1933–2009 - Philippine
President. Her husband, Benigno Aquino, devoted his life to opposing the massively corrupt dictator of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos. He was imprisoned, exiled, allowed to return, but then assassinated as he stepped off the plane at Manila Airport. His widow Cory, who had no experience in politics, even more courageously assumed the leadership of the anti-Marcos movement, claimed election to the presidency in 1986 despite massive vote fraud, and soon drove Marcos and his proverbially greedy wife Imelda out of the country.
fl. 250 BCE - Indian
Mauryan King of India. After a conventional, ruthless, and successful military career dedicated to the pursuit of power and conquest, Asoka unexpectedly changed course. He converted to Buddhism and dedicated the rest of his life to useful public works and especially to the propagation of principles of non-violence, toleration, kindness (especially to slaves and inferiors), generosity, and charity collectively referred to as dhamma.
Asoka's new philosophy was circulated throughout the kingdom as a series of Edicts which were inscribed on large granite stones, some of which have survived.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
Born 1945 - Indian
Co-founder and leader of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar (formerly Burma). Repeatedly arrested by a succession of repressive regimes, and even denied visits by her husband and sons, she emerged as a global symbol of human rights and freedom, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
1916–2000 - Sri Lankan
Prime minister. After her husband was assassinated, she took his place as head of the Freedom Party. She was elected prime minister, the first woman in world history to hold this office, and was elected again following independence. Like Cory Aquino of the Philippines, who came later, her career expressed immense courage as well as women's rights.
1644–1694 - Japanese
Poet. He was a lover of nature and a brilliant inventor and practitioner of the present form of traditional Japanese haiku. Each poem consists of seventeen syllables divided into three lines of five, seven, and five syllables, and must appeal to two of our five senses or to one of our senses and our feeling of movement. In his famous walk around Japan, he approached his experiences from a Zen Buddhist perspective, and described them in exquisite prose and verse.