Bhakti Movement in the North India

Ramananda (15th century)

  • Disciple of Ramanuja. Worshipped Rama instead of Vishnu.
  • Preached in Hindi over Sanskrit and taught people belonging to all varnas.
  • However, he did not raise his voice against the caste system.
  • Adi Granth contains some of his preaching’s. Kabir and Ravidas were Ramananda’s disciples.

Kabir (15th– 16th century)

  • Preached Hindu Muslim unity and did not believe in idol worship, caste system and untouchability.
  • Adi Granth contains some of his preaching’s.
  • Most of his teachings are compiled in Bijak.

Ravidas (1450-1540 AD)

  • Did not believe in idol worship. Came from lower caste (Tanner) from Varanasi. Adi Granth contains some of his preaching’s. Mira Bai was his disciple.
  • He believed nirgun (formless) God.
  • Devotional verses by Ravidas have been included in Guru Granth Sahib. Panch Vani of Dadu Panthi tradition also included verses by him.
  • He conceptualised an egalitarian state known as Begumpura i.e., ‘Land without sorrow’. His ideal society was one where there was no discrimination based on caste, gender, social and economic status, no taxes.

Guru Nanak (15th– 16th century)

  • Most of his teachings are like that of Kabir. He used to sing with a rabab in his hand and accompanied by a sarangi.
  • Udasi are the name of 5 divine journeys undertaken by Nanak to spread message of peace and compassion. Bhai Mardana was his companion in his journeys.
  • He travelled to All of India including Assam, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet, Mecca and Arab countries.

Dadu Dayal (16th– 17th century)

  • He was Kabir’s disciple and did not believe in idol worship and caste system. His main seat of influence was at Naraina, near Jaipur, Rajasthan. He believed in leading a householder’s life and was once summoned by Akbar to Fatehpur Sikri for religious discussions.
  • Advocated that devotee should become non-sectarian or Nipakh.
  • He asked his disciples to set up ashramas called Thambas.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (15th– 16th century)

  • Established Gaudiya Vaishnava or Gaudiya Sampradaya dharma in Bengal and believed in advaita or non-dualism. Did not oppose idol worship. Popularized Kirtana in Bhakti.
  • He practiced the cult of Radha-Krishna, the couple of divine lovers. He propounded Madhurya form of devotion in which the devotee approached God as his consort.

Surdas 16th– 17th century)

  • Contemporary of Akbar and Jahangir.
  • Was a Krishna devotee and believed in idol worship.
  • His composition Sur Sagar was completed during Jahangir’s reign.

Tulsidas (16th– 17th century)

  • Contemporary of Akbar and wrote Ramacharitamanas in Awadhi language.
  • His other compositions include Dohavali, Gitavali and Kavitavali.
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