'Nothing less than freedom.'
Here is a mantra, a short one that I give you. You may imprint it on your hearts and let every breath of yours give expression to it. The mantra is: 'Do or Die.' We shall either free India or die in the attempt; we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery. Every true Congressman or [Congress] woman will join the struggle with an inflexible determination not to remain alive to see the country in bondage and slavery. Let that be your pledge.
Keep jails out of your consideration. If the Government keeps me free, I will spare you the trouble of filling the jails. I will not put on the Government the strain of maintaining a large number of prisoners at a time when it is in trouble. Let every man and woman live every moment of his or her life hereafter in the consciousness that he or she eats or lives for achieving freedom and will die, if need be, to attain that goal.
Take a pledge with God and your own conscience as witness, that you will no longer rest till freedom is achieved and will be prepared to lay down your lives in the attempt to achieve it. He who loses his life will gain it; he who will seek to save it shall lose it. Freedom is not for the coward or the faint hearted.
A word to the journalists. I congratulate you on the support you have hitherto given to the national demand. I know the restrictions and handicaps under which you have to labour. But I would not ask you to snap the chains that bind you. It should be the proud privilege of the newspapers to lead and set an example in laying down one's life for freedom.
It is my duty to warn the Princes that if they will act while I am still alive, the Princes may come to occupy an honorable place in free India. In Jawaharlal's scheme of free India, no privileges or the privileged classes have a place. Jawaharlal considers all property to be State-owned. He wants planned economy. He wants to reconstruct India according to plan. He likes to fly; I do not. I have kept a place for the Princes and the zamindars in India that I envisage. I would ask the Princes in all humility to enjoy through renunciation. The Princes may renounce ownership over their properties and become their trustees in the true sense of the term. I visualize God in the assemblage of people. The Princes may say to their people: 'You are the owners and masters of the State and we are your servants.'
Nothing, however, should be done secretly. This is an open rebellion. In this struggle secrecy is a sin. A free man would not engage in a secret movement. It is likely that when you gain freedom you will have a C.I.D. of your own, in spite of my advice to the contrary. But in the present struggle, we have to work openly and to receive the bullets on our chest, without taking to heels.
I have a word to say to the Government servants also. They may not, if they like, resign their posts yet. The late Justice Ranade did not resign his post, but he openly declared that he belonged to the Congress. I would ask all the Government servants to follow in the footsteps of Ranade and to declare their allegiance to the Congress as an answer to the secret circular issued by Sir Frederick Puckle.
Soldiers too are covered by the present program. I do not ask them just now to resign their posts and leave the army. Soldiers come to me, Jawaharlal and to the Maulana and say: "We are wholly with you. We are tired of the governmental tyranny." To these soldiers I would say: "You may say to the government, 'our hearts are with the Congress. We are not going to leave our posts. We will serve you so long as we receive your salaries. We will obey your just orders, but will refuse to fire on our own people.' "
If the students want to join the struggle only to go back to their studies after a while, I would not invite them to it. For the present, however, till the time that I frame a program for the struggle, I would ask the students to say to their professors: 'we belong to the Congress. Do you belong to the Congress or to the Government? If you belong to the Congress, you need not vacate your posts. You will remain at your posts but teach us and lead us unto freedom.' In all fights for freedom, the world over, the students have made very large contributions.
For the last twenty-two years, I have controlled my speech and pen and have stored up my energy. He is a true brahmachari who does not fritter away his energy. He will, therefore, always control his speech. That has been my conscious effort all these years. But today the occasion has come when I had to unburden my heart before you. I have done so, even though it meant putting a strain on your patience; and I do not regret having done it. I have given you my message and through you I have delivered it to the whole of India.
Jawahar Lal Nehru
Jawahar Lal Nehru was born into an affluent Indian family. At the age of 14 he was sent to England where he studied at Harrow Public School. He went on to Cambridge and later studied law at Inner Temple. He joined the Congress and was elected the president of the party four times. In 1947 he became the first Prime Minister of India. He tried to work for a better life of Indian people.
Here is a famous speech which he delivered on the eve of India's independence inside the Parliament of India (Near midnight before August 15, 1947).
TRYST WITH DESTINY
Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.
A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.
At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her success and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength.
We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?
Patel the 'The Iron Man of India'
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was born in Gujarat on 31st of October 1875 into a family of patriots. His father was a farmer and fought for India's freedom from the British. Vithalbhai, Vallabhbhai's elder brother, was also a well-known patriot. He was the Chairman of the Indian Legislative Council.
From a young age itself Vallabhbhai was very courageous and raised his voice against injustice. His ambition was to become a barrister like his brother. He studied very hard and travelled to England and passed the Barrister-at-Law Examination. After he returned to India he setup a practice in Ahmedabad which was very successful and he earned a lot of money.
Around this time the struggle for freedom was gaining a lot of momentum. Gandhiji attended a conference in Gujarat where he met Vallabhbhai and they became friends.
In 1918, Vallabhbhai took the responsibility of leading the farmers of Gujarat. He was very successful in his struggle against the British and became a prominent leader in the freedom struggle.
In 1920, the Congress started the non-cooperation struggle and Vallabhbhai gave up his practice. He setup the Gujarat Vidyapeeth where children could study instead of attending Government schools.
In 1928 he successfully organised the landowners of Bardoli against British tax increases. It was after this that Vallabhbhai was given the title of Sardar(Leader).
In 1931 he served as President of the Indian National Congress. He was sent to jail by the British and freed only in 1934.
In 1942 Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was again sent to jail because of the start of the "Quit India Movement".
1n 1947 when India got freedom Sardar Patel became the Deputy Prime Minister. He was in charge of Home Affairs, Information and Broadcasting and the Ministry of States. He was given the task of organizing 600 states into one nation. He took strong steps like sending the army to Junagadh and Hyderabad to force them to align with free India. It is because of these strong steps that earned him the title of "The man of steel".
Sardar Vallabhbhai passed away in Bombay on the morning of the 15th December 1950.
His famous quotes :
On the British
"Why are you afraid of the English? If the people are united no government can do anything."
"I cannot speak anything but the truth. I cannot turn back on my duty, just to please some one."
Subhash Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897 at Cuttack, in Orissa. He was the sixth son of Janakinath and Prabhavati Bose.
Subhash was an excellent student and after school joined the Presidency College, Calcutta, where he studied philosophy, a subject he was interest in.
As a young boy Subhash felt neglected among his 8 siblings. At his English school he suffered under the discrimination faced by Indians which made him even sadder.
He wanted to work for the poor but his father, had other ideas. He sent Subhash to England to appear for the Indian Civil Service. In July 1920, barely eight months later Subhash Chandra Bose appeared in the Civil Service Examination and passed it with distinction. But he didn't want to be a member of the bureaucracy and resigned from the service and returned to India.
Back home, he participated in the freedom movement along with 'Deshbandhu' C.R. Das. He was thrown into jail but that only made him more determined. Subhash joined the congress and rose to its Presidentship in 1938 a post he held for 2 years.
In 1939, when the Second World War started Gandhiji and other leaders were against doing anything anti-Britain. But Subhash thought differently. He knew, for instance, that the fall of the Roman Empire had led to the freedom of its colonies. He decided to seek foreign help for his cause of freeing India.
He was arrested and kept in his house under detention. On January 17, 1941, while everyone was asleep, Bose slipped out of his house into a waiting car. Disguised as a Muslim religious teacher, Bose managed to reach Peshawar two days later.
Bose went to Italy, Germany and even Russia to seek help but without much use. Subash decided to organize Indians on his own. He landed in Singapore and grouped Indians there into the Indian National Army or the Azad Hind Fauj and declared himself the temporary leader of the free Indian government. Japan, Germany and Italy recognizied Subhash's government and the whole of India rejoiced.
The INA marched to Andaman and Nicobar islands, liberating and renaming them as Shaheed and Swaraj islands. On March 18, 1944, it crossed the Burmese border and reached Manipur where free India's banner was raised with the shouts of 'Jai Hind' and 'Netaji Zindabad'. But heavy rain prevented any further movement and the units had to fall back. Even then Netaji was determined. On August 17, 1945, he issued a Special Order to the INA which said that "Delhi is still our goal".
He then wanted to go to Russia to seek Soviet help to fight the British. But the ill-fated plane in which he was flying, crashed in Taipei on August 18, 1945, resulting in his death.
Some people believe that Subhash Chandra Bose didn't die, that he faked his own crash to escape the British who wanted to arrest him. There were even reports of Bose living in Russia and other foreign countries, even some claims of having seen him as a sadhu but none were ever proved and today his death in the plane crash is the accepted version.
Sarojini Naidu was one of the most prominent leaders of India's freedom struggle. Born on February 13, 1879 in Hyderabad, Sarojini was the eldest daughter of Varasundari and Dr. Aghornath Chattopadhyaya, who was a scientist and founder-principal of Nizam College of Hyderabad. Her mother Varasundari was a Bengali poetess.
Sarojini's father aspired for her to become a mathematician or scientist, but young Sarojini was drawn towards poetry from a very early age. Seeing her flair for poetry, her father decided to encourage her. With her father's support, she wrote the play "Maher Muneer" in the Persian language. Dr. Chattopadhyaya sent a copy to the Nawab of Hyderabad who was very impressed by the beautiful play written by her. Sarojini got a scholarship to study abroad and got admitted to King's College, London and then later at Girton College, Cambridge.
Sarojini met Dr. Govind Naidu, during her stay in England and later married him at a time when inter-caste marriages were not allowed.
The poetess in Sarojini had now blossomed fully. Her poems were beautiful and lyrical and could be sung. Her collection of poems "Golden Threshold" was published in 1905 and she was soon given the nickname - "Bul Bule Hind" or the "Nightingale of India". After that, she published two other collections of poems--"The Bird of Time" and "The Broken Wings". "Feast of Youth" followed in 1918. Her poetry was admired by the likes of Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru.
Soon after, she met Shree Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Gandhi and was influenced by them. Sarojini was now whole-heartedly working for India's freedom movement. Her poems poured enthusiasm and hope in the hearts of the masses as they became united in the struggle for freedom. Naidu also travelled across India and campaigned for the rights of women. She was responsible for establishing self-esteem in Indian women.
In 1925, Sarojini became the first Indian woman president of the National Congress--having been preceded eight years earlier by the English feminist Annie Besant. She travelled far and wide, to places like South Africa and North America, lecturing on the Congress movement. She accompanied Gandhi to London for the inconclusive second session of the Round Table Conference for Indian-British cooperation (1931). Back in India her anti-British activities brought her a number of prison sentences (1930, 1932, and 1942-43).
When India finally became free in 1947, she was appointed Governor of the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), to become the first Indian woman governor, a post she retained till her death.
Naidu's was also elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in recognition of her literary contributions.
The Nightingale passed away on March 2, 1949. However the legacy that she has left behind will continue to inspire future generations of India. Her birthday is proudly celebrated as Women's day.
Venkata Raman (1888 - 1970)
Sir CV Raman was one of the brilliant scientists of India who won the Nobel Prize in 1930 for his discovery of the 'Raman Effect.' (The discovery that monochromatic light ray in the incident beam can be split up into a number of components with wave length smaller or greater than that of the incident ray).
In 1934, he founded the Indian Academy of Sciences and in 1948, the Raman Research Institute.
In addition to being a great scientist, CV Raman was a superb speaker. The following speech delivered at the convocation ceremony of the Agra University is a good example of his eloquence.
Born at Thiruvanaikkaval in Tamil Nadu, Raman studied at Presidency College, Madras. Later, he served as Professor of Physics at Calcutta University. C.V. Raman won the Nobel Prize for an important research in the field of optics (light). Raman had found that diffused light contained rays of other wavelengths-what is now popularly known as Raman Effect. His theory explains why the frequency of light passing through a transparent medium changes.
CONVOCATION ADDRESS (18 November 1950)
It is no small honour to be asked to address the Convocation of a University in India, and certainly it is a unique experience for me, at any rate, to be called upon to address a University Convocation at one place a second time.
I know poverty and misery and I quite appreciate by personal experience what it is to be poor, what it is to have no clothes, what it is to have no books, what it is to struggle through life, what it is to walk through the streets without an umbrella, without conveyance along miles in dusty wards, I have been through it all and I can understand the difficulties that most of you graduates have to face up today. I'm speaking from a long experience of 60 years. Please do not imagine that all the 60 years are milk and roses. To be able to accomplish something I want to tell you that you have to go through such experience.
I admit, success in life is not always to the intelligent or the strong and it is to some extent a bit of a gamble, but nonetheless those who have got their minds right and those who know their job will sooner or later, sooner perhaps than later make their way in life. But they should not be disappointed if they do not they have to face up life and take it as they find it. This is the kind of philosophy that I have learnt by experience, and I make a free gift of it to you all.
What I say is this that the great things in life are not really great things in life. The Nobel Prize, the F.R.S. and the like, many of them leave a bitter taste in the mouth. What I love is to enjoy the common things of life. I am happy that I am still able to sleep at night provided I have three miles walk in the evening. I am still able to enjoy a good lunch or a good dinner. I am still able to look at the blue sky and like it. I still like to walk in the open fields and like the smell of the Ragi or the Jowar. I feel a younger man when I see the Babul flower and say God has given us these wonderful things. That is the real philosophy of life to appreciate what we see round us.
We think that happiness consists in going to pictures and seeing thrilling films and techni-colour dramas. Not at all, the great things in life are the God-given things which cost nothing. What you need is the desire to appreciate them. If you have your minds and hearts open, you have around you things which give you joy. There is the butterfly jumping about in flourishing colours on all sides. Look at this wonderful thing that God has given for our enjoyment.
We have to love nature ad appreciate nature and appreciate her wonderful gifts, her marvelous ingenuity, her resourcefulness, her infinite variety. It is the same thing that has inspired me all my life. I study science not because anything is going to happen to me but because I feel it is a kind of worship of this great Goddess, Nature of which we are a part. That has been my inspiration as a man of science. I feel now that is one thing that can always make a man happy, the small things in life not only in nature - our old friends, old music and the things that we have around us. Many a time I would like to go back to them.
It may be a sign of cynicism, but 1 would like to go back to the common things of life. A glass of cold water, for example, gives us vigour and freshness. (Dr. Raman so saying drank a glass of cold water amidst laughter). I can assure you there is no pleasure in this world for a healthy man, then after a vigorous exercise or doing something hard just to go home and have a glass of cold water. If you have lost the capacity to appreciate that, you may as well drink a cup of hemlock, as Socrates had to do.
I have another word to say. We all speak of patriotism. What is patriotism? I want you to think it over and in the last analysis bring down patriotism to a physical term. I have thought over the problem. Patriotism as well as a number of things boil down to the love of the earth. We are of the earth. When we die we return to the earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes, the human body whether cremated or buried returns to earth. Seeta was of earth and returned to earth. This good earth sustains us. On earth grows green grass, which the cow cats and which a vegetarian like myself as well as a non-vegetarian gets milk from. Ultimately it is the earth and the things that grow upon it that sustain us and feed us and make human life possible. I think ultimately the love for the land means the love of the earth which has borne us and which sustains us. I want you to appreciate the meaning of love of earth.
The love of mother earth should be shown by tending her. If she is ruthlessly raped and. destroyed, we shall also die with her. The tremendous problem of lack of food in the country boils down to this that we have left the love of earth to ignorant people who know nothing of the advance of science. We educated people who understand science, do not love mother earth. Knowledge of science will make us create anything, but unless we have that vision, that desire to love mother earth, we shall not make any advance.
I think it is a duty laid on every educated man to create something, to see something grow. I say this not as a part of the 'grow more food campaign', I have not been paid to do propaganda for it. I am telling you about it in the same spirit that a famous Roman did. When once Rome was in danger the people wanted to have him as a dictator to save Rome. When they went to him they found him ploughing the land with his own hands and tending his farm. After he became a dictator he went back to the land and said, these plants I have grown, I give them water, I give them labour and they repay. We should work in this spirit.
The more you help a man, the less grateful he is to you. It is, however, our duty to help fellow beings and we should not expect them to show any gratitude in return. If they do show, we are very happy and more fortunate. The plant on earth will never fail to repay any attention that we bestow on it. We must go back to earth and regard it as our supreme duty to do something to produce the things on which we live.
It is a great privilege to see such a great body of young people, women and men alike who are entering the pathways of life after, a course of study in colleges and university and to be allowed to speak to them and making a heart to heart speech gives me great pleasure.
I never believe in manuscript eloquence or in after dinner speeches carefully prepared 24 hours beforehand. I always believe in standing up in front of my audience, appreciate the situation and speak to them heart to heart. I have no desire at all to inflict unwanted advice on you. I want you to think over what I have told you and see if some little thing that I have said may prove the seed of some great achievement on your part, sustain you, encourage you, elevate your hearts above and so push you on in life that you may rise triumphant over all the difficulties and all the troubles that are the common lot of the common man in India today.
Rabindranath Tagore (The Nobel Prize in
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was the youngest son of Debendranath Tagore, a leader of the Brahmo Samaj, which was a new religious sect in nineteenth-century Bengal and which attempted a revival of the ultimate monistic basis of Hinduism as laid down in the Upanishads. He was educated at home; and although at seventeen he was sent to England for formal schooling, he did not finish his studies there. In his mature years, in addition to his many-sided literary activities, he managed the family estates, a project which brought him into close touch with common humanity and increased his interest in social reforms. He also started an experimental school at Shantiniketan where he tried his Upanishadic ideals of education. From time to time he participated in the Indian nationalist movement, though in his own non-sentimental and visionary way; and Gandhi, the political father of modern India, was his devoted friend. Tagore was knighted by the ruling British Government in 1915, but within a few years he resigned the honour as a protest against British policies in India.
Tagore had early success as a writer in his native Bengal. With his translations of some of his poems he became rapidly known in the West. In fact his fame attained a luminous height, taking him across continents on lecture tours and tours of friendship. For the world he became the voice of India's spiritual heritage; and for India, especially for Bengal, he became a great living institution.
Although Tagore wrote successfully in all literary genres, he was first of all a poet. Among his fifty and odd volumes of poetry are Manasi (1890) [The Ideal One], Sonar Tari (1894) [The Golden Boat], Gitanjali (1910) [Song Offerings], Gitimalya (1914) [Wreath of Songs], and Balaka (1916) [The Flight of Cranes]. The English renderings of his poetry, which include The Gardener (1913), Fruit-Gathering (1916), and The Fugitive (1921), do not generally correspond to particular volumes in the original Bengali; and in spite of its title, Gitanjali: Song Offerings (1912), the most acclaimed of them, contains poems from other works besides its namesake. Tagore's major plays are Raja (1910) [The King of the Dark Chamber], Dakghar (1912) [The Post Office], Achalayatan (1912) [The Immovable], Muktadhara (1922) [The Waterfall], and Raktakaravi (1926) [Red Oleanders]. He is the author of several volumes of short stories and a number of novels, among them Gora (1910), Ghare-Baire (1916) [The Home and the World], and Yogayog (1929) [Crosscurrents]. Besides these, he wrote musical dramas, dance dramas, essays of all types, travel diaries, and two autobiographies, one in his middle years and the other shortly before his death in 1941. Tagore also left numerous drawings and paintings, and songs for which he wrote the music himself.
Lata Mangeshkar was born on September 28, 1929, in Indore. Her father, Dinanath Mangeshkar, was a trained classical singer who owned a traveling drama group. His children were part of this nomadic life, which involved camping all over Maharashtra. Dinanath tried to compensate for the lack of regular schooling of the children with music lessons. Things were fine till around 1935 when the drama company's plays starting flopping in succession and Dinanath was forced to switch to singing at the Pune Radio Station. The sheer frustuation of failure was too much for Dinanath and he died when Lata was only barely in her teens.
Poverty forced Lata to take up acting as a career at the age of 13! She acted and sung in Pahili Manglagaur, a Marathi film by Master Vinayak Rao. Lata played the heroine's sister and had three songs. About her acting experience Lata says "I hated putting make-up, I hated standing in the glare of lights. But I was the breadwinner of the family, and there was hardly any choice left. The day I went to work in Master Vinayak's film, there was nothing to eat in the house".
The success of the film Mahal, with the haunting song 'Ayega, ayega, ayega ... ayega aane wala, ayega, Have you heard these old Lata numbers?
ayega...', made Lata a famous singer. There was no looking back.
Since the 1940's to the millennium - Lata has sung for most leading actresses of Bollywood. From Nargis, Madhubala and Nutan to Sadhna, Asha Parekh and Sharmila Tagore to Zeenat Aman, Jaya Bahaduri to Sridevi, Madhuri and Karishma there has hardly been a Bollywood leading lady for whom Lata has not sung.
'Ai mere watan ke logo','Mohe bhool gaye sanwariya', 'Aaja re pardesi', 'Kahin deep jale kahin dil', 'Jo vada kiya wo nibhana padega', 'Rasik balma', 'Ye zindqgi usi ki hai', 'Mujhe Kuchh kehna hai', 'Hum bane tum bane ek duje he liye'.
Lata has sung her way to the record books! According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Lata has the world record of having sung in almost 20 languages for over 1,825 films and worked with 165 composers.
Though the exact record is not available it is believed that she has been the most prolific singer in the world exceeding 8,000 recordings.
Recipient of the Padma Bhushan in 1969 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1989, Lata is the voice that haunts Indians as they carry on with their lives - in buses, trains, cinema houses, in their houses and even in their heart as they hum one of her unforgettable numbers.
Dhyan Chand was born on 29 August 1905, in Allahabad, U.P. He joined the army at the age of sixteen. Lance Naik' Dhyan Chand first built a reputation for himself while playing for the army.
At the Berlin Olympics in 1936, Dhyan Chand could not play for finals against Germany, as he was hurt. At half point, when India led by only 1-0 Dhyan Chand removed his shoes and entered the field bare foot. He took India to a stunning victory scoring 6 more goals.
Adolf Hitler, the German dictator, was so impressed by Dhyan Chand's performance in the Berlin Olympic finals that he offered to elevate 'Lance Naik' Dhyan to the rank of a Colonel if he migrated to Germany. Of course, Dhyan Chand refused.
It was hard for people to believe that somebody could have the kind of hockey skills Dhyan had. In Holland, the authorities broke his hockey stick to check if there was a magnet inside, in Japan they felt Dhyan was using some glue which made the ball stick to it.
Dhyan Chand scored over a thousand goals in a career spanning 22 years (1926 -1948), more than any other hockey player in the world. A sports club in Vienna built a statue of Dhyan Chand with four hands and four sticks. To the Viennese, it seemed that no ordinary man with two hands and one stick could have played as well as Dhyan.
Inspite of all his achievements Dhyan Chand was a simple man. His autobiography `Goal' begins with the words "You are doubtless aware that I am a common man!"
Born in Calcutta in 1952 to Prem Seth, a shoe company executive, and Laila Seth, a judge, Vikram Seth is the oldest of three children in the Seth family.
He was sent away to Doon school, a prestigious boarding school for boys, at the age of six. As a young student Vikram was very shy, "Incapable of looking people in the eye," he says. But what he lacked in sociability, he more than made up by excelling at his studies.
In 1992, Vikram was invited to Doon School to give the Founder's Day speech. In his speech, Vikram confessed "I had a terrible feeling of loneliness and isolation during my six years here. I was teased and bullied by my classmates and my seniors because of my interest in studies and reading, because of my lack of interest in games, because of my unwillingness to join gangs and groups."
After passing his 'O level' exams with distinction, Vikram won a scholarship to Tonbridge School in Kent, U.K. From Kent he soon went to the prestigious Oxford University on another scholarship and earned degrees in philosophy, economics, and politics. Not content with all this, Seth went to study at the Stanford University in the U.S. for a Ph D. in Economics. He spent the next 11 years "not getting the degree", as he says. Two of those years (1980-1982) were spent in China, where Seth studied poetry and languages at the Nanjing University of China. It was while in China that Vikram realized he was "more interested in poetry than economics."
One day he was just browsing in a bookstore when Vikram Seth happened upon Russian poet Pushkin's 'Eugene Onegin', a novel in sonnets. Seth was impressed, as he himself had earlier toyed with the idea of writing a novel in the verse form. The book inspired him enough to write 'The Golden Gate.'
In 1986, while still at Stanford, Seth produced a novel entirely in rhythmic verse (sonnets) called 'The Golden Gate', a story about life in San Francisco.
Vikram had been discouraged by many of his friends who felt that the book would never sel,l but he didn't mind their comments, even included them into the text - "Drivelling in rhyme's all very well/The question is does spittle sell?"
'Golden Gate' was widely appreciated when it was released and sold over a 100, 000 copies.
Seth's next novel 'A Suitable Boy' was published in 1993 and shot him to instant world fame, selling over a million copies. The novel is the story of an Indian mother's search
for a suitable match for her daughter, set against the backdrop of life in India in the 1950s. With 1,349 pages, the book is the largest single volume novel in English. In his introduction to the book Seth urges potential readers: "Buy me before good sense insists/You'll strain your purse and sprain your wrists."
Seth wrote the first hundred pages of 'A Suitable Boy' and then lost momentum - he decided that he didn't know enough about the period he was trying to re-create and spent the next year researching!!! He read old newspapers and records of legislative proceedings, interviewed old freedom fighters and musicians and even went to live for a while in a remote village where he spent time with leather workers.
Seth's second novel 'An Equal Music', released in 1999, was a love story among members of a music quartet. It deals with the feelings of Michael, a professional violinist who never recovers from the loss of his only true love, a pianist he knew as a student in Vienna.
Works of Vikram Seth
Poetry - Mappings, All You Who Sleep Tonight, The Humble Administrator's Garden, Beastly Tales from Here and There, Three Chinese Poets: Translations.
Libretto - Arion and the Dolphin.
Travelogue - From Heaven Lake.
Novels - Golden Gate, A Suitable Boy, An Equal Music.
As a child Agnes sang in a choir and also played the mandolin.
"I was to leave the convent and work with the poor, living among them to be God's Love in action to the poorest of the poor. That was the beginning of the Missionaries of Charity."
She sought the permission of the Vatican to leave the Sisters of Loretto and pursue her desire of helping the poor in 1948. She was granted permission on the condition that she would not give up her vows. Sister Teresa started a school in the slums to teach the children of the poor. She also learned basic medicine and nursing and went into the homes of the sick to treat them.
In 1949, some of her former pupils joined her. The group rented a room so they could care for helpless people otherwise condemned to die in the gutter. Mother Teresa adopted Indian citizenship, and her nuns followed her practice of wearing a white sari with a blue border (representing God's will) as their habit.
In 1950, the group was established by the Church as a Diocesan Congregation of the Calcutta Diocese. It was named the Missionaries of Charity. Members of the congregation take four vows on acceptance by the religious community. In addition to the three basic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, a fourth vow is required pledging service to the poor, whom Mother Teresa described as the embodiment of Christ.
In 1952, the Missionaries opened their first 'Home for the Dying', 'Nirmal Hriday' (Pure heart) in space made available by the Calcutta Municipal authorities near a Kali temple. She and her fellow nuns gathered dying Indians off the streets of Calcutta and brought them to this home to care for them in their last days. Ever since then, thousands of men, women and children have been taken from the streets of Calcutta and transported to Nirmal Hriday. Under Mother Teresa's guidance, the Missionaries of Charity have also built, near Asansol, India, a leper colony called 'Shanti Nagar' (Town of Peace).
In an interview with Malcolm Muggeridge, in the book 'Something Beautiful for God', Mother Teresa tells how she for the first time picked up a woman from the street. "The woman was half eaten up by rats and ants. I took her to the hospital, but they could do nothing for her. They only took her because I refused to go home unless something was done for her. After they cared for her, I went straight to the town hall and asked for a place where I could take these people, because that day I found more people dying in the street. The employee of health services brought me to the temple of Kali and showed me the "dormashalah" where the pilgrims used to rest after they worshipped the goddess Kali. The building was empty and he asked me if I wanted it. I was very glad with the offer for many reasons, but especially because it was the center of prayer for Hindus. Within 24 hours we brought our sick and suffering and started the Home for the Dying Destitutes."
Today there are over 450 homes of the Missionaries in various parts of the world. The mission has grown from 12 to thousands serving the "poorest of the poor" in 450 centers from America to Albania. In 1966, the Missionaries of Charity Brothers was founded.
Mother Teresa gained worldwide recognition with her tireless efforts for the world's sick and homeless. Her work brought her numerous humanitarian awards, including the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
Mother Teresa was always thinking of ways to help the poor. When she was invited to receive the Nobel Prize in 1979 she insisted on a departure from the ceremonial banquet and asked that the funds for the same ($6,000) should be donated to the poor in Calcutta. Mother Teresa's reason - the money saved on just one banquet could help her to feed hundreds for a year.
Beginning in 1980, homes began to spring-up for drug addicts, prostitutes, battered women, and more orphanages and schools for poor children around the world.
In 1985, Mother Teresa established the first hospice for AIDS victims in New York, U.S. In 1991, Mother Teresa returned for the first time to her native Albania (now known as Serbia) and opened a home in Tirana. By this year, there were 168 homes established in India alone.
Mother Teresa travelled around the world in her quest. She reached out to help the hungry in Ethiopia,
radiation victims at Chernobyl, and earthquake victims in Armenia. In 1982, during the siege of Beirut, she convinced the Israeli army and Palestinian guerillas to stop shooting long enough for her to rescue 37 children trapped in a front-line hospital. For the Mother, no place was too dangerous for her, no destination too distant.
In November of 1996, Mother Teresa received the honorary U.S. citizenship with the Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian award.
Mother was helped in her cause by various well-wishers. She recalls an incident:
"Once a chairman of a multinational company came to see me, to offer me a property in Bombay, he first asked: 'Mother, how do you manage your budget?" I asked him who had sent him here. He replied: 'I felt an urge inside me.' I said: "Other people like you come to see me and say the same. It was clear God sent you, Mr. A, as He sends Mr. X, Mrs. Y, Miss Z, and they provide the material means we need for our work. The grace of God is what moved you. You are my budget. God sees to our needs, as Jesus promised."
Mother Teresa has had more than her fair share of criticism. In 1994 a British television documentary, "Hell's Angel: Mother Teresa of Calcutta," accused her of taking donations without questioning the sources. She has also received some criticism for her strong views against abortion and divorce. Throughout her life Mother was unaffected by criticism, stating, "No matter who says what, you should accept it with a smile and do your own work."
In the late 80s her declining health meant that she could no longer carry on her work as actively as before. In 1990 she decided to step down as head of the Misssionaries but was voted back by all but one (herself). She finally stepped down on March 13 1997. Sister Nirmala was chosen to succeed her.
Nirmala whose name means 'pure' was born into a Nepali family in the state of Bihar and was trained as a lawyer before joining Missionaries of Charity. She had supervised the order's centers in Europe and the United States and since 1979, led the contemplative wing of the order, in which nuns devote their lives to meditation, before she took over as head of the mission. She is aided in her work by a council of four members.
Mother Teresa passed away on September 5, 1997 following a massive heart attack. She was 87. The inscription on her tombstone reads "Love one another, as I have loved you"
The poor give us much more than we give them. They're such strong people, living day to day with no food. And they never curse, never complain. We don't have to give them pity or sympathy. We have so much to learn from them.
Shortly after Mother Teresa's passing, her name was recommended for sainthood. There is normally a rule that requires a five-year wait after death to begin the process of sainthood. But it was waived by the Pope in her case. Still the formal process of sainthood will take a couple of years. The church follows a strict set of rules in the process. First, to determine who qualifies, the Vatican looks to its Congregation for the "Causes of Saints" or proof that the life of the candidate was a model of holiness. Once the applicant is approved as a candidate, interviews with people who knew the candidate are held and a position paper is prepared. If the evidence proves a life of "heroic virtue", the person is given the title "venerable" by the Pope. The next title, beatified (blessed), is attained if it can be proven that a miracle occurred after the death of the candidate, the result of someone praying to that person for help. To finalize a canonization, it must be established that a second miracle occurred. Verifying a miracle is considered the most difficult hurdle in the process.