Chapters :
  • KABIR (A.D. 1398-1518)
  • DADU DAYALA (A.D 1544-1603).
  • SUNDARADASA (A.D. 1596-1689)
  • GURU NANAK (A.D. 1469-1539)
  • SURADASA (A.D. 1483-1563)
  • SANKARADEVA (A.D.  1449-1569)



The age of Bhakti, or devotion and self-surrender to God, was ushered in. It gave birth to many mystic saints who devoted their lives in the search of God.  The Bhakti cult cut across distinctions of high and low birth, the learned and the unlettered, and opened the gateway of spiritual realization to one and all. The mystics and saints of the age, both in the North and the South, were unconventional and anti-ritualistic and ignored the age-old restrictions of caste and creed, or attached little importance to them. 


The Bhakti movement may be said to have originated in the South in the teachings of the Tamilian mysticsaints of the 7th-9th centuries A.D.  It was systematized by Ramanuja in the 12th century A.D.  and propagated throughout India. It was spread in the North by Ramananda, who was greatly influenced by the teachings of Ramanuja. He gave his teachings through Hindi, the language of the common people. He ignored the traditional barriers of caste and creed and had among his disciples-
  1. Raidasa  –  The Cobbler.
  2. Kabir      – The Weaver.
  3.  Dhanna – The Jat Farmer.
  4.  Sena      – The Harber 
  5.  Pipa       – The Rajput.
KABIR (A.D. 1398-1518)

    He was the most important of the disciples of Ramananda, and perhaps the most outstanding mystic of the times. He was a foundling brought up by a Muslim weaver at Varanasi. He lived the life of a householder, earning his living by weaving. His songs are noted for their literary excellence, besides conveying a great spiritual and moral message to the world. There is in them a denunciation of worldliness, the life of sense-pleasure, sectarianism, formal religious practices and unrighteous conduct. The God, he worshipped was formless one; he called Him by many names, both Rama and Rahim.


 “….He sharply condemned caste and religious distinctions and taught the brotherhood of man. He appealed to the conscience, the inner voice of man, and not to scriptures, Hindu or Muslim. He believed that the ultimate goal of the human soul was unity with God. He had both Hindus and Muslims as his followers, and when he died both claimed him as their own for performing the last rites…” 


He is contemporary of Kabir and a fellow-disciple of Ramananda, was a cobbler of Varanasi. He was a householder like Kabir, a mystic of the Nirguna school, and his fame spread far and wide. Rani Jhali of Chitor became his disciple. He composed songs brimming with love and devotion, and unlike Kabir Respected others beliefs. Some of them are included in the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred text of the Sikhs. After him, his followers formed the Raidasa Panth.

DADU DAYALA (A.D 1544-1603).

A native of Ahmadabad (Gujarat) and of in certain parentage and social status, he was spiritually inclined from his boyhood. He left home in search of God when he was only twelve. Later, he settled down at Narama, earning his livelihood by carding cotton. IDEOLOGY :      “…He practiced the teachings of Kabir, discarded the limitations of caste and creed, and exhorted his followers not to distinguish between Hindus and Muslims…”

SUNDARADASA (A.D. 1596-1689)

   It was a Great Disciple Of Dadu, having joined him at the tender age of 6 or 7. He was a Vaisya, who hailed from Deosa near Jaipur but spent most of his days at Varanasi. Dadu had also a number of Muslim mystics who spread  his message far and wide. 


He was so devoted to his master that on the latter’s passing away he closed his eyes, never to open agin. His songs are in Rajasthani mixed with Sanskrit, and number over five thousand.              

GURU NANAK (A.D. 1469-1539)

Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism, one of the youngest religions. Guru Nanak became the first Sikh Guru and his spiritual teachings laid the foundation on which Sikhism was formed. Considered a religious innovator, Guru Nanak travelled across South Asia and Middle East to spread his teachings. He advocated the existence of one God and taught his followers that every human being can reach out to God through meditation and other pious practices. Interestingly, Guru Nanak did not support monasticism and asked his followers to lead the life of honest householder. His teachings were immortalized in the form of 974 hymns, which came to be known as ‘Guru Granth Sahib,’ the holy text of Sikhism. With more than 20 million followers, Sikhism is one of the important religions in India.


He became a wandering preacher of a Casteless, Universal, Ethical, Anti-Ritualistic, Monotheistic And Highly Spiritual Religion, which reflected the ideas of Kabir a good deal. His disciples called themselves Sikhs (derived from Sanskrit Sisya, Disciple, Or Pali Sikkha Instruction) and formed the new Pantha. Nine Gurus followed in succession to Nank and gave the sect a stability and distinctness which other sects failed to achieve. Guru Angad (A.D. 1539-1552), the immediate successor of Nank, collected the latter’s oral teachings and put them down i a new script, the Gurmukhi,. Guru Arjun (A.D. 1581-1606), the fifth Guru, constructed the Harimandir at Amrisar. He had the vanis (words) of the previous Sikh Gurus and other saints like Kabir, Namadeva and Raidasa brought together to form the Guru Granth Sahib, the Bible of the Sikhs. Guru Teg Bahadur (A.D. 1664-1675), the ninth Guru, died a martyr at the hands of Aurangzeb. But his persecution only made the Sikhs tough, and Guru Govind Singh the last of the Gurus, organized them into a military sect. Before his death (1708), he named Granth Sahib as the everlasting Guru of the Sikhs.


  As regards the Saguna school of the Hindu mystics in North India, Tulasidasa, Suradasa, Mira Bai and Caitanya were the most important.  Tulasidasa (A.D. 1532-1623) was a Brahmana born in Rajapur Village In Banda District. He had received a systematic education in the Vedas and the Sastras. While still young he became a Sadhu and went to Ayodhya, the home of Rama, where he composed the famous Ramacaritamanasa in Hindi.

SURADASA (A.D. 1483-1563)

He was a disciple of the famous religious teacher Vallabhacarya. Living in the land of Vraja, he sang the glories of Krsna’s childhood and youth in his Surasagara. He was indeed the poet part excellence of love, human and divine. Born in a Princely family of Rajputana and wedded to a prince of Chitor Mira Bai (A.D. 1498-1546) became a widow soon after her marriage. She was deeply religious and devoted to Krsna even in her teen,s and blossomed into a great sait and poetess, whose songs are as popular as those of Tulasidasa or Suradasa. Her form of worship was to regard Krsna as her lover and real husband and pour out her pet-up love and devotion of God as Krsna.

SANKARADEVA (A.D.  1449-1569)

 He  spread the Bhakti cult in Assam. He was a contemporary of Caitanya. Another name worthy of mention is that of Nabhaji a contemporary of Tulasidasa and the author of the Bhaktamala, a biographical collection of saints.  Besides the Vaisnava mystics and saints of the Saguna school, there were other saints also who were devotees of Siva or Sakti and followed Tantric practices. In Bengal, Krsnananda, Brahmanandagiri and Purnananda in the 16th century. A.D. and Ramaprasada Kaviranjana in the 18th century, are well-known. The Sakta saints, Sarvananda, Gosain Bhattacharya. Ardhakali and Vama Ksepa are household words in Bengal even today.
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