Sunday, 19 February 2012


Saints are recognized in Hinduism although it does not require canonization or similar formal process to acknowledge a person as one. Generally a holy or saintly person is referred to as a mahatma, paramahamsa, or swami, or given the prefix Sri or Srila before their name.
The term "Sant" is derived from the Sanskrit sat (सद) (truth, reality) has overlapping usages, its root meaning being "one who knows the truth" or "one who has experienced Ultimate Reality". It differs from the false cognate "Saint" as it is often translated. The term Sant has taken on the more general ethical meaning of "good person", but is assigned specifically to the poet-sants of medieval India.

An incomplete list of Hindu saints

(In no particular order)
  • Vallabhacharya, a great saint who was the follower of Vishnuswami Sampradaya (Vaishnavism). He proved the principle of "Shuddha Adwaita Brahmavada" meaning pure adwaita Brahmavada based on Veda. He showed the path of devotion to the world and taught that in this time of "Kaliyuga" self-less surrender to the lotus feet of Lord Krishna is the only thing a soul should do.
  • Mahapurusha Sankardeva (1449–1568), saint-scholar, playwright, social-religious reformer, is a colossal figure in the cultural and religious history of Assam. He is credited with providing a thread of unity to Assam straddling two major kingdoms (Ahom and Koch kingdoms), building on past literary activities to provide the bedrock of Assamese culture, and creating a religion that gave shape to a set of new values and social synthesis. The religion he started, Mahapuruxiya Dharma, was part of the Bhakti movement then raging in India, and he inspired bhakti in Assam just as Ramananda, Guru Nanak, Kabir, Basava and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu inspired it elsewhere.
  • Chaitanya (1486–1534), famous Bengali Saint known for his ecstatic devotion to Krishna.
  • Baba Keenaramjee (1601–1770) Supposed to be the incarnation of lord Shiva. Born at Ramgarh village of Varanasi District. Lived for 170 years. His Taposthali (work place) Baba Keenaram Sthal, at Varanasi, regarded as the Headquarter and world fame pilgrim of Aghora.
  • Yogananda (January 5, 1893 – March 7, 1952), a modern day saint who brought the spiritual science of Kriya Yoga to the west, successfully disseminating eastern wisdom all over North America and Europe, and personally initiating many thousands of spiritual aspirants. Disciple of Sri Yukteswar Giri.
  • Raghavendra Swami, one of the most famous Hindu saints was believed to have performed miracles during his lifetime and continues to bless his devotees. He espoused Vaishnavism monotheism (worship of Vishnu as Supreme God) and Dvaita philosophy.
  • Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
  • Shirdi Sai Baba (c. 1838 - October 15, 1918) was a Indian fakir/guru who is regarded by his Hindu and Muslim followers as a saint, it is not clear if Sai baba was Hindu or Muslim.
  • Bhagwan Ramji (1937–1992) A great saint and social reformer of 20th century. Born in 1937 at Gundi village of Bhojpur district of Bihar. Later at the little age of 9 , he moved to Baba Keenaram Sthal ( Headquarter of Aghora ).
  • Ramana Maharshi
  • Chandrashekarendra Saraswati (Sage of Kanchi) (1894–1994) Jagadguru Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. Revered by many as an avatara of Adi Sankara 
  • Akkalkot Niwasi Shree Swami Samarth (around 1856 A.D) considered to be the Guru of Great Saints, supposed to be the direct manifestation of the supreme power—God.
  • Sri Swami Jai Sathya, originally known as Sri Suryanarayana Jayanthi Kumaraswami of Chennai. Her Holiness is a Universal Avatar of God and seen in many form by Her followers including as Surya (Sun), Mother Durga, Mother Mary, Lord Vishnu.
  • Tukaram was a great saint who was believed to have performed miracles and was a devotee of Krishna.
  • Brahma Chaitanya, the saint of Gondawali who was a great devotee of Rama.
  • Sant Shiri Nunuram Sahib (1898–1973), a great saint whose aashram is situated in Islamkot city of Sindh Province in Pakistan.
  • Tibbetibaba was a great saint whose life was based on both Advaita Vedanta and Mahayana principles.
  • Shri Siddheshwar Maharaj of Solapur
  • Nisargdatta Maharaj
  • Sant Dnyaneshwar
  • Sant Ramdas
  • Sant Tulsidas
  • Sant Gora Kumbhar
  • Swami Krishnananda
  • Swami Sivananda
  • Neelakanta Gurupadar
  • Swami Sathyananda Saraswathi
  • Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati
  • Swami Dayananda Saraswati
    With the Establishment of Muslim ruler in India and the emergence of Islam Hinduism was seriously affected. The Muslim rulers plundered and destroyed the Hindu temples and religious monuments. Hindus were also forcibly converted to Islam. At die same time Islam preched the message of universal brotherhood equality of man and belief in one God.
    There was no caste system in the Islamic faith. At the same time Muslim religious thinkers were also influenced by Hindu religious beliefs and ideas like the law of Karma.
    The close contact between the Hindus and Muslims finally resulted in the growth of two religious movements namely Sufism among the Muslims and the Bhakti movement among the Hindus. Hindu saints and reformers tried to reform Hinduism.
    They took up the task of removing all evil practices from Hinduism particularly the caste system and the image worship. This finally resulted in the growth of Bhakti movement.
    The word Bhakti implies devotion to God. The leaders of the Bhakti movement preached equality of all religions. They preached simple devotion to God. The leading exponents of Bhakti movement were Kabir, Nanak and Srichaitanya.
    Kabir was a cosmopolitan reformer of medieval India. He had sincerely tried to develop the sense of unity among the Hindus and Muslims. But no definite facts are available regarding his early life. It is believed that he was born in 1440 A.D. He was the son of a Brahmin widow who left him by the side of a tank in Benaras. But Niru the Muslim weaver picked up the child and took him home.Thus Kabir was brought up under the care of Niru. Kabir spent his childhood as a Muslim. When lie grew young he became a disciple of Ramananda, the famous saint of Benaras.The Hindu religious thought considerably influenced his mind. Kabir also made himself familiar with the essential principles of Islam. He led his life as an ordinary weaver and gradually he gave religious instruction to his fellow men. Both Hindus and Muslims alike were attracted towards his religious ideas and sayings.
    His sayings:
    The teachings of Kabir were based on love and unity. He propagated a religion of love which aimed at promoting unity among all castes and creeds. He also tried to reconcile Hinduism and Islam. Kabir taught the people that salvation can be achieved by true devotion to God or Bhakti.
    He did not believe in any caste distinction and in idol worship. According to him no temples or mosques are necessary to worship God. One can come nearer to God only through true devotion or Bhakti. Kabir consider the Hindus and Muslims as "pots of the same clay".
    He strongly criticised the Hindu Pandits and Muslurn Maulavis and advised them to give up their conflicting religious views. According to him Allah, Rama, Karim and Keshava were one but different names of the same Supreme Being. His devotional songs or Dohas greatly influenced the common people. His disciples included both the Hindus and Muslim.
    Nanak was another great preacher of Bhakti cult. He was the founder of Sikhism. He was born in 1469 at Talwandi or Modern Nankana in Pakistan. From childhood Nanak took great interest in listening to the religious discussions of holymen.
    His father who was trader wanted to engage him in his business. But Nanak was not very much interested for material prosperity. For some year he led the life of an ordinary house holder. He renounced the worldly life and visited the different holy places of India. It is believed that he also visited Mecca and Medina, Nanak died in 1538 A.D.
    His Preachings:
    Nanak taught the oneness of God and the fraternity of men. He considered Islam and Hinduism as two different paths for meeting the God.
    He laid emphasis on oneness of God and on brotherhood of man. Nanak taught the people about righteous living, social virtues, dignity of labour and charity. He laid considerable emphasis on purity of deeds. Like Kabir he also condemned caste system, idol worship, rituals and festivals.
    Nanak taught that one would come nearer to God and achieve salvation only through his virtuous deeds, purity of mind and through true the devotion. People belonging to both Islam and Hinduism became his followers. After Iris death he nominated his disciple Angad as his successor. Angad organised his followers into separate community. Their faith came to be known as Sikhism.
    Sri Chaitanya was popular Vaishnava saint and reformer of medieval period. He was born in a Brahmin family of Nadia, in Bengal in I486-A.D. His father was Jagannath Mishra and mother Sachi Devi. Chaitanya from his early career acquired knowledge on the holy books.
    At the age of twenty four he renounced the worldly life and became an ascetic or sannyasi. He spent the rest part of his life in preaching the message of live and devotion. His followers considered him as the incarnation of Vishnu. Sri Chaitanya came to Puri in course of his missionary career.
    The Gajapati king of Orissa Prataprudra Dev cordially received him. This famous Vaishanava saint spent long eighteen years at Puri the place of Lord Jagannath. He also visited various others religious places in the Southern and Western part of India. He made pilgrimages to Vrindaban, Mathura and other place in the North. He died at Puri in 1533.
    His Preachings:
    Chaitanya said that personal presence of God could be realised through love and devotion Bhakti of true devotion is the only way to come nearer to God.
    He rejected the caste system and ritual. Chaitanya preached his faith in Vishnu or Hari or Krishna, the only Supreme Being. The message of love and peace of Chaitanya appealed most to the people of lower classed of die Hindu society. Chaitanya was opposed to the supremacy of the priest and outward forms and ceremonies of religion.
    According to him, "If a creature adores Krishna with true love and devotion he is released from the meshes of illusion and attains to Krishna." He laid great emphasis in the name of Hari and Krishna and composed devotional songs. Thus Chaitanya Dev made Vaishnavism very popular in Bengal. Orissa and in many other parts of Eastern India.
    The Bhakti movement was a widespread movement. It aroused great interest among the common people. The Hindu saints and reformers made their efforts to purify Hinduism and to save it from the onslaughts of Islam. Attempts were also made by them to remove the caste distinction from the social sphere.
    The movement also brought the followers of Islam and of Hinduism closer to each other. Above all Bhakti movement contributed to the enrichment vernacular literature, like Hindi, Bengali, Marathi and Gujarati.

     India was the home of hundreds of saints in the medieval period--roughly from 9th century to 16th century....In Europe too, we had several saints in this turbulent period...
    India was not peaceful or prosperous in this period compared to earlier centuries..yet hundreds of saints dotted the regions from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.The incursion of muslim rule,the moghuls was a turbulent period and a testing time for Hindu faith.Most of the foreign rulers were ruthless towards Hindus with a few exceptions..In later centuries ,the colonial rulers from Europe,especially the British, remained in power in most of the areas......
    Yet many Hindu saints and sages arose to enliven the faith..What could be the reason? ---The mass awakening to religious themes and principles...The saints spoke to the people and sang in local languages...they stirred the people with practical means of religion---with singing,chanting,group sanghas and street plays----the stories of mythical heroes occupied the minds of people--stories derived from puranas..especially the Srimad Bhagavatam with emphasis on life of Sri Krishna....
    The temple worship became the main plank for the pursuit of religious moorings...Hundreds,nay thousands of temples,big and small were built and formal worship instituted...many of the acharyas--philosophers who gave the metaphysical underpinning for religious traditions appeared----Adi Sankara, Sri Ramanuja and Madhwa ,among others......
       The caste rigidity took a beating ,while saints came forth from lower castes,even more elaborate rituals,yagas and homas except to satisfy some princes....Some of the humbler saints went from village to village,giving succor to the masses--sometimes providing physical healing from sickness,more often healing their minds and leading them Godward....
      Here we mention a few of the saints in this period...the list is long.[Women saints of this period are treated in the page on 'women saints'.]

    Maharashtrian Saints

    The Bhakti cult of Maharashtra, the state in which Mumbai [Bombay] is located was a major force during the medieval period.The saints belonged to various castes and creeds...many were humble folks ostracized by the society...they bore all the insults and injury with poise and patience...they went through their routine singing the divine name of the Lord---Krishna or Vithoba of Pandarpur....Some were prodigies and scholars--Jnaneshwar wrote a beautiful commentary of the Gita at the age of sixteen...Many strove hard to break the shackles of caste prejudices...They also sang and wrote in local Marathi language...This was the major step...
    Saints like Tukaram,,Namdev.Jnaneshwar,Eknath,Samartha Ramdas and many women saints[Chakku Bai ,for instance] illuminated the Maharashtrian countryside....The stories of the Puranas [mythical tales] became folk-lore.The moral fibre of the society was very high.
      This was indeed a turning point in the religious history of the Hindus....A popular, mass religion of the Hindus arose...Several famous shrines developed in this period,especially the one at Pandharpur...Many took to ascetic life style or at least a simple way of living..This has endured down to the 20th century.
       The worship of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna became the main plank.Chanting of Lord's name and singing His glory were the easy way to ford the river of Life.
      Samartha Ramdas was not only a saint ,but also a Raja-Guru and advisor to the great ruler,Shivaji who fought against the Mogul Emepror,Aurangazeb. Many tales and parables are told about the interaction between the saint and Shivaji Maharaj.
    The songs of these saints are sung even today...

     Haridasas--Karnataka saints--Vidyaranya

     In the medieval period, the state of Karnataka [which included part of Andhra Pradesh in those days] witnessed  several haridasas ---servants of Lord Hari or Vishnu .They again were from differnet casrtesa nd creed.The foremost was PurandaraDasa, a great musician and saint who renounced a life of luxury and opulence in the court of Vijayanagara Empire in Hampi,in Bellary District. He ,in fact ,laid the foundation for Kanrnatic -classical musical style of today. His song talk about piety,humility,renunciation and love of Lord Krishna...
    Kanakadasa [1509-1609?],another great saint of this period belonged to the outcaste or untouchables of the society...As usual, he was denied entry into the famous Krishna temple at Udipi,hallowed by Madhwa Acharya. .Poor man,Kanaka cried before the Lord near a window in the outer wall of the temple... Legend has it that the image of Lord Krishna turned and faced this window so that Kanaka could see the image....Even today, pilgrims see the image through a small window in that temple....Kanaka Dasa was a great composer and musician...he composed literally thousands of song...He spent time in his native town..Kakenelli and many years in Udipi and the last few years in Thirupathi..Legend has it that he merged with the Lord in Tirupati....that is, he disappeared on entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Thirupathi temple..
    Sant Kanakadasa

    Vidyaranya [1296-1386] was a great saint-philosopher who helped to found the Vijaya Nagara empire,the last great empire in the South at Hampi.He inspired Harihara and Bukka to build this empire, to stem the tide of muslim rulers overrunning the Hindu culture and tradition.[ This empire was one of the richest at that time and lasted for about 300 years,ending in Battle of Talaikota in 15 65.] Vidyaranaya was agreat advaitin and wrote the standard text of advaita--Panchdasi- a text used even today. He later adorned the seat of Sankaracharya of Shringeri mutt.It is safe to say that after Vidyaranya, there was hardly any advaitin of that stature, as far as I know.Appayya Dikshitar restored the advaita philospophy much later.
      The temple culture was at its greatest height then, under the Vijayanagara Rulers,especially Krishna Deva Raya and other Maharajas and even small chieftains took pains to build hundreds of temples everywhere.It was common custom for princes and rich men to donate a village or several villages  to the temple trust for the upkeep of the temple and paying for the priests...This continued till recent times when these lands have been gradually usurped by greedy men  and politicians.The temples ,,except a few, have become too poor for proper maintenance.

    Saints of the North

    The saints of the Northern parts grew along similar lines...the worship of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna became the main plank...The saints sang songs and wrote purana in local dialects or in some form of Hindi...the most notable saint was Tulsidas ,who wrote Ramayana in Hindi and at once deluged the Benaras belt with Bhakti or devotion....Surdas [who was blind],Ravi das,the cobbler-saint, and many others followed....what is more,the Krishna cult became strong and Meera Bai, a Rajasthani princess,who devoted her time with itenerant monks and was literally thrown out of the palace in Mewar, came to sing the immortal songs on Krishna in Brindhavan, Mathura and elsewhere.....A new clan of devout men and women came on the scene.
    Swami Ramananda, a great follower of Sri Ramanuja and  Vaishnavite , was a great scholar and preacher in Benaras.He was the Guru of Sant Kabir whose songs are more mystical than puranic.Kabir had a muslim family background and sought to bring in Sufi trends in his songs...His soulful songs,with mystical heights,are so profound that a separate sect ,Kabir panthis ,developed.
     Note that ,Kabir ,in his poems touched on the advaitic concepts along with devotion..he was considered an iconoclast---one who denounced idol worship...this label, in my opinion, is a later day interpretation...He was not against idol worship, but went beyond that in advaitic terms...

    Guru Nanak and Sikhism

    Guru Nanak [1469-1539],the founder of Sikh religion,sought to refine Hinduism and ward off the oppressive rule of the Moghuls,starting with Babar.His main role appears to be to bring about a synthesis between Hindu s and Muslim traditions...He emphasized Bhakti throughout his life---chanting,singing and temple worship---with one difference---without idol worship...Besides devotional practices,he stressed social service,charity and community work...He sought to remove casteism from his followers and succeeded to a great extent.....He was a contemporary of Kabir, Ravi das and Naamdev in Maharashtra.
    The sacred text of the Sikhs is Granth Saheb or Adi Granth which is worshiped in a formal way..this is a synthetic text---not a revealed scripture---and was put together in later times---at the time of Emperor Akbar....
     Guru Nanak  apparently derived much from Sufi traditions which was spreading in India---chanting and 'constant remembrance' of God....
    Sikhism ran against muslim atrocities ,giving a militant teeth to the followers..This led to martyrdom of several  Sikh gurus following Guru Nanak..there were 10 gurus after about Guru Gobind Singh and his sufferings.
        Guru Nanak traveled widely, though out India,Assam,Myanmar,Tibet,part of China,Ceylon,and Arabia [Mecca,Medina and Baghdad],mostly on foot...
    Perhaps the greatest contribution of Guru Nanak to the Indian tradition is combining selfless social service [karma yoga] with devotion. The Gurudwaras, or sikh temples are open to all...
    Sikhism ,as a religion,did not become a dominant one in India.Sikhs are very enterprising in trade and professions, and are to be found in almost all nations.

    Sufi Masters

    Sufi masters came to India in the 11th century,in the wake of Mughal invasions,may be a s part of the entourage.Most of them came from Afghanistan and Iran[Persia]Many sufi saints were persecuted in Persia.When they came to India ,they established their humble abodes in Rajasthan area.
    The greatest of these saints is ,of course, Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti of Ajmer darga or mausoleum [ Garibun  Niwas].Chisti founded the order of Chistis. He probably came with Ghazni Mahmud who made nearly 18 attempts to defeat the Rajput kings,as every school kid learns in history books in India.Khwaja Chisti led a humble life in a tent and preached the highest tenets of Sufism---chanting Lord's name,constant remembrance and devotion to God.He was much misunderstood,but apparently his saintliness and healing powers must have attracted hundreds of Hindus.
    There are many legends about Chisti.One story goes as follows.Prithvi Raj Chauhan was incensed by the muslim preachings of Chisti.He wanted him to leave Ajmere immediately.Khwaja was unmindful and stayed on.Chauhan ,the prince told  the villager not to give water and food to Chisti.Again Chisti was not worried.Then Chauhan gave ultimatum to Chisti that he should leave the kingdom in four days....Chisti smiled and ignored his threat...well, on the third day,Chauhan was overrun by Ghori Mahomed and taken as a prisoner...that was the relief for Chisti....
    Chisti's darga or tomb is very famous and attracts thousands of visitors everyday.Many miracles are attributed to this shrine.The greatness of Chisti is that he trained other Sufi masters like Hazrat Nizamuddin of Delhi.Many of his masters spread through out India.The poet Amir Khusru was a disciple of Nizamuddin....BY the end of 12th century,Sufism was firmly established in India and a gentle influence on Hinduism....There are many who say that the Sufi traditions brought back the 'true devotion' as preached by Hindu that as it may,Sufism had come to stay.
    Hazrat Babajan is a woman Sufi master,who hailed from Baluchistan,but came to Pune and settled there under a neem tree.She refused to live elsewhere.She lived under that tree for the rest of her life of nearly 100 years.
    This great Sufi saint was a contemporary of Shirdi Sai Baba.It was she who spotted Meher Baba ,a college student.She kissed him on his forehead;  Meher lost his worldly consciousness for months and behaved like a madcap.He later went to Upasani Maharaj who threw a small stone that hit his forehead.He became normal, and then Upasani sent Meher to Shirdi;  Meher went to Shirdi Baba who hailed him as "Parvadigar". The life of Meher Baba unfolded.
    Many scholars consider Babajan as one of the perfect masters along with Shirdi Baba, Akkalkot Maharaj and others.


    The saint-sage Basaveswara was a 12th century saint-reformer in Northern Karnatakawhp was also a social reformer.He wanted to build a casteless society.He wrote the vachanas[prose-poems] and collected poems from other like-minded people.He was a prince or cheftain with military exploits too.But he lived a saintly life and brought about a community without caste restrictions.He founded the sect of "Lingayats" ---worshipper of Linga.
    This community is a thriving one,prosperous in Karnataka.They wear a neck casket which carries a small image of Shiv Linga. It is moot point how far Basava could develop a casteless society in Karnataka ,which is steeped in the overtones of caste in every aspect of life even today. But the vachanas are full of devotional fervor and  very inspiring to all.
     We do not know the date of birth /death of this great saint.One legend says that he was a martyr,killed by his courtly enemies; Others say that he drowned himself out of desperation and frustration. Several temples are devoted to him,especially around Hubli region.There are anecdotes that he derived the Veera-saivisim [militant saivism, but it also means 'pure Saivism] from the sects in Tamil Nadu in 12th century,centering around Chidambaram..

    Saint Reformers

    We find literally hundreds of saints who became social reformers with different degrees of social influence and militancy.Some were bold enough to go against established caste and ritual conventions of the Hindus and fought a relentless battle.Others were mild,in just pointing out the weaknesses in their poems and ballads. We also hear of a few who were martyred ;perhaps Basaveswara was martyred...we are not sure.
     [The caste barriers and divisions did not break down easily,for the division in terms of labour [mostly manual and menial] continued till technology could make an impact...Therefore some caste people were relegated to menial jobs and despised and considered inferior. ]

    Buddha: The Refiner of Hinduism 

    Exploring Hindu-Buddhist Connections

    1. Gurus & Saints
    2. > Gurus & Saints of the Past

    The Buddha's relation with Hinduism is so close that it's easy to confuse Buddhism with Hinduism. The two religions have close connections, and yet they are distinct. This was because of Buddha's reform movements and his refining of Hindu beliefs. It would not be wrong to state, then, that Buddha founded a noble religion by distilling Hinduism, and offering a commonsense approach to self-betterment to which the people can relate easily.
    Swami Kriyananda (J Donald Walters) in his book The Hindu Way of Awakening, perspicaciously notes how Westerners confuse between these two closely connected religions, and why people mistakenly consider Buddhism and not Hinduism as the religion of India:
    "Hinduism is often omitted from rosters of the world's great religions. Everyone knows, of course, that Hinduism exists. Even so, it is confused in many people's minds with what they think of as Buddhism. For Buddhism fits into their concepts of what a religion ought to be...
    "Even if the Westerner holds good intention towards India… he may see Hinduism as containing some of the worst examples of Paganism. Small wonder, then, that many people look upon Buddhism as the noblest representative of India's religion, and turn to it when wanting an Indian religion to place among the great religions of the world.
    "While Buddhism is relatively simple, Hinduism is complex…Buddhism seems, to Westerners especially, to offer a benign and palatable form of the Indian religious experience. Most students of religion know that Buddha tried to reform some of the ancient practices; they think of him as having brought order and sophistication to primitive chaos. When they prepare lists of the great world religions they think of themselves as demonstrating respect for the religion of India by calling it Buddhism. Most of them are not conscious of their mistake."
    Buddha, as we know, began his meditation as a Hindu. He was awakened with a new enlightenment only to denounce Hinduism and emerge as the founder of a new religion. Therefore, to understand Buddhism fully, one should not separate it from Hinduism; while at the same time view it separately from Hinduism. Buddha's way of life was "the golden mean" and a relief from the pagan stigmas and caste system prevalent in Hinduism.
    The Hindu caste system defined a person's position in society as determined by their birth. Buddha condemned the Hindu caste system and said that it is karma or the good and bad actions of a person and not birth that should determine a person's caste. He introduced the idea of placing morality and equality on a higher place than genealogy of a person.
    Jesus had the same relationship to Judaism as Buddha to Hinduism. Both Hinduism and Judaism are ethnic and non-missionary traditions, and are characterised by an element of segregation between the castes and races, unlike Buddhism and Christianity.
    Swami Kriyananda compares Buddha's position relative to Hinduism with Martin Luther's to the Roman Catholic Church: "Both men were reformers, and the structure reformed by each was not supplanted by his teachings. The Catholic Church survives to this day, and has in many ways been strengthened by Luther's reforms. Hinduism similarly was purified and strengthened by the teachings of Buddha, and was in no way replaced by them. Most Hindus today look upon Buddha as one of their own Avatars or Divine Incarnations."
    Hindus believe that the purpose of the avatar of Buddha, like all divine avatars, was to re-establish dharma where "adharma" (irreligiousness) had become prevalent. Buddha is regarded by some sects of Hindus as an incarnation of Vishnu, or even as a Hindu. This is because Buddha's theistic beliefs are not contrary to Hinduism, but only a step ahead. This is also because the nature of Hinduism itself is such that all beliefs are recognized as being facets of the Ultimate Truth. It is interesting to note that the word "Nirvana" — used by Lord Buddha to describe the state of permanent bliss — is indeed a Vedic term.
    The great unification of Buddhism and Hinduism is still prevalent in Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha. Ironically, Nepal is the world's only Hindu nation, where people don't consider the two religions distinct from each other.