Chapters :
  • JNANADEVA (C. A.D. 1275-1296)
  • NAMADEVA (A.D. 1270-1350)
  • EKANATHA (B. A.D. 1548)
  • UMAPATI SIVACARYA ( A.D. 1290-1320)
  • MADHAVACARYA, (A.D. 1199-1278)

                                HISTORY ANCIENT & MEDIEVEL – 02



It ran parallel to that in the North and its centre was Pandharpur with its famous temple of Vitthal or Vithba. The leaders of the movement were Jnanadeva (Jnanesvara), Namadeva, Ekanatha and Tukarama of the Varakari group. There was also Ramadasa, who was a Dharakari or one who sought to harmonize life dedicated to God with the activities of the world.

JNANADEVA (C. A.D. 1275-1296)

His father Vitthal Pant was a disciple of Ramananda, was the progenitor of the movement in Maharashtra. He was a great intellectual and spiritual genius. When still a boy of 15 years, he wrote Jnanesvari, a famous commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, and later Amrtanubhava. His abharigasor lyrical poems give expression to his deepest mystical experiences.

NAMADEVA (A.D. 1270-1350)

He belonged to the Chipi (cloth-painter) caste. While young, he was a robber and murderer, but the sight of the bewailing wives of his victims made him take to religion. He was a disciple of Visoba Khecar, and a Nirguna-upasaka. He was noted for his saintiness, and is referred to by Kabir. Some of this abharigas are included in the Guru Granth Sahib.

EKANATHA (B. A.D. 1548)

He was the grandson of the well-known Maharashtrian saint Bhanudasa, who received his initiation at the age of 12. He was opposed to caste distinctions and evinced the greatest sympathy for men of low castes. He composed many abhangas and was reputed for his bhajans and kirtans. He wrote a voluminous commentary on the verses of the Bhagavad-Gita.

TUKARAMA (B. A.D. 1608),

 He is farmer’s son, had a shrew for his wife, and domestic unhappiness is said to have led him to religious life. He was a great devotee of Vitthal.

Ramadasa was born in A.D. 1608. After years of wandering in search of spiritual light and attaining siddhi (realization), he settled down at Chafal in Satara district on the banks of the Krsna. Unlike his predecessors, he sought to combine spiritual and practical life, and evinced much interest in politics. He established asramas all over Maharashtra. 


After the 7th century A.D. with the Alvars (Vaisnava saints) and the Adiyars (Saiva saints). Ramanuna (b. A.D. 1018) gave a sound philosophic basis to the Bhakti cult of the Vaisnavas. Many saint-philosophers followed who combined erudite scholarship with abiding faith in the Prapattimarga (path of self-surrender to God), and of them may be mentioned Pillai Lokacarya ( A.D. 1213), 

Manavala Mahamuni (b. A.D.  1370) and Vedanta Desika (b. A.D.  1268). The Saivite tradition also proceeded in an unbroken line. 


He was a prolific writer and eight out of the fourteen authoritative philosophical tratises on Saivism are attributed to him. Next came, in the 15th century A.D. Arunagirinatha whose hymns in Tiruppugal are very popular. Tayumanavar, who flourished in the 17th century, was a Vellala by birth and his lyrics are marked “by intense religious feeling, beauty of language, and sweetness of rhythm.”

MADHAVACARYA, (A.D. 1199-1278)

In Karnataka, he was the fountain-head of the Bhakti movement was), the founder of the Daita school of philosophy. A number of philosophers, saints and mystics followed as in the other regions, but medieval Karnataka is particularly noted for its Haridasas (servants of Hari).

Pandharpur in Maharashtra and Udipi in South Kanara were the two great centres of the movement and Krsna was the favorite deity.

 The most outstanding of the Haridasas in the 15th-16th centuries were Sripadaraja, the founder of the movement. Purandaradasa the father of the Karnataka system of music, and Kanakadasa, a shepherd by birth but a person of great spiritual attainment. The songs of all these three were free from sectarianism and had a universal appeal. Vyasaraya the foremost of the philosophers and dialecticians of his age, was also a great mystic and composer of songs noted for their philosophic import.

An equally important religious movement of Karnataka was that launched by Basava, the Prime Minister of Kalacuri king Bijala (A.D. 1156-1168), who ruled at Kalayna. He based his doctrines in the 28 Saiva Agamas and developed the Sat-sthala system of philosophy. Virasaivas or Lingayats, as his followers are known, 


They believe that Siva is the Supreme God and all should worship only Him. Every Lingayat, both man and woman, has to wear a linga on his person as a symbol of devotion to Siva. Basava was strongly opposed to the caste system. 

Panditaradhya, a contemporary of Basava and the founder of the Aradhya-Saiva sect, popular in the Telugu country. Unlike Basava, he accepted is noted for its Vacanakara, just as the Vaisnava movement for its of great moral and religious import). The greatest of the Vacanakaras was Sarvajna who came at the close of the Vijayanagar history.


The founder of Visistadvaita Siddhanta. His commentary on the Vedanta Sutras called the Sribhysya and the Gitabhasya are among his best known works. Of his followers, in later years, the most outstanding were Vedanta Desika and Pillai Lokacaya, the founders of the two sub-schools, Vadagalai (Northern) and Tengalai (Southern). The former was the author of the well-known Satadusani a polemic against the Advaita Siddnanta of Sarkara.

Visistadvaita means modified monism. The ultimate reality according to it is Brahman (God) who is immanent  in matter and individual souls, and controls them from within. All the three-God, soul and matter – are real, but God is the inner substance, while matter and souls are his attributes. They are absolutely dependent on God, although they are eternal, relatively free and responsible for their actions. God is not nirvisesa (without quality), but is a being endowed with all the good and desirable qualities and free from evil ones. Although God is the material and efficient cause of the world.


“…The individual souls are innumerable, real and eternal entities of atomic size, forming the body of the Lord..”

“… The soul is real knower, agent of action, and enjoyer of the fruits thereof. In the state of liberation, the soul becomes omniscient, and freed from the ‘Law of Karma’, enjoys everlasting bliss, in the presence of God. It does not become God, but something similar to Him…”

The means of attaining Moksa or entry into the Lord’s abode is jnana (knowledge) which means love, remembrance and constant though of God and complete surrender to Him and His will.


Madhvacarya (A.D. 1199-1278) who hailed from Kalyanapura near Udipi in South Kanara district, was the founder of the dualism. In his commentary on the Vedanta Sutras and other works he opposed the monism and illusionism of Sankara, and tried to establish pluralism and realism on the basis of the Prasthanatraya. 

He recognized five eternal distinctions 

(a) between God and individual souls.

 (b) between God and matter

(c) between the individual souls and matter

 (d) between one individual aoul and another

 (e) between one material object and another. 


According to him, “…The world is not an illusion or false appearance, but a reality full of real distinctions. God, who is called Narayana, Visnu, Hari and Vasudeva can be known only by the testimony of the scriptures…” 

 He is the creator, preserver and destroyer. God, matter and souls are ontological realities dependent on God, who is absolutely independent.


Vallabha (A.D. 1479-1531), a Telugu Brahmana founded another Vaisnava school for Vedanta called Suddhadvaita (Pure Non-Dualism). He wrote commentaries on the Vedanta Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. His philosophy is known as Pustimarge (the path of grace) and his school by the name Rudrasampradaya. Although Vallabha hailed from the South, his influence was great in the North and is still felt in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Vallabha identified Brahman with Sri Krsna. He is one, omnipotent and omniscient, and the cause of all that there is in the universe. 

The world and the individuals are not unreal appearancesl they are real manifestations of God, Maya (illusion) is a real power of God through which he engages in His lila (the sport of creation). Although He is the material and effieicent cause of the world, He does not undergo any change or transformation in Himself. 


 The only means of salvation is sneha (Deep-rooted and all – surpassing love) of God, which is not attained by the efforts of the individual alone. 


Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (A.D. 1486-1533) wrote no philosophical treatise. His phiosophical views are contained in his biography, Caitanyacaritamrta, written in Bengali by Krsnadasa Kaviraja. God, according to Caitanya, is Krsna. he is infinite love and bliss. He is full of infinite power and consciousness. Radha is the power of Sri Krsna. There is no difference between Him and Radha. he is an abode of contrary qualities. 


He lives in the highest heaven which is beyond is inconceivable both with regard to His being and powers. he is the creator, the preserver, and the destroyer of the world. He possesses a supernatural body, mind and sense-organs. God is the Lord of maya while the jiva is subject to it. the world is not an appearance. It is real and a manifestation of his power of creativity. Bhakti or devotion is the only means of liberation.

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