February 25, 2024

HPAS/Allied Mains 2022 Answer Writing Challenge Day 10 : Model Answer

QUESTION :- “The Bhakti movement leaned towards egalitarianism as, it had made a wider appeal to the common people.”, Elucidate the statement.


Understanding of question: the question is asking that how we can say that bhakti movement was egalitarian(nature) and its contribution as a part of common whole.  
IntroductionThe Bhakti Literature can be traced back to both the Brahmanical and Buddhist traditions, as well as to the the ancient literature like Vedas, Upanishads and Gita. It is present in India long before the growth and arrival of Sufism in India. However, it was for the first time in South India between the 6th and the 10th century that Bhakti emerged from a religious doctrine into a popular movement based on equality. 
Main Body Egalitarian nature of the Bhakti Literature

  • Egalitarian approach: It disregarded caste and gender, and carried their message of love and personal devotion to God to various parts of India.
  • The bhakti literature is devotional and religious and secular. eg. Kirtanas, Dohe, Padas, Ghosha, Thirumurais  etc.
  • Emphasis on local and regional languages: Bhakti saints wrote and preached in vernacular languages. eg. Alvars and Nayanars used local Tamil language instead of Sanskrit. Surdasa preferred Brijbhasha. Due to this factor, they got acceptance by people easily.
  • Reduced evils in society: The Bhakti literature began to be composed in the sixth century AD in south India by the Tamil poet-saints. Many social abnormalities existed in the society, e.g. caste rigidity, irrelevant rituals and religious practices, blind faiths, and social dogmas. The bhakti literature preached against all such evils.
  • Simple approach to religion: The sophisticated philosophy of Vedas and Upnishadas literature was very difficult for ordinary people to understand. People were looking for a simple form of worship, religious activities, and social norms. Bhakti literature was an alternative—a basic form of devotion that provided salvation from the material life.
  • Secular, non-sectarian and tolerant: Although, the bhakti literature was of bhakti literature propagated by Hindu saints, it was tolerant to other religions. Secularism is visible in it.
  • It saw religion as a loving tie based on love between the worshipped and the worshipper, rather than a cold formal worship.

Contribution of the Bhakti Literature to Indian culture of common masses

1.      The Bhakti literature spread easily among masses and influenced local culture. It led to disgorgement of immoral acts such as infanticide and sati, as well as the prohibition of wine, tobacco etc.

2.      Another notable influence was the creation of solidarity between the Hindu and Muslim communities. The secular character of bhakti literature, along with the sufi literature reduced the religious conflicts.

3.      The movement attempted to bridge the gap between the two by reducing the growing bitterness between them. The Sufi saints and Bhakti saints transmit a message of friendliness, amity, tolerance, peace, and equality to all.

4.      The bhakti literature promoted diversity of religious ideas in religion.

5.      It played a crucial role in the emergence of modern poetry in India.

6.      It contributed in growth of dance and music. Bhakti literature was used for devotional singing and devotional dances, like Kirtanas and Sattariya.

ConclusionAlthough the bhakti literature did not depart from the orthodoxy, and it failed to create the political awakening, it made a wider appeal to the common people. The popularisation of the Bhakti cult was aided by Bhakti literature.It made a critical departure from the previous devotional writings, which were largely written in Sanskrit and concentrated on ceremonies and rituals. It also contributed to the growth of regional languages. 
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