Nature of Bhakti literature in India and its contribution to Indian culture

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QuestionComment on the “nature of Bhakti literature” in India and its contribution to Indian culture. 28 January 2022

Answer – Nature of Bhakti literature in India – Bhakti movement is a unique phenomenon in Indian cultural history, which is rare in world history. It was the Bhakti movement that united Indians in a thread of emotional and national unity.

The Bhakti movement developed in Tamil Nadu between the seventh and twelfth centuries. Originally started by Shankaracharya in the 9th century in South India, this movement spread to all parts of India by the 16th century and Kabir, Nanak and Sri Chaitanya played an important role in it.

Nature of Bhakti Literature

Inclusive Literature:

It preached the removal of communalism and casteism. Bhakti literature called for inclusion of castes and outside castes against the unorthodox customs of traditional society.

Muslim poets Daulat Qazi and Syed Alaol wrote poems that were a cultural synthesis of Hinduism and Islam.

Inter-Religious Harmony:

  • The Bhakti and Sufi movements supported each other and the lessons of various Sufi saints found a place in the religious doctrines of the Sikhs. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib incorporated the teachings of Kabir.
  • Adoption of local languages led to the spread of Bhakti cult which was easily understood by the public.

Contribution of Bhakti Literature

Acharyas, while analyzing and analyzing Bhakti poetry in a great movement, have found that for the first time the basis of Indian society has become so pure that caste, sect, religion and other social distinctions have been left far behind. As Muktibodh believes, for the first time the Shudras produced their own saints and for the first time since ages the oppressed people of Dalits could stand up in front of the elite class.

This is the product of Bhakti movement itself. In fact, the context in which Bhakti acquires a movementist attitude can be social in nature. Acharya Shukla was the first critic, who evaluated Bhakti poetry from the point of view of folk religion and folk awakening, although he had some limitations under which he could not make an accurate analysis of the progressive substance underlying the Manta Kavya stream.

In the eastern group of languages, Bengali was used by Chaitanya and the poet Chandidas, who wrote extensively on the subject of Radha and Krishna’s love. Sankaradeva was also a Bhakti poet who popularized the Assamese language in the Brahmaputra Valley in the 15th century. He used a completely new medium to spread his ideas.

Marathi reached its climax in today’s Maharashtra at the hands of saints like Eknath and Tukaram. Other prominent sages such as Kabir, Nanak and Tulsidas contributed greatly to the regional literature and language with their captivating verses and spiritual interpretations. The emergence of a new cultural tradition with the influence of Bhakti and Sufism. Along with this new sects like Sikhism, Kabir Panth etc emerged.

Post Vedanta ideas were explored by Madhvacharya in his Dvaitadvaita, Ramanujacharya in his specific Advaita etc. As a literary movement, it freed poetry from the praise of kings, and introduced spiritual themes.

In terms of style, it introduced simple and accessible styles such as vachan (in Kannada), sakhis, couplets and other forms in various languages, and ended the hegemony of Sanskrit verses.

The ideas of the Bhakti movement created by him entered the cultural ethos of the society through a vast collection of literature. The conformity of his ideas not only saved us from possible internal conflicts but also instilled a sense of tolerance. He composed messages in songs, proverbs and stories to appeal to the masses and free them from ignorance, which led to the development of Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Maithili and many other languages.

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