Devotional Paths To The Divine

Some religious thinkers revived the idea of Bhakti - selfless devotion to God. Complex rituals to worship God were denounced and local languages were used for preaching. Bhakti in 7th Century was led by two famous sects: Nayanars and Alvars. Royal patronage by the Chola, and Pandya rulers extended to both the sects of Bhakti. Bhakti movement took all the classes into its ambit. Ramanuja - Tamil Vaishnava saint of twelfth century - preached social equality. Shankaracharya - eighth century saint of South India - laid stress that Brahman was formless. Virashaivism of Basavanna, which began in Karnataka, condemned caste system and meaningless rituals. Maharashtra witnessed a tide of Bhakti movement from thirteenth to seventeenth century. Unorthodox Sects advocated renunciation of the world to attain salvation.

Sufism, developed by a group of religious-minded ascetics and mystics in early Islamic history, was basically Islamic. It was critical of dogmatic and scholastic interpretations of the Quran. Sufis started to institutionalise their communities around their khanqahs. Bhakti Saints preached equality of mankind. Tulsi Das, author of Ramacharit manas, laid stress upon knowledge, devotion, worship and meditation. Sur Das - devotee of Lord Krishna - preached the religion of love and devotion to one personal God. Shankardev spread the message of Bhakti in Assamese language. Mira Bai, wife of crown prince of Mewar, was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna.

Sant Kabir Das rejected ritualistic religion. He also tried to fill the gap between Hinduism and Islam. Baba Guru Nanak proposed simple way of reaching God by remembering the divine. Guru Nanak rejected caste discrimination, idol worship and meaningless rituals.

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