This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Bhakti As A Social Critic Essay

4077 words - 17 pages

Satchidanandan K – Bhakti as Social Critique

Bhakta Surdas. Courtesy -

Lessons from the South: The Early Phase

The Bhakti Movement can be seen as a great revival and re-inforcement of the sramanic tradition of spiritual enquiry, subaltern religiosity and social protest. This does not imply that Bhakti was a monolithic movement; it was a polyphonic movement spread over fourteen centuries, from the 6th to the 19th, which accommodated conservatives as well as radicals. But even social conservatives like Tulasidas who recognized the varnasramadharma succeeded in creating a new poetic idiom with fresh dimensions of imagination and thus helped radicalize ...view middle of the document...

There were vaishnavites, saivites and sakteyas among the Bhaktas besides those who followed the nirguna cult and practitioners of tantra. Let us remember that the poets themselves were not often aware that they belonged to or were creating a movement though it seems so in retrospect. However this hind-vision gives the majority of them enough shared features to make them look like the participants in a larger radical spiritual movement. Some of these are:

1. they have a predilection for pre-Aryan patterns of life and thought as implied in the rejection of Brahmin privilege, egalitarian content and the tribal character of collective worship;
2. they emphasized the similarities among different religions and cults, finding them to be different paths to realise the same goal and at times even attempted integration like that exemplified by Sikhism and Sufism;
3. most of them rejected the varna-jati system and the Brahmin claim to superiority by birth;
4. they problematised the intermediary institution of priesthood by directly addressing the Supreme;
5. they privileged the oral tradition against the written;
6. they gave up Sanskrit, the language of the elite, and chose to compose in regional languages and local dialects;
7. many of them traveled widely and were multilingual-like Kabir, Meerabai, Guru Nanak, Namdev or Vidyapati;
8. poetry and philosophy co-existed supporting each other and the barriers between the physical and the metaphysical grew thin in their aesthetic-spiritual practice so much so that the works of Vemana or Jnandev look like pure philosophical texts;
9. they developed a popular symbolism of their own mixing traditional symbols like tree, bird, sky, river, fire etc with symbols chosen from the the workplace like loom, wheel and bellows, or from the kitchen like knife, ladle, fireplace, veil, sindoor etc;
10. they replaced the supposedly vedic gods like Indra, Varuna, Mitra and Yama mostly
by supposedly pre-Aryan deities like Shiva, Vishnu/Krishna and Sakti/Kali and 
11. they created or introduced several new forms of poetry, music and dance like doha,
 pada, prabandha, bijak, vakh, vachana,abhang, bharud, barahmasa,qasida, rasa (poetry), kirtan, bhajan, dhun ,nagarasankirtana, krishnalila, ramlila, tungi, angkiyanat, harikatha, burrakatha ( group performances ) that gave rise to classical /semiclassical forms like kathakali, thullal, yakshagana, bharatanatyam, kuchipudi, manipuri andodissi.

Taken together, Bhakti was a comprehensive cultural revolution with profound ideological, aesthetic and practical implications that attempted to create an alternative religion of the people articulating subaltern aspirations.

In this paper I am only making some observations based on the above features on the early phase of the Bhakti movement as it developed and evolved in Tamil and Kannada.


The Tamil Bhakti poetry of the period from 6th to 13th century AD, especially that by the Siddhas ( chittars ) qualified by...

Other Essays Like Bhakti as a Social Critic

Crime as a Social Fenomenon in the Light of Marxist Understanding

516 words - 3 pages TAKE CRIME AS A SOCIAL FENOMENON IN THE LIGHT OF MARXIST UNDERSTANDING. The crime or exactly the criminal, according to Marx, was a stimulating subject for the development of productive forces and, simultaneously, a hero transgressor of bourgeois legal order. The Marxist approach could be cynical and offensive, especially to the hundreds of thousands of victims of violence. But we should not forget that Marx, in addition to a critic of

What are the strengths and limitations of case studies as a source of evidence about social injustice?

1680 words - 7 pages . Quantitative evidence is designed in a way that makes inequalities visible as numbers. Quantitative research is designed to statistically evidence patterns e.g. of wealth distribution but also to measure crime, welfare and social wellbeing in wider scale. This method is usually used as a method of identifying wider area of social welfare rather than concentrating on single examples as it is used in qualitative studies. It is also often based on specific

Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess the View That Social Class Differences in Educational Achievement Are the Result of School Process as Labelling

613 words - 3 pages Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the view that social class differences in educational achievement are the result of school process as labelling Self fulfilling prophecy streaming pupil subcultures Explain how these may create class differences in achievement Labelling is the process of attaching a definition or meaning to an individual or group; e.g. teachers may label a pupil as a ‘trouble’. Most of the time, this label

Test File as a Means of Examining Social Policies in Northumbria University Sophomores

1407 words - 6 pages Leave hair everywhere chew iPad power cord stare at ceiling for stand in front of the computer screen or hunt anything that moves, yet leave dead animals as gifts stare at ceiling. Under the bed hide when guests come over so run in circles chew iPad power cord why must they do that. Cat snacks stick butt in face mark territory give attitude. All of a sudden go crazy. Intently stare at the same spot. Intently stare at the same spot mark territory

Week 1 Paper

561 words - 3 pages . | | |enhance God and truth|fairly and with | | | | | |realization. |respect as one of its | | | | | | |core beliefs. | | |Contemplation | social work | ceremonial processes|eight sequential |Celibacy

Buddism Versus Hinduism

1065 words - 5 pages ). Karma yoga is service rendered without any interest in its effects and without any personal sense of giving. And the last path is Bhakti yoga, the path of devotion, to share a relationship with the Supreme. Though there are many deities worshipped in the Hindu religion there are three major groupings: Vaishnavites, who worship the god Vishnu, Saivites who worship the god Siva, and Saktas who worship a goddess (Fisher 2002). Hinduism is still

Early Modern Indian Poetry

1200 words - 5 pages Jibananda Das During the later half of the twentieth century, Jibanananda Das emerged as the most popular poet of modern Bengali literature. Popularity apart, Jibanananda had distinguished himself as an extraordinary poet presenting a paradigm hitherto unfamiliar. It is said that his unusual poetic diction, selection of words and thematic inclination took time to reach the heart of the readers. The poetry of Jibanananda has become the defining

Tulasi Dasa's

3944 words - 16 pages Dear Bhakti-vaidurya Madhava Maharaja, Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga. I have received your letter dated June 21, 1996. Because I am presently on tour, I was delayed in responding to your letter. Please forgive me for this. I have read your letter, and in this regard I want to say that you should not take My response as that of an opponent, but rather as that of a friend. For about fifty-five


872 words - 4 pages one cannot perform pure deeds, the soul will remain impure, and an individual will continue through the life-circle of death and rebirth.There are spiritual disciplines, such as Yoga , to help a person achieve self-awareness. Yoga provides three different disciplinary paths to salvation: karma yoga, the way of actions; jnana yoga, the way of knowledge; bhakti yoga, the way of devotion (Rood, 2008). Once a person has reached a purified state of

Ch16 India and the Ocean Basin India After the Fall of the Gupta Dynasty

699 words - 3 pages achieved: whole castes or jatis convert, social status remains consistent. Sufis Personal, emotional, devotional approaches to Islam.Important missionaries of Islam to India.Some flexibility regarding local customs. The Bhakti Movement Attempt to bring Hinduism and Islam closer together.12th c. southern Hindu movement, spread to north Guru Kabir (1440-1.518) Taught that Shiva, Vishnu, Allah all manifestations of one Deity.Largely unsuccessful

Yoga: the Cloud of the Unknowing

1215 words - 5 pages The Cloud of Unknowing is a book of contemplation which helps Christians to attain union with God through single-minded contemplation. The book serve as a guide for Christian spirituality and it cover important topics on contemplation, unknowing and union with God. The unknowing serve as a core element of the method of contemplation itself, which is supposed to unify man with God. The Cloud of Unknowing can guide a Christian to understand the

Related Papers

Aristotle As A Critic Essay

895 words - 4 pages Aristotle as a Critic The word critic comes from Greek word “kritikós” which means "able to discern", which is a Greek derivation from the word “krités” meaning a person who offers reasoned judgment or analysis, value judgment, interpretation, or observation. A critic is anyone who expresses a value judgment. Informally, criticism is a common aspect of all human expression and need not necessarily imply skilled or accurate expressions of

Race As A Social Construct Essay

1325 words - 6 pages The concept of race is an ancient construction through which a single society models all of mankind around the ideal man. This idealism evolved from prejudice and ignorance of another culture and the inability to view another human as equal. The establishment of race and racism can be seen from as early as the Middle Ages through the present. The social construction of racism and the feeling of superiority to people of other ethnicities, have

Young People As A Social Problem

987 words - 4 pages In the wake of the alarming rate of juvenile delinquency and the accumulating cases of teenage suicide since the mid 90's, it's not surprising to see that the majority started to accuse young people as a source of social problem. Nowadays, some may even consider young people as a group of easily-agitated gangsters euipped with the potential ability and the desire to disrupt the present social order. However, is it justified to point

The Development Of Instagram As A Social Media Tool

4895 words - 20 pages The Development of Instagram as a Social Media Tool Introduction More than twenty years after its commercial launch, the internet is now an important distribution channel, as well as an essential basis for consumer information and empowerment. The rise of the social and digital media has revolutionized the online environment tremendously. Novel applications for social correspondence are replacing the traditional mass print media. The social