- The seeds of the Bhakti movements are to be found in the Upanishads and the Bhagavata Purana.
- Bhakti movement started in South India.
- The Alvars (Vaishnavites) and Nayanars (Shaivites) popularised the Bhakti cult in Southern India.
- Srikanthacharya founded the Sivadvaita.
- Sankaracharya was born in Kaladi (Kerala) in 788 AD. He propounded the Advaita philosophy. He wrote commentaries on the Brahmasutras and Upanishads. He wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, and also wrote books like Upadesh Shastri, Vivek Chudamani, Bhaja Govindam etc.
- He established mutts at Sringeri, Dwarka, Puri and Badrinath. The claim that he founded the Kanchi mutt is disputed.
- Ramanuja was born in Sriperambudur. He propounded the philosophy of Vishishta Advaitavad. He founded the Shrivaishnava sect. He wrote Sribhashya. He advocated salvation by Bhakti.
- Madhavacharya founded the Dvaita philosophy. He was born in Kayanpura in South Canara district.
- Nimbark established his ashram in Braja (Mathura). He propounded the Dvaitadvaita philosophy and philosophy of Bhedabheda. He founded the Sanak Sampradaya.
- Vallabhacharya was born in Benaras in 1479. He lived in the court of Krishnadeva Raya. He propounded the Shuddha Advaitavad. His philosophy is known as Pushtimarga. He founded the Rudra Sampradaya.
- Haridas founded the Purandardasa movement.
- The Lingayat movement was founded by Basava. The sect was also known as Virasaiva Sect.
- Janeshwara wrote the Bhavarthadipika or Jnaneshwari and Amritanubhava.
Bhakti Saints and Reformers
- Ramanuja (11th century) was born in Madras in 1017.
- A contemporary of Ramajuna was Nimbark, who was a devotee of Radha-Krishna.
- Ramanand carried the Bhakti movement to North India. He was the guru of the famous saint Kabir.
- He was born in Prayag (Allahabad).
- The followers of Ramanand were Kabir (the weaver), Raidasa (the cobbler), Dhanna (the Jat peasant), Sen (the barber) and Pipa (the Rajput).
- Kabir (1485-1518) refused to acknowledge caste distinction.
- The most famous of the followers of Kabir’s ideals was Dadu.
- Mirabai was a Rajput princess of Merta. She was married to Bhojaraja, the eldest son of Rana Sanga. She was famous for her devotion to Krishna.
- Guru Nanak was born on 26 November 1469 at the village of Talwandi (famous as Nanakana Sahib).
- His mother was Tripta Devi and father Kallu Ram.
- The hymns of Guru Nanak are preserved in the Adi Grantha, the sacred book of Sikhs.
Note: Kabir’s and Nanak’s role in the Bhakti movement are strikingly similar.
- Chaitanyadeva Mahaprabhu (1486-1533) was born in a Brahman family in Nadia district of Bengal.
- Chaitanya accepted that Krishna alone is the most perfect god.
- Chaitanya settled permanently at Puri, where he died.
- He was born at Varanasi in 1479.
- He worshipped Lord Krishna under the title of Srinathji.
- Vithalnath was the son of Vallabhacharya.
- The Mughal emperor Akbar was so pleased with Vithalnath that he assigned to him the jagirs of Gokul
- He was born in Banda district of UP.
- He wrote Ramcharitmanas.
Dadu Dayal (1554-1603)
- He was born in Ahmedabad.
- He was the founder of the Brahma Sampradaya.
- Among the Bhakti-saint poets of the period were Narasimha Mehta (writer of Vaishnava jana to tene …), Mirabai (princess from Merta) in Rajasthan, Surdas in western UP etc.
- According to someone’s view, the word Sufi is derived from ‘suf’ (wool).
- Those who entered into a particular fraternity of Sufi saints were called Murids (disciple).
- The Chisti Order was originally established in Chist (Afghanistan).
- The greatest figure in the history of Sufism in India was Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, who arrived at Lahore from Ghor with Muhammad Ghori and settled down at Ajmer.
- He was the founder of the Chisti order of Sufis in India.
- Important saints of Chisti order: Shaikh Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, Baba Farid, Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya.
- Amir Khusro was the disciple and friend of Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya.
- The Chistis never differentiated between people on account of their birth, wealth and religion.
- In the 16th century, the most notable Chisti saint was Shaikh Salim Chisti of Fathehpur Sikri, who was a contemporary of Akbar.
- The Suhrawardi order was established in India by Shaikh Bahauddin Zakariya.
- Two sub-orders, the Firdausi and the Shuttari, both offshoots of the Suhrawardi order, were active in Bihar and Bengal.
- Sindh and Multan had become the centres of the spiritual activities of the saints of Suhrawardi order.