Chapter 9 – Religion and Philosophy in Medieval India: The Importance of the Bhakti and Sufi Movements and Philosophy in Medieval India

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The development of Bhakti movement took place in Tamil Nadu between the seventh and twelfth centuries. It was reflected in the emotional poems of the Nayanars and Alvars. These saints looked upon religion not as a cold formal worship but as a loving bond based upon love between the worshipped and worshipper.

  • In course of time, the ideas of the south moved up to the North but it was a very slow process. Sanskrit, which was still the vehicle of thought, was given a new form.

  • Thus we find that the Bhagavata Purana of ninth century was not written in the old Puranic form.

  • Centred around Krishna’s childhood and youth, this work uses Krishna’s exploits to explain deep philosophy in simple terms.

  • This work became a turning point in the history of the Vaishnavite movement which was an important component of the Bhakti movement.

  • During this period, another movement based upon devotion towards a sakar form of God had also developed this movement, called the Vaishnavite movement.

The Importance of the Bhakti and Sufi Movements

  • Bhakti movement was a socio-religious movement that opposed religious bigotry and social rigidities.

  • It emphasised good character and pure thinking. At a time when society had become stagnant, the Bhakti saints infused new life and strength.

  • The importance of the Bhakti and Sufi saints lies in the new atmosphere created by them, which continued to affect the social, religious and political life of India even in later centuries.

  • The popular verses and songs of the Bhakti saints also served as forerunners of a musical renaissance.

  • New musical compositions were written for the purpose of group singing at kirtans. Even today Mira’s bhajans and Tulsidas’s chaupais are recited at a prayer meetings.

Philosophy in Medieval India

  • The major religious movements were brought about by the mystics. They contributed to the religious ideas and beliefs.

  • Bhakti saints like Vallabh Acharya, Ramanuja, Nimbaraka brought about new philosophical thinking which had its origin in Shankaracharya’s Advaita philosophy.

Bhakti Saints

Bhakti Saints

Bhakti Saints

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