The Beginning of Bhakti

Social ScienceAncient Indian History


The beginning of the age of Bhakti coincides with the time when humans first began to worship various deities. Later on, the idea of Bhakti grew to be regarded as the most important aspect of Hinduism. Shiv and Vishnu, along with several goddesses like Saraswati and Durga, were the most often venerated gods. Between the seventh and twelfth centuries, the southern region of India was the setting for the maturation of the popular Bhakti tradition. The Savina Nayanars and the Vaishnavite alvars did not adhere to the rigorous practices encouraged by the Buddhists and the Jains. Scholars and saints such as Namadev, a Maharashtrian saint who flourished in the first part of the fourteenth century, and Ramananda, who is placed in the second half of the fourteenth century and the first quarter of the fifteenth century, brought the concept of Bhakti to the northern regions of India.

Origination of the Bhakti Movement

Devotion to God is what the term "Bhakti" refers to. The Bhakti movement advocated for peaceful coexistence, fraternity, and unity among its followers and resistance to the caste system. These were some of the most fundamental aspects of the movement. The Bhakti movement, which took place in the north and south India, had the overarching goal of eradicating social evils while fostering unity, fraternity, and tolerance among its adherents. This was accomplished by purging the society of its impurities.

Technically speaking, the Bhakti movement may be broken down into two different sets. These were members of the Nayanar and Alvar races. The Nayanars believed in Lord Shiva, and the Alvars were those who believed in Lord Vishnu; this was the primary distinction between the two groups in terms of their ideology and philosophy. The Nayanars were split into sixty-three different sets, while the Alvars were split into twelve different sets. Both of them attracted a massive amount of fans. Even though their core beliefs were distinct, Nayanars and Alvars shared the same worldview and way of thinking. The overarching principle adhered to was hostility to any caste system, opposition to any form of religious bigotry, and the pursuit of religious equality across the board.

Advocates of the Bhakti Movement

Shankaracharya, Ramananda, and Ramanuja are three of the most influential advocates of this view.

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Advaitism, the philosophical school Shankaracharya founded, is famously associated with him. He was a preacher from Kerala, and one of his ideas was that the soul and God are one. Additionally, he championed and believed in the theory that we are surrounded by an illusion known as “Maya”. He preached this philosophy.


Ramanuja was born in Chennai. He was one of the professors who preached in the regional language, reaching out to weavers, cobblers, and ordinary people so that the ideas of the Bhakti movement might be communicated to a larger audience.


Ramanand offered his homage to Lord Ram. At first, people solely believed in Shiva and Vishnu; however, Ramanand proclaimed that Lord Ram and his followers came from various castes. Kabir, a weaver, and Ravi Das, a cobbler, were two pupils who followed in his footsteps as his students.

Ramananda was a disciple of Ramanuja. He was born in Prayag (now known as Allahabad) and spent his life in that city and Banaras. He worshipped Rama instead of Vishnu to replace the Hindu god Vishnu. He violated the rule that individuals of various castes were not allowed to cook together or share meals and instead taught his theory of Bhakti to all four of the varnas.

Kabir Pankti

The spiritual practice known as Bhakti owes a great debt to the work of Kabir. He is known as Kabir Pankti, and he penned a huge number of Dohas. Kabir Pankti adherents embrace the philosophy and worldview that Kabir espoused. He had the monotheistic belief that there was only one God.

It doesn't matter if you call it Allah, Raheem, or anything else; Hindus and Muslims highly regarded his thought. The individuals mentioned above are examples of some of the most prominent intellectuals associated with the Bhakti movement.

Other contributors of Bhakti Movement

The Bhakti movement did not come to an end in this region either. Throughout its history, the Bhakti movement has been influenced by the contributions of several different everyday individuals. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu began his work in Bengal; Mira created the Bhakti movement with Lord Krishna, Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism and the tenth Guru of Sikhs, and Meerabai, who sacrificed the comforts of being a princess to dedicate her life to Lord Krishna.

One of the regions in which Maratha saints had a great deal of notoriety was the state of Maharashtra. At the age of fifteen, Sant Jnaneshwar authored a documentary on the Gita, and through his songs, he revealed a profound love for God.


People from lower castes began to participate in the Bhakti movement once the caste system was eliminated due to the oneness that the Bhakti movement brought about. In addition, the primary goal of Bhakti was to simplify the teachings so that even the average person could comprehend them. Furthermore, these teachings were conveyed in the vernacular of the average person.

In addition, Bhakti emphasised the concept of Hindu and Muslim togetherness. It also resulted in the enrichment of many of the regional languages due to the efforts of many of the reformers to include ideas into the vocabulary of the local language.


Q1. What is Bhakti?

Ans. The word Bhakti implies devotion to God, and the purpose is to promote peaceful coexistence, brotherhood, and unity, as well as opposition to the caste system. The underlying aim behind the Bhakti movement, whether in north or south India, was to retain unity, brotherhood, and tolerance while removing the impurities of society.

Q2. What are Nayanars?

Ans. Nayanars were those who believed in lord Shiva. Nayanars were divided into sixtythree sets. Although Nayanars and Alvars had different beliefs, they also had a common ideology and a common thought process. The common idea was opposition to any kind of caste system, opposition to any kind of religious intolerance, and bringing all religions to equality.

Q3. What is Kabir's contribution to the Bhakti movement?

Ans. Kabir's work is crucial to the Bhakti idea. He penned a plethora of Dohas, and people who adhere to Kabir's philosophy and beliefs are referred to as Kabir Pankti. He thought there was only one God. You can call it Allah, Raheem, or whatever you like, and both Hindus and Muslims love it. So those are some of the prominent Bhakti movement researchers we've discussed.

Q4. How did the era of Bhakti start?

Ans. When humans began to worship deities; the era of Bhakti began. Later, the concept of Bhakti evolved to be considered vital to Hinduism. Shiv, Vishnu, and Goddesses such as Saraswati and Durga were the most often worshipped deities.

Between the seventh and twelfth centuries, widespread Bhakti developed throughout south India. The Savina Nayanars and Vaishnavite alvars ignored the austerities preached by the Jains and Buddhists.

Q5. What were the positive effects of Bhakti?

Ans. The major aim of Bhakti was to keep the teachings simple enough for the commoner to understand, and they were also in common people's vernacular; they also concentrated on the idea of Hindu and Muslim togetherness. It also resulted in various regional language enrichments because many reformers attempted to incorporate principles into the local language.

Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47