Medieval History / Delhi Sultanate
Bhakti movement of medieval India is a religious reform movement of Hindu religion. It started in South India during the reign of
Delhi Sultanate and moved to North India. All the Bhakti saints of India
gave importance to Bhakti and were against rituals.
Features of Bhakti Movement
The mains features of Bhakti movement are
- Mysticism - It is unification in God through self surrender. It has personal loving relationship with the God.
- Monotheism - It is worshipping of one God. If one God is worshipped, his other incarnations will not be worshipped.
- Some saints accepted idolatry. Such saints are called Saguna Bhakti saints and the movement is called Saguna Bhakti Movement.
Those who worship
the God in abstract form are called Nirguna Bhakti saints, who were radical in nature and the movement is called Nirguna Bhakti Movement. They go against
superstitious beliefs. They are not found among the Bhakti saints of South India.
- Bhakti saints promoted socio economic equality or egalitarian society. They declared Moksha for every person.
- The Bhakti saints preached their ideas in in regional languages, that is language of masses (vernacular languages). Bhakti saints were against Sanskrit.
List of Bhakti Saints and their Movement
Bhakti Saints of South India
The following is the list of Bhakti saints, who propagated Bhakti movement in South India.
Bhakti Saints of Maharashtra
Pandharpur or Pandaripuram is the headquarters of Bhakti Movement of Maharashtra. The following is the list of Bhakti saints, who propagated Bhakti movement
- Jnana Deva (13th C) - He wrote Marathi Bhagavad Gita, which is known as Jnaneswari or Bhavartha Dipika.
- Namadev (14th C) - He promoted Nirguna Bhakti in Maharashtra. Most of his disciples were from untouchable community. He is a robber
- Eknath (16th C) - He wrote a book called Bhavartha Ramayana. He wrote quite a number of Abhangas (Marathi poems or
hymns in praise of God).
- Tukaram (17th C) - He founded Varkari sect (path of pilgrimages). Varkari sect promoted pilgrimages. It recommended
2 pilgrimages per year to lead a humble life. To get salvation, you have to make pilgrimages many times to Pandaripuram. Vithoba or Vithala or Panduranga is
the God at Pandharpur.
- Samarth Ramdas (17th C) - He belongs to Dharkari sect (in which God is omnipresent). Dharkari does not promote pilgrimages
and gave importance to harmonious relationship between the worldly life and spiritual life. Samarth Ramdas is the religious guru of Shivaji.
He was the writer of Dasbodh book.
Bhakti Saints of North India
The following is the list of Bhakti saints, who propagated Bhakti movement in North India.
- Ramananda (15th C) - He is the first Bhakti saint of North India. He was a worshipper of Lord Rama. There were 12 disciples of
Ramananda known as Avadhutas. Some of them are Pipa (A Rajput prince), Kabir (He is from weaver's community), Raidasa (He is from Chamar community), etc.
- Kabir (15 - 16th C) - Kabir was born in Varanasi and was a Nirguna saint. He was radical in his philosophy but he was an illiterate, who
opposed Sanskrit. It was Kabir who wrote Dohas in Hindi. He condemned idolatry, pilgrimages and fasting. He strived for the Hindu-Muslim unity.
- Surdas (15 - 16th C) - He was a great scholar in Hindi. He was one of the disciples of Vallabhacharya. He wrote Sursagar
(Biography of Krishna), Sur Suravali, Sahitya Ratna. He was worshipper of only Krishna.
- Tulasidas (16 - 17th C) - Tulasidas wrote Ramcharitmanas (Hindi version of Ramayan), Kavitavali, Vinaya Patrika. He was
worshipper of only Rama.
- Meerabai - She was a Rajput princess and was a widow. She was worshipper of Lord Krishna.
- Guru Nanak (15 - 16th C) - He was born in Talwandi and died in Kartarpur (Both in Pakistan). He was a Nirguna saint and was
a great scholar. He promoted a concept called Tauhid-i-wajudi which means unity of God and unity of human being. That is one God for entire humanity. He
was influenced by Islam after he visited Mecca. He did not promote Idolatry. Guru Nanak composed the hymns called Shabad.
Bhakti Saints of East India
The following is the list of Bhakti saints, who propagated Bhakti movement in East India.
- Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (15 - 16th C) - He was a saint of Bengal. He promoted Vaishnava Bhakti in Bengal and Odisha. Because of him,
reconversions from Islam to Hindu religion happened. His followers believed him as an incarnation of Vishnu.
- Shankaradasa (15 - 16th C) - He promoted Vaishnava Bhakti in Assam. He translated Ramayana into Assamese and almost all the books
are translated by him into Assamese. King Suhungmung of Ahom dynasty became Swarga Narayana.
Bhakti Saints of West India
The following is the list of Bhakti saints, who propagated Bhakti movement in West India.
- Dadu Dayal (17th C) - He came from untouchable community. He was influenced by Kabir. He promoted Nirguna Bhakti in Rajasthan. His
concept is low-born are by birth have no ego.
- Narsinh Mehta (15th C) - Narsinh Mehta was from Gujarat. He wrote a number of Bhajans which influenced Gandhiji. Term Harijan (Children of God) was
coined by Narsinh Mehta. It was the term used to give to the children of Devadasi.
Origin of Sikhism