Historical Persons

Abdul Ghaffar Khan: Popularly known as Frontier Gandhi, was leader of the Red Shirts (Khudai-Khidmatgars) of the North-West Frontier Province during pre-partition period. He took part in the 1930 civil disobedience movement started by Mahatma Gandhi.

Abdul Kalam, Dr A.P.J.: Indian scientist who is credited with advancement of missile technology in India. He is known as ‘‘father of India’s Missile Technology’’. Elected President of India in 2002.

Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan: He lived during the reign of Akbar. He translated Babar’s Memoirs from Turkish to Persian.

Abdur Razzaq: was a Persian traveller who visited Vijayanagar in 144243 during the reign of Deva Raya-II (1425-46).

Abul Fazal: was the celebrated Mughal court poet and councillor of Akbar. Works: Akbar-nama; Ain-i-Akbari.

Abussamad: He was honoured by Akbar with the award of Zari-qulam.

Acharya Narendra Dev: was a prominent leader of the Congress Socialist Party.

Agha Khan: He is known to have led the deputation of Muslim leaders to the Viceroy, Lord Minto-II, in 1906, seeking separate electorates for Muslims in any representative system which might be introduced.

Ahalyabai: was the famous Holkar queen. She was widowed daughterin-law of Malhar Rao Holkar, the virtual ruler of Malwa. After the death of Malhar Rao, Ahalyabai ruled the State with great skill and understanding.

Ahmad Shah Abdali: His invasion in the third battle of Panipat in 1761, gave a death blow to the political fortunes of the Marathas.

Ahmed, Sayyid: Sayyid Ahmed Khan is known for promoting Western education among Muslims in India during the 19th century. Sayyid Ahmed of Rai Bareilly is known for launching Wahabi movement in 1819.

Akbar: (1556-1605) Born at Amarkot (Rajasthan) in 1542, he was crowned at Kalanaur (Punjab) in 1556 at the age of 13 years and four months, as a successor of Humayun. He was the greatest of the Mughal Emperors in India. He founded a new religion Din-i-Elahi. He is known for reforms in land revenue administration, religious toleration, abolition of pilgrim tax and Jazia. He built Humayun’s mausoleum in Delhi.

Ala-ud-din Khilji: He introduced price control covering almost the entire market. Grain was rationed and the price fixed. Iqta, a land-grab system was also introduced by him. He started copper coins. Jazia was collected from non-Muslims during his reign. The maximum number of Mughal invasions took place during his reign.

Alberuni: was a celebrated historian who visited India in company with the armies of Mahmud of Ghazni. He was also a Sanskrit scholar.

Albuquerque: was the real founder of the Portuguese Empire in the East. He conquered Goa in 1510 and made it his capital. He died in 1515.

Alexander the Great: (356-323 BC) was king of Macedon (Greece) who set out for mighty military exploits and invaded India in 327 BC. He reached up to the Beas from where he retreated as his home-sick army refused to proceed further. Alexander died on his way to Babylon in 323 BC at the age of 33.

Ali, Aruna Asif: A veteran freedomn fighter. Played important role in Quit India Movement.

Amar Nath, Lala: famous Indian cricketer who became the first Indian to score a century, and that also against visiting Douglas Jardine’s England team at Bombay Gymkhana in 1933-34.

Amarasimha: was one of the nine gems in the court of Vikramaditya. His work Amarkosha occupies a dominant position in Sanskrit Lexicography.

Ambedkar, Dr B.R.: Head of the Drafting Committee which drafted the Indian Constitution. Leader of Scheduled Castes; he was law minister of India from 1947 to 1951. He organised (1) Samaj Samata Sangh (2) All-India Scheduled Castes Federation and (3) The Independent Labour Party. Died in 1956.

Amir Khusrau (1255-1325): Surnamed as the “Parrot of India” wrote prose and poetic works in Persian, Hindi and Arabic. He lived in the court of Alauddin Khilji.

Anand, Mulk Raj: Eminent Indian writer in English. His works include Untouchable and Coolie.

Andrew, C.F.: was a British missionary who came to India in 1904. After having lived here for some time, he devoted heart and soul to India’s freedom struggle and worked shoulder to shoulder with the Indian leaders. He was known as Deenabandhu. He died in Calcutta in 1940.

Aristotle: (384-322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, artist, poet, and thinker. He was the founder of a famous school of philosophy.

Arjan Singh, Marshal: First-ever Marshal of the Indian Air Force.

Arjun Dev, Guru: was the fifth Guru of the Sikhs. He was put to death by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1605. He is associated with Adi Granth.

Aryabhatta: (AD 476-520) after whom India’s first scientific satellite has been named, was a great Indian astronomer and mathematician. He laid the foundations of algebra and was responsible for pointing out the importance of “zero”. He was the first Indian to suggest that the earth rotates on its own axis.

Ashoka, the Great: (264-228 BC) Indian Emperor, grandson of Chandragupta. He denounced war, embraced and preached Buddhism after the battle of Kalinga.

Ashvaghosha: was the spiritual adviser of Kanishka (the Kushan emperor) who took a leading part in the Fourth Buddhist Council at Srinagar which was presided by Vasumitra. He wrote Buddha Charitam.

Attlee, Clement: was the Prime Minister of England at the time of grant of independence to India in 1947.

Aurangzeb: was the third son of Shah Jahan, who ruled as Mughal Emperor (1658-1707). He levied higher trade duties on Hindu traders in 1679. He also imposed Jazia. He is known for his ruinous Deccan policy. In 1681, Aurangzeb proceeded to Deccan for (1) crushing the Marathas, (2) annexing Golconda and Bijapur and (3) Subduing the revolts of Mughal nobility.

Babur, Zahir-ud-din: was a Chaghatai Turk who, in 1494, inherited from his father, at the age of 11, a small principality of Farghana, now a province of Chinese Turkistan. Babur occupied Kabul in 1504. He had ambition to conquer Hindustan. An opportunity came his way when he was invited by Daulat Khan Lodi and Alam Khan to invade India. He conquered the throne of Delhi after the first battle of Panipat in 1526 and thus founded the Mughal Empire in India.

Baden Powell: (1857-1941) was founder of the Boy Scout movement in 1908 and Girl Guides in 1910.

Bahadur Shah II: was the last king of Mughal Empire who took part in the First War of Indian Independence (so-called Indian Mutiny) in 1857. He was sent as a State prisoner to Rangoon (Burma) where he died in 1862.

Bairam Khan: was the tutor and guardian of Akbar, the Great. Akbar acquired the throne of Delhi mainly through his efforts. He was known as Khan-i-Khana.

Baji Rao-II: was recognised as Peshwa on 4 December 1796. He was defeated by Holkar rulers of Marathas at Poona. He consented to accept the Subsidiary Alliance and signed the Treaty of Bassein on 31 December 1802. (The Treaty of Bassein forms an important landmark in the history of British supremacy in India).

Bakht Khan: During the revolt of 1857, he was the Chief Commander of troops in Delhi.

Balaji Vishwanath: was the first Peshwa appointed on 16 November 1713.

Balban, Ghiyas-ud-din: He belonged to the famous band of Turkish slaves of Iltumish, known as “The Forty”. His period as king was 1265-86. He introduced the Turkish methods and customs of Sajada and Paibos. He introduced the famous Persian festival of Nauroj in India. The “College of Forty” or the “Group of Forty Nobles”, formed during the reign of Iltumish, was broken by Balban.

Banabhatta: was the most celebrated of the learned men and court poet of Harshavardhana; author of Harshacharita and Kadambari. He was the greatest master of Sanskrit prose in his time.

Banda Bairagi: (Also called Banda Bahadur) was a Rajput by caste and a native of Rajauri (Poonch). He became bairagi in his youth but took up arms against the Mughals on the advice of Guru Gobind Singh; captured in 1716 along with 800 companions and was tortured to death.

Barni: He is the primary source for Balban’s opinions on sovereignty and government.

Bedi, Kiran: First woman to enter the Indian Police Service.

Beethoven: one of the world’s greatest musicians and composers. He became deaf at the age of 40 and despite this handicap, he wrote many memorable symphonies, songs, sonatas and concertos. Died at the age of 56.

Bentinck, Lord William: was Governor of Madras during Vellore Mutiny (1806) and came out as Governor-General of India (1828-1835). He is known for many reforms viz., suppression of thuggee; prohibition of sati; female infanticide and human sacrifices; financial, administrative and educational reforms. He introduced English education in India.

Besant, Annie: (1846-1933) An Irish woman who was a staunch supporter of India’s freedom. She has been President of the Theosophical Society and President of the Indian National Congress in 1917. She was the first woman President of the Congress. She started the magazine New India.

Bhabha, Dr Homi J.: (1909-66) was an Indian scientist of repute. He was the first Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, India.

Bhadrabahu: was a Jain teacher during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya. He wrote A Life of Mahavira.

Bhagat Singh: Indian revolutionary who was tried in the Lahore conspiracy case.

Bhasin, Dr Nivedita: Devoted over a dozen years working for upliftment of women in India as a disciple of Swami Vivekananda. She was Irish and her original name was Margaret Nobel.

Bhaskaracharya: (Indian) Bhaskara means the learned. Born in 1114, he was almost the last great Hindu mathematician and astronomer until modern times. He wrote Sidhanta-siromani in 1150 which consisted of two mathematical and two astronomical parts.

Bhave, Vinoba: Father of the Sarvodaya and Bhoodan movement. A saint and stalwart from the generation of freedom fighters and a true Gandhian.

Bhoja King: He belonged to the Gujara Pratihara dynasty which was firmly established in Kanauj by AD 836 He was a great patron of literature and art.

Bilhana: was a Sanskrit historian and poet born in Kashmir. He left Kashmir about 1065 and became the court poet at Kalyana where he wrote an epic, Vikramadevacharita to celebrate the reign of Vikramaditya-VI, the Chaulakya king of Kalyana.

Bindusara: was the Mauryan ruler who was also known by the name Amitraghata. He succeeded Chandragupta Maurya.

Bismarck: (1815-1898) was the most capable and prominent of the German statesmen of the 19th century popularly known for his blood and iron policy. Founded the German Empire.

Bleriot, Louis: (1872-1936) French airman who was the first to fly over the English Channel from Calais to Dover on the 25 July 1909.

Bonnerji, Womesh Chander: was the first President of the Indian National Congress. (The first session of the Indian National Congress was held in 1885).

Bose, Nand Lal: famous Indian artist; Director, Kala Bhavan, Shantiniketan; died in May 1966. He had been invited to draw sketches on the theme of national integration in the first copy of the Constitution of India.

Bose, J.C.: (1858-1937) Eminent Indian physicist and Botanist; founder of Bose Research Institute, Calcutta. Inventor of Crescograph.

Bose, Subhash Chandra: better known as Netaji of Azad Hind Fouj (Indian National Army). He was a powerful nationalist leader and was also once elected President of the Indian National Congress. He gained much prominence for organising I.N.A. during the World War II. The call “Dilli Challo” was given by him.

Brahmagupta: (598-660) of Ujjain was the third great name of Hindu Mathematician after Aryabhatta and Varahamihira.

Buddha, Gautama: (623 BC to 453 BC) born in Lumbini village in the Nepalese terai, he was son of Sudhodana, the king of Kapilvastu in Nepal. He renounced the world and became a great religious teacher. He founded Buddhism. His preachings were mainly in regard to purity of thought and conduct. The relics of Buddha are preserved in a Stupa.

Bradman, Sir Donald: Universally acknowledged as the greatest cricketer who ever lived. He played for Australia and in his 52-Test carreer scored 6,996 runs at an average of 99.94. He hit 29 centuries.

Cabot, John: (1425-1500) British sailor who saled westwards in 1497 and discovered Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, believing them to be part of Asia, and may have reached the mainland of America before Columbus did.

Canning, Lord: was Governor-General of India during 1856-1858 and again Viceroy of India (1858-1862). He was last of the East India Company’s Governors-General of India and the first of the Viceroys of the British Crown. His rule was the epoch of a great convulsion i.e., Indian Mutiny or the First War of Indian Independence.

Cavour: Count Camillo Benso (1810-1861) was a distinguished Italian statesman who exerted much to unify Italy.

Chaitanya or Gaurang: born in 1485 at Nadia (Bengal). He renounced the world and preached the doctrine of love and devotion to Lord Krishna.

Chanakya: See Kautilya.

Chand Bardai: was court poet of Prithvi Raj Chohan. He composed the epic Prithviraj Raso—the story of the prowess of romance of Prithviraj Chauhan.

Chand Bibi: was daughter of the king of Ahmednagar and wife of Ali Adil Shah, king of Bijapur. She was assassinated by her own soldiers in 1599.

Chandra, Bhartendu Harish: The 18th century Hindi litterateur, known as the first writer of standard Hindi prose.

Chandragupta Maurya: was the famous ruler of ancient India, known for establishing an elaborate system of municipal administration. His empire extended in the north-west upto Hindukush. During his reign, the Greek ambassador Megasthenes visited his court.

Chandu Shah: On his persuasion, Guru Arjun Dev was executed by Jahangir in 1605.

Charaka: (About AD 80-180) was the court physician to Kanishka, the Kushan King. His work on Ayurvedic medical science remains invaluable.

Charlemagne: (742-814) Emperor of the Romans, a wise and powerful ruler, general and statesman.

Charu, P. Ananda: He founded the newspaper The Hindu in 1878. Was President of Congress in 1891.

Charvaka: is known as the greatest of the materialistic philosophers of ancient India. The Charvakas advocated a life of sensible enjoyment and declared: “While you live, live well, even if you have to borrow, for once cremated there is no return.”

Chatterjee, Bankim Chandra: was a patriot poet and novelist known as the literary king of Bengal after Madhusudan. Works: Mirnalini; Durgesh Nandini; Kapal Kundala; Raj Singh; Chandra Sheikhar; Anand Math; Indra.

Chawla, Kalpana: First India-born woman to go in space. She was part of the Colombia space shuttle mission of NASA which went in space on 20 November 1997.

Chengiz Khan: He was the Mongol warrior, known as ‘one of the Scourges of God’. He is ranked with Attila, the Hunish leader, as the destroyer of human species.

Chisti, Khawja Mouin-ud-din: is the sponsor and the most prominent figure of the Chisti order of Sufis in India.

Chola, Rajendra: (AD 1018-1042) He was son of Raja Raja Chola the Great, of the Chola dynasty, in the south of India (11th Century AD). He vigorously carried on the warlike policy of his father. He penetrated as far as the territory of modern Burma and Bengal. He overrun Orissa and also conquered Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Churchill, Winston: British statesman, soldier and author; former Prime Minister of Great Britain; leader of Conservative Party and a vigorous war leader during the Second World War; died on January 24, 1965.

Cleopatra: (69-30 BC) famous Egyptian Queen whose beauty fascinated Julius Caesar whom she accompanied to Rome. She is known for her romance with Antony dramatised by Shakespeare in his love tragedy: Antony and Cleopatra.

Clive, Lord: (1725-1774) came to India as a clerk in the East India

Company. He showed such remarkable military genius that he became Commander-in-Chief. He defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah supported by the French in the Battle of Plassey in 1757. Returned to England in 1760; his later years were marked by mental disturbance and ultimately he committed suicide.

Columbus: (1446-1506) famous Italian navigator who discovered America in 1498.

Confucius: (551-479 BC) founder of the great world religion Confucianism; was a Chinese sage and philosopher.

Conti, Nicolo: Italian traveller who visited Vijayanagar around 1420 AD during the reign of Deva Raya-II.

Cornwallis, Lord: (1738-1805) Commander of the British forces which surrendered to the Americans at York Town in 1781, thus ending the American War of Independence. He was twice Governor-General of India. He introduced permanent settlement of Bengal in 1793.

Cromwell, Oliver: (1599-1658) Soldier statesman of England who became one of the Parliamentary leaders and became General of the Roundheads at the outbreak of the Civil War. He established the British Commonwealth and was installed at its head after the execution of Charles I.

Curie, Madame Marie: (1867-1934) Polish physicist and chemist; famous for her discovery of radium; was awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. She had shared Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 with her husband and Bacquerel.

Curzon, Lord: (1859-1925) A vigorous and outstanding Viceroy of India (1889-1905); statesman and administrator. He was Britain’s Foreign Secretary from 1919 to 1923. He was prominent at many world conferences after the first World War.

Dalhousie, Lord: was the British Governor-General of India from 1848 to 1856. His period of office was known for extensive annexations and as far as the consolidation of British power in India is concerned, he ranks with Wellesley and Hastings. He introduced the doctrine of lapse.

Dante: (1265-1321) the greatest of Italian poets. Author of Divina Commedia.

Dandin: was Sanskrit prose writer and poet. He is author of Dasakumar-charita and Kavyadarsa.

Darius: was the Iranian ruler who penetrated into north-west India and annexed Punjab in 516 BC.

Darwin, Charles: (1809-82) He was the exponent of the theory of Natural Selection (theory of evolution); author of The Origin of Species.

Dass, C.R. (Deshbandhu): one of the leaders of freedom movement in India; a powerful speaker and politician, founded the Swarajist Party in the Assembly in 1923. Elected the first Mayor of Calcutta in March 1925; died on 16th June 1925.

Dayanand Saraswati: Great Hindu reformer of the 19th century and founder of the Arya Samaj.

Devapala (AD 830-850): was successor to Dharampala, the famous Pala ruler. He established the third important Pala University of Somapura. He shifted his capital to Monghyr.

Desai, Bhulabhai: Competent lawyer, remembered for his brilliant defence of the INA prisoners in 1945.

Devaraya-II: was the king of Vijayanagar, who appointed Muslims in his army, granted land to them, built a mosque and kept a copy of the Koran in front of his throne, so that the Muslims could pay respect to it.

Dhanvantri: a great physician during the reign of Chandragupta Vikramaditya (375-413 AD).

Dharmapala: was son of Gopala of the famous Pala dynasty. He was one of the greatest kings that ever ruled Bengal. His succession to the throne took place in AD 780. He was involved in the contest with the Pratiharas and Rashtrakutas.. He established a great Tantrik University in 810 AD.

Dhingra, Madan Lal: He killed Curzon-Wyllies, an official of the India Office in London, as a protest against the inhuman transportation and hangings of Indian youth.

Dipankara, Atiza: was the most famous teacher of Vikramasila University founded by King Dharampala of Pala dynasty in 810 AD.

Disraeli: (1804-1881) English statesman and novelist. Became Prime Minister in 1868. He contributed greatly to the building up of a great Empire and won the respect and liking of Queen Victoria.

Dolma, Dicky: Youngest woman (19 years) in the world to climb Mt Everest.

Dorjee, Phu: First Indian to climb Mt Everest without using oxygen.

Dupleix: French statesman; appointed Governor of French East Indian possessions in 1742. After Clive’s victory at Plassey he returned to France and fell into disgrace and poverty.

Edison, Thomas Alva: American inventor. Born in Ohio, he became first a newsboy and then a telegraph operator. He invented an automatic repeater for telegraphic messages, phonograph, incandescent lamp.

Edwin Lutyens: Designed New Delhi as the Capital of British government as its Chief Architect.

Einstein, Albert: (1879-1955) German-Swiss world famous scientist known for his theory of relativity. In 1933, he was driven by the Nazis and took asylum in the USA. He was awarded Nobel Prize for his work on Photoelectric effect.

Eisenhower, Dwight David: (1890-1969) 34th President of the USA Supreme Commander of all the Allied armies in the west during the Second World War. He introduced “Eisenhower Doctrine” in 1957, a policy of giving aid to Middle Eastern countries against international communist aggression.

Elizabeth I, Queen: (1533-1603) Queen of England; daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Spanish Armada was defeated during her reign. Her reign is famous for development in literature, colonisation and naval power. Shakespeare lived in her time.

Epicurus: (342-270 BC) Greek philosopher; founder of Epicurean philosophy which taught that virtues should be followed because they lead to happiness.

Fa-hein: The first Chinese pilgrim who came to India during the reign of Chandragupta Vikramaditya.

Firdausi: was a Persian poet who wrote Shahnama.

Francisco-de-Almeida: was the first Governor of the Portuguese possessions in India.

Freud, Sigmund: (1856-1939) was originator of psychoanalysis. He was born of Jewish parents and from 1860 lived at Vienna until, following the Nazi occupation in 1938, he migrated to London. Some of his famous works are: The Interpretation of Dreams, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, The Ego and the Id.

Gagarin: Yuri Gagarin was a Russian cosmonaut and the first spaceman of the world. He was launched into space in Vostok-1 on 12 April 1961 and brought back safely after a flight in space. Died in ’plane crash on 27 March 1968.

Galileo: (1564-1642) Italian scientist. He was professor of mathematics. He is known for invention of telescope.

Gandhi, M.K.: (1869-1948) the greatest Indian after Buddha; father of the Indian Nation. The Champaran campaign was the first movement started by Mahatma Gandhi and hunger-strike as a weapon was used by him for the first time during Ahmedabad strike (1917-18). Associated with many movements during the struggle for independence viz., Non-cooperation Movement in 1920; Salt Satyagraha; Quit India in 1942. Assassinated while attending prayer meeting on 30 January 1948 by Nathu Ram Godse.

Gandhi, Maganlal: was a friend of Mahatma Gandhi. He believed in his ideals and remained with him during the freedom struggle. He is known to have coined the word Satyagraha to the launching of freedom movement.

Gandhi, Mrs Indira: Prime Minister of India, for a little over 15 years, she was a dynamic leader who steered the country towards self-reliance in every field. She was assassinated on 31 October 1984.

Gandhi, Rajiv: He was Prime Minister of India from 1984 to 1989. In May 1991 he was assassinated by a LTTE suicide bomb attack.

Gangesh: was the founder of the school of Navya-Nyaya.

Garibaldi: (1807-1882) the famous Italian soldier and patriot who was condemned to death in 1834 for being concerned in a plot to seize a Government vessel, but escaped to South America. Later he returned to Italy and became head of a great volunteer army, intent upon liberating Italy.

Gautama (or Gotama): was an ancient Hindu philosopher (not to be mistaken for Gautam Buddh) who first formulated the philosophy of Nyaya in his Nyaya Sutra. He lived probably between 450 BC-AD. 100 and is regarded as the father of Indian logic and the Aristotle of Hindu thought.

Gautamiputra Satakarni: was a great king of Satavahana dynasty.

Ghori, Mohammad: His conquests commenced the Muslim rule in India. He occupied Lahore in AD 1186. In 1191, he was defeated by Prithvi Raj Chohan but after a year avenged his defeat and conquered Delhi and Ajmer.

Ghosh, Arvind: Indian revolutionary who was tried in Alipore Bomb case.

Ghosh, Aurobindo: an exponent of Indian nationalism; philosopher, poet and saint. Works: Life Divine; Essays on Gita; Basis of Yoga; Love and Death (Poem); Urvashi.

Glenn John: The first American to fly in orbit in 1962, he also holds the distinction of being the oldest man in space, achieved in 1999, at the age of 77.

Gobind Singh, Guru: the tenth and the last Guru of the Sikhs—a real founder of Sikh power (the Khalsa) whose major part of life was spent in fighting the Mughals.

Gokhale, Gopal Krishna: (1866-1915) The doyen of Indian statesmen and the chief leader of the moderate section of Indian National Congress. He was the greatest parliamentarian known to India. He was elected President of Indian National Congress at the session held at Banaras (now Varanasi) in 1905 at the age of 39. Gandhiji regarded him as his political Guru. He also founded the Servants of India Society, an organization which has done very noble work till recent times.

Gokhale, Kamalbai: The first actress of Indian screen.

Gulbadan Begum: She was Babur’s daughter. She wrote Humayunnama, a historical account during the Mughal period.

Har Dayal, Lala: was Indian revolutionary who founded Ghadr

(rebellion) party in the USA on 1 November 1913 which was violently antiBritish. He also founded the Yugantar Ashram. A paper called Ghadr was also started by him.

Hari Hara and Bukka: were two brothers who were founders of the Vijyanagar Empire. They belonged to Sangam dynasty.

Harsha Vardhana: (AD 606-647) was the last great Hindu King of northern India. He moved his capital from Thanesar to Kanauj. He was defeated by Pulakesin-II of the Chalukya dynasty.

Hasan Gangoo: entitled Zafar Khan, was founder of the Bahmani Kingdom in Deccan.

Hemadri: who lived during the thirteenth century, was a legal authority on caste and ritual. He kept the royal records of the Yadava rulers of Devagiri. He wrote a voluminous legal digest entitled Chaturvarga-Chintamani.

Hieun-tsang: Chinese pilgrim who visited India during the reign of King Harsha (606-647). He has left interesting records of the conditions in India at that time.

Homer: (850 BC) famous Greek epic poet. Author of the classics the Illiad and the Odyssey.

Hume, Alan Octavian: an English statesman who, realizing the true aspirations of Indians for freedom, founded the Indian National Congress in 1885 which party gained much popularity later and ultimately succeeded in achieving independence on 15 August 1947.

Ibn Batuta: a great scholar and traveller from South Africa who came to India in 1333 during the reign of Mohammed Tughlaq and wrote about him.

He spent eight years in India on his way to China.

Ibrahim Lodi: He was the last ruler of Lodi Dynasty.

Iltumish: was the first Muslim ruler who made Delhi as his capital in place of Lahore.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar: He pioneered the movement leading to the Widow Remarriage Act.

Iyer, Chokila: She is the first woman to be appointed as the Foreign Secretary of India.

Jagat Seths: were the most important among the bankers of Bengal in the eighteenth century before overthrow of Mir Qasim by the English.

Jaipal: was Raja of Bathinda. He was defeated for the first time by Mahmud Ghazni.

Jatin Das: was a well known Indian revolutionary who died in jail while on hunger strike.

Jaydev: 12th century Sanskrit poet from Bengal who wrote many poems in praise of Lord Krishna, including Geet Govinda.

Jayakar, M.R.: He was an eminent Indian Jurist, a colleague of Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru. He attended the three Round Table Conferences held in London to evolve a constitutional system for India under the British rule.

Jayakar, Pupul: She was known as the grand old lady of Indian culture.

Jija Bai: was the name of Shivaji’s mother.

Jinnah, Mohd. Ali: (1879-1948) founder of a separate Muslim State of Pakistan.

Joan of Arc: (1412-31) the girl whose heroism inspired the French to drive the English out of Orleans and enabled Charles to be proclaimed king. She was burnt as a heretic at Rouen.

Julius Caesar: (100-44 BC) Roman General known for invasion of Gaul and Britain. Defeated Pompey in the Civil Gaul War. His assassination by his trusted friend Brutus is considered the most famous classic betrayal.

Kabir: a disciple of Ramanand, was one of the greatest exponents of Bhakti Movement—a socio-religious movement spread in the Middle Ages which aimed at stopping conversions to Islam and fighting the tyranny of the Brahmins in the social set-up of the Hindus. He believed in the unity of God and equality of all religions.

Kalhana: was poet historian of Kashmir. He lived in the 11th century AD. He was author of Rajatarangini, his masterpiece.

Kalidasa: (between 303 and 450 AD) the greatest epic Sanskrit poet and dramatist. Works: Shakuntala; Raghuvansa; Kumar Sambhava; Meghdoot; Ritusamhara.

Kamal Ataturk: builder of modern Turkey. He was a fine soldier. He defended the Dardanelles against the British in 1915 and drove the Greeks out of Turkey in 1922. He was President of the Turkish Republic and virtual dictator 1923-38.

Kanishka: was the third and the greatest king of Kushan dynasty (120-162 AD). He was a great conqueror, became a patron of Buddhism and was the only ruler of India who had his territory even in Central Asia beyond the Pamirs. Saka Era started during his reign.

Kautilya: or Chanakya or Vishnu Gupta was a great politician who helped Chandragupta Maurya in securing political power. He was a practical statesman of high ability. Author of Artha Shastra.

Kelkar, N.C.: Confident of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He was editor of Mahratta and Kesari.

Kharavela: was the ruler of Kalinga. He reigned during the first century BC and Kalinga rose to great fame under his rule. He was a Jain and belonged to the Mahamegha-Vahana line.

Khilji, Alauddin: ruled northern India from 1296 to 1316. It was in his time that the Muslims were able to penetrate beyond the Narmada into the Deccan, though not for permanent conquest.

Kilby, Jack: Inventor of integrated circuit, the basis of every electronic device.

King, Martin Luther: He was an American Negro leader who won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize at the young age of 35. He has been leading a movement which aims at securing Civil Rights for the American negroes. Assassinated on 5 April 1968.

Krishnadeva Raya: The most famous Raja of Vijayanagar Kingdom, the last great Hindu ruler of Southern India (1509-29). He was a very learned man (considered to be the greatest patron of literature), capable ruler and a great warrior, who often defeated the Muslims. He belonged to the Tulva dynasty. He was the first Vijayanagar King who concluded treaties with the Portuguese.

Krishnamurthy, Jiddu: He was a great radical thinker, philosopher and spiritual leader of the 20th century. He challenged his listeners to overcome the conditioning of the mind.

Kumarila Bhatta: was a well-known preacher of Hinduism during the eighth century.

Lajpat Rai, Lala: a brilliant writer, powerful orator and Congress leader of the United Punjab, popularly known as Sher-i-Punjab (Lion of the Punjab or Punjab Kesri); one of the founders of Dayanand Anglo-Vedic College, Lahore; leader of the Nationalist Party in Assembly. He died of fatal lathi blows by the police while lecturing against Simon Commission in Lahore.

Lackland, John: (1167-1216) King of England from 1199 till his death at Newark after deposition by the Barons in 1216. He granted, under compulsion, the Magna Carta, England’s great bulwark of liberty.

Lakshmi Bai, Rani of Jhansi: Rani Lakshmi Bai, famous as Rani of Jhansi, was queen ruler of Jhansi, a district of Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh. She was a brave woman warrior and was one of the leading personalities who took active part in the first War of Indian Independence in 1857 (the so-called Indian Mutiny). She is said to be the bravest and most capable heroine of the War of Independence.

Laughton, Charles: (1151-1228) He was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1213, and one of the chief instruments in forcing the Magna Carta from King John.

Lenin: (Russian) Nikolai Lenin (1870-1924) was founder of Bolshevik communism and by far the greatest single driving force behind the Soviet revolution of Oct-November 1917.

Leonardo da Vinci: one of the greatest all-round geniuses the world has known; painter, architect, sculptor, scientist, engineer and musician. Famed as painter of The Last Supper, Mona Lisa and other great works.

Lincoln, Abraham: (1809-1865) a lawyer in early life, was returned to Congress in 1846 from Springfield, Illinois and was elected 16th President of the United States of America. He abolished slavery in the USA. He was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in 1865.

Lloyd, George: He was Prime Minister of Britain (1916-22). He was one of those primarily responsible for the Versailles peace settlement.

Lokahitawadi: was the first reformer of Maharashtra to challenge the old authorities and old traditions.

Louis XVI: (1754-93) The king of France who was executed in 1793 after the French Revolution which had taken place in 1789. The history of King Louis XVI is the history of French Revolution.

Machiavelli: (1469-1527) a Florentine historian and diplomat. Author of “The Prince”.

Magellan: Commanded the first expedition in 1519 to sail round the world. Discovered passages to the Pacific from the Atlantic through Straits later on named after him.

Mahavira: (540-468 BC) 24th and the last Jain tirthankara. Born in a village near Vaishali in North Bihar. Died at a place called Pavapuri near modern Rajgir in South Bihar. He was the real founder of Jainism. He introduced Brahamcharya.

Mahendravarman-I: (600-630) was Pallava king known for his architectural skill. He introduced the method of scooping out entire temples from the solid rock, as at Mamlapuram.

Malaviya, Madan Mohan: a great Indian nationalist. He had been long associated with Congress Party and was thrice elected its President. Leader of the Hindu Mahasabha; founder of the Banaras Hindu University. He was conferred the Bharat Ratna in 2014 (posthumously).

Malik Kafur: He was military general of Allauddin Khilji.

Man Singh: was the adopted son of Raja Bhagwan Das. He fought against Rana Pratap in 1576 and won the battle of Gogunda. He was appointed by Akbar to govern Kabul. He died in the ninth year of Jehangir’s reign.

Mangal Pandey: He had the unique distinction of firing the first shot in the Rebellion of 1857.

Mandela, Nelson: First black to be elected President of South Africa. Was imprisoned for 27 years by the White regime of South Africa for his opposition to apartheid. Awarded Nobel peace prize in 1993. Died on 5 December 2013.

Manu: famous Hindu law-giver; author of Manu Simriti.

Mao Tse-tung: The inspiration behind the great communist revolution that transformed China and sent shock waves throughout the world. He was a warrior leader who taught that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” and personally wielded more power over more people than any man before.

Marconi: (1873-1937) Italian scientist; pioneer in wireless telegraphy and radio.

Marco Polo: (1256-1323) famous Venetian traveller and explorer; the first European to visit China; made journeys through China, India and other Eastern countries and published a record of his wanderings.

Marx, Karl: (1818-83) German philosopher and socialist. Life-partner and friend of Engels. Wrote many important works on socialism. Author of Das Kapital. Communism is based on his teachings.

Maurya, Chandra Gupta (322-289 BC) was the founder of the Maurya dynasty and also founder of the first historical Empire of India.

Megasthenes: was an ambassador to Chandra Gupta Maurya’s court sent by Seleucus. He lived in Patliputra for five years (302 BC to 298 BC). The account written by him of India in his book Indica is a source of our knowledge of that period.

Menuhin, Yehudi: One of the world’s most brilliant and celebrated violinists of 20th century.

Metcalfe, Sir Charles: known as the Liberator of the Indian Press, was British Governor-General of India (1835-36).

Michaelangelo: the renowned Italian artist, painter, sculptor, architect and poet; one of the greatest geniuses.

Mira Bai: (1450-1547) was a mystic and Hindi poetess. She was said to have been a Rajput princess of Chittor and to have married the Rana of Udaipur. She was disciple of saint Raidas. She composed and sang hyumns of praise in honour of Lord Krishna whom she addressed as Girdharhari. She wrote in Braj dialect of Western Hindi.

Mir Jaffar: He deserted Siraj-ud-Dowlah and joined the English under Lord Clive when the Battle of Plassey (1757) was raging with utmost fury. He granted an extra allowance called Double Bhatta to the English troops.

Mohammad, the Prophet: Born in AD 570 was the founder of Islam.

Mohammad-bin-Qasim: was the first Muslim to invade India. The Arab conquest of Sind took place in AD 712 under his leadership.

Mohammed Bin Tughlaq: (1325-51) a very learned man who possessed an uncommon intelligence and remarkable memory but was an unsuccessful and unpopular emperor. He set up a department of agriculture. In 1327, he shifted his capital from Delhi to Devagiri, re-named by him as Daulatabad.

Montessori, Madam: (1870-1952) Italian educator and originator of the method of education known as Montessori system. Under this system, the teacher provides the necessary didactic materials and shows their use, but leaves the child to handle them for himself.

Mother Teresa: She was the Albanian-born Roman Catholic nun who moved to Calcutta’s slum “to Serve God among the Poorest of the Poor”. She established the religious order named as “Missionaries of Charity” in 1949. She had to her credit a number of national and international awards including the Nobel Peace Prize (1979), Bharat Ratna (1980), and Magsaysay Award. She became a legend in her own life time. She died on 5 September 1997.

Mountbatten, Lord: Admiral of the (British) Fleet. He was the last British Viceroy of India and the first Governor-General of free India.

Munda Birsa: Organised an agrarian and political rebellion of the Mundas of the Ranchi region against the Zamindars, Hakims, Police and money lenders in 1899.

Munshi, K.M.: Founder of Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan. He started his career as an advocate and soon made his mark. He played an active role in the national freedom movement and held important public office for nearly a quarter of a century. He was also a great writer, educationist, and expert on constitutional law.

Mussolini, Benito: (1883-1945) founder of the Fascist Party and dictator of Italy (1925-43). Shot dead by partisans.

Muzaffar Ahmed: He was arrested in the Kanpur and Meerut conspiracy cases. Was also the editor of the Left-wing paper Navyug.

Nagarjuna: was the philosopher scientist and a great figure of the court of Kanishka whom Hieun-Tsang called “one of the four lights of the world”. He enunciated the theory of Relativity in his great work called Madhyamika Sutra. He is rightly called the Indian Einstein.

Naidu, Sarojini: She was a gifted Indian poetess of English language, commonly known as the Nightingale of India. She was also an orator of eloquence. She was President of the Indian National Congress in 1925; was the first woman Governor of an Indian State (Governor of Uttar Pradesh) after independence.

Naipaul, Sir V.S.: Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, a citizen of Trinidad, he won the Nobel prize for literature in 2001. He was the seventh Indian or person of Indian origin to be awarded the Nobel prize and second for literature, after Rabindranath Tagore.

Nam Dev: an exponent of Bhakti cult, he hailed from Maharashtra.

Narendra Dev: Formed the Congress Socialist Party in 1934 along with Minoo Masani and J.P. Narayan.

Nanak, Guru: born in 1469 at Talwandi (now called Nankana Sahib) in Sheikhupura district (now in Pakistan). Founder of the Sikh faith. Died in 1538 at Dera Baba Nanak.

Nanda Kumar: was a Brahmin of high rank who held an important position in Siraj-ud-Daulah’s Government. In March 1775, he charged Warren Hastings, the then Governor-General, with having accepted presents to the tune of many lakhs among which were ` 3.5 lakh from Munni Begum, widow of the treacherous Mir Jafar, for her appointment as guardian of her minor son. Before Nanda Kumar could place his evidence, Warren Hastings stage-managed his prosecution for forgery. Nanda Kumar was tried and sentenced to death.

Naoroji, Dadabhai: popularly known as the “Grand Old Man” of India, was a great nationalist. He was also President of the Indian National Congress. He was earlier elected to the British Parliament. He put forth the theory of the Drain of India’s resources to England.

Napoleon Bonaparte: (1776-1821) great French statesman and soldier who rose to be the Emperor of post-Revolution France. He won series of splendid victories against England, Russia and Austria in 1805 but was completely defeated in the battle of Waterloo in June 1815 and exiled to St Helena where he died six years later.

Narasimhavarman-I: (630-660) son of Mahendravarman-I, was the greatest of the Pallava kings. He was patron of the Sanskrit poet Dandin. Hieun-Tsang, the Chinese traveller, visited his kingdom.

Nehru, Jawahar Lal: one of the world’s greatest statesmen. A great Indian leader and maker of modern India. He was Prime Minister of India from 1947 till his death on 27 May 1964.

Nehru, Motilal: Illustrious father of Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru. A great patriot, famous lawyer and leader of the Swaraj Party; later joined the Congress and sacrificed his all for the country.

Nelson, Lord: (1758-1805) notable English Admiral and Naval hero. He victoriously commanded the British Fleet in Mediterranean battles, the most famous of which is the Battle of Trafalgar in which he was mortally wounded.

Nero: (AD 37-68) a tyrant and notorious sixth Roman emperor responsible for persecution of his countrymen.

Newton: Sir Issac Newton (1642-1727) English physical scientist and mathematician is generally known as world’s greatest man of science. He achieved immortal fame for his work on the nature of white light, the calculus and the law of gravitation.

Nightingale, Florence: (1820-1910) famous hospital reformer. She took to nursing as a career and went to Crimea and organised women’s nursing service in the Crimean War of 1854.

Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jha: is known for his introduction of a new calendar, a new system of coinage, and new scales of weights and measures.

Norgay, Tenzing: Internationally renowned mountaineer who along with Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand made the first successful ascent of Mt Everest.

Nur Jahan: was the Mughal Queen whose name was written on the Mughal firmans and inscribed on the coins. Originally known as Mihir-ulnisa, whom Jahangir married in May 1611, was formerly wife of Sher Afghan.

Pal, Bachendri: First Indian woman to conquer Mt Everest, the world’s highest peak.

Panini: a great Sanskrit grammarian of ancient India.

Paratanka-I: was the first important ruler of the Chola dynasty in AD 907. He ruled for almost half a century. He captured Madurai, capital of Pandyas.

Parshava (or Parshvanatha): (?872-?772BC) He was the 23rd Jain tirthankara. He established a community of monks to propagate his doctrines and also admitted women into an order of nuns. He laid down the four vows of (1) ahimsa (non-injury), (2) satya (truth), (3) asteya (non-stealing) and (4) aparigraha (non-acquiring of property).

Patel, Sardar Vallabhbhai: (1875-1950) a great and vigorous Congress leader and late Deputy Prime Minister of India, well known as an iron man. A great administrator who integrated all the princely States of India as part of the country. He is also popularly known as the “Bismark of India”.

Pericles: (490-429 BC) distinguished Athenian statesman, orator and General. Athens rose to its fullest glory due to his efforts.

Peary, Robert: (1856-1920) American explorer; first to reach North Pole in 1909.

Phidias: famous for his works in gold, ivory and bronze. Known for the sculptures in the British Museum: The Elgin Marbles.

Picasso: (1881-1973) Spanish painter. His work is to be found in public galleries and private collections all over the world.

Plato: (427-347 BC) the renowned Greek philosopher. His Dialogues and Republic are among the greatest ancient works. He was Socrates’ disciple and Aristotle’s teacher.

Princip, James: a civil servant in the East India Company of Bengal, he was the first to decipher Ashokan inscriptions in 1837 engraved in Brahmi script in Prakrit language.

Prithvi Raj Chohan: a legendary figure in Indian history. A great warrior of his time, valiant soldier and able ruler. He waged many wars against his neighbours. In 1191 he defeated Mohammad Ghori but next year in 1192 was defeated by the latter and put to death.

Pulakesin II: (608-642) The most powerful ruler of Chalukya dynasty in the Deccan. He extended his territory in all directions and in doing so came into conflict with both Harsha in the north and with the Pallavas in the south.

Purandaradasa: was the earliest and the most celebrated of the Kanarese classical singers. He was once the favourite of the Vijayanagar court. He systematized Karnataka music in his masterly compositions.

Pushyamitra Sunga: (183-161 BC) was the Commander-in-Chief of the Maurya armies in the last days of the Mauryas. In approximately 185 BC he murdered his master and founded the Sunga dynasty (185-72 BC).

Qutab-ud-din Aibak: was founder of the Slave dynasty in India (120690). He was slave of Mu ’iz-ud-din Muhammad Ghuri. The famous Qutab Minar at Delhi was begun by him (and completed by Iltumish).

Radcliffe, Sir Cyril: He was responsible for demarcating the boundary between India and Pakistan in 1947. He was appointed chairman of the two boundary commissions set up by the British Government to effect partition of Punjab and Bengal.

Radhakrishnan, Dr S.: (1888-1975) was a great Indian scholar; philosopher and former President of the Indian Republic (1962-67). He has been professor of eastern religions and ethics at Oxford (1936-52); was Ambassador to Moscow (1949-52) and the first Vice-President of India (1952-62). Author of commentary on Bhagwat Gita; The Hindu View of Life; Indian Philosophy.

Rajaraja I, the Great: (985-1014) was a king of the Chola dynasty in the south of India. He was a great conqueror. His conquests included the territories of the Cheras, Pandyas, Vengi, Kalinga, and even Ceylon and the Laccadive and Maldive Islands. Under him, the Chola power reached its zenith. He was responsible for the creation of the great Siva temple at Tanjore.

Rajasekhara: (920) was court poet of Mahendrapala-I of the Pratihara empire. He is author of the play Karpura-manjari.

Rajendra Prasad, Dr: (1884-1963) First President of the Indian Republic (1950-62).

Ramakrishna Parmhansa: Great religious saint and teacher of Bengal whose teachings led Swami Vivekananda to found the Rama Krishna Mission.

Raman, C.V.: (1888-1970) was an eminent Indian scientist, F.R.S., National Professor of Physics and founder Director of Raman Research Institute, Bangalore. He was awarded Nobel Prize for his discovery of ‘Raman Effect’ (1930). His work on study of crystal structure is of unique importance. He died on 20 November 1970.

Ramanuj Acharya: the great Vaishnava teacher of Tamil Nad; founder of Bhakti Movement. He was born in Tirupati.

Ramanna, Dr Raja: Doyen of India’s nuclear programme.

Ramdas, Guru: Fourth Guru of Sikhs. In 1577, Akbar granted to him the site with a tank in Amritsar for construction of Golden Temple. Amritsar was thus established as the headquarters of Sikh faith.

Ram Prasad Bismil: He was Indian revolutionary tried in Kakori conspiracy case.

Ranade, Mahadev Govind (1842-1901): was a great social and religious reformer who devoted his energies for eradication of Child marriage and purdah system. He was one of the architects of Prarthana Samaj.

Rana Pratap: the bravest and the most illustrious figure in the history of Rajputs. A great patriot who refused to submit to Akbar—the great Mughal Emperor.

Rana Sanga: Rajput ruler of Mewar; a veteran warrior who had lost one eye, one hand, one leg and had scars of eighty wounds on his body. Defeated by Babar in 1527 at the battle of Kanwaha.

Ranga, N.G.: Founding member of All India India Kisan Sabha. He is also known for being the longest serving Parliamentarian in the world.

Ranjit Singh Maharaja: He was the greatest Indian ruler of his time and founder of the Sikh kingdom in Punjab. He was born in 1780 at Gujranwala; occupied Lahore in 1799 at the age of 19 and made it his capital; conquered Amritsar (in 1802), Attock, Multan, Kashmir, Hazara, Bannu, Derajat and Peshawar; died on the 27th June 1839. His empire at that time included the Punjab and Kashmir and touched the base of the Afghan hills.

Ranjit Singhji, Jam Saheb: (1872-1933) was an Indian prince who earned world fame as a cricketer and was also known as an enlightened ruler.

Rathore, Rajyavardhan Singh: First Indian to win a silver medal in an individual game in Olympics. He won the medal in shooting double trap event of Athens 2004 Olympics.

Razia Begum: daughter of Altmash; she was the first and the only Muslim lady who ever sat on the throne of Delhi.

Ripon, Lord: Governor-General of India (1880-84), famous for Repeal of Vernacular Press Act; the first Census of India in 1881 was taken in his time; Factory Act; policy of free trade. He also pioneered the Panchayati Raj and introduced local self-government.

Rishabha: is supposed to be the mythical founder of Jainism.

Rontgen, W. Konrad: (1845-1923) German physicist. He was awarded the first Nobel Prize in 1901 for his discovery of X-rays.

Roosevelt Franklin D. (1882-1945): was the 32nd President of the USA. He was a great American statesman who served as President from 1933 till his death, being the first President to be elected for more than two terms. His war time meetings with Churchill and Stalin, and his energetic prosecution of the Second World War were considered as the most important features of his foreign policy.

Rousseau: (1712-78) famous for his two remarkable works Confessions and Le Contrat Social which gave French a new field of thought and laid down principles of government and conduct which bore fruit in the French Revolution.

Roy, M.N.: was leader of the Indian communists until India’s independence in 1947. He played a notable role in the world communist movement. After India achieved independence, Roy abandoned communism and became founder of radical humanism, a mixture of socialist and liberal humanitarian ideas.

Roy, Raja Ram Mohan: (1774-1833) He was one of the greatest social reformers that India has produced. He was instrumental in eradicating social evils like Sati, Purdah and child marriage from the Indian soil. He advocated widow re-marriage and stood for women’s education. He was a profound scholar of Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit. He was also the founder of Brahmo Samaj. He is called the first modern Indian.

Russel, Bertrand: A great English philosopher and mathematician. He won Nobel Prize in literature in 1950.

Samudragupta: (330-375) son and successor of Chandra Gupta I; one of the most powerful and the ablest of the Hindu kings; a great military genius, a great scholar, poet and musician; known as the Indian Napoleon on account of his great conquests.

Sapru, Sir Tej Bahadur: He was an eminent jurist and scholar. He was a member of the Imperial Legislative Council from 1916 to 1920. For three years thereafter he was the Law member of the Viceroy’s Council. He attended all the three Round Table Conferences under the British rule. He was mainly responsible for bringing about the Gandhi-Irwin Pact (1931) and the Poona Pact (1932) which led to the modification of the Communal Award.

Sasanka: (619-637) was the king of Gauda in West Bengal.

Satyarthi, Kailash: He is a children’s rights activist, active in the Indian movement against child labour since the 1990s. He won the 2014 Noble Peace prize jointly with Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan.

Savarkar, V.D.: was an ardent Indian nationalist who was in the front ranks of the freedom fighters in the twenties. He was sentenced by the British to transportation for life for his part in a conspiracy case. He remained President of the Hindu Mahasabha for a long time. He wrote an account of the happenings of 1857 under the title Indian War of Independence.

Savitskaya, Svetlana: First woman to walk in space; on 25 July 1984.

Shah Jahan: (1627-58) the Mughal Emperor. His period is described as the golden age of the Mughals. He built Rauza Taj Mahal at Agra in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Lal Qila and Jama Masjid in Delhi were also built in his time.

Sen, Sushmita: First Indian to win Miss Universe title (in 1994).

Shah Nawaz Khan: was associated with the Azad Hind Fauj organised by Subhash Chandra Bose in Singapore in 1943.

Shambaji: was successor of Shivaji.

Shakespeare: (1564-1616) England’s greatest poet and dramatist. He was born at Stratford-on-Avon. He was son of a tradesman of that town. He married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years his senior. He first appeared before the public as a poet in 1593 with his Venus and Adonis.

Shankaracharya: (born 788) was a zealous preacher of Hinduism; a great scholar and philosopher. He uprooted Buddhism and Jainism.

Sharma, Sqn Ldr Rakesh: First Indian to enter outer space on 3 April 1984.

Shastri, Lal Bahadur: Prime Minister of India after Nehru; well-known as ‘Man of Peace’. His greatest achievement was Indo-Pak accord at Tashkent meet in January ’66. The slogan Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan was given by him.

Sher Afghan: was the first husband of Nur Jahan (originally known as Mihir-ul-nisa) whom Jahangir married in 1611.

Sher Shah Suri: Muslim king who reigned during 1540-1545. He was the first Muslim king who paid special attention to administration and reforms. Grand Trunk Road was built in his time. He is known for many reforms in works of public utility and in land revenue. He introduced Kabuliyat and Patta for the purpose of collection of revenues.

Shivaji: son of Shahji Bhonsla, born in 1627; was a brave general, military genius and capable administrator. He was the last great Hindu king who partly succeeded in establishing ‘Hindu Swaraj’. He fought successfully many battles against Aurangzeb’s army and was instrumental in shattering the structure of Mughal Empire in India.

Shri Narayana Guru: was a great social reformer, saint and philosopher of Kerala who has a place next to Adi Sankara. He flourished in the first half of the twentieth century.

Shuja-ud-daulah: (1754-75) was an important figure in the history of northern India. He played a very important role in the Battle of Buxar (1764).

Shyamji Krishna Varma: is known to have made the first organised attempt to establish a centre for training, propaganda and political action for India’s deliverance from British oppression. He established the Home Rule Society in 1905 and then opened a centre for study and propaganda in London, called the India House.

Sikander Lodi: was one of the rulers of the Delhi Sultanate who moved the capital from Delhi to a new town which later came to be known as Agra.

Simuka: was the founder of Satavahana dynasty. He is said to have destroyed the power of the Kanvas and the remnants of the Sungas.

Singh, Dr Manmohan: First Sikh to become the Prime Minister of India.

Slocum, S.H.: He designed the Bhakra Dam, one of the highest straight gravity dams in the world.

Socrates: (469-399 BC) Greek philosopher and teacher who exhorted the people on public questions and conduct of life. He was charged with impiety and sentenced to death. He had to drink poison which he did calmly and ended his life.

Solomon: was king of Israel; reputed for exceptional wisdom. He lived from 1033 BC to 931 BC. Credited with having written the well-known ‘Song of Solomon’.

Sorabji, Cornelia: first woman to practice law in India. Born on 15 November 1866, in Nashik, Sorabji was a pioneer who helped open up higher education as well as the legal profession to women. She was the first woman permitted to attend Bombay University, where she excelled. She then went on to become the first Indian woman to study law at Oxford University in 1892.

Stalin: (1879-1953) Soviet statesman. He was leader of the Russian people for nearly thirty years. He assumed military leadership against the German invasion, June 1941. After his death, he was severely criticised by the Russian leaders.

Subuktigin: was the first Turkish invader of India.

Subulakshmi, M.S.: Doyen of Carnatic music.

Sun Yat Sen: the founder and the first President of the Chinese Republic, 1912. In 1905, founded the China Revolutionary League in Europe and Japan and played a prominent part in the 1911 revolution.

Surendra Sahi: was the prince of Sambalpur (Orissa) who led a number of anti-British revolts in 1857. He was held prisoner in the Hazaribagh jail but was rescued by the rebellious sepoys who challenged the authority of the British government. It was not till 1862 that Surendra Sahi surrendered and was deported.

Susruta: (350) is associated with the city of Banaras (Varanasi). He is the author of a work on medicine which is rather a treatise on surgery (hernia, cataract, plastic surgery etc). There is also a small section on interpretation of dreams for diagnosis.

Syed Ahmed, Sir: (1817-1898) an educationist and reformer of the Muslim community in India. He established the M.A.O. College at Aligarh in 1875 which later became Aligarh Muslim University.

Tagore, Rabindranath: Known as Gurudev, was great Indian poet, novelist, philosopher and thinker. Awarded Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Works: Gitanjali; The Crescent Moon; Fruit Gathering; Gora; The Wreck; Gardener; Sadhana; Mashi; The Post Office (Dakghar); Hungry Stones. He renounced his Knighthood as a protest against the Jallianwala Bagh Tragedy of 1919.

Tansen: great exponent of Indian classical music. He was one of the Nau Rattans in the Court of Akbar.

Tantya Tope: the brave Commander of Nana Sahib’s forces during the first War of Indian Independence, 1857. He was one of the heroes of this war.

Tara Bai: was the thirteen-year-old widow of Jankoji Scindia who had died without a male heir in February 1843. She resisted the attempts of Lord Ellenborough to annex Gwalior.

Tata, Jamshedji: (1813-1904) Indian industrialist, founder of the Tata Iron and Steel Company, one of the largest integrated steel works in the world. He also founded the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and built the Taj hotel in Bombay. He was a man of high social ideals and was a pioneer in his attitude to labour. He was a great philanthropist and donated a large proportion of his firm’s profits to works of social welfare.

Tayabji, Badurudin: He was the first President of the Indian National Congress, elected in 1887 at the Madras session.

Tegh Bahadur, Guru: son of Hargobind whose tercentenary of martyrdom was celebrated throughout the country on the 7 December 1975, was the ninth Guru of the Sikhs. He was ordered by Emperor Aurangzeb to embrace Islam; he refused and was executed.

Tennyson, Alfred Lord: (1802-92) He was England’s Poet Laureate from 1850 till his death. Author of In Memoriam, a poem of great beauty and depth of thought.

Tereshkova, Valentina: First woman to go in space on 16 June 1963.

Thyagaraja: South India’s best-known and best-loved musician (17671847). His mother tongue was Tamil but he composed his songs in Telugu.

Tilak, Bal Gangadhar (Lokmanya): ‘Father of the Indian Unrest’—a great political leader and profound religious scholar; author of Gita Rahasya—a commentary on the Bhagwat Gita, founded the Home Rule League in 1916. He was the first Indian to demand freedom as his birthright. He was called as extremist. He started the magazine Kesari.

Timur: born in 1335. Head of the Chughtai Turks. He was a masterful warrior and a butcher, notorious for sack of Delhi (indiscriminate massacre and plunder) during his invasion of India in 1398.

Tipu Sultan: Raja of Mysore. He had his capital at Sringapatnam. He died fighting the British in the fourth Mysore war in 1799. This was the real beginning of British territorial dominion in South India.

Todar Mal: One of the Nau Rattans and Revenue Minister in the Court of Akbar. Famous for reforms in Land Revenue Administration.

Tolstoy, Leo: was a great Russian writer. Mahatma Gandhi was greatly influenced by his works.

Trotsky: Russian revolutionary; one of the leaders of Bolshevist revolution; assassinated in exile in Mexico.

Tulsi Dass: a great Hindu religious preacher. Author of famous Ram Charit Manas describing the life story and achievements of Lord Rama. He composed it during the reign of Akbar.

Udham Singh: was the person who went to England and shot General O’Dyer dead to avenge the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Vaghbhata: is regarded as unrivalled in the knowledge of the basic principles of Ayurveda.

Vajpayee, Atal Behari: Former Prime Minister of India. Statesman, gracious, charming, witty, great repartee are the kind of adjectives that come to mind immediately while talking about him. He is best known for the Pokhran blast that catapulted India to the nuclear-haves club, his peace efforts with Pakistan and his famous raj-dharam comment after the Gujarat riots. He is also termed as India’s most instinctive reformer. He was conferred the Bharat Ratna in 2014.

Varahmihira: (505-587 AD) was a distinguished Indian astronomer, mathemati-cian and philosopher. He was one of the nine gems of the court of king Vikramaditya.

Vasco da Gama: a Portuguese sailor who, in 1498, rounded the Cape of Good Hope and succeeded in reaching the port of Calicut (now Kazikhode) on 20 May 1498.

Vatsyayana: He is the author of Kamasutra.

Vera Anstey: His writings refuted the charges of de-industrialisation and the growth of poverty of India under the British rule.

Victoria, Queen: British Queen who was appointed Empress of India in the year 1877.

Vijnanesvara: was a jurist. He wrote at the court of the Chalukya king Vikramaditya-VI. Mitakshara, a commentary on Hindu law is written by him.

Vikramaditya, Chandragupta II: a great ruler of Northern India during 375-413 AD. His period is called the golden period of the Hindus. He was a liberal patron of Art and Literature. Fa-hein, a Chinese pilgrim, visited India during his reign.

Vidyasagar, Ishwar Chander: (1820-1891) was more an educationist than a religious reformer. He was a profound Sanskrit scholar who became a professor in the Sanskrit College, Calcutta in 1850, and a year later, Principal. He served also as a Special Inspector of Schools. He resigned from Government service in 1858, but continued to advise informally the Government on education matters. As a result of unremitting labour and strenuous agitation, Vidyasagar succeeded in inducing the Government to pass a measure in 1856 legalising the remarriage of Hindu widows.

Visvesvarayya, M.: (1861-1962) He was a versatile genius. He was a great engineer, statesman and administrator. Builder of modern Mysore, he was the architect of many of the modern irrigation and power projects in India.

Vivekananda: (1863-1902) a great Hindu saint and religious leader; founder of the Ramakrishna Mission. He was born in Calcutta on 12 January 1863, and his original name was Narindranath Datta. He led the Vedanta movement. His message influenced many of India’s leaders in the national awakening in the 20th century. He asked his countrymen to cultivate faith in themselves. He died on January 4, 1902, at the age of 39.

Voltaire: (1694-1778) one of the greatest of French philosophers and writers. Author of Essays on the Morals; Spirit of Nations.

Yule George: First English President of the Indian National Congress in 1888.

Walpole, Robert: (1676-1745) was the first Prime Minister of England. He was a great 18th century Whig statesman who sat in the House of Commons for over forty years. He was Prime Minister of Britain for a record period of 21 years.

Warren Hastings: He was the first Governor-General (1774-85) in India during the British reign. His period is known for the Regulating Act, 1774; first Marhatta War (1775-82) and Pitt’s India Act, 1784, to improve the Indian administration.

Washington, George: soldier statesman and the first President of the Republic of USA elected in 1789. He was also Commander-in-Chief of the American Army during the War of Independence (1775-83).

Wellington, Duke of: (1769-1852) was the most famous British General of the 19th century. He led the campaign against Napoleon’s army and defeated him at Waterloo. He was Prime Minister of Britain from 1828 to 1830 and from 1842 till his death was Commander-in-Chief.

Zia-ud-din Barni: His historical works give the source material of the Tughlaq dynasty.

Zoroaster: Persian prophet; lived about the seventh century BC The Parsis of India are his followers.