30 Dec 2022
GS Paper 1
Indian Heritage & Culture
Question 1. Bhakti and Sufi movements were socio-religious reforms started from two different ends of India. Analyse the reforms brought by these movements. (250 Words)
Question 2. Discuss the contribution of the Bhakti movement to the growth of vernacular literature. (150 Words)
- Introduce briefly about the Bhakti and Sufi movement.
- Analyse the reforms brought by these movements and mention a critical views on these reforms.
- Conclude suitably.
- India is known to the world as a birth as well as meeting place of various religions, creeds and faiths.
- The Bhakti movement probably began in the Tamil region (south) around the 6th and 7th century AD through the poems of the Alvars and Nayanars and achieved a great deal of popularity into north India by Vaishnavite and Shaivite poets.
- Mystics or Sufis, they were persons of deep devotion. Some of the early Sufis, such as the woman mystic Rabia (eighth century) and Mansur bin Hallaj (d. tenth century), laid great emphasis on love as the bond between God and the individual soul. The Sufis were organized in 12 orders or Silsilahs
- The exponents of this movement were unorthodox Muslim saints who had a deep study of Vedantic philosophy and Buddhism of India.
The socio-religious reforms brought by these movements:
- Religious Impact: The evolution of the Bhakti movement awakened the Hindus and Muslims from superstitions. Both religions appreciated removing differences in their thoughts and practices, resulting in religious intolerance. The movement had evolved the various sects like Kabirpanthi and religions like Sikhism. It brought some of the most rational religious sects like Lingayatas of southern India.
- Social Impact: Various social practices were downgraded and delegitimized by movements like Caste and Verna system and prevailed as a way for an egalitarian society. Women, people from a lower caste, and other down rotten people got equal social respect in the society being a human.
- Practices like shared standard kitchens, and meals resulting in an upgraded social system—the enrichment of Indian literature and the promotion of mixed art influenced the movement.
- In this way, the revolution brought positive changes in ideology in the early centuries.
- By adopting the values from various religions these movements prevailed composite culture in India, like Nizamuddin Aullia and Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti adopted practices from Hinduism like Yoga, Naam Sumiran, etc.
- Political Impact: Another section impacted by the Bhakti movement was the political sector, as many rulers accepted liberal religious policies under the socio-religious Bhakti movement. Like the Sulh-e-Kul policy of Akbar, patronizing of saints and scholars from different religions, etc.
- Moral Impact: The movement encourages many people to earn their wealth through sincere dedication, hard work, and honesty. It also motivated people to step ahead toward social service and develop empathy for each other. The movement also taught one to be patient and regulate self-control.
- Fostering Regional Languages: The advancement of regional languages has been another effect of the Bhakti and Sufi movement. Bhakti saints used local languages like Marathi, Gujrati (Narshimehta), Hindi (Tulsi and Kabir) and Sufi saints also mixed the Persian, Arabic, with regional languages in India.
- It gave rise to the plugging of common languages which everyone can easily understand. An example of this is the mystic poet Kabir used a mixture of several languages in his collection; on the other hand, Surdas used Brij language, and Goswami Tulsidas used Awadhi.
Apart from the constructive development due to the Bhakti and Sufi Movement, there were some the negative developments as well due to these movements, like:
- The Muslims and Turko-Afghan denied the acceptance of Radha-Krishna or Sita-Rama Bhakti cults as a spiritual activity or way.
- The emergence of Tantras and black magic encouraged people to attain desires through mystical powers instead of hard work and righteous way.
- The promotion of Bhakti and Sufi activities, often bring both religions on the confrontation to prove their superiority.
- To counter each other, very often orthodox elements and power demonstration activities came in to play. It ruined the whole essence of these socio-religious movements.
- Though movement had preached the liberal ideas, but very little effort was taken to practice, such ideas on the ground. Due to this these ideal became just a saying.
- These movements did very little to alleviate the economic status of the people, mainly peoples from the lower strata, and without economic upliftment, social upliftment is an Eutopia.
- The ideas of the leaders of these movements were constrained by the time and social condition of the time like Kabir, Tulsi and Nizamuddin Aullia did not have very liberal views regarding women.
- The Bhakti and Sufi movement were introduced to preach to the citizens to join the path of love, devotion, and Bhakti and to remove people’s superstitious beliefs regarding lower caste and inequality.
- However, the movement partially succeeded in bringing changes in ideology, as it could see its two-fold objectives growing as reform in Hinduism and harmony among Muslims and Hindus.
- The effect of these movements Socio-religious reform of the 18th century happens which eradicated various evil practices among Hinduism and later similar suit fallowed by the other religion as well.
- Begin your answer with a brief introduction of the Bhakti and Sufi movement and its impact on the society
- Explain the growth of regional language and literature with the spread of these movements.
- Conclude suitably.
Sufi and Bhakti movements were monistic movements that emerged in different parts of India. Both the Sufi and Bhakti movements stressed the mystical union of the individual with God. They laid great emphasis on love as the bond between God and the individual. These movements also cut across religious and sectarian lines promoting humanity and syncretic thought in society.
In order to make their teachings more accessible to the people, they discarded the use of traditional languages-Sanskrit, Arabic & Persian and favoured local languages, the language of the common people like Hindi, Bangali, Marathi, and Sindhi, etc. The use of the common language by the Bhakti and Sufi saints was, undoubtedly, an important factor in the rise of these languages.
- In eastern Uttar Pradesh Sufi saints, such as Mulla Daud, the author of ‘Chandayan’, Malik Muhammad Jaisi, the author of ‘Padmavati’ wrote in Hindi and put forward Sufi concepts in a form which could be easily understood by the common man.
- Amongst the eastern group of languages, Bengali was used by Chaitanya and by the poet Chandidas, who wrote extensively on the theme of the love of Radha and Krishna.
- It was also a Bhakti leader Shankaradeva, who popularized the use of the Assamese in the Brahmaputra valley in the 15th century. He used an entirely new medium to spread his ideas.
- In today’s Maharashtra, Marathi reached its apogee at the hands of saints like Eknath and Tukaram.
- Narshi Mehta, a krishna saint of Gujrat, poplarise Gujrati and Hindi by singing his poems or padd in vernacular language.
- “Vaishanavajn to tene kahiye”, Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite bhajan is Mehta’s creation.
- Other prominent saints like Kabir, Nanak, and Tulsidas contributed enormously to regional literature and language with their captivating verses and spiritual exposition.
- As a literary movement, it liberated poetry from singing the praises of kings and introduced spiritual themes. From a style point of view, it introduced simple and accessible styles like vachanas (in Kannada), saakhis, dohas and other forms in various languages and ended the hegemony of Sanskrit metrical forms.
The ideas of Bhakti and Sufi saints continued to permeate the cultural ethos of the society through the enormous body of literature left by them. The congruence in their ideas not only saved us from the likely internecine conflicts but also built the spirit of tolerance. To appeal to the common masses, their messages were composed into songs, proverbs, and stories that led to the development of Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Maithili and a number of other languages.