BHAKTI MOVEMENT IN MEDIEVAL INDIA

1. Bhakti movement in medieval India is a different kind. This medieval Bhakti movement was the direct result of the influence of the spread of Islam in India.
2. The preaching of Sufi teachers shaped the thinking of Bhakti reformers like Ramananda, Kabir
and Nana

Sufism

• Sufism was a liberal reform movement within Islam.
• It had its origin in Persia and spread into India in the eleventh century.
• The first Sufi saint Shaikh Ismail of Lahore started preaching his ideas
• Most famous of the Sufi saints of India was Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti, who settled in Ajmer
which became the centre of his activities.
• He had a number of disciples who are called Sufis of the Chishti order
• Another well-known Sufi saint was Bahauddin Zakariya who came under the influence of another famous mystic Shihabuddin Suhrawardi

• His branch of Sufi saints was known as the Sufis of the Suhrawardi Order.
• Yet another famous Sufi saint was Nizamuddin Auliya who belonged to the Chishti order and who was a mighty spiritual force.
• Sufism stressed the elements of love and devotion as effective means of the realisation of God
• Love of God meant love of humanity and so the Sufis believed service to humanity was tantamount to service to God.
• In Sufism, self-discipline was considered an essential condition to gain knowledge of God by sense of perception
• While orthodox Muslims emphasise external conduct
• The Sufis lay stress on inner purity.
• While the orthodox believe in blind observance of rituals,
• The Sufis consider love and devotion as the only means of attaining salvation
• Sufism also inculcated a spirit of tolerance among its followers
• Ideas emphasised by Sufism are meditation, good actions, repentance for sins, performance of prayers and pilgrimages, fasting, charity and suppression of passions by ascetic practices.
• These liberal and unorthodox features of Sufism had a profound influence on medieval Bhakti saints

Bhakti Movement

• In the ninth century Sankara started a Hindu revivalist movement giving a new orientation to Hinduism.
• He was born in Kaladi in Kerala
• His doctrine of Advaita or Monism was too abstract to appeal to the common man.
• There was a reaction against the Advaita concept of Nirgunabrahman (God without attributes)
with the emergence of the idea of Sagunabrahman (God with attributes)
• In the twelfth century, Ramanuja, who was born at Sriperumbudur near modern Chennai,
preached Visishtadvaita.
• According to him God is Sagunabrahman.
• He also advocated prabattimarga or path of self-surrender to God
• He invited the downtrodden to Vaishnavism
• The thirteenth century, Madhava
o from Kannada region propagated Deviator dualism of Jivatma and Paramatma.
• According to his philosophy, the world is not an illusion but a reality.
• God, soul, matter are unique in nature.
• Nimbarkaand Vallabhacharyawere also other preachers of Vaishnavite Bhakti in the Telungana region
• Surdas was the disciple of Vallabhacharya and he popularized Krishna cult in north India
• Mirabai was a great devotee of Krishna and she became popular in Rajasthan for her bhajans.
• Tulsidaswas a worshipper of Rama and composed the famous Ramcharitmanas, the Hindi version of Ramayana
• In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Ramananda, Kabir and Nanak remained great apostles of the Bhakti cult.
• They helped the common people to shed age-old superstitions and attain salvation through
Bhakti or pure devotion.
• They helped the common people to shed age-old superstitions and attain salvation through
Bhakti or pure devotion.
• Denounced all forms of idolatry.

Ramananda

• Ramananda was born at Allahabad.
• He was originally a follower of Ramanuja.
• Later he founded his own sect and preached his principles in Hindi at Banaras and Agra.
• He was the first to employ the vernacular medium to propagate his ideas.
• He was the first to employ the vernacular medium to propagate his ideas.
• He opposed the caste system and chose his disciples from all sections of society disregarding caste

His disciples were:

a) Kabir
b) Raidasa, a cobbler c) Sena, a barber
d) Sadhana
e) Dhanna, a Jat farmer
f) Naraharai, a goldsmith g) Pipa, a Rajput prince

Kabir
• Among the disciples of Ramananda the most famous was Kabir

• Among the disciples of Ramananda the most famous was Kabir
• But he was brought up by a Muslim couple who were weavers by profession
• He possessed an inquiring mind and while in Benares learnt much about Hinduism.
• Kabir‘s object was to reconcile Hindus and Muslims and establish harmony between the two
sects
• Urged that to achieve this one must have a pure heart, free from cruelty, dishonesty, hypocrisy and insincerity.
• He is regarded as the greatest of the mystic saints and his followers are called Kabirpanthis

Guru Nanak
• founder of the Sikh religion and a disciple of Kabir
• He was born in Talwandi near Lahore
• He denounced caste distinctions and rituals like bathing in holy rivers.
• His conception of religion was highly practical and sternly ethical.
• Abide pure amidst the impurities of the world‘ was one of his famous sayings.

Chaitanya was another well-known saint and reformer of Bengal who popularised the Krishna cult.

• He believed that through love and devotion, song and dance, a devotee can feel the presence of
God

Gnanadeva was the founder of the Bhakti Movement in Maharashtra in the thirteenth century.

• It was called Maharashtra dharma.

• He wrote a commentary of Bhagavat Gitacalled Gnaneswari.

Namadeva preached the gospel of love. He opposed

• Idol worship and priestly domination. He also opposed the caste

• System. In the sixteenth century,

Ekanatha opposed caste distinctions and sympathetic towards the lower castes.

• Another Bhakti saint of Maharashtra was Tukaram, a contemporary of Sivaji.

• Responsible for creating a background for Maratha nationalism

Importance of the Bhakti Movemen
• Bhakti movement provided an impetus for the development of regional languages such as
Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, etc.
• Bhakti movement provided an impetus for the development of regional languages such as
Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, etc.
• The lower classes were raised to a position of great importance.
• The importance of women in society was also increased because the Bhakti movement gave equal importance to them.

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