BHAKTI MOVEMENT

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Table of Contents

Scope of this document

Syllabus

Concept Map

Theme Plan

Curricular Objectives

An Introduction to the Bhakti Movement

The Origins :

What was the Bhakti movement about?

Women also played an important role in the Bhakti movement:

Geographical reach of the Movement:

Formation of New religions:

Rough Timeline of the Bhakti and Sufi Movement:

Activities :

Additional Web Resources

Additional Discussion

Evaluation


Scope of this document

The following note is a background document for teachers. It summarises the things we will need to know and be a ready reference for the teacher to develop the theme of Bhakti Movement. This document attempts to cover all the topics identified in the concept map. To plan the actual lessons, the teacher must use this in connection with the theme plan. The document offers additional resources on this topic, which the teacher can visit for more information.



Syllabus

Class 6

Class 9

Bhakti Cult

1. Introduction

2. Chaitanya

3. Gurunanak

4. Meera Bai

5. Sufi Saints

6. Chishtis

Bhakti Cult

1. Introduction

2. Ramananda

3. Kabir Bhakti saints.

4. Chaitanya

5. Gurananak

6. Meera Bai

7. Sufi Saints





Concept Map



Theme Plan




THEME PLAN FOR THE TOPIC BHAKTI MOVEMENT



CLASS

SUBTOPIC

CONCEPT
DEVELOPMENT

KNOWLEDGE

SKILL

ACTIVITY

Std. 9.

An introduction to the Bhakti Movement.

1. What is the Bhakti Movement. 2. Emergance of it. 3. Religuous and caste issues that led to the movement

The people involved in the origin of the Bhakti movement. Their famous works.

1. Recognising differences of religion and caste. 2. Analysing and comprehending text.

Activity 1,2

Std. 9.

What was the Bhakti Movement about

1. Bhakti as One Supreme God. 2. It rebelled against existing caste hierarchy. 3. It sought to bring about religious harmony. 4. It contributed to art and literature talking about daily life of common person.

1. Caste system and its hierarchy. 2. People who contributed towards relgious harmony. 3. Similarities between Bhakti movement and Sufi movement. 4. Works of Literature from this period

1. recognising inequality in society. 2. Ability to distinguish different factors (social, economic,political) that influence people in their thinking. 3. Reading to make meaning. 4. Writing skills to reflect on a social issue like inequality

Activity 3,4,5,6,7

Std. 9.

Role of Women in the Bhakti Movement

1.The status of women in society and their role in the movement using the examples of Meera bai and Akkamahadevi

The life and works of Meera bai. The life and works of Akkamahadevi

To look at an issue from different perspectives/To put oneself in other's shoes

Activity 8,9

Std. 10

Geographical reach of the movement

1. To map out the people and places involved in the Bhakti movement. 2. To understand the political situation of that time and the influence of the Bhakti movement on the rulers. . 3.Understand the extent, diversity and local context of the movement. 4. Understand the relationship between the rulers and the saints.

Places and people (saints, masses and rulers) part of the movement

1. Represent information in a geographic form. 2. To understand the political role in society.

Activity 10

10

Formation of new religions

1. What plays a role for formation of new religions. 2. What is new about these religions and what are its influences. 3. What is the role of the key persons involved in the formation of these religions

Birth of Sikhism, Lingayatism during the Bhakti movement


Activity 11



Curricular Objectives

  1. To understand what the Bhakti movement and the Sufi movement is.

  2. To understand what these movements did and how they operated.

  3. To understand why these movements emerged in India and how it become popular in comparison with the then prevalent religious movement.

  4. To learn about the life and works of the key people part of the movement. (To understand the reasons for them being part of the movement and their own life influences.)

  5. To examine their contribution to the arts, literature and music.

An Introduction to the Bhakti Movement

By the 5th century, the South Indian religious scene was diverse, with popular religion existing alongside Vedic sacrifice and non-Vedic traditions like Buddhism and Jainism. There was a fear among the Hindu religious leaders with the popularity of Buddhim and Jainism. It was in this context that fears of a Buddhist or Jain takeover spurred a large Hindu revival that reached its peak in the 7th century and continued nearly into the 2nd millennium.

The popular aspects of this revival took the shape of several mystical and passionate bhakti movements, represented on the Srivaishnavite side by the twelve alvars. The alvars came from a variety of social strata; their ranks include shudras and one woman. The intense devotionalism of their poetry and insistence that caste and sex are no barrier to a relationship with the Divine is uncharacteristic of classical Vedic thought, which laid a strong emphasis on the performance of the social and religious duties proper to one's place in the social structure. Some of these were collected into a definitive canon known as the Nālāyira Divya Prabandha ("divine composition of 4000 verses"), by Nathamuni in the 10th century, and came to be seen as a source of revelation equal in authority to the Vedas in the Śrīvaiṣṇava community.

On the philosophical side, this period saw the rise of the Vedanta school of philosophy, which focused on the elucidation and exegesis of the speculative and philosophical Vedic commentaries known as the Upanishads. The Advaita, or non-dualist interpretation of Vedanta was developed in this time by Adi Shankara. It argued that the Brahman presented in the Upanishads is the static and undifferentiated absolute reality, and that the ultimately false perception of difference is due to avidyā, or ignorance.

Shankara, one of the most influential philosophers of India, was born in Kerala in the eighth 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.



At the time of Adi Shankara's life, Hinduism was increasing in influence in India at the expense of Buddhism and Jainism. Hinduism was divided into innumerable sects, each quarreling with the others. The followers of Mimamsa and Sankhya philosophy were atheists, insomuch that they did not believe in God as a unified being. Besides these atheists there were numerous theistic sects. There were also those who rejected the Vedas, like the Charvakas.



Adi Shankara held discourses and debates with the leading scholars of all these sects and schools of philosophy to controvert their doctrines. He unified the theistic sects into a common framework of Shanmata system. In his works, Adi Shankara stressed the importance of the Vedas, and his efforts helped Hinduism regain strength and popularity. Many trace the present worldwide prominence of Vedanta to his works. He travelled on foot to various parts of India to restore the study of the Vedas.



Adi Shankara, along with Madhva and Ramanuja, was instrumental in the revival of Hinduism (at the expense of decline of Buddhism and Jainism). These three teachers formed the doctrines that are followed by their respective sects even today. They have been the most important figures in the recent history of Hindu philosophy.



Ramanuja, born in Tamil Nadu in the eleventh century, was deeply influenced by the Alvars. According to him the best means of attaining salvation was through intense devotion to Vishnu. Vishnu in His grace helps the devotee to attain the bliss of union with Him. He propounded the doctrine of Vishishtadvaita or qualified oneness in that the soul even when united with the Supreme God remained distinct. Ramanuja’s doctrine greatly inspired the new strand of bhakti which developed in north India subsequently.



Like Ramanuja, Madhvacharya espoused a Vaishnava theology that understands God to be endowed with attributes and a personal God. By Brahman, he referred to Vishnu, as per his statement "brahmashabdashcha vishhnaveva" that Brahman can only refer to Vishnu. Madhva states that Vishnu is not just any other deity, but rather the singularly all-important Supreme One. Vishnu is always the primary object of worship, with all others regarded as subordinate to Him. The deities and other sentient beings are graded among themselves, with Vayu, the god of life, being the highest, and Vishnu eternally above them.

Madhva's Dualistic view, along with Shankara's Advaita (Nondualism) and Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita (Qualified Nondualism), form some of the core Indian beliefs on the nature of reality.The main icon (vigraha) in Udupi of Lord Krishna was established by Madhvacharya. The 8 monasteries (ashta mathas) of Udupi have been following his philosophy since then. The Eight monasteries (Ashta Mathas) are Krishnapura, Pejavara, Puttige, Sodhe (Sondhe), Kaniyooru, Adamaru, Shirur and Palimaru.

The Origins :



In South India, the Nayanmars and Alwars were the noted saints of the Bhakti movement. The Nayanmars, the devotees of Siva, were sixty three in number. The most famous among them were Appar, Sundarar, Thirugnana Sambandar and Manickavachakar. These saints composed many verses in praise of Lord Siva. A saint named Nambiandar Nambi collected the devotional songs of Nayanmars. Appar, Sundarar and Thirugnana Sambandar composed the Thevaram hymns. Manickvachakar’s songs are known as Tiruvachakam. Periyapuranam, written by Sekhizhar, tells us the life stories of the Nayanmars. Nayanars were from varied backgrounds, ranging from kings and soldiers to untouchables. The Alwars were the worshippers of Lord Vishnu who were twelve in number. Among them Nammalwar, Tirumangai Alwar, Andal and Perialwar were famous. The songs of the Alwars were compiled in a book called Nalayira Divya Prabandham by Nadamuni.

The devotional songs of Andal is called Thiruppavai. The revered alvars came from all castes, a symbolic notion in Vaishnavism to show that devotion to God transcends above caste. Nammalvar, or Satakopan, belonged to the Vellala caste. Tirumangai Alvar belonged to the Kallara tribe. Thirumalisai Alvar belonged to Paraiyar untouchable caste. Tiruppani Alvar (It is thiruppaan ahwar) belonged to Panar untouchable caste, Kulashekhara was a King from Kerala. Vishnu Chitta, or Periyalvar, was a Brahmin.



What was the Bhakti movement about?

Propogated idea of Bhakti towards One Supreme God

Before large kingdoms emerged, different groups of people worshipped their own gods and goddesses. As people were brought together through the growth of towns, trade and empires, new ideas began to develop. The idea that all living things pass through countless cycles of birth and rebirth performing good deeds and bad came to be widely accepted. Similarly, the idea that all human beings are not equal even at birth gained ground during this period. The belief that social privileges came from birth in a “noble” family or a “high” caste was the subject of many learned texts. Many people were uneasy with such ideas and 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. Others felt attracted to the idea of a Supreme God who could deliver humans from such bondage if approached with devotion (or bhakti). This idea, advocated in the Bhagavadgita, grew in popularity in the early centuries of the Common Era. Shiva, Vishnu and Durga as supreme deities came to be worshipped through elaborate rituals. At the same time, gods and goddesses worshipped in different areas came to be identified with Shiva, Vishnu or Durga. In the process, local myths and legends became a part of the Puranic stories, and methods of worship recommended in the Puranas were introduced into the local cults. Eventually the Puranas also laid down that it was possible for devotees to receive the grace of God regardless of their caste status. The idea of bhakti became so popular that even Buddhists and Jainas adopted these beliefs.



Rebellion against existing caste hierarchies

The life of Basavanna:

    An example of this would be the life of Basavanna (1106-68) who was initially a Jaina and a minister in the court of a Chalukya king. His followers were known as Virashaivas (heroes of Shiva) or Lingayats (wearers of the linga). Lingayats continue to be an important community in the region to date. They worship Shiva in his manifestation as a linga, and men usually wear a small linga in a silver case on a loop strung over the left shoulder. Those who are revered include the jangama or wandering monks. Lingayats believe that on death the devotee will be united with Shiva and will not return to this world. Therefore they do not practise funerary rites such as cremation, prescribed in the Dharmashastras. Instead, they ceremonially bury their dead.

    The Lingayats challenged the idea of caste and the “pollution” attributed to certain groups by Brahmanas. They also questioned the theory of rebirth. These won them followers amongst those who were marginalised within the Brahmanical social order. The Lingayats also encouraged certain practices disapproved in the Dharmashastras, such as post-puberty marriage and the remarriage of widows. Our understanding of the Virashaiva tradition is derived from vachanas (literally, sayings) composed in Kannada by women and men who joined the movement.


The Life of Kanaka Dasa:

Another example to explain the inequality in society would be through the life of Kanaka Dasa. Kanaka Dasa (1509–1609) was a great poet, philosopher, musician and composer from Karnataka. He is known for his Kirtanes and Ugabhoga compositions in the Kannada language for Carnatic music. he often used colloquial language for his compositions.

Thimmappa Nayaka was his original name and he belonged to chieftain (Kuruba Gowda ) / (Dhangar ) family of Kaginele in Haveri district. Kanaka Nayaka being of the warrior community (Kuruba Gowda) his defeat in the field of battle, directed him to the path of devotion. Kanaka Dasa was well educated and capable of analyzing the society microscopically. Based on one of his compositions it is interpreted that after he severely got injured in a war and was miraculously saved, he gave up his profession as a warrior and devoted his life to composing music and literature with philosophy explained in common man's language. It appears that he started traveling to places a lot to gain more knowledge. However he had maintained a balanced view about all faiths. At a young age he authored poetries Narasimha stotra, Ramadhyana Mantra, and Mohanatarangini.

Kanakadasa once wanted to have a darshan of the Lord Krishna in Udupi. He was not allowed into the shrine by castist priests as he was not a higher-caste by birth. Kanakadasa then started singing the praises of Shri Krishna and was lost to outside world in a corner outside the temple. Legend has it that the western wall collapsed so that Kanakadasa could have darshan of Lord Krishna's icon. A small window was constructed at the breach later. The idol of Lord Krishna is still today worshipped through the window. This window came to be known as Kanakana kindi (Kanaka’s window)



Bhakti attacked religious fundamentalism

Kabir:

Kabir, who probably lived in the fifteenth-sixteenth centuries, was one of the most influential saints. He was brought up in a family of Muslim julahas or weavers settled in or near the city of Benares (Varanasi). We get to know of his ideas from a vast collection of verses called sakhis and pads said to have been composed by him and sung by wandering bhajan singers. Some of these were later collected and preserved in the Guru Granth Sahib, Panch Vani and Bija k. Kabir’s teachings were based on a complete, indeed vehement, rejection of the major religious traditions. His 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. He also sometimes used cryptic language, which is

difficult to follow. Kabir believed in a formless Supreme God and preached that the only path to salvation was through bhakti or devotion. Kabir drew his followers from among both Hindus and Muslims.


Kabir’s poems have survived in several languages and dialects; and some are composed in the special language of nirguna poets, the sant bhasha. Others, known as ulatbansi (upside-down sayings), are written in a form in which everyday meanings are inverted. Diverse and sometimes conflicting ideas are expressed in these poems. Some poems draw on Islamic ideas and use monotheism and iconoclasm to attack Hindu polytheism and idol worship; others use the sufi concept of zikr and ishq (love) to express the Hindu practice of nam-simaran (remembrance of God’s name).


The Christi saints and Sufism:

For more then seven centuries people of various creeds, classes and social backgrounds have expressed their devotion at the dargahs of the five Christi saints. Amongst these, the most revered shrine if that of Khwaja muinuddin, popularly known as “Gharib Nawaz” (comforter of the poor).

The earliest textual referances to Khwaja Muinuddin's dargah date to the fourteenth century. It was evidently popular because of the austerity and piety of its Shaikh, the greatness of his spiritual successors, and the patronage of royal visitors. Muhammad bin Tughlaq (ruled, 1324-51) was the first Sultan to visit the shrine, but the earliest construction to house the tomb was funded in the late fifteenth century by Sultan Ghiyasuddin Khalji of Malwa. Since the shrine was located on the trade route linking Delhi and Gujarat, it attracted a lot of travellers.

By the sixteenth century the shrine had become very popular; in fact it was the spirited singing of pilgrims bound for Ajmer that inspired Akbar to visit the tomb. He went there fourteen times, sometimes two or three times a year, to seek blessings for new conquests, fulfilment of vows, and the birth of sons. He maintained this tradition until 1580. Each of these visits was celebrated by generous gifts, which were recorded in imperial documents. For example, in 1568 he offered a huge cauldron (degh) to facilitate cooking for pilgrims. He also had a mosque constructed within the compound of the dargah.


Women also played an important role in the Bhakti movement:

Mirabai:

Mirabai (c. fifteenth-sixteenth centuries) is perhaps the best-known woman poet within the bhakti tradition. Biographies have been reconstructed primarily from the bhajans attributed to her, which were transmitted orally for centuries. According to these, she was a Rajput princess from Merta in Marwar who was married against her wishes to a prince of the Sisodia clan of Mewar, Rajasthan. She defied her husband and did not submit to the traditional role of wife and mother, instead

recognising Krishna, the avatar of Vishnu, as her lover. Her in-laws tried to poison her, but she escaped from the palace to live as a wandering singer composing songs that are characterised by intense expressions of emotion. According to some traditions, her preceptor was Raidas, a leather worker. This would indicate her defiance of the norms of caste society. After rejecting the comforts of her husband’s palace, she is supposed to have donned the white robes of a widow or the saffron robe of the renouncer. Although Mirabai did not attract a sect or group of followers, she has been recognised as a source of inspiration for centuries. Her songs continue to be sung by women and men, especially those who are poor and considered “low caste” in Gujarat and Rajasthan.


Akkamahadevi:

Akka Mahadevi was a prominent figure of the Veerashaiva Bhakti movement of the 12th century Karnataka. Her Vachanasin Kannada, a form of didactic poetry are considered her greatest contribution to Kannada Bhakti literature. In all she wrote about 430 Vachanas which is relatively fewer than that compared to some other saints of her time. Yet the term 'Akka' (elder Sister) which is an honorific given to her by great Veerashaiva saints like Basavanna, Chenna Basavanna, Kinnari Bommayya, Siddharama, Allamaprabhu and Dasimayya speaks volumes of her contribution to the movement under that was underway. She is in hindsight seen as a great and inspirational woman for Kannada literature and the history of Karnataka. She is said to have accepted the god Shiva ('Chenna Mallikarjuna') as her husband, traditionally understood as the 'madhura bhava' or 'madhurya' form of devotion (similar to how centuries later Meera, a 16th century saint, considered herself married to Krishna).

Legends tell of her wandering naked in search of her Divine Lover; her poetry, or vacanas tell of her frustration with societal norms and roles that restricted her. They also bear witness to her intense, all-encompassing love for Shiva, whom she addresses as Chennamallikarjuna. Through Shiva and Shiva alone is her love fulfilled; through separation from her “lord white as jasmine” is her heart broken.



Geographical reach of the Movement:

The Bhakti Movement was an integral aspect to the political conditions of those times. This was due in part to the rise of a new line of kings, the Gupta lineage (320 CE) that supported the pantheon of gods through worship of divine images (puja) and also included the building of temples and support for devotional groups. Alongside these developments came a flourishing of mythical compositions about the gods, known as the Puranas, or, “ancient stories.” Central to this pantheon were the gods Vishnu, the cosmic king, and Shiva, the great yogi and ascetic known by many names, and his feminine counterpart, Shakti, or divine energy. Shakti was worshipped both as wife and consort of Shiva, but also in her own right as the Great Goddess in a variety of manifestations.



Formation of New religions:

Baba Guru Nanak:

We know more about Guru Nanak (1469-1539) than about Kabir. Born at Talwandi (Nankana Sahib in Pakistan), he travelled widely before establishing a centre at Kartarpur (Dera Baba Nanak on the river Ravi). A regular worship that consisted of the singing of his own hymns was established there for his followers. Irrespective of their former creed, caste or gender, his followers ate together in the common kitchen (langar). The sacred space thus created by Guru Nanak was known as dharmsal. It is now known as Gurdwara.

Before his death in 1539, Guru Nanak appointed one of his followers as his successor. His name was Lehna but he came to be known as Guru Angad, signifying that he was a part of Guru Nanak himself. Guru Angad compiled the compositions of 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 Arjan in 1604. To this compilation were added the writings of other figures like Shaikh Farid, Sant Kabir, Bhagat Namdev and Guru Tegh Bahadur. In 1706 this compilation was authenticated by his son and successor, Guru Gobind Singh. It is now known as Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of the Sikhs.


The number of Guru Nanak’s followers increased through the sixteenth century under his successors. They belonged to a number of castes but traders, agriculturists, artisans and craftsmen predominated. This may have something

to do with Guru Nanak’s insistence that his followers must be householders and should adopt

productive and useful occupations. They were also expected to contribute to the general funds of the

community of followers.


By the beginning of the seventeenth century the town of Ramdaspur (Amritsar) had developed around the central Gurdwara called Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple). It was virtually self-governing and modern historians refer to the early seventeenth century Sikh community as ‘a state within the state’. The Mughal emperor Jahangir looked upon them as a potential threat and he ordered the execution of Guru Arjan in 1606. The Sikh movement began to get politicized in the seventeenth century, a development which

culminated in the institution of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. The community of the Sikhs, called the Khalsa Panth, became a political entity. The changing historical situation during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries influenced the development of the Sikh movement. The ideas of Guru Nanak had a huge impact on this development from the very beginning. He emphasized the importance of the worship of one God. He insisted that caste, creed or gender was irrelevant for attaining liberation. His idea of liberation was not that of a state of inert bliss but rather the pursuit of active life with a strong sense of social commitment. He himself used the terms nam, dan and isnan for the essence of his teaching, which actually meant right worship, welfare of others and purity of conduct. His teachings are now remembered as nam-japna, kirt-karna and vand-chhakna, which also underline the importance of right belief and worship, honest living, and helping others. Thus, Guru Nanak’s idea of equality had social and political implications. This might partly explain the difference between the history of the followers of Guru Nanak and the history of the followers of the other religious figures of the medieval centuries, like Kabir, Ravidas and Dadu whose ideas were very similar to those of Guru Nanak.

This message of Baba Guru Nanak is spelt out in his hymns and teachings. These suggest that he advocated a form of nirguna bhakti. He firmly repudiated the external practices of the religions he saw around him. He rejected sacrifices, ritual baths, image worship, austerities and the scriptures of both Hindus and Muslims. For Baba Guru Nanak, the Absolute or “rab” had no gender or form. He proposed a simple way to connect to the Divine by remembering and repeating the Divine Name, expressing his ideas through hymns called “shabad” in Punjabi, the language of the region. Baba Guru Nanak would sing these compositions in various ragas while his attendant Mardana played the rabab. Baba Guru Nanak organised his followers into a community. He set up rules for congregational worship (sangat ) involving collective recitation.

It appears that Baba Guru Nanak did not wish to establish a new religion, but after his death his followers consolidated their own practices and distinguished themselves from both Hindus and Muslims. Guru Gobind Singh also laid the foundation of the Khalsa Panth (army of the pure) and defined its five symbols: uncut hair, a dagger, a pair of shorts, a comb and a steel bangle. Under him the community got consolidated as a socio-religious and military force.



Rough Timeline of the Bhakti and Sufi Movement:

Activities :

Activity 1 Paryaya festival

Objective:

To look at some of the works from these times and understand what the Bhakti movement was about.


Material:


Photographs and a description of the festival for example, http://www.google.com/imghp

Information from links such as http://www.midcoast.com.au/~dasa/05-carst.htm, http://www.dvaita.org/madhva/udupi/paryaya_1.html etc.

Procedure:

General Instructions

Arrange the seating in the class to suit a discussion. Prepare the children for the activity


Steps to do the Activity

Discuss about the Paryaya festival that happens in the Ashta Mathas of Udupi started by Madhvacharya.

(The discussion should contain information about these Mathas http://www.midcoast.com.au/~dasa/05-carst.htm. Explain the festival Paryaya http://www.dvaita.org/madhva/udupi/paryaya_1.html etc.


You can also use pictures of the festival like this. You can download more such pictures by searching in http://www.google.com/imghp.)



Points for Discussion:


Why does the festival take place and what is its relevance?

What happens during the festival?

How do we understand the importance of the Mathas using the example of this festival?


What did the child learn:


The significance of a certain festival, the emergance of it and how some religious places are relevant even after a long period of time.


Activity 2 Life of Andal

Objective:

Using the example of Andal, to look at some of the works from these times and understand what the Bhakti movement was about.


Material:


Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iKl_cNRfO4

Poetry from http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/alvars/andal/nt/nt-index.html



Procedure:

Watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iKl_cNRfO4 and take some stanzas from Andal's poetry http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/alvars/andal/nt/nt-index.html, explain it to the class and have a discussion


Points for Discussion:


  1. What was Andal's poetry about?

  2. Why would you call her poetry as Bhakti?


What did the child learn:


The relevance of old poetry in today's context; Understanding of the term Bhakti


Activity 3 Basavanna's Life

Objective:

Using the example of basavanna, discuss how the Bhakti movement addressed the issue of caste


Material:

Script on Basavanna's life

Basavanna's vachanas


Procedure:

General and Specific instructions

Prepare the classroom for this role play exercise. Allocate different parts of the script to students and ask them to read it and be comfortable with it.


Steps to do the activity

Enact a scene from Basavanna's life.

(Use thebelow vachana in this role play)


The rich,

Will make temples for Shiva.

What shall I,

A poor man,

Do?

My legs are pillars,

The body the shrine,

The head a cupola

Of gold.

Listen, O Lord of the meeting rivers,

Things standing shall fall,

But the moving ever shall stay. ?


Points for Discussion:

  1. What is the temple that Basavanna is offering to God?

  2. Why do you think he is offering this kind of temple?

  3. What do you think was happening around Basavanna for him to write such a poem?


What did the child learn:

Through the role play exercise, the child is expected to learn about Basavanna's life. She/he should also understand the inequalities present in the society at that time and how it was reflected in Basavanna's writing.


Activity 4 Life of Kanaka Dasa:

Objective:

To understand the inequality that existed in society.


Material:

Movie clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYiV-RyyUUE&feature=related

Find the entire movie here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPX7ugYTsNw&feature=related

Laptop, Speakers and Projector


Procedure:

General and Specific Instructions

Prepare the class to watch the movie clip after introducing Kanaka Dasa to the students. Have a discussion post screening


Steps to do the activity

Set up the project, laptop and speakers

Watch this clip from the movie Bhakta Kanaka Dasa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYiV-RyyUUE&feature=related


Points for Discussion:


  1. Why do you think Kanaka Dasa is being beaten and why is he singing this song.

  2. What is he trying to say through his music.

  3. Now why do you think we celebrate Kanaka Das Jayanti? What should we do on that day?


What did the child learn:


Inequalities exist in society and how music can often be used to represent this.

The life of Kanaka Dasa and the reasons for him writing what he wrote.



Activity 5 Video on Secularism

Objective:

To understand the relevance of Bhakti movement in promoting secular thinking.


Material:

Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TES49EHBevA

Laptop, Speakers and Projector


Procedure:

General and Specific Instructions

Prepare the class to watch the movie clip. Have a discussion post screening


Steps to do the activity

Arrange the classroom for the activity. Set up the laptop, speakers and projector

Watch this video and discuss http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TES49EHBevA


Points for Discussion:


  1. What is he comparing?

  2. What do you understand by his stand on religion by this?


What did the child learn:


The life of Kabir and his contribution towards secular thinking


Activity 6 Video on Sufism

Objective:

To understand the role of Christ saints and Sufism on religious harmony


Material:

Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHNTtWTOhuA&feature=fvsr

Laptop, Speakers, Projector


Procedure:

General and Specific Instructions

Prepare the class to watch the video after explaining what Sufism is about to them.


Steps to do the Activity

Arrange the class for the activity. Set up the laptop, speakers and projector

Watch this video and have a discussion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHNTtWTOhuA&feature=fvsr



Points for Discussion:

  1. Why do you think people go to the shrine?

  2. What aspects of religious harmony do you find in the video?

What did the child learn:

Relevance of Sufism today. Reasons why different people visit the shrine. Importance of belief in people's lives.


Activity 7 Video on Bhakti and Sufi Movement

Objective:

To see how the Sufi movement is related to the Bhakti Movement


Material:

Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7_IvAkL7UI

Laptop, Speakers and Projector



Procedure:

General and Specific Instructions

Prepare the class to watch the video and note down the similarities they feel exist between the two movements.


Steps to do the activity

Arrange the class to watch the video. Set up the laptop, speakers and projector.

Watch the short film: Vishwaas ki Goonj: the Echo of faith (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7_IvAkL7UI)


Points for Discussion:

  1. Which are the religions shown in the film? Who are the saints discussed?

  2. What are these saints saying through their music?

  3. Do you see any similarities in what they are saying?


What did the child learn:

The similarities that exist between the two movements.


Activity 8 Case Study on Meera bai:

Objective:

To understand the different narratives that exist in a particular issue


Material:

The narrative reproduced below

“Nagpur, in Maharashtra, is a strong dalit base, being the city in which Dr. Ambedkar had publicly converted to Buddhism as a mark of his opposition to dominant Hinduism. On 6 December 1987, a group of dalits, poor peasants and agricultural workers, forcibly entered the Bombay express train,in order to make their way to Bombay to celebrate Ambedkar's anniversary. I was on this train and witnessed the episode (Mukta, 19.12.;1987: 2199). It was an anniversary which was particularly significant, as right wing Hindu organisations were demanding censorship of passages from Ambedkar's 'Riddles of Hinduism' which has offered a critique of the Hindu pantheon of gods.

The passengers who held reserved seats on this train had colluded with the police in locking all entries into this train, in order to stop the dalits exercising their right to travel to Bombay in time for the celebration of Ambedkar's anniversary. The dalits asserted force in gaining entry, causing anger among the passengers who held reserved seats. One of them, a Marwari businessman, mocked an older dalit woman, addressing himself to the middle class passengers:

They carry their rotla with them, he taunted, they'll sleep on the pavements or in Shivaji Park the night before the anniversary! Ha! They'll soon go running back to their villages the next day, as their rotla will run out!! They can't afford to buy restaurant food!

At this point, the older dalit woman broke into a Mira song, in Marathi, about the dignity of eating stale and dry pieces of roti, nullifying in song the grotesque class arrogance of the Marwari businessman. The effect of the song on the other passengers was remarkable. It evoked a laugh that the businessman had been busted by a poor woman, and it created respect for the dalit woman who travelled the rest of the journey without harassment.”


Procedure:

General and Specific Instructions

Narrate the life of Meera bai. Introduce this activity after that. Ask the children to note down what they would have done if they were in the bus.


Steps to do the Activity

Narrate the below case study of the dalit woman singing Meera bai bhajans in the bus


Points for Discussion:

  1. Why did the woman sing a Meera Bhajan

  2. What can you understand of Meera bai's life through this story

What did the child learn:

The relevance of Meera Bai in lives of the marginalised and also how stories have different narratives.


Activity 9 Life of Akkamahadevi:

Objective:

To understand the life of Akkamahadevi in the context of Gender and the Bhakti Movement.



Material:

Computer with speakers

Using the different poetry on http://www.ourkarnataka.com/religion/akka_mathapati.htm, talk about the life of Akkamahadevi



Procedure:

Steps to do the Activity

Read the literature on Akkamahadevi (from the Background Literature and the additional webresources provided). Narrate some of the poetry from http://www.ourkarnataka.com/religion/akka_mathapati.htm and have a discussion.



Points for Discussion:

  1. What was Akkamahadevi trying to say through her poems?

  2. What can you understand about her life?

What did the child learn:

How one's gender infleunces the way we live in society and hence how it plays a role in the Bhakti movement as well.



Activity 10 Bhakti movement on the map

Objective:

Using a map, trace the Bhakti movement and correspond it to the rulers of the land.


Material:

Map of India, markers


Procedure:

Steps to do the activity

Using the map and the background literature, explain to the children where the Bhakti movement was strong as well as who were the rulers of those places. Brainstorm on various reasons to see if there is a connection between politics and religion of the land.


Points for Discussion:

  1. Do you think the rulers influenced the movement and vice versa? What do you think the relationship was between the rulers and the saints?

  2. What do you think the reason was for the development of the movement in particular places?


What did the child learn:

Politics and religion infleunce itself. They will also learn how the movement spread and the reasons for this.


Activity 11 Birth and Growth of Sikhism:

Objective:

Using the life of Baba Guru Nanak, understand the birth and growth of Sikhism



Material:

Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YoGfIKN8Q8&feature=related

Web Resource http://www.allaboutsikhs.com/sikh-history-timeline/today-in-sikh-history-index

Computer, Speakers, Projector

Procedure:

Steps to do the Activity

Arrange the class to watch the video. Set up the computer, speakers and projector. Using the timeline and the video, carry forward the discussion.



Points for Discussion:

  1. Using the time line, discuss the birth and growth of Sikhism

  2. What were the social factors around that infleunced the various people involved.

What did the child learn:

How a religion is born and its growth.

Additional Web Resources

On Overall Bhakti Movement

  1. Brief overview of the Bhakti Movement: www.egyankosh.ac.in/bitstream/123456789/26303/1/Unit-39.pdf

  2. NCERT textbooks: http://www.ncert.nic.in/NCERTS/textbook/textbook.htm

  3. www.wikipedia.org (Online encyclopedia)

  4. Resource on the Bhakti movement and the lifes of different saints: http://www.kamat.com/indica/faiths/bhakti/index.htm

  5. Questions for evaluation (Bhakti Movement) http://www.cssforum.com.pk/css-optional-subjects/group-e-history-subjects/indo-pak-history/20753-bhakti-movement-medieval-india.html

  6. Analysing the Bhakti movement: http://www.cscsarchive.org:8081/MediaArchive/clippings.nsf/%28docid%29/7CD8A8A3BF16E1986525694200313CBB

  7. Timeline of Indian history: http://www.iloveindia.com/history/timeline-of-india.html

  8. History of Kannada Literature: http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/kar/literature/history2.htm

  9. Google Books on the Bhakti Movement: http://books.google.co.in/books?id=XAkVclcWWeUC&pg=PA110&dq=satish+chandra+bhakti+movement&hl=en&ei=ujwETv_4OoaJrAeToe2qDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDkQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false


On individual saints

  1. On the women saints http://www.women-philosophers.com/

  2. Meera Bhajan lyrics: http://www.kavitakosh.org/kk/index.php?title=%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AC%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%88

  3. Audio clippings from Saints of the Bhakti movement, Karnataka http://www.allyouwannaknow.net/musicandme/category/purandara-dasa/

  4. Video of Kabir ke Dohe (with meanings): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TES49EHB, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8GQn2J9jAY, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI8NzrJI5mc&feature=related

  5. Animated video on Kabir: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVB9ZSpNMm4&feature=fvwrel

  6. Meera bhajan (with lyrics): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMSm6lG6pXM, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYuCDofdzKo&feature=related

  7. Meera bai Serial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nusQRk5K0o8

  8. Video showing Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti's dargah in Ajmer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKLJmhIz7GM

  9. Audio-visual tools for Kanaka Dasa, Purandara Dasa: http://wn.com/Kanaka_Dasa , http://www.videosurf.com/purandara-dasa-61203

  10. Bhakti music: http://bhakti-yoga-center.blogspot.com/

  11. Centre for Classical Kannada: http://www.classicalkannada.org/indexEng.html

  12. Lyrics of Kanaka Dasa poems: http://www.carnaticmusic.esmartmusic.com/srikanakadasa/kanakacomp.htm#song9

  13. Animation of Purandar Dasa's life: http://www.videosurf.com/video/purandaradasaru-58606129

  14. Translation of Adi Shankaracharya's Bhaja Govindam: http://sites.google.com/site/vedicscripturesinc/home/srishankaracharya/bhajagovindam

  15. Differences between the thinking of Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhava: http://www.iep.utm.edu/madhva/

  16. http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/alvars/andal/tiruppavai.html


Additional Discussion



Using these activities, relate this to Adi Shankara and Ramanujan' work. You can also discuss in detail abou the other Nayamar and Alvar saints.

You can also discuss other Sufi saints and other famous Bhakti saints like Tukaram etc. Plenty of videos on their poetry is available on www.youtube.com.

Discuss the similarities between the women in the Bhakti Movement? What was the kind of gender marginalisation did they face. Check this link for more information on women Bhakti saints http://chnm.gmu.edu/wwh/modules/lesson1/lesson1.php?s=0

You can also talk about the Birth of Lingayat religion and decline of Buddhism and Jainism in this topic.


Evaluation



  1. Are there any such local festivals that you celebrate? How did they originate? Try and collect photos of these.

  2. Write about your own understanding of Bhakti so far and what do you think about it?

  3. In today's world, what do you think the life of Kanaka Dasa would have been?

  4. Are there any caste differences you see around you. Draw about it

  5. Talk to your family members, neighbours and see if any of these saints have influenced them and how

  6. Imagine if one of the woman saints existed today. What kind of life do you think she would have had?

  7. Look up some news articles and write about the infleunce of religious heads on our political leaders and vice versa. What do you feel the relationship is like today?

  8. If you had to form your own religion, what would you put as the main principles. Where would your influences come from?

  9. Why do you think Basava Jayanti, Kanaka Dasa Jayanti, Guru Nanak Jayanti are celebrated?

  10. Why do you think saints like Meera bai, Tukaram, Kabis are so popular today?

  11. What are the key aspects of the Bhakti and the Sufi movement that makes it relevant today. Give some examples.