The Cultural contribution of the south was in the form of Bhakti cult. The doctrine of Bhakti means complete devotion and surrender to personal god. The individual faith and devotion to personal god is interpreted as a means of attaining salvation.
The Bhakti movement which has its genesis in the worship of god Siva and Vishnu. It had its beginning in the south before the Aryan culture penetrated deeply in the south. So it is Pre-Aryan. Saiva and Vaisnava saints of the south developed the Bhakti cult considerably. The bhakti of Nayanmars was very noble and ideal. Their devotional songs were remarkable for their piety, simplicity and intense attachment to god. By virtue of Songs, Hyms, Mantras and devotion these saints had caused profound change in religion.
Similarly, the Vaisnava saints (Alwar) encouraged the Bhakti cult. In praise of then personal god Vishnu they composed poems and songs and gradually developed their own literature called Sangam classics. The influence of bhakti cult is witnessed in the sangam literature of Pallava age.
The religious literature of the bhakti cult gives evidence of the development of the Agamas. Agama which lies at the root of temple worship. The whole of Agama literature both Vaisnava and Saiva numbering more than 120 came into assistance to fulfill the needs of temple worship.
This Bhakti cult in the form of Saivism and Vaisnavism centered on Pandhapur in Maharastra and found a convenient center in the region of Mathura. But it was from the 12th and 15th century in the phase of Islam that the bhakti cult took definitely in the form of Vaisnava sects in Northern Indus with particular devotion to two avatars of Vishnu, Rama and Krishna. Rama retained his hold mainly through the famous Hindi Ramayana of Tulasidas and Krishna exercised greater fascination in Gujarat under Vallabhacharya and Bengal under Chaitanya.
HINDU CULTURAL EXPANSION
The Cultures have been spreading in the wake of conquest and commerce or trade. The spread of Hindu Culture started in the Far East and eastern countries like Java, Sumatra, Malaya. The enterprising merchants, the Buddhist monasteries and the Brahmana teachers accompanied. The Indian merchant community to the distant lands. They carried abroad Indian thought and culture, besides many Indian settled who settled in foreign lands contributed towards Hindu Cultural expansion. Sometimes adventurous young Kshatriya princes sailed to the distant regions to seek their fortunes and cave out new kingdoms for themselves. The History of Indo – china provides many example of such Indian Kshatriya princes
It was in the eleventh or twelfth century that Ramanuja preached unity of God under the name of Vishnu in Southern India. He proclaimed the love of God as the way to salvation. It is said that Ramanuja had to fly from the kingdom of the Chola king into Mysore, that he received converts from all classes of the people in that land. Ramanuja established hundreds of Vaishnava monasteries before he died.
Fifth in the apostolic succession from Ramanuja was the great Ramananda, who preached the same ennobling doctrine and faith in Northern India. He traveled far and wide from Varanasi, and preached and wrote in Hindi that was a local language of the people of Northern India. Religious reforms have often led to the improvement and culture of the spoken tongue in India and the Hindi language was greatly strengthened by Ramananda’s life work.
Kabir was a disciple of Ramananda. He followed in the same path. Kabir conceived the lofty ideal of uniting Hindus and Muslims in the worship of one God. “The city of the Hindu God,” he said, “is in the east (Varanasi), and the city of the Muslim God is in the west (Mecca), but search your hearts, and there you will find the God both of Hindus and Muslims.” “If the Creator dwells in tabernacles, whose dwelling is the universe?” Kabir’s teachings known as Kabir Chaura are preserved in Varanasi, and his followers are still numerous in the Deccan, Central India, and Gujarat.
Nanak was born in 1469. He preached the same monotheism and conceived the same great idea of uniting Hindus and Muslims in the worship of One God. The Granth of Nanak is well known, and has been translated into English. His peaceful followers, the Sikhs, were converted by the oppression of later Muslim rulers into the most marital race of modern India.
Almost contemporaneous with the reformer of the Punjab, Chaitanya was born in Nadiya in 1486. Chaitanya preached in Bengal the religion of One God under the name of Vishnu. He too invited Muslims to join his sect, but his following was almost entirely Hindu. Nearly the entire population of Bengal, except the higher castes, are virtually Vaishnavas at the present day.
Later than Nanak and Chaitanya, Dadu was born in Ahmadabad in 1544, and has left a body of sacred poetry in 20,000 lines. His disciples spread his teachings all through Rajputana.