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The Bhakti movement in India instilled devotion and belief in God, abolishing the concept of idol-worship and stressed on monotheism, i.e. existence of one God. It started in southern India and gradually moved towards north during the later half of the Indian medieval period (800-1700 CE).
It brought together the galaxy of socio-religious reformers. Many rites and rituals associated with the worship of God like Kirtan at a Hindu Temple, Qawaali at a Dargah (by Muslims), and singing of Gurbani at a Gurdwara are all derived from the Bhakti movement.
Shankaracharya led this movement which was further propagated by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Namadeva, Tukaram, Jayadeva. Shankaracharya focused on Lord Rama and he taught that Lord Rama is the supreme God.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a great proponent of Bhakti yoga and worshiped Lord Krishna. Sri Ramanuja Acharya founded Vaishnavism based on the gospel of love and devotion. Bhagat Namdev, and Sant Kabir Das were some of the followers of Bhakti movement in 12th and 13th Century.
Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru and founder of the Sikhism, a Nirguna Bhakti Saint and social reformer too opposed caste distinctions as well as the religious rivalries and rituals. The Krishna cult followers founded the Radha Ballabhi sect under Hari Vamsa in 1585 A.D. One of the most noted literature was 'Sursagar' in Brajbhasha by Sur Das, which praises the charm of Lord Krishna and Radha.
Important Saints of Bhakti Movement
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1534)
Saint in Eastern India
Mainly worshipped by followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism as the incarnation of Lord Krishna
Some of his teachings include:
Krishna is the Supreme Absolute Truth.
Krishna is endowed with all energies.
Krishna is the ocean of rasa (theology).
The jivas (individual souls) are all separated parts of the Lord.
Kabir Das (c. 1440–c. 1518)
Kabir's legacy is carried forward by the Kabir Panth ("Path of Kabir"), a religious community that sees him as its founder and is one of the Sant Mat sects
Known for influencing Bhakti movement, Sikhism and Bhakti Panth
Kabir's poetry is not only popular but also relevant in today's world
Guru Nanak (1469-1539)
Founder of Sikhism and first of the Sikh Gurus
Asked people to give up hypocrisy, selfishness and falsehood
His followers are known as Sikhs
His teachings can be found in Holy book of Guru Granth Sahib
Opening lines of Guru Granth Sahib
There is but One God, The Supreme Truth; The Ultimate Reality, The Creator, Without fear, Without enemies, Timeless is His image, Without Birth, Self Created, By His grace revealed.