Class 7 NCERT Solutions History Chapter 6 - Devotional Paths to the Divine
Devotional Paths to the Divine Exercise 76
Questioned Social differences
Worship of Shiva
Worship of Vishnu
Devotional Paths to the Divine Exercise 77
(a) Shankara was an advocate of advaita.
(b) Ramanuja was influenced by the Alvars.
(c) Basavanna, Allama Prabhu and Akkamahadevi were advocates of Virashaivism.
(d) Vitthala temple was an important centre of the Bhakti tradition in Maharashtra.
The Nathpanthis, Siddhas and Yogis were religious sects that criticised ritualism and other conservative aspects of religion and the social order. They advocated renunciation of the world for self-realisation and insisted that salvation could be achieved by meditating on the formless ‘ultimate reality’ and the realisation of the oneness with it. They stressed upon the importance of intense training of body and mind through yogasanas, meditation and breathing exercises. All three sects held considerable sway over lower castes and contributed towards the popularity of devotional religion in northern India.
Kabir is well known for his utter and comprehensive rejection of the major religious traditions of his times. He ridiculed all forms of external worship professed by Hinduism and Islam, the preeminence of the priestly class and the distinctions of caste. He believed in and professed the concept of a formless ‘Supreme God’. According to him, the only path to salvation was through devotion or ‘bhakti’. He expressed these ideas through verses called sakhis and pads.
Sufis were actually Muslim mystics who repudiated outward religiosity and emphasised on love and devotion to God coupled with compassion for all human beings. They sought a complete union with God, like a lovelorn person. They insisted that the heart could be trained to look at the world differently and insisted on the futility of the detailed rituals and codes of behavior prescribed by Muslim clerics. The Sufis composed poems that expressed their spiritual beliefs and developed several methods of training using ‘Zikr’ (chanting of a name or sacred formula), contemplation, sama (singing) raqs (dancing), discussion of parables, breath control, etc. All of this was done under the guidance of a master or ‘pir’.
Many of the prevalent religious practices and beliefs perpetuated social differences and instituted cumbersome social protocols. As a result, many of the teachers sought to reject these. To this purpose, they advocated equality across caste distinctions and opposed the Brahmanical ideas about caste and the treatment meted out to women. They stood against the practice of idol worship and ritualism and encouraged devotional religions.
Baba Guru Nanak insisted on the importance of the worship of one true God. He believed that caste, creed or gender is irrelevant in the context of a true liberation from worldly matters. According to him, liberation is not a state of inert bliss but the pursuit of an active life with an acute sense of social commitment. He prescribed the motto of ‘nam, dan, insane’, which meant right worship, social welfare and complete purity of conduct.
Both the Virshaivas as well as the saints of Maharashtra supported complete equality of all human beings. They stood steadfastly against the brahmanical concepts of caste and social distinctions and appealed for spiritual equality and social mobility across caste barriers.
Mirabai was the disciple of Ravidas, a saint hailing from a caste considered as ‘untouchable’ in Hinduism. Mirabai was devoted to Lord Krishna and composed many bhajans expressing her intensely felt devotion to the almighty. Ordinary people have strived to preserve her memory because her songs openly and comprehensively challenged upper caste privileges. This gave immense popularity to Mirabai among the common populace.