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Mains Answer Writing

One of the key components of these exams is the written test, which consists of a number of essay and comprehension questions. Candidates are expected to write clear and well-structured answers that demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the topics being tested.

14-July-2023

Q. The Idea of the Bhakti Movement had greater social implications than the religious ones. Critically discuss. (250 words)

Answer:  Bhakti is rooted in the Sanskrit word “Bhaj”, meaning to serve.

‘Bhakti’ literally means fondness for, homage, faith or love, devotion, worship, and piety. The central theme of the Bhakti movement is that when devoted to God, a person must forget all distinctions and boundaries.

The term ‘Bhakti’ itself originated in the Vedas for the first time and was extensively used in the Bhagwad-Gita by Vyasa. But the Bhakti movement as a socio-cultural phenomenon started much later in the 6th century CE.

The Bhakti movement first emerged in South India in the 6th to 10th century CE, mainly in the poems of Alvars and Nayanars. Later, it spread all over India, especially in North and East India, through the puranic literature such as

Bhagavata-Purana and Bhagavad Gita. It reached its peak between the 14th and 17th centuries CE. Religious impact of Bhakti movement:

• Development of Monism: Bhakti Movement thinkers preached that God is one, but he can take many forms.

• Against rituals: Worshipping God with devotion is better than performing religious ceremonies and rituals and going on pilgrimages. Superstitious practices are to be given up.

• Love and altruism: Serving humanity is to worship God. All humans are equal, and all caste distinctions are meaningless.

• Revolutionising religion: The movement saw a change in both the way people worshipped and how they believed in God. In the future, emphasis was placed on devotion to and love for God.

• Bhakti saints travelled to several places writing poems in vernacular languages, attracting many people under their fold.

But these ideas were already there in the Indian scriptures. The major impact was in the social sphere.Social impact of Bhakti movement:

• Fight against social evils: The Bhakti preachers raised their powerful voices against immoral acts like infanticide, sati, adultery, sodomy and

intoxicants like wine, tobacco and toddy. They aimed to set up an excellent social order upholding high moral values.

• Instilling non-violence and Peace brought harmony among the Muslim and Hindu communities. The movement tried to reduce the growing animosity between the two and fill the gap.

• The spirit of mutual respect, harmony and tolerance that the Bhakti saints inaugurated had another long-lasting impact, i.e. the emergence of a new cult of Satyapir started under King Husain Shah of Jaunpur. Likewise, the spirit of liberalism adopted by Akbar was inspired by it.

• Development of language and culture: The movement expanded vernacular language and literature across the country. For example –

Nanak, Chaitanya and Kabir preached in their respective vernacular tongues – Nanak in Gurmukhi, Chaitanya in Bengali and Kabir in Hindi.

Thus, the Bhakti movement made religion accessible to all. Women and Sudras were now allowed to hear and recite preaching and were now socially included.

Conclusion: With such enduring effects, medieval society’s religious depression was abandoned. The Bhakti movement teachings served as a refreshing balm for the oppressed classes. As a result, the profound transformation laid the groundwork for an Indian society that is liberal and diverse.

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