If Bhakthi Movement Ruled The World We Would All Be Happy

If Bhakthi Movement Ruled The World We Would All Be Happy

Continuation of topic no: 4 – Ground Breaking Discovery of Hindu Social System

  • Starting of Bhakthi Movement in India
  • Devotion to Deities like Siva and Vishnu



Over millions of years,the process of transformation in Hinduism has been undergone.Of this the Vedic ritualism and Upanishads philosophies played a significant role in Hinduism.The transformation in Hinduism starts with the message of Bhagvad Gita,which added the notion of Bhakti (devotion) in Hinduism. Hinduism acquired with new dimensions in Bhakti cult. Besides the Bhakti cult,Hinduism has also to encounter with forces of Islam and the West.


There are various important facets of the Bhakti movement.

First starts with……..

  • Bhagavad Gita:Brahma Vishnu Siva

Bhagavad Gita recognised the Vedic rituals and Upanishads philosophy of knowledge as the legitimate ways to attain self-realisation which is the goal of life of an ideal Hindu. Hence to the paths of Karma (action) and Jnana (knowledge) the Gita added Bhakti (devotion) to attain salvation.

This revived the elements of theistic elements in Hinduism.

  • Alvars:

The Bhakthi(devotional)movement,first flourished in South India towards the end of eighth century A.D. among the non-Brahmin groups which expressed the strong desire for theism after Jainism and Buddism,had spread all over India. The followers of this movement were known as the Alvars.

They questioned the dharmas of caste and gender.

They tried to exceed such relationships through personal devotion to deities like Siva and Vishnu.

The Alvars emphasised on the constant companionship of God.

  • Jayadeva, Sri chaitanya and Mira – Bhakthi Movement In North India

            –The love stories of unmarried Krishna (reincarnation of Vishnu) and Radha have got the central place in the Bhakti movement.

            –Emphasis on devotion to God as a means to self-realisation.

            –Krishna is symbolised as the supreme soul and Radha as the individual soul.

            –Jayadeva’s Gita Goyinda, written on the eternal love of Radha and krishna in the later part of 12th cenhry, has spread all over the country.

            –Various sections of Vaishnavism is originated during this movement.

            –In the 16th century Srichaitanya in Bengal,Vallabha in Gujarat,Mira in Rajasthan were possessed with the love of Krishna. Bhakti movement got momentum in the given path of total devotion to Krishna as followed by them.

  • Sur Das, Tulsidas and Kabir – also spreads Bhakthi Movement 

           The songs of:

    • Sura Das on Krishna,in Brijbhasha
    • Tulsi Das on Rama,in Avadhi
    • Kabir’s devotionalism

   were also expressed religious devotion during that time.

Encounter with Islam:

Since the classical time,Hinduism has been responding to the external religious influences.It has responded to distinctive Islamic and the Western influences for almost ten and five centuries respectively.

Let us see what it was….

Hinduism dealt with the periodic outbreaks of violence since the time of the raids of Mahmud of Ghazni into North-west India (977-1 030).These invasions led to the development of Hindu ideal of territorial kingdom,as the mode for the protection of Hindu values. Hence the defence of Hindu traditions against Islam came first from the Rajputs of Rajasthan,then the rulers and successors of Vijayanagar Kingdom of South India (1333-18th century) and the Marathas in Maharasthra from late sixteenth century to the close of 18th century.

As an immediate impact of the dominance of the Muslim rule,conservative and puritanical tendencies gained momentum in orthodox Hinduism,particularly with regard to the strictness of the caste and purity of women.However, there are many evidences to show that over the years various Muslims themes and features have been incorporated into popular Hindu myths and rituals. Significantly while the orthodox,popular and the domestic form of Hinduism thus drew in on themselves, Hindu sectarian traditions multipled under the influence of Islam.


    • The Bhakti cult of Chaitanya in Bengal
    • Sant tradition of North India by Kabir (1440-1 5 18) from Banaras
    • Nanak (1469-1539) from Punjab
    • Kabir and Nanak propagated devotion to one God,that combined aspects of Islamic Sufism and Hinduism Bhakti.They brought in Hinduism an exclusivist monotheism like that found in the tradition of Islam.Their teachings rejected both the caste system and idol worship.
    • Guru Nanak laid the foundation of Sikhism that synthesised philosophies of Islam and Hinduism.
    • Emperor Akbar in his Din-Elahi synthesised Islam and Hinduism.He propagated religious tolerance. However, his successors abandoned his path and followed expansionist  policies. These policies of expansion aroused resistance from the heirs of the Vijaynagar and the Rajpur Kingdoms,and also from the Sikhs and the Marathas.The seeds of a nationalist vision of Hinduism may be traced through these movements.

Encounter with the West:

Hinduism has been widely influenced by West and the beliefs and practices of Christianity.Various reform movements started in Hinduism in the 19th century as the direct impact of Christianity.

The Brahmo Samaj was founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in 1828 which advocated monotheism and rejected the caste order,idolatry and animal sacrifice.

The Arya Samaj was founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati in 1875.This movement rejected the Puranic Hinduism and attempted the return of Vedic Hinduism.According to them,there is no image worship durng vedic time.They also advocated monotheism and denied the religious base of caste and the Varna.

Rama Krishna mission was founded in 1875.Swami Vivekananda carried forward the activities of this mission on the line of traditional -Hindu values.The followers of this mission uphold strong tradition of Bhakti and tantric strains along with Vedanta philosophy and Ramakrishna’s experiences of the oneness of all religions through visions not only of Hindu deities but of Jesus and Allah.Rama Krishna Mission aims the propagation of a modern and activist version of Hinduism.Engaged in a variety of cultural, educational and social welfare activities and has branches in cities throughout the world.The Rama Krishna Mission, modelled after the European Christian missions of the nineteenth century in India, has itself provided a model for numerous other Hindu organisations.

To eradicate some evil customs and practices as traditionally followed in Hinduism,several religious organisations came into being during the British rule.These organisations also took up the task of the promotion of education and social reform.As a result of prolonged contact with West various significant changes have taken place in Hinduism.

       Some of these are:

    • Bhagavad Gita has become the single most important book of the Hindus.
    • Leaders of various Hindu religious institutions are undertaking various social reform and welfare activities viz. running of schools, colleges, hospitals etc…
    • The idea of purity and pollution,life cycle rituals and the intercaste relations,particularly by the higher castes,are rapidly weakening,especially in the urban areas.A caste-free Hinduism may emerge in future out of these changes.
    • Emergence of militant forms of Hinduism — Partly in response to the evangelical activities of the missionaries among the Harijans and tribals and to the appearance of separationist tendencies among certain religious and ethnic minorities in India.
    • Hinduism has also influenced other religions in India.Many of the important traits of Hinduism are found among other religious groups also.

For Example:The caste system can be put here as a ready reference.The caste divisions also exist among the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and the Jains.

Indeed,conversion to any other religions does not necessarily dissolve the caste order. Occupatioaal specialisation, caste endogamy, social distance etc. are practised even after conversion.

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