Bhakti Movement

The spirit of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence led to the development of two liberal religious reform movements in India—the Sufi and Bhakti movements in India.

Bhakti Movement

The Bhakti Movement originated in India as a reaction against the caste system and ritualism. It was started by the Vaishnava and Saiva saints of south India. The Tamil Vaishnavites in the 11th and 12th centuries preached personal devotion to God as a means to reach God. The Bhakti Movement was a religious reform movement. Ramanujacharya, Kabir, Nanak, Namdeo and Mirabai were followers of the Bhakti cult.

Doctrines of the Bhakti Cult

  • There is only one God and all people are equal in the eyes of God.
  • One can attain God not through rites and rituals but through love, devotion and salvation.
  • Everyone should live a pure and simple life.
  • A guru is an enlightened teacher whose help is necessary for realising God or for attaining salvation.

Impact of the Bhakti Movement

  • Bhakti movements emphasized the feelings of universal brotherhood and religious tolerance. As a result, an environment of mutual love and respect was created among different sections of society.
  • The Bhakti saints preached their teachings in the local language. This led to the development of the local and vernacular languages.
  • The teachings of Kabir, Nanak, and Ravidas denounced the caste system and promoted the idea of equality. They discarded rituals. This brought about a new social awakening among the people.

Bhakti Saints


Saint Kabir believed in one God. According to him, Ram, Rahim, and Allah were the names of one God. He spread the message of love and unity between Hindus and Muslims. He taught people to be tolerant and surrender themselves to one God. He outrightly rejected the caste system, rituals, and idol worship. He spread his message in the form of ‘dohas’ or couplets which are still very popular.

Guru Nanak

Guru Nanak was born in 1469 at Talwandi in present-day Pakistan. 

Teaching of Guru Nanak

  • There is only one God and the entire Universe is created by him.
  • All people are equal irrespective of their caste.
  • People should follow the principle of universal brotherhood.
  • True spiritual knowledge can be gained under the guidance of a guru.
  • He believed that personal devotion to one God could lead to salvation irrespective of caste, creed or sect.


She was the princess of Mewar who lived during the time of Akbar. She renounced the world and became a devotee of Lord Krishna. She sang many devotional songs dedicated to Lord Krishna. Her poetry is known as ‘Padavali’.

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