Important Proponents of the Bhakti Movement

Important Proponents & Periods of the Bhakti Movement

First Online: May 13, 2001
Page Last Updated: April 04, 2014

Introduction | Important Proponents | Pictures
Alvars | Shankara |Bridal Devotion | The Alvars | Ramanuja | Madhva | Ravidas
Meerabai | Guru Nanak | Chaitanya | Purandaradas
Ramananda | Kabir | Tukaram | Kanakadas

Sometime in medieval India., a new religious movement broke out in India that emphasized the devotion to God, as sole means of salvation. Collectively known as the Bhakti Movement, it left a very profound impact on the life and culture of Indians in the subsequent centuries. Numerous religions (like Sikhism), and cults sects (like Vaishnavism, and Veerashaivism) born then are strong and alive today. The following is a list of some of the important saints and teachers of the Bhakti movement.

  • The Alvars (a.k.a. Alwars): Earliest mystics of India following the Buddhist era. There were twelve saints collectively known as Alvars (c. 7-9th century A.D.)
  • Shankara (c 788 - 820 AD., picture ): gave new interpretations to the ancient Vedic religion, and integrated essence of Buddhism in Hindu thought.
  • Ramanuja (1017-1137 A.D.,): wrote commentaries on Brahma Sutras, Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishad; expounded Visishtadvaita or qualified monism
  • Basava (12th Century, picture), treasurer turned saint of Karnataka preached equality to all and taught the way to reach God through one's vocation; his followers constitute the Lingayat or the Veerashaiva cult. His promise poems known as the Vachanas preached devotion to Lord Shiva as the means of salvation
  • Madhva (1238-1319, picture): broke away from the doctrine of unity of God and the human soul prevalent at the time. He preached "Dvaita" or dualism, where the divinity was separate from the human conscience.
  • Ramanada (15th century): A disciple of Ramunuja, he was a worshipper of Lord Rama. He taught perfect love for God and human brotherhood.
  • Kabir (1440-1510, picture, biography): Disciple of Ramananda, he believed in formless God. He was the first to reconcile Hinduism and Islam.
  • Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1538): He was the founder of Sikh religion. He preached against idol worship and caste system, and  taught worship of one God through prayer and meditation.
  • Purandara (15th century) A singer-saint of Karnataka who sang the praises of Lord Krishna; among the greatest composers of South Indian (a.k.a. Carnatic) classical music.
  • Dadu Dayal (1544-1603) A disciple of Kabir, he was a supporter of Hindu-Muslim unity. His followers were known as Dadu Panthis.
  • Chaitanya (1468-1533): A devotee of Lord Krishna, he was the founder of modern Vaishnavism in Bengal. He popularized Kirtan.
  • Shankaradeva (1499-1569): Spread the Bhakti cult in Assam.
  • Vallabhacharya (1479-1531): Exponent of Krishna cult. He worshipped. Krishna under the title "Srinathji."
  • Surdas (1483-1563): A disciple of Vallabhacharya, he showed intense devotion to Radha and Krishna.
  • Mirabai (1498-1563, picture ): Staunch devotee of Lord Krishna, she composed number of songs and poems in honor of Krishna.
  • Haridas (1478-1573, picture): a great musician saint who sang the glories of Lord Vishnu.
  • Tulasidas (1532-1623, picture): Depicted Rama as the incarnation. He wrote Ramcharitmanas.
  • Namdeva (1270-1309) (Maharashtra): A disciple of Vishoba Khechar, he was a devotee of Vittoba (Vishnu).
  • Jnanesvar (1275-1296, picture): Wrote "Jnaneswari", a commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita.
  • Eknath: Wrote commentary on verses of the Bhagavad-Gita: A devotee of Vithoba.
  • Tukaram : Contempotary of  Maratha king Shivaji; a devotee of Vithal he founded the Varkau sect. His teachings are contained in Abhangas.
  • Ram Das: Author of Dasabodh, his teachings inspired Shivaji to establish an independent kingdom in Maharashtra.

Introduction | Important Proponents | Pictures
Alvars | Shankara |Bridal Devotion | The Alvars | Ramanuja | Madhva | Ravidas
Meerabai | Guru Nanak | Chaitanya | Purandaradas
Ramananda | Kabir | Tukaram | Kanakadas

See Also:

External Links on Bhakti

  • For the Love of God -- Encyclopedia Britannica editors narrate the rise of Bhakti movement in medieval India
Kamat's Potpourri Religions of IndiaBhakti

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