Religious Synthesis Class 7 History Notes Maharashtra Board

Religious Synthesis Class 7 History Notes Maharashtra State Board

Diversity of languages and religions is an important characteristic of the Indian society. Considering this feature, the Indian Constitution has adopted the principle of secularism. In medieval India, too, attempts to bring about religious synthesis in social life were made based on this principle. Among these efforts, the Bhakti movement, Sikhism, and the Sufi sect have a significant place. These different streams of thought arose in different parts of India. They emphasized harmony between the different sects and religions along with devotion to God. We shall study them in this chapter.

Initially, rituals and brahmadnyan were greatly emphasized in Indian religious life. In the medieval period, they gave way to Bhakti Marg – the path of devotion. Bhakti Marg did not give undue importance to hierarchies, which further facilitated religious synthesis. In the different regions of India, we find different forms of the path of devotion, according to the local situation there. The Bhakti movement used the common people’s language instead of Sanskrit. This helped the development of regional languages.

Religious Synthesis Class 7 History Notes Maharashtra Board

Bhakti Movement:
It is believed that the Bhakti movement originated in South India. The Naynar and Alawar Bhakti movements emerged in this region. The Naynars were devotees of Shiva, while the Alawars were devotees of Vishnu. There were also attempts to consider Shiva and Vishnu as the same and bring them together. ‘Harihar’ idols which depict half Vishnu and half Shiva were produced in this period on a large scale. People belonging to all social strata participated in these Bhakti movements. They preached values like love of God, humanity, compassion, mercy, etc. Ramanuja and other Acharyas strengthened the base of the Bhakti movement in South India. They told people that God is for all. God does not discriminate. The teachings of Ramanuja had a great impact in North India also.
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Sant Ramanand strengthened the Bhakti movement in North India. Sant Kabir is a well-known saint in the Bhakti movement. He did not attach any importance to places of pilgrimage, vratas, or idol worship. For him, Truth was God. He taught that all human beings are equal. He did not believe in any differences based on caste, creed, sect, or religion. He wanted to bring about Hindu and Muslim unity. He criticized the extremely orthodox people in both Hindu and Muslim religions in strong terms.

In Bengal, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu underlined the importance of Krishna bhakti. Due to his teachings, people joined the Bhakti movement in transcending the boundaries of caste and creed. Under his influence, Shankaradeva spread the Bhakti movement in Assam. Narsi Mehta was a renowned Vaishnava Sant in Gujarat. He was an ardent devotee of Krishna. He gave the message of equality. He is known as the first poet of the Gujarati language.

Sant Mirabai stressed the importance of devotion to Krishna. She belonged to the royal family of Mewad. She renounced all pleasures of the royal family and immersed herself in devotion to Krishna. She composed devotional verses in Rajasthani and Gujarati. Her devotional verses give the message of devotion, tolerance, and humanity. Sant Sena was an influential Sant. Sant Rohidas was a great Sant. He gave the message of equality and humanity. Surdasa, a great poet of Hindi literature, composed the poetical work ‘Sursagar’. Devotion to Krishna (Krishnabhakti) is the subject of his work. The verses on Krishnabhakti composed by the Muslim Sant Raskhan are melodious. ‘RamcharitaManasa’ of Sant Tulshidas is a beautiful composition expressing devotion to Rama.
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In Karnataka, Basaveshwar spread the lingayat stream of thought. He opposed the caste system and stressed the dignity of labour. ‘Kayakave Kailas’ is his well-known saying which means ‘Work is Kailas’ (Work is worship). He encouraged women’s participation in his movement. Men and women belonging to all castes began to participate in the religious discussions conducted in the hall ‘Anubhava Mantapa’. Shri Basaveshwar conveyed his teachings in the language of the people, i.e., Kannada, through the medium of ‘Vachana’ literature. His work had a great impact on society. His followers have composed their work in Marathi also. Of these compositions, ‘Paramarahasya’ composed by Manmath Swami is very well-known. Great saints in Karnataka include Pamp, Purandardasa, and others. They composed many devotional verses in Kannada.

Religious Synthesis Class 7 History Notes Maharashtra Board

Mahanubhav Panth:
In the thirteenth century, Chakradhar Swami founded the ‘Mahanubhav Panth’ in Maharashtra. This sect preaches devotion to Krishna. Shri Govind Prabhu was the Guru of Chakradhar Swami. The followers of Chakradhara included men and women belonging to all castes and creeds. He supported equality. He traveled to all parts of Maharashtra preaching in Marathi. He preferred Marathi instead of Sanskrit. This led to the development of the Marathi language. Many works were composed in Marathi. This sect mainly spread in the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra. Riddhipur in Vidarbha is an important place for people of this sect. This sect had reached up to faraway regions like the Punjab and Afghanistan.
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Some of the main compositions of the followers of the Mahanubhav Panth are The treatise ‘Leelacharitra’ compiled by Mhaimbhat describing the deeds of Chakradhar Swami; ‘Dhavale’ of the first Marathi poetess Mahadamba, ‘Sutrapath and Drishtantapath’ compiled by Keshobas, ‘Vacchaharan’ of Damodar Pandit, ‘Shishupalvadha’ of Bhaskarbhat Borikar and ‘Rukmini Swayamvara’ of Narendra. A conversation between a Hindu and a Muslim written by Sant Eknath is important from the viewpoint of religious harmony. The famous quote of Sant Shaikh Mohammad ‘शेख महंमद अववंध । त्ाचे हृ्ी गोववंद ।।’ is an example of this religious harmony.

Guru Nanak:
Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism and the first guru of Sikhs. His work has to be mentioned as a great attempt at religious synthesis. He visited the holy places of both Hindus and Muslims. He had also visited Mecca. He realized that the feeling of devotion is common everywhere. He taught that all persons should be treated equally. His teachings aimed at achieving Hindu-Muslim unity. He emphasized chaste behaviour.
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Many people were influenced by the teachings of Guru Nanak. The number of his followers increased day by day. The followers of Guru Nanak are known as ‘Sikhs’ (Shishyas) meaning ‘disciples’. The ‘Aadigrantha’, also known as the ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ is the Holy Book of the Sikhs. The Aadigrantha includes compositions by Guru Nanak, Sant Namdeo, Sant Kabir, and other Sants. Guru Nanak was succeeded by nine Gurus of the Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh was the tenth Guru of the Sikhs. After Guru Gobindsingh, Sikhs regard the ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ as their Guru, as per the orders of Guru Gobindsingh.

Religious Synthesis Class 7 History Notes Maharashtra Board

The Sufi Sect:
This is a sect in Islam. The Sufi saints believed that God is full of love and the only way to reach him is through love and devotion. Their main teachings are love for all living beings, meditation, and simple living. Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, Shaikh Nijamuddin Avaliya were great Sufi Saints. The teachings of Sufi Saints led to unity in the Hindu and Muslim communities. Sufi music has made a valuable contribution to Indian music. The path of Bhakti taught by the Sants was easy to follow for the common people. The Bhakti movement was open to all men and women. The Sants expressed their thoughts in the language of the people. The common people found them close to their hearts. The Bhakti movement has contributed greatly to the making of the Indian Culture.

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