Q Q&A: What was the Bhakti movement?

By Sunil Kumar

Continuing with my answers on Quora. As a Top Writer(2016); I’d like to say simply, “Knowledge matters”.

Kriti Stambh,Chittorgarh

Kriti Stambh,Chittorgarh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So; here’s another one;

The Question: What was the Bhakti movement?


Chaitanya Mahaprabhu & Sant(Saint) Kabir

The Bhakti movement originated as a reaction against caste division; untouchability and ritualism in late medieval India(13th to 18th centuries). Although this was largely confined to Hinduism; some aspects permeated into other religions including the Sikhs, Islam, Jains etc.

English: Claimed birth place of Chaitanya Maha...

Visit sunil-kumar.co.in English: Claimed birth place of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Pracheen Mayapur area, Nabadwip, West Bengal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It originated in South India(Saiva Nayanars and Vaishnava Alvars) and largely spread throughout India(from Karnataka and Maharashtra) to Bengal and Northern India.

Maharashtra has its tradition of saint poets including Namdev, Tukaram largely focused around the town of Pandharpur. The most famous Bengali(eastern India) exponent of the Bhakti Movement was the saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. ISKCON was founded in 1965 by Srila Prabhupada; who is said to be in disciplic succession.



North India had the Sikh Gurus beginning with Nanak Dev; and Kabir; a mystic poet and saint; who was critical of both Hinduism and Islam. The Bhakti movement of Hinduism saw two ways of imaging the nature of the divine (Brahman) – Nirguna and Saguna. Nirguna Brahman was the concept of the Ultimate Reality as formless, without attributes or quality. Saguna Brahman, in contrast, was envisioned and developed as with form, attributes and quality.

The Bhakti movement was a devotional transformation of medieval Hindu society, wherein Vedic rituals or alternatively ascetic monk-like lifestyle for moksha gave way to individualistic loving relationship with a personally defined god. Salvation which was previously considered attainable only by men of Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya castes, became available to everyone.


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