Bhakti-Sufi Tradition


Read any five of the sources included in this chapter and discuss the social and religious ideas that are expressed in them.


The period of the Bhakti Movement and Sufi Movement also has many sources that contribute to the history of those days. Some of the major social and religious ideas expressed in the various sources of history are as follows:
1. The first is the architecture. The different types of stupas, temple, monasteries all symbolise different types of religious belief system and practices. Some of them exist as it is and enable us to look into the annals of history of those days. Some of them are in the form of ruins but they also throw light on the, religion and society of those days alike.
2. The next important source of history is the composition of the saints both Bhakti
and Sufi. In terms of content they are religious but they are not the divine textbooks of religion that are sacrosanct. The compilation throws light on the life of common men and village lifestyle. They also impact the music and art of those days.
3. Another very important source of the history of those days is the biographies of the Saints. The biographies include the description of the society and prevalent beliefs and practices. It is notable that such biographies may not be in the written form still they can give insight into the life of those days. It is the story prevalent that I when Kabirdas died, both Hindus and Muslims fought for his dead body later on his body turned into flowers. Some were taken by Muslims and others by Hindus.
This represents that there conflict and collaboration between both Hindus and Muslims of those days.
4. This was also the period of rise of religious leaders who were intermediaries between common men and God. Earlier it was only the Brahmins who got this role. Now many people from other background also joined in. To some extent it acted as the the force that idolised equality and fraternity.
5. The other source is the folklore. They are described in our art forms. It may be dance, paintings, and sculpture and so on. They all talk about the universal brotherhood of mankind and love for one and all.


Bhakti-Sufi Tradition

Q 1.

Choose any two of the religious teachers/thinkers/saints mentioned in this chapter, and find out more about their lives and teachings. Prepare a report about the area and the times in which they lived, their major ideas, how do we know about them, and why you think they are important?

Q 2.

Read any five of the sources included in this chapter and discuss the social and religious ideas that are expressed in them.

Q 3.

What were the similarities and differences between the be-shari‘a and ba-shari‘a sufi traditions?

Q 4.

Describe the major teachings of either Kabir or Guru Nanak and the way they have been transmitted. (or)
Explain the teachings of Guru Nanak. Did he want to establish a new religion?

Q 5.

Discuss the ways in which the Alvars, Nayanars and Virashaivas expressed critiques of the caste system.

Q 6.

Analyses, illustrations, why bhakti and sufi thinkers adopted a variety of languages in which to express their opinions.

Q 7.

Examine how and why rulers tried to establish connections with the traditions of the Nayanars and the sufis.

Q 8.

To what extent do you think the architecture of mosques in the subcontinent reflects a combination of universal ideals and local traditions?

Q 9.

Explain with examples what historians mean by the integration of cults.

Q 10.

Discuss the major beliefs and practices that characterised Sufism.

Q 11.

On an outline map of India, plot three major sufi shrines and three places associated with temples (one each of a form of Vishnu, Shiva and the goddess.)