NCERT Class 7 History Chapter 8 - Devotional Paths to the Divine Notes

Chapter 8 - Devotional Paths to the Divine Notes

1. People performed various kinds of bhakti and rituals of worship or singing bhajans, kirtans or qawwali or even repeating the name of God in silence.

2. Different groups of people worshipped their own gods and goddesses.

3. The idea that all living things pass through countless cycles of birth and rebirth performing good deeds and bad came to be widely accepted.

4. The belief that social privileges came from birth in a ‘noble’ family or a ‘high’ caste was the subject of many learned texts.

5. Many people turned to the teachings of the Buddha or the Jainas according to which it was possible to overcome social differences and break the cycle of rebirth through personal effort.

6. Others felt attracted to the idea of a Supreme God who could deliver humans free from such bondage if approached with devotion (or bhakti). This idea, advocated in the Bhagavadgita, grew in popularity.

7. The idea of bhakti became so popular that even Buddhists and Jainas adopted these beliefs.

8. New religious movements, led by the Nayanars (saints devoted to Shiva) and Alvars (devoted to Vishnu) emerged 7th to 9th Saints and followers of these religious movements had all castes including untouchable like the Pulaiyar and the Panars.

9. Nayanars and Alvars were sharply critical of the Buddhists and Jainas and preached ardent love of Shiva or Vishnu as the path to salvation.

10. The Nayanars and Alvars went from place to place composing exquisite poems in praise of the deities enshrined in the villages they visited, and set them to music.

11. There were 63 Nayanars, who belonged to different caste backgrounds such as potters, untouchables workers, peasants, hunters, soldiers, Brahmanas and chiefs. The best known among them were Appar, Sambandar, Sundarar and Manikkavasagar. There are two sets of compilations of their songs - Tevaram and Tiruvacakam.

12. There were 12 Alvars, who came from equally divergent backgrounds, the best known being Periyalvar, his daughter Anda, Tondaradippodi Alvar and Nammalvar. Their songs were compiled in the Divya Prabandham.

13. Chola and Pandya kings built huge temples around many of the shrines visited by the saint-poets, strengthening the links between the bhakti tradition and temple worship.

14. One of the most influential philosophers of India, Shankara was bom in Kerala in the 8th century. He was an advocate of Advaita or the doctrine of the oneness of the individual soul and the Supreme God which is the ultimate reality. He taught that Brahman, the only or ultimate reality, was formless and without any attributes.

15. Ramanuja, bom in Tamil Nadu in the 11th century, was deeply influenced by the Alvars. Intense devotion to Vishnu was means of attaining salvation. He followed doctrine of Vishishtadvaita. His doctrine greatly inspired the new strand of bhakti which developed in north India subsequently.

16. Virashaiva movement was initiated by Basavanna and his companions Allama Prabhu and Akkamahadev in Karnataka in mid-12th century. They argued strongly for equality of all human beings, opposed Brahmanical ideas on caste and treatment of women. They were also against all forms of ritual and idol worship.

17. Jnaneshwar, Namdev, Eknath, Tukaram, Sakhubai and the family of Chokhamela focused on the bhakti of Vitthala (a form of Vishnu). All these were saints of Maharashtra. They rejected all forms of ritualism, outward display of piety and social differences based on birth. Some saints belonged to lower castes. The idea of renunciation was rejected and preferred to live with their families.

18. Nathpanthis, Siddhacharas and Yogis that emerged during this period criticized the ritual and other aspects of conventional religion and the social order, using simple, logical arguments. They advocated renunciation of the world. To achieve the salvation, they advocated intense training of the mind and body through practices like yogasanas, breathing exercises and meditation. It became popular among ‘low’ castes.

19. Sufis were Muslim mystics. They rejected outward religiosity and emphasized love and devotion to God and compassion towards all fellow human beings. Islam emphasizes monotheism (one God). It rejected idol worship and highlights into collective prayers. Sufis composed poems expressing their feelings and a rich literature in prose, including anecdotes and fables, developed around them.

20. Ghazzali, Rumi and Sadi was the great Sufis in Central Asia and in India there were Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti of Ajmer, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki of Delhi, Baba Farid of Punjab, Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi and Bandanawaz Gisudaraz of Gulbarga. They developed elaborate methods of training using zikr, contemplation, sama, raqs discussion of parables, breath control etc., under the guidance of a master or pir.

21. The tomb or dargah of a Sufi saint became a place of pilgrimage to which thousands of people of all faiths thronged.

22. In North India, after 13th century there was a new movement of bhakti. Kabir and Baba Guru Nanak rejected all orthodox religions. Others like Tulsidas and Surdas accepted existing beliefs and practices.

23. Kabir was brought up in a family of Muslim julahas or weavers near the city of Benares. His ideas are found in the form of sakhis and pads. Kabir’s verses are also in the Guru Granth Sahib, Panch Vani and Bijak which is collection of Kabir’s verses.

24. Kabir’s teachings openly ridiculed all forms of external worship of both Brahmanical Hinduism and Islam, the pre-eminence of the priestly classes and the caste system. The language of his poetry was a form of spoken Hindi widely understood by ordinary people.

25. Tulsidas conceived God in the form of Rama while Surdas in the form of Krishna. Ramcharitmanas was written by Tulsidas in Awadhi language. Sursagara, Surasaravali and Sahitya, Lahari, express devotion of Surdas. He was contemporary of Shankaradeva of Assam who emphasized devotion to Vishnu.

26. Bhakti tradition also included saints like Dadu Dayal, Ravidas and Mirabai. Mirabai was a Rajput princess married into the royal family of Mewar in the 16th century. She was devoted to Krishna and composed innumerable bhajans expressing her intense devotion.

27. The unique feature of most of the saints is that their works were composed in regional languages and could be sung. These transmitted orally by most deprived communities and women.

28. Baba Guru Nanak born at Talwandi (presently in Pakistan). He established a centre at Kartarpur (Dera Baba Nanak) on the bank of river Ravi. The sacred space thus created by Baba Guru Nanak was known as dharmsal. It is now known as Gurdwara.

29. Guru Angad compiled the compositions of Baba Guru Nanak, to which he added his own in a new script known as Gurmukhi. The three successors of Guru Angad also wrote under the name of “Nanak” and all of their compositions were compiled by Guru Aijan in 1604. Later, this holy scripture of the Sikhs called as Guru Granth Sahib. This was authenticated by Guru Gobind Singh.

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