VAISHNAVA BHAKTI


In the 14th and early 15th centuries Ramananda emerged as a popular vaishnava bhakti saint in north India.

He looked upon Ram and not Vishnu as the object of bhakti.

He worshiped Ram and Sita and came to be identified as the founder of the Ram cult in north India.

He like the monotheist bhakti saints also rejected cast hierarchies and preached in the local languages in his attempt to popularize the cult.

His followers are called Ramanandis.

Tulsidas also championed the bhakti cause.

In the early 16 century Vallabacharya, a popular bhakti saint popularized the Krishna bhakti. Among those who followed in his footsteps were Surdas (1483–1563) and Mira Bai (1503–1573).

 

The vaishnava bhakti movement in Bengal was very different form its counterparts in north India and the south.

It was influenced by the vaishnava bhakti tradition of the Bhagavata purana and the Sahajiya Buddhist and Nathpanthi traditions.

In the 12th century, Jayadeva was an important bhakti saint in this tradition.

He highlighted the mystical dimension of love with reference to Krishna and Radha.

Chaitanya was a popular bhakti saint from the region; he was looked upon as an avatara of Krishna.

He also popularized the sankirtan (group devotional songs accompanied with ecstatic dancing).

With him the bhakti movement in Bengal began to develop into a reform movement with the notions of caste divisions that came to be questioned.

 

In Maharashtra the bhakti movement drew its inspiration from the Bhagavata purana and the Siva Nathpanthis.

Dnyaneswar was a pioneer bhakti saint of Maharashtra.

His commentary on the Bhagavad Gita called Dnyanesvari served as a foundation of the bhakti ideology in Maharashtra.

The Vithoba of Pandarpur became the mainstay of the movement in Maharashtra.

 

Namdev (1270–1350) was another important bhakti saint from Maharashtra.

In Maharashtra he is considered to be part of the varkari tradition (the vaishnava devotional tradition).

Some of the other important bhakti saints of Maharashtra were the saints Choka, Sonara, Tukaram and Eknath.

Tukaram’s teachings are in the form of the Abhangas (dohas), which constitute the Gatha.