Bhakti movement: short note from history

The Bhakti movement refers to the trend that was brought forward by a number of Hindu saints in medieval Hinduism that sought to bring religious reforms by adopting the method of devotion to achieve salvation. It was prominent in eighth-century south India (now Tamil Nadu and Kerala states), and spread northwards. It swept over east and north India from the 15th century onwards, reaching its zenith between the 15th and 17th centuries CE.

The Bhakti movement regionally developed around different gods and goddesses, and some sub-sects were Vaishnavism (Vishnu), Shaivism (Shiva), Shaktism (Shakti goddesses), and Smartism. Bhakti movement preached using the local languages so that the message reached the masses.

The movement was inspired by many poet-saints, who championed a wide range of philosophical positions ranging from the theistic dualism of Dvaita to the absolute monism of Advaita Vedanta.

The movement has traditionally been considered an influential social reformation in Hinduism and provided an individual-focused alternative path to spirituality regardless of one's birth or gender. The Bhakti movement began with the aim of reforming Hinduism against evil practices, the caste system and the dominance of Brahmanas. Contemporary scholars question this traditional view and whether the Bhakti movement ever was a reform or rebellion of any kind.

They suggest the Bhakti movement was a revival, reworking and re-contextualisation of ancient Vedic traditions. Bhakti refers to passionate devotion (to a deity). Scriptures of the Bhakti movement include the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavata Purana and Padma Purana.