Bhakthi Movement

This verse is notable for the use of the word Bhakti, and has been widely cited as among the earliest mentions of “the love of God”. Bhakti means an emotional devotion to one’s personal God. The Bhakti movement swept across medieval India and most of the Bhakti poets sang with loving devotion to Rama and Krishna, the incarnations of Vishnu.

From the north, the Bhakti movement spread to the East pioneered by Chaitanya Dev (1486-1534) who was revered as the greatest spiritual leader of Eastern India (Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and Assam) and as an incarnation of Krishna. In Punjab, Guru Nanak founded Sikhism and he was influenced by poets like Kabir, Ravi Das, Jaidev of Bengal, Namdev and Sufi Baba Farid. Thus the Bhakti movement was widespread from Punjab to Bengal and from Maharashtra to the Deccan. This shows how the Bhakti movement gradually permeated to the whole of India. We had earlier noted that the Bhakti movement started in the 8th C in South India.

Sufi movement

The Sufi movement came to India two centuries before the Bhakti movement and spread among the Muslims. The Chishtiya Sufi order was established in India by Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in the 12th century. He died in 1230. After his passing, his disciples carried the order forward, spreading his message of devotion to God and sulhe-kul (compassion and love for all). Notable among them were Hazrat Niamuddin Auliya and his famous disciple Amir Khusro (1253- 1325), the Sufi spiritual poet and musician who had a deep impact on the society, literature and culture of India. Khusro is regarded as one of the champions of India’s composite culture. He wrote many poems, ghazals, dohas, riddles and is also credited with enriching Hindustani classical music by introducing Persian and Arabic elements in it, and thus is known as the originator of the khayal and tarana styles of music. He is regarded as the “father of qawwali” (the devotional music of the Indian Sufis). The invention of the tabla is also traditionally attributed to Amir Khusro and so also the sitar. Kabir was greatly influenced by Khusro and some of his dohas are virtually translations of Khusro’s couplets

Ghazi : an Islamic term for a religious warrior