Bhakti & Sufi Movement

Sufism is the mystical movement against orthodox practice in Islam, while the Bhakti movement refers to the trend in medieval Hinduism that sought to bring religious reforms by adopting the method of devotion to achieve salvation.

Similarities between bhaktism and Sufism were:

  • The Bhakti and Sufi movements showed the people that the existence of God could be experienced under the guidance of a guru. Priests or ulemas are not required to feel the presence of God. Thus, many people began to question the authority and domination of their religion by religious authorities. 
  • The Bhakti and the Sufi saints criticised the existence of rituals in the Indian society. Both Sufi and Bhakti movements emphasised on the feeling of universal brotherhood and religious tolerance. As a result, an environment of mutual love and respect was created among different sections of society.
  • The Bhakti and Sufi saints preached their teachings in the local language. This led to the development of the local and vernacular languages.

Impact of sufi movement on life of people 

  • The Sufis stressed the essential unity between different religions and showed an attitude of toleration towards other religions and tried to bring about reconciliation between the Hindus and the Muslims.
  • The Sufis promoted educational advancement of the society. Their khanqahs ( monasteries) became centers of knowledge and wisdom.
  • The Sufis, especially belonging to the Chisti order, appealed to the lower caste Hindus, which led to large-scale conversions. The Islamic concept of equality and brotherhood attracted the lower class Hindus.
  • The Sufis emphasized the unity of God and superiority of the path of devotion over rituals, ceremonies, pilgrimages and fasts.
  • The liberal and tolerant attitude adopted by Akbar and his successors made the Sufi literature and thought popular among the Hindu intellectuals. The Sufi doctrine of Universal Brotherhood (sulh-i-kul) was adopted by Akbar in his attempt to establish a national state in India.

Sufi and Bhakti movements are an integral part of Indian culture. Both movements teach tolerance and love, both of which are very important in present times.

Practice Question-

Identify the similarities between the Sufi and the Bhakti cults. Describe the impact of Sufi movement on the life of people.

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