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Bhakti Movement Essay Sample

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Bhakti Movement Essay Sample

The Bhakti movement is a Hindu religious movement in which the main spiritual practice is loving devotion among the Shaivite and Vaishnava saints. The Bhakti movement originated in ancient Tamil Nadu and began to spread to the north during the late medieval ages when north India was under Islamic rule. The Islamic rulers were pressing public to convert religion from Hindu to Islamic. The Bhakti movement was counter to the prevalent caste ideology which was dividing Hinduism. So, the Bhakti movement has its own importance to save Hinduism. There was no grouping of the mystics into Shaiva and Vaishnava devotees as in the south. For all of its history the Bhakti movement co-existed peacefully with the other movements in Hinduism. It was initially considered unorthodox, as it rebelled against caste distinctions and disregarded Brahmanic rituals, which according to Bhakti saints were not necessary for salvation. In the course of time, however, owing to its immense popularity among the masses (and even royal patronage) it became ‘orthodox’ and continues to be one of the most important modes of religious expression in modern India.

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Rama Bhakti
Ramananda was the leader of the Bhakti movement focusing on Rama as God. Very little is known about him, but he is believed to have lived in the first half of the 15th century. He taught that Lord Rama is the supreme Lord, and that salvation could be attained only through love for and devotion to him, and through the repetition of his sacred name. Ramananda’s ashram in Varanasi became a powerful center of religious influence, from which his ideas spread far and wide among all classes of Indians. One of the reasons for his great popularity was that he renounced Sanskrit and used the language of the people for the composition of his hymns. This paved the way for the modern tendency in northern India to write literary texts in local languages. Devotees of Krishna worship him in different mellows, known as rasas. Two major systems of Krishna worship developed, each with its own philosophical system. These two systems are aishwaryamaya Bhakti and madhuryamaya Bhakti. Aishwaryamaya Bhakti is revealed in the abode of queens and kingdom of Krishna in Dwaraka. Madhuryamaya Bhakti is revealed in the abode of braja.

Thus Krishna is worshiped according to the development of devotees’ taste in worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead (Krishna) as father, friend, master or beloved. Shri Madhvacharya (1238–1317) born at Pajaka near Udupi advocated Dwait philosophy. He defeated many scholars in religious debates identified God with Vishnu. His view of reality is purely dualistic, in that he understood a fundamental differentiation between the ultimate Godhead and the individual soul, and the system is therefore called Dvaita (dualistic) Vedanta. Madhva is considered one of the most influential theologians in Hindu history. His influence was profound, and he is one of the fathers of the Vaishnava Bhakti movement. Great leaders of the Vaishnava Bhakti movement in Karnataka like Purandara Dasa, Kanaka Dasa, Raghavendra Swami and many others were influenced by Dvaita traditions.

Srimanta Sankardeva’s (1449–1568) propagated his school of thought, called Ekasarana Dharma, in the greater Assam region. An example of dasya Bhakti, there is no place for Radha in this tradition. The most important symbol of this tradition is the namghar or prayer hall, which dot Assam’s landscape. This form of worship is very strong in Assam today, and much of the traditions are maintained by the monasteries (Sattras). Vallabhacharya (1479–1531) called his school of thought Shuddhadvaita, or pure monism. According to him, it is by God’s grace alone that one can obtain release from bondage and attain Krishna’s heaven. This heaven is far above the “heavens” of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, for Krishna is the eternal Brahman. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1534) defined his system of philosophy as Achintya Bheda Abheda (inconceivable and simultaneous oneness and difference). It synthesizes elements of monism and dualism into a single system. Chaitanya’s philosophy is taught by the contemporary International Society for Krishna Consciousness, or Hare Krishna movement.

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