Name the following
Two exponents of Bhakti movement in south India.
Two famous Alvars.
Two famous Bhakti saints.
(b) Guru Nanak
Two famous Sufi orders in India.
Two famous Sufi saints of Chisti order
(a) Khwaja Muinnuddin
(b) Baba Farid
Fill in the blanks
The Sufi and Bhakti saints emphasised love and devotion as means of coming closer to God.
The religious works of Alvars are compiled in a book called Divya Prabandhan.
Kabir preached his message through simple couplets, called the Dohas.
The Suhrawardi order was established in India by Bahauaddin Zakariya.
Shankaracharya propagated the philosophy of Advaita.
Answer the following questions
What were the factors that led to the growth of the Bhakti movement in north India in the 15th and 16th centuries?
The factors that led to the growth of the Bhakti movement in north India in the 15th and 16th centuries were:
- The people were not satisfied with the old religious practises. They wanted a religion which could satisfy both their reason and emotions.
- There had been a continuous struggle between the Hindus and the Muslims. People were tired of this struggle and wanted to live in peace and harmony with one another. The Bhakti movement paved the way for this.
Explain briefly the role of Alvars and Nayanars in spreading Bhakti movement in south India.
The development of Bhakti Movement took place in South India between the seventh and ninth century. The Nayanars (the saints devoted to Shiva) and the Alvars (the saints devoted to Vishnu), preached the idea of bhakti as a means of salvation. They preached ardent love of Shiva or Vishnu as the path of salvation. They drew upon the ideals of love and heroism found in the Sangam literature and blended them with the idea of Bhakti. The Alvars were influential in promoting the Bhagvata cult the two Hindu epics, namely, Ramayana and Mahabharata. Nayanars were group of 63 saints who influenced the Bhakti movement in Tamil. The Alvars and Nayanars rejected the caste system and spread their message of love and personal devotion to God in different parts of South India by using the local languages. They went from place to place composing poems in praise of the deities.
What were the main teachings of the Bhakti saints?
The following were the main teachings of the Bhakti saints:
- There is only one God and He alone ought to be worshipped.
- God can be reached through love and absolute devotion to him. A Bhakta or a devotee should surrender himself completely to the will of God.
- A Bhakta should not have any attachment to worldly things and there should be complete unity between man and God.
- The people should have complete faith in their guru who teaches them total devotion to God.
Who was Shankaracharya? Briefly state the philosophy propagated by him and his role in spreading Vedic religion in India.
Shankaracharya was one of the most influential philosophers of India. He was born in a simple Brahmin family approximately in the 8th century CE in Kaladi, Kerala. He is regarded as the incarnation of Lord Shiva. He was spiritually inclined since childhood and under the tutelage of Swami Govindpada, he mastered different forms of yoga and gained the knowledge of Brahman. Thereafter, he was known as Adi Shankaracharya whose sole purpose of life was to spread the teachings of Brahmasutra all over the world.
Shankaracharya believed in the philosophy of 'Advaita' or ' non-dualism' i.e., the doctrine of the oneness of the individual soul and the Supreme God, which is the ultimate Reality. He preached that Brahman, the only or Ultimate Reality, is formless, without any attributes. He said that in order to understand the true nature of Brahman and to attain salvation, one has to renounce the world and adapt the path of knowledge.
Shankaracharya cleansed the Vedic religious practices of ritualistic excesses and ushered in the core teachings of Vedanta, i.e., Advaita. Shankara restructured some old religious practices into acceptable norms and stressed on the ways of worship as laid down in the Vedas. He established four mutts in four corners of India. Each mutt was assigned one Veda. The mutts are:
- Jyothir Mutt at Badrinath with Atharva Veda.
- Sarada Mutt at Sringeri with Yajur Veda.
- Govardhan Mutt at Jagannath Puri with Rig Veda.
- Kalika Mutt at Dwarka with Sama Veda.
Explain Jnaneshwar's role in spreading the Bhakti movement in Maharashtra.
Jnaneshwar, at the age of 15, is said to have delivered nine thousand verses of his commentaries on the Bhagvad Gita, called the Jnaneswari, also called Bhavartha Dipika. He regarded Bhakti as the means to liberation. On the advices of his brother and Guru, Nivrittinatha to write a treatise on his spiritual experience, he wrote Amritanubhava. His teachings invoked great devotion in common people and his followers walk hundreds of kilometers to the holy place of Pandharpur, to worship Lord Vittala, a form of Hari.
Who was Kabir? What were his main teachings? How did he express his teachings?
Kabir was a famous Bhakti saint. He was the disciple of Ramananda. He believed in the nirguna form of Bhakti.
His main teachings were:
- He emphasised the unity of God and said that Rama, Hari, Allah, Rahim are all different names of the same God.
- He denounced the caste system, idol-worship and pilgrimages.
- He preached that love for God is more important than the religious differences.
Kabir expressed his teachings through simple couplets, known as the 'dohas'. He was an oral poet, whose works were written down by others.
Who was Guru Nanak? What were his main teachings?
Guru Nanak is the founder of Sikhism. He was born in 1469 at Talwandi village, now called Nankana Sahib in West Punjab in Pakistan.
The main teachings of Guru Nanak are as follows:
- He emphasised the importance of devotion of God, and the repetition of Satnam (God's name) which should combine with meditation. It is the only means by which a soul can be saved from the cycle of birth and rebirth.
- He advocated a middle path in which spiritual life could be combined with the duties of the householder. He exhorted people to give up hypocrisy and insincerity and to lead a life of truth and honesty.
- He condemned idolatry (idol worship) in all its forms.
- There is only one God, who is omnipresent and merciful.
- All human beings are equal. There should be no caste differences. He asked his followers to eat in a common kitchen, langar, where anyone could have a meal without caste distinction.
- Everyone should lead a pure life based on truth and kindness.
- True spiritual knowledge can be gained under the guidance of a teacher (guru).
Who were the Sufis? Mention their main teachings.
The Sufis were Muslim Mystics who started a reform within Islam which was inspired by the teachings of Quran. They came to India from Persia in the 11th century. They spoke the language of the masses and won the hearts of the people by their love, sincerity and charity.
The main teachings of Sufism were:
- Sufis believed that there is only one God and all people are his children.
- God is behind all that happens in the world.
- Sufis laid great emphasis on the principles of tauba (repentance) and tawakkul (trust in God).
- For the Sufis, prayers, fasts and rituals are not so important as the devotion to God.
- It is necessary for people to follow the teachings of a pir (sufi saint).
- Devotional music is one way of coming closer to God.
State any two similarities between Bhakti and Sufi Movements.
Two similarities between Bhakti and Sufi Movements are:
- Both Bhakti and Sufi Saints rejected outward religiosity and emphasised love and devotion to God and compassion towards all fellow human beings.
- Both rejected religious rituals and ceremonies and preached that man can reach God only by following the path of personal devotion and absolute surrender to him.
Briefly explain the effects of Sufi and Bhakti movements.
The Bhakti and Sufi movements had a profound impact on the religions of the time and on the social fabric. Some of their impacts are:
- These movements inspired reforms in religion by criticising unnecessary rituals and false practices.
- These movements were against the rigid caste system and welcomed members of all castes into their fold.
- With their message of oneness of God and universal brotherhood, these movements brought the Hindus and the Muslims closer to each other.
- These movements inspired the Mughal rulers and Sultans of Delhi to follow the policy of religious tolerance and to promote brotherhood and cooperation between the Hindus and the Muslims.
- These movements enriched the language, culture and vernacular literature. Among important literary works of this period were Ramayana in hindi by Tulsidas and Gurumukhi literature of the Sikh Gurus and Vaishnava literature in Bengali. This period also saw the emergence of Urdu language, which was a mixture of Persian and Hindi.
- They tried to evolve a new social order by following the principle of equality and by denouncing caste distinctions. By exposing the futility of empty rituals they did away with the domination of priests.