19/03/2015 7:25 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

42 Spiritual Quotes From India's Greatest Philosophers


It goes without saying that India has a rich philosophical heritage — its philosophers, saints, mystics and poets have put considerable effort pondering about time, happiness, knowledge, love, god, and the meaning of life.

Over a dozen of them are globally acclaimed, India's pantheon of philosophers includes Ved Vyasa, the author of the Mahabharata, who was born in 1500 BC, Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk who lived during 5th AD, Kabir, a Sufi saint born in 1440, and contemporary philosophers like Jiddu Krishnamurti and Osho Rajneesh.

Flip through these timeless quotes from India's greatest philosophers, and feel free to share your favourite quotes in the comments.

  • Ved Vyasa (The Bhagavad Gita)
    Ved Vyasa (The Bhagavad Gita)
    Painting: Ramanarayanadatta astri (Gorakhpur Geeta Press)
  • Chanakya
  • The Tree Of Wisdom
  • Prajñadanda (The Staff of Wisdom)
  • There is pleasure when a sore is scratched, But to be without sores is more pleasurable still. Just so, there are pleasures in worldly desires, But to be without desires is more pleasurable still.
  • Painting: Bodhidharma, by Yoshitoshi, 1887.
  • “Those who worship don't know, and those who know don't worship.”
  • The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma
    “To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss.”
  • When your last breath arrives, Grammar can do nothing.
  • The Soul appears to be finite because of ignorance. When ignorance is destroyed the Self which does not admit of any multiplicity truly reveals itself by itself: like the Sun when the clouds pass away.
  • Just as the fire is the direct cause for cooking, so without Knowledge no emancipation can be had. Compared with all other forms of discipline Knowledge of the Self is the one direct means for liberation.
  • "Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat. My shoulder is against yours. you will not find me in the stupas, not in Indian shrine rooms, nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals: not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding around your own neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables. When you really look for me, you will see me instantly — you will find me in the tiniest house of time. Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God? He is the breath inside the breath."
  • The Bijak of Kabir
    Many have died; you also will die. The drum of death is being beaten. The world has fallen in love with a dream. Only sayings of the wise will remain.
  • Kabir, 1440. Photo: Government Of India
  • ...But if a mirror ever makes you sad you should know that it does not know you.
  • The river that flows in you also flows in me.
  • Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
    One man may read the Bhagavata by the light of a lamp, and another may commit a forgery by that very light; but the lamp is unaffected. The sun sheds its light on the wicked as well as on the virtuous.
  • Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
    As long as I live, so long do I learn.
  • Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
    Bondage and Liberation are of the mind alone.
  • Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
    Different creeds are but different paths to reach the same God.
  • Swami Vivekananda
  • Swami Vivekananda
    In a conflict between the heart and the brain, follow your heart.
  • Swami Vivekananda
    In a day, when you don't come across any problems - you can be sure that you are travelling in a wrong path
  • Swami Vivekananda
    The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful.
  • Sri Aurobindo
    True knowledge is not attained by thinking. It is what you are; it is what you become.
  • Sri Aurobindo
    When mind is still, then truth gets her chance to be heard in the purity of the silence.
  • Sri Aurobindo, Photo: BCCL
  • Sri Aurobindo
    The great are strongest when they stand alone, A God-given might of being is their force.
  • Ramana Maharshi
    Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.
  • Ramana Maharshi
    Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.
  • Ramana Maharshi
    Your duty is to be and not to be this or that. 'I am that I am' sums up the whole truth. The method is summed up in the words 'Be still'. What does stillness mean? It means destroy yourself. Because any form or shape is the cause for trouble. Give up the notion that 'I am so and so'. All that is required to realize the Self is to be still. What can be easier than that?
  • Paramahansa Yogananda
    Be as simple as you can be; you will be astonished to see how uncomplicated and happy your life can become.
  • Paramahansa Yogananda (Autobiography of a Yogi)
    You may control a mad elephant; You may shut the mouth of the bear and the tiger; Ride the lion and play with the cobra; By alchemy you may learn your livelihood; You may wander through the universe incognito; Make vassals of the gods; be ever youthful; You may walk in water and live in fire; But control of the mind is better and more difficult.
  • Paramahansa Yogananda
    There is a magnet in your heart that will attract true friends. That magnet is unselfishness, thinking of others first; when you learn to live for others, they will live for you.
  • Jiddu Krishnamurti
  • Jiddu Krishnamurti
    When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.
  • Osho Rajneesh
  • Osho Rajneesh
    Sadness is silent, it is yours. It is coming because you are alone. It is giving you a chance to go deeper into your aloneness. Rather than jumping from one shallow happiness to another shallow happiness and wasting your life, it is better to use sadness as a means for meditation. Witness it. It is a friend! It opens the door of your eternal aloneness.

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