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Bhakti-Sufi Traditions

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Themes in Indian History II

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Class 10 Class 12

Mention the two earliest Bhakti Movements of Tamil Nadu, giving the main difference between them.

Two earliest Bhakti movements of Tamii Nadu were the Alvars and the Nayanars . Some of the earliest Bhakti movements (C. sixth century) were led by the Alvars (literally) those who are “immersed” in devotion to Vishnu) and Nayanars (literally, leaders who were devotees of Shiva). They travelled from place to place singing hymns in Tamil in praise of their gods.


Describe the three chief causes behind the origin and growth of the ‘Bhakti Movement’ or estimate the contribution of the three saints of Bhakti Movement.

I. Three main causes responsible for origin of Bhakti Movement : Shsnkaracharya saved the Hindu religion from decline. But the common masses could not comprehend their high thought and philosophy. Hence the origin of ‘Bhakti Movement’ was quite natural under such circumstances. The afflicted public which was sick of the Muslim invasion, robberies and crulties sought solace in the slave the slaughter of girls and refuse of God alone. Besides this, many evils like the sati system, the racial discrimination were prevalent in society.

II. Three main Saints of Bhakti Movement.

1.    Ramanuja : He was the worshipper of Vishnu. Vishnu had various names which were treated as the forms of God.

2.    Kabir : He was against idol worship. He was of the opinion that Ishwar, Allah, Ram and Rahim are all one and the same. He gave a blow at the caste system as well.

3.    Chaitanya : He was a devotee of Krishna. He accepted Krishna as the incarnation of Vishnu. He opposed casteism too.


Why do you think that the traditions of Baba Guru Nanak remain significant even in the 21st century?

I think due to the following reasons the traditions of Baba Guru Nanak remain significant even today :

(i)    Guru Nanak was a great humanitarian, believed in secularism and communal harmony. In 21st century India is a secular state and we want that communal harmony should prevail in India.

(ii)    Baba Guru Nanak believed in existence of one God or Wahe Guru. According to him God is everywhere and can be worshipped in any form. He was a true democrate in the field of religion. For him the Absolute or rub does not belong any particular gender or form. He advocated a form of Nirgun Bhakti. He firmly repudiated the external practices of the religions he saw around him.

(iii)    Twenty first century is a scientific century. It’s progress is based on latest knowledge, scientific discoveries, inventions and technology. We know science rejects sacrifices, blind faiths, wrong traditions and superstitions.

During his life time, Baba Guru Nanak rejected sacrifices, ritual baths, image worship, austerities and the scriptures of both Hindus and Muslims.

(iv) Guru Nanak believed in simple living and high thinking. Definitely this idea does not suit to western ideological thinkers and supporters of materialistic culture. But he was in favour of language of common people in the field of religion. About him certain writers had written that Guru Nanak Dev proposed a simple way to connect to Divine by remembering and repeating the Divine Name, expressing his idea through hymns called “shabad” in Punjabi, the language of the region.


Who were Lingayats? Explain their contribution in the social and religious fields with special reference to caste system.

Lingayats and their contribution:

1.    A popular movement which arose during the twelfth century was the Lingayat or Virshaiva Movement.

2.    Its founder was Basava and his nephew, Channabasava, who lived at the court of the Kalachuri kings of Karanataka.

3.    They established their faith after bitter disputes with the Jains.

4.    The Lingayats are worshippers of Lord Shiv a.

5.    They strongly opposed the caste system and rejected fasts, feats, pilgrimage and sacrifice.

6.    In the social sphere, they opposed child marriage and allowed remarriage of widows.


Jyhat were the main principles of Bhakti Movement?

Main Principles of Bhakti Movement:

1.    God is One : The propagating saints of Bhakti Movement believe in a single God. He was of the opinion that the people utter the names of Rama, Krishna, Allah, Vishnu, Shiva etc. for their convenience. In reality, God is one.

2.    Sacrifice towards God : The saints of the Bhakti Movement were of the view that self dedication to God leads to renunciation. Lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego are detrimental to the path of total indulgence into Godlihood. Therefore, their sacrifice alone is beneficial.

3.    Devotion to God : The saints were of the opinion that a true heart, love, devotion and concentration ease the attainment of God. On surrendering himself to the will of God one gets liberated from the bondage of births and deaths.

4.    Praise of Guru (the teacher) : One cannot seek knowledge about the Lord without the help of the Guru, such was the opinion of the Bhakti saints. At places they treated the Guru at par with God. For instance :

The devotee falls into a dubious position whether he should touch the feet of God or that of his Guru whom should he give priority if both of them happened to stand together.

5.    Praise of Good Deeds : The saints of the Bhakti Movement laid special emphasis on good deeds. They held the opinion that mankind can improve both his worldly and other worldly life on the strength of forgiveness, satisfaction, service, truth etc. He will conquer rivalry and opposition in this world and God will also be merciful on him.


Discuss the contribution of Amir Khusrau in the fields of music and literature.

Yet Amir Khusrau was a literary person of Persian language but he was a great supporter of Hindi (Hindavi). He loved India and gave the status of Aristotle to Indian Brahmanas. He was born at Patiala in 1252 AD. He gave more importance to this country in comparison with heaven. Following is given his contribution in the fields of music and literature.

(i) Khusrau composed many anthologies which include historical Premakhyan. He used all the forms of poetry and then formed new Persian form which later on called as Sabak-e-Hindi or Indian form of poetry.

(ii)    Amir Khusrau gave a unique form to the Chishti Sama by introducing the qaul, a hymn sung at the opening or closing of qawwali. Qawwals at the shrine of Shaikh Nizammuddin Auliya always started their recital with the qaul.

(iii)    Amir Khusrau was himself a great musician and took part in many religious sabhas. These sabhas were organised by sufi saint Shaikh Nizammuddin Auliya. It has been said that Amir Khusrau died on the second day after the death of Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya.