The Bhakti movement refers to the spiritual devotional trend that emerged in old-fashioned Hinduism and later reformed in Sikhism. It started in the eighth-century Tamil south India (now parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala), and spread northwards. It swept over east and north India from the 15th century onward, reaching its peak between the 15th and 17th century CE.
The Bhakti movement regionally developed around different gods and goddesses, such as Vaishnavism (Vishnu), Shaivism (Shiva), Shaktism (Shakti goddesses), and Smartism. The movement was inspired by many poet-saints, who championed a wide range of philosophical positions ranging from theistic dualism of Dvaita to absolute monism of Advaita Vedanta.
The movement has traditionally been considered as an influential social reformation in Hinduism, and provided an individual-focussed alternative path to spirituality regardless of one's caste of birth or gender. Postmodern scholars question this traditional view and whether the Bhakti movement ever was a reform or rebellion of any kind. They suggest Bhakti movement was a revival, reworking and recontextualisation of ancient Vedic traditions.
The Sanskrit word bhakti is derived from the root bhaj, which means "divide, share, partake, participate, to belong to". The word also means "attachment, devotion to, fondness for, homage, faith or love, worship, piety to something as a spiritual, religious principle or means of salvation".
The meaning of the term Bhakti is analogous but different than Kama. Kama connotes emotional connection, sometimes with sensual devotion and erotic love. Bhakti, in contrast, is spiritual, a love and devotion to religious concepts or principles, that engages both emotion and intellection. Karen Pechelis states that the word Bhakti should not be understood as uncritical emotion, but as committed engagement. Bhakti movement in Hinduism refers to ideas and engagement that emerged in the medieval era on love and devotion to religious concepts built around one or more gods and goddesses. One who practices bhakti is called a bhakta.
Ancient Indian texts, dated to be from the 1st millennium BCE, such as the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, the Katha Upanishad and the Bhagavad Gita mention Bhakti.
The last of three epilogue verses of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, 6.23, uses the word Bhakti as follows,
यस्य देवे परा भक्तिः यथा देवे तथा गुरौ ।
तस्यैते कथिता ह्यर्थाः प्रकाशन्ते महात्मनः ॥ २३ ॥
He who has highest Bhakti (love, devotion) of Deva (God),
just like his Deva, so for his Guru (teacher),
To him who is high-minded,
these teachings will be illuminating.
This verse is notable for the use of the word Bhakti, and has been widely cited as among the earliest mentions of "the love of God". Scholars have debated whether this phrase is authentic or later insertion into the Upanishad, and whether the terms "Bhakti" and "God" meant the same in this ancient text as they do in the medieval and modern era Bhakti traditions found in India. Max Muller states that the word Bhakti appears only in one last verse of the epilogue, could have been a later insertion and may not be theistic as the word was later used in much later Sandilya Sutras. Grierson as well as Carus note that the first epilogue verse 6.21 is also notable for its use of the word Deva Prasada (देवप्रसाद, grace or gift of God), but add that Deva in the epilogue of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad refers to "pantheistic Brahman" and the closing credit to sage Shvetashvatara in verse 6.21 can mean "gift or grace of his Soul".
Doris Srinivasan states that the Upanishad is a treatise on theism, but it creatively embeds a variety of divine images, an inclusive language that allows "three Vedic definitions for personal deity". The Upanishad includes verses wherein God can be identified with the Supreme (Brahman-Atman, Self, Soul) in Vedanta monistic theosophy, verses that support dualistic view of Samkhya doctrines, as well as the synthetic novelty of triple Brahman where a triune exists as the divine soul (Deva, theistic God), individual soul (self) and nature (Prakrti, matter). Tsuchida writes that the Upanishad syncretically combines monistic ideas in Upanishad and self-development ideas in Yoga with personification of Shiva-Rudra deity. Hiriyanna interprets the text to be introducing "personal theism" in the form of Shiva Bhakti, with a shift to monotheism but in henotheistic context where the individual is encouraged to discover his own definition and sense of God.
The Bhagavad Gita, a post-Vedic scripture composed in 5th to 2nd century BCE, introduces bhakti marga (the path of faith/devotion) as one of three ways to spiritual freedom and release, the other two being karma marga (the path of works) and jnana marga (the path of knowledge). In verses 6.31 through 6.47 of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna as an avatar of deity Vishnu, describes bhakti yoga and loving devotion, as one of the several paths to the highest spiritual attainments.
The Bhakti movement originated in South India during the seventh century CE, spread northwards from Tamil Nadu through Karnataka and Maharashtra, and gained wide acceptance in fifteenth-century Bengal and northern India.
The Alvars, which literally means "those immersed in God", were Vaishnava poet-saints who sang praises of Vishnu as they travelled from one place to another. They established temple sites such as Srirangam, and spread ideas about Vaishnavism. Their poems, compiled as Alwar Arulicheyalgal or Divya Prabhandham, developed into an influential scripture for the Vaishnavas. The Bhagavata Purana's references to the South Indian Alvar saints, along with its emphasis on bhakti, have led many scholars to give it South Indian origins, though some scholars question whether this evidence excludes the possibility that bhakti movement had parallel developments in other parts of India.
Like the Alvars, the Saiva Nayanar poets were influential. The Tirumurai, a compilation of hymns on Shiva by sixty-three Nayanar poet-saints, developed into an influential scripture in Shaivism. The poets' itinerant lifestyle helped create temple and pilgrimage sites and spread spiritual ideas built around Shiva. Early Tamil-Siva bhakti poets influenced Hindu texts that came to be revered all over India.
Some scholars state that the Bhakti movement's rapid spread in India in the 2nd millennium, was in part a response to the arrival of Islam and subsequent Islamic rule in India and Hindu-Muslim conflicts. This view is contested by some scholars, with Rekha Pande stating that singing ecstatic bhakti hymns in local language was a tradition in south India before Muhammad was born. According to Pande, the psychological impact of Muslim conquest may have initially contributed to community-style bhakti by Hindus. Yet other scholars state that Muslim invasions, their conquering of Hindu Bhakti temples in south India and seizure/melting of musical instruments such as cymbals from local people, was in part responsible for the later relocation or demise of singing Bhakti traditions in the 18th century.
According to Wendy Doniger, the nature of Bhakti movement may have been affected by the "surrender to God" daily practices of Islam when it arrived in India. In turn it influenced devotional practices in Islam such as Sufism, and other religions in India from 15th century onwards, such as Sikhism, Christianity, and Jainism.
Klaus Witz, in contrast, traces the history and nature of Bhakti movement to the Upanishadic and the Vedanta foundations of Hinduism. He writes, that in virtually every Bhakti movement poet, "the Upanishadic teachings form an all-pervasive substratum, if not a basis. We have here a state of affairs that has no parallel in the West. Supreme Wisdom, which can be taken as basically non-theistic and as an independent wisdom tradition (not dependent on the Vedas), appears fused with highest level of bhakti and with highest level of God realization."
Poets, writers and musiciansEdit
Devotional singing set to music (8 minutes 17 seconds)
Problems playing this file? See media help.
The Bhakti movement witnessed a surge in Hindu literature in regional languages, particularly in the form of devotional poems and music. This literature includes the writings of the Alvars and Nayanars, poems of Andal, Basava, Bhagat Pipa, Allama Prabhu, Akka Mahadevi, Kabir, Nanak (founder of Sikhism), Tulsidas, Gusainji, Ghananand, Ramananda (founder of Ramanandi Sampradaya), Sripadaraja, Vyasatirtha, Purandara Dasa, Kanakadasa, Vijaya Dasa, Six goswamis of Vrindavan ,Raskhan, Ravidas, Jayadeva Goswami, Namdev, Eknath, Tukaram, Mirabai, Ramprasad Sen, Sankardev, Vallabha Acharya, Narsinh Mehta, Gangasati and the teachings of saints like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The earliest writers from the 7th to 10th century CE known to have influenced the poet-saints driven movements include, Sambandar, Tirunavukkarasar, Sundarar, Nammalvar, Adi Shankara, Manikkavacakar and Nathamuni. Several 11th and 12th century writers developed different philosophies within the Vedanta school of Hinduism, which were influential to the Bhakti tradition in medieval India. These include Ramanuja, Madhva, Vallabha and Nimbarka. These writers championed a spectrum of philosophical positions ranging from theistic dualism, qualified nondualism and absolute monism.
Philosophy: Nirguna and Saguna BrahmanEdit
The Bhakti movement of Hinduism saw two ways of imaging the nature of the divine (Brahman) – Nirguna and Saguna. Nirguna Brahman was the concept of the Ultimate Reality as formless, without attributes or quality. Saguna Brahman, in contrast, was envisioned and developed as with form, attributes and quality. The two had parallels in the ancient panthestic unmanifest and theistic manifest traditions, respectively, and traceable to Arjuna-Krishna dialogue in the Bhagavad Gita. It is the same Brahman, but viewed from two perspectives, one from Nirguni knowledge-focus and other from Saguni love-focus, united as Krishna in the Gita. Nirguna bhakta's poetry were Jnana-shrayi, or had roots in knowledge. Saguna bhakta's poetry were Prema-shrayi, or with roots in love. In Bhakti, the emphasis is reciprocal love and devotion, where the devotee loves God, and God loves the devotee.
Jeaneane Fowler states that the concepts of Nirguna and Saguna Brahman, at the root of Bhakti movement theosophy, underwent more profound development with the ideas of Vedanta school of Hinduism, particularly those of Adi Shankara's Advaita Vedanta, Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita Vedanta, and Madhvacharya's Dvaita Vedanta. Two 12th-century influential treatises on bhakti were Sandilya Bhakti Sutra – a treatise resonating with Nirguna-bhakti, and Narada Bhakti Sutra – a treatise that leans towards Saguna-bhakti.
Nirguna and Saguna Brahman concepts of the Bhakti movement has been a baffling one to scholars, particularly the Nirguni tradition because it offers, states David Lorenzen, "heart-felt devotion to a God without attributes, without even any definable personality". Yet given the "mountains of Nirguni bhakti literature", adds Lorenzen, bhakti for Nirguna Brahman has been a part of the reality of the Hindu tradition along with the bhakti for Saguna Brahman. These were two alternate ways of imagining God during the bhakti movement.
The Bhakti movement was a devotional transformation of medieval Hindu society, wherein Vedic rituals or alternatively ascetic monk-like lifestyle for moksha gave way to individualistic loving relationship with a personally defined god. Salvation which was previously considered attainable only by men of Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya castes, became available to everyone. Most scholars state that Bhakti movement provided women and members of the Shudra and untouchable communities an inclusive path to spiritual salvation. Some scholars disagree that the Bhakti movement was premised on such social inequalities.
Poet-saints grew in popularity, and literature on devotional songs in regional languages became profuse. These poet-saints championed a wide range of philosophical positions within their society, ranging from theistic dualism of Dvaita to absolute monism of Advaita Vedanta. Kabir, a poet-saint for example, wrote in Upanishadic style, the state of knowing truth:
There's no creation or creator there,
no gross or fine, no wind or fire,
no sun, moon, earth or water,
no radiant form, no time there,
no word, no flesh, no faith,
no cause and effect, nor any thought of the Veda,
no Hari or Brahma, no Shiva or Shakti,
no pilgrimage and no rituals,
no mother, father or guru there...
The early 15th-century Bhakti poet-sant Pipa stated,
Within the body is the god, within the body the temple,
within the body all the Jangamas
within the body the incense, the lamps and the food-offerings,
within the body the puja-leaves.
After searching so many lands,
I found the nine treasures within my body,
Now there will be no further going and coming,
I swear by Rama.
The impact of the Bhakti movement in India was similar to that of the Protestant Reformation of Christianity in Europe. It evoked shared religiosity, direct emotional and intellection of the divine, and the pursuit of spiritual ideas without the overhead of institutional superstructures. Practices emerged bringing new forms of spiritual leadership and social cohesion among the medieval Hindus, such as community singing, chanting together of deity names, festivals, pilgrimages, rituals relating to Saivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism. Many of these regional practices have survived into the modern era.
Seva, daana and community kitchensEdit
The Bhakti movement introduced new forms of voluntary social giving such as Seva (service, for example to a temple or guru school or community construction), Dāna (charity), and community kitchens with free shared food. Of community kitchen concepts, the vegetarian Guru ka Langar introduced by Nanak became a well established institution over time, starting with northwest India, and expanding to everywhere Sikh communities are found. Other saints such as Dadu Dayal championed similar social movement, a community that believed in Ahimsa (non-violence) towards all living beings, social equality, and vegetarian kitchen, as well as mutual social service concepts. Bhakti temples and matha (Hindu monasteries) of India adopted social functions such as relief to victims after natural disaster, helping the poor and marginal farmers, providing community labor, feeding houses for the poor, free hostels for poor children and promoting folk culture.
Sikhism, Shakti and the Bhakti movementEdit
Some scholars call Sikhism a Bhakti sect of Indian traditions. In Sikhism, "nirguni Bhakti" is emphasised – devotion to a divine without Gunas (qualities or form), but it accepts both nirguni and saguni forms of the divine.
The Guru Granth Sahib, the scripture of the Sikhs, contains the hymns of the Sikh gurus, thirteen Hindu bhagats, and two Muslim bhagats. Some of the Bhagats whose hymns were included in the Guru Granth Sahib, were bhakti poets who taught their ideas before the birth of Guru Nanak – the first of Sikh Guru. The thirteen Hindu bhagats whose hymns were entered into the text, were poet saints of the Bhakti movement, and included Ramananda, Namdev, Pipa, Ravidas, Beni, Bhikhan, Dhanna, Jayadeva, Parmanand, Sadhana, Sain, Surdas, Trilochan, while the two Muslim bhagats were Kabir and Sufi saint Farid. Most of the 5,894 hymns in the Sikh scripture came from the Sikh gurus, and rest from the Bhagats. The three highest contributions in the Sikh scripture of non-Sikh bhagats were from Bhagat Kabir (292 hymns), Bhagat Farid (134 hymns), and Bhagat Namdev (60 hymns).
While Sikhism was influenced by Bhakti movement, and incorporated hymns from the Bhakti poet saints, it was not simply an extension of the Bhakti movement. Sikhism, for instance, disagreed with some of the views of Bhakti saints Kabir and Ravidas.[note 1]
Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru and the founder of Sikhism, was a Bhakti saint. He taught, states Jon Mayled, that the most important form of worship is Bhakti. Nam-simran – the realisation of God – is an important Bhakti practice in Sikhism. Guru Arjan, in his Sukhmani Sahib, recommended the true religion is one of loving devotion to God. The Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib includes suggestions for a Sikh to perform constant Bhakti.[note 2] The Bhakti themes in Sikhism also incorporate Shakti (power) ideas.
Some Sikh sects outside the Punjab-region of India, such as those found in Maharashtra and Bihar, practice Aarti with lamps in a Gurdwara. Arti and devotional prayer ceremonies are also found in Ravidassia religion, previously part of Sikhism.
Buddhism, Jainism and Bhakti movementEdit
Bhakti has been a prevalent practice in various Jaina sects, wherein learned Tirthankara (Jina) and human gurus are considered superior beings and venerated with offerings, songs and Āratī prayers. John Cort suggests that the bhakti movement in later Hinduism and Jainism may share roots in vandan and pujan concepts of the Jaina tradition.
Medieval-era bhakti traditions among non-theistic Indian traditions such as Buddhism and Jainism have been reported by scholars, wherein the devotion and prayer ceremonies were dedicated to an enlightened guru, primarily Buddha and Jina Mahavira respectively, as well as others. Karel Werner notes that Bhatti (Bhakti in Pali) has been a significant practice in Theravada Buddhism, and states, "there can be no doubt that deep devotion or bhakti / bhatti does exist in Buddhism and that it had its beginnings in the earliest days".
Influence on Christianity in IndiaEdit
The bhakti movement engulfed the early Christianity in the Indian sub-continent. Songs were composed by the early converts in the early twentieth century that were rich in lyrics and brought out the meaning of Christianity. Pioneers like Murari David of the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church, Andhra Pradesh, Puroshottam Choudhary, Chetti Bhanumurthy and A. B. Masilamani of the Convention of Baptist Churches of Northern Circars, Andhra Pradesh and many composed songs set in bhakti tradition. Bishop Victor Premasagar, a notable Indian Theologian was very much taken by the content of bhakti in the songs of many of the early Christian Clerics. In the seventies, R. R. Sundara Rao, researched at the University of Wisconsin on the topic Bhakti Theology in the Telugu Hymnal where he highlighted the influence of bhakti movement in early Christian songs composed in Telugu language. Similarly, Ravela Joseph while studying at the United Theological College, Bangalore researched on the extent of influence of bhakti movement in the songs Puroshottam Choudhary under the title, Bhakti Theology of Puroshottam Choudhary done under the guidance of Eric J. Lott and other Professors. Incidentally, Eric J. Lott was a major contributor to Ramanujacharya studies.
Controversy and doubts in postmodern scholarshipEdit
Postmodern scholars question whether the 19th- and early 20th-century theories about Bhakti movement in India, its origin, nature and history is accurate. Pechilis in her book on Bhakti movement, for example, states
Scholars writing on bhakti in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were agreed that bhakti in India was preeminently a monotheistic reform movement. For these scholars, the inextricable connection between monotheism and reform has both theological and social significance in terms of the development of Indian culture. The orientalist images of bhakti were formulated in a context of discovery: a time of organised cultural contact, in which many agencies, including administrative, scholarly and missionary – sometimes embodied in a single person – sought knowledge of India. Through the Indo-European language connection, early orientalists believed that they were, in a sense, seeing their own ancestry in the antique texts and "antiquated" customs of Indian peoples. In this respect, certain scholars could identify with the monotheism of bhakti. Seen as a reform movement, bhakti presented a parallel to the orientalist agenda of intervention in the service of the empire.— Karen Pechilis, The Embodiment of Bhakti
Madeleine Biardeau states, as does Jeanine Miller, that Bhakti movement was neither a reform nor a sudden innovation, but the continuation and expression of ideas to be found in Vedas, Bhakti marga teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, the Katha Upanishad and the Shvetashvatara Upanishad.
John Stratton Hawley describes recent scholarship which questions the old theory of Bhakti movement origin and "story of south-moves-north", then states that the movement had multiple origins, mentioning Brindavan in north India as another center. Hawley describes the controversy and disagreements between Indian scholars, quotes Hegde's concern that "Bhakti movement was a reform" theory has been supported by "cherry-picking particular songs from a large corpus of Bhakti literature" and that if the entirety of the literature by any single author such as Basava is considered along with its historical context, there is neither reform nor a need for reform.
Sheldon Pollock writes that the Bhakti movement was neither a rebellion against Brahmins and the upper castes nor a rebellion against the Sanskrit language, because many of the prominent thinkers and earliest champions of the Bhakti movement were Brahmins and from upper castes, and because much of the early and later Bhakti poetry and literature was in Sanskrit. Further, states Pollock, evidence of Bhakti trends in ancient southeast Asian Hinduism in the 1st millennium CE, such as those in Cambodia and Indonesia where Vedic era is unknown, and where upper caste Tamil Hindu nobility and merchants introduced Bhakti ideas of Hinduism, suggest the roots and the nature of Bhakti movement to be primarily spiritual and political quest instead of rebellion of some form.
John Guy states that the evidence of Hindu temples and Chinese inscriptions from 8th century CE about Tamil merchants, presents Bhakti motifs in Chinese trading towns, particularly the Kaiyuan Temple (Quanzhou). These show Saivite, Vaishnavite and Hindu Brahmin monasteries revered Bhakti themes in China.
Scholars increasingly are dropping, states Karen Pechilis, the old premises and the language of "radical otherness, monotheism and reform of orthodoxy" for Bhakti movement. Many scholars are now characterising the emergence of Bhakti in medieval India as a revival, reworking and recontextualisation of the central themes of the Vedic traditions.
- These views include Sikhs believing in achieving blissful mukhti while alive, Sikhs placing emphasis on the path of the householder, Sikhs disbelief in Ahinsa, and the Sikhs afterlife aspect of merging with God rather than a physical heaven.
- The Sikh scripture includes many verses on devotional worship. For example,
They remain in ecstasy forever, day and night; O servant Nanak, they sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, night and day. One who calls himself a Sikh of the Guru, the True Guru, shall rise in the early morning hours and meditate on the Lord's Name. Upon arising early in the morning, he is to bathe, and cleanse himself in the pool of nectar. Following the Instructions of the Guru, he is to chant the Name of the Lord, Har, Har. All sins, misdeeds and negativity shall be erased. (...)
– Sri Guru Granth Sahib, 305(16)-306(2)
- Schomer & McLeod (1987), p. 1.
- Johar, Surinder (1999). Guru Gobind Singh: A Multi-faceted Personality. MD Publications. p. 89. ISBN 978-8-175-33093-1.
- Schomer & McLeod (1987), pp. 1-2.
- Lance Nelson (2007), An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies (Editors: Orlando O. Espín, James B. Nickoloff), Liturgical Press, ISBN 978-0814658567, pages 562-563
- SS Kumar (2010), Bhakti - the Yoga of Love, LIT Verlag Münster, ISBN 978-3643501301, pages 35-36
- Wendy Doniger (2009), Bhakti, Encyclopædia Britannica; The Four Denomination of Hinduism Himalayan Academy (2013)
- Schomer & McLeod (1987), p. 2.
- Christian Novetzke (2007), Bhakti and Its Public, International Journal of Hindu Studies, Vol. 11, No. 3, page 255-272
- Karen Pechilis Prentiss (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195351903, pages 10-16
- Karen Pechilis Prentiss (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195351903, pages 15-16
- Catherine Robinson (2005), Interpretations of the Bhagavad-Gita and Images of the Hindu Tradition, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415346719, pages 28-30
- Karen Pechilis Prentiss (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195351903, pages 26-32, 217-218
- Pechilis Prentiss, Karen (1999). The Embodiment of Bhakti. US: Oxford University Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-19-512813-0.
- Werner, Karel (1993). Love Divine: studies in bhakti and devotional mysticism. Routledge. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-7007-0235-0.
- Monier Monier-Williams, Monier-Williams Sanskrit English Dictionary, Motilal Banarsidass, page 743
- bhakti Sanskrit English Dictionary, University of Koeln, Germany
- Karen Pechelis (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195351903, pages 19-21
- Karen Pechelis (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195351903, page 3
- Madeleine Biardeau (1994), Hinduism: The Anthropology of a Civilization (Original: French), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195633894 (English Translation by Richard Nice), pages 89-91
- Shvetashvatara Upanishad 6.23 Wikisource
- Paul Carus, The Monist at Google Books, pages 514-515
- Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, page 326
- Max Muller, Shvetashvatara Upanishad, The Upanishads, Part II, Oxford University Press, page 267
- WN Brown (1970), Man in the Universe: Some Continuities in Indian Thought, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0520017498, pages 38-39
- Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 301-304
- Max Muller, The Shvetashvatara Upanishad, Oxford University Press, pages xxxii - xlii
- Max Muller, The Shvetashvatara Upanishad, Oxford University Press, pages xxxiv and xxxvii
- D Srinivasan (1997), Many Heads, Arms, and Eyes, Brill, ISBN 978-9004107588, pages 96-97 and Chapter 9
- Lee Siegel, Commentary: Theism in Indian Thought, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 28, No. 4 (Oct., 1978), pages 419-423
- R Tsuchida (1985), Some Remarks on the Text of the Svetasvatara-Upanisad, Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies (印度學佛教學研究), Vol. 34, No. 1, pages 460-468, Quote: "The Svetasvatara-Upanisad occupies a highly unique position among Vedic Upanisads as a testimony of the meditative and monistic Rudra-cult combined with Samkhya-Yoga doctrines."
- M. Hiriyanna (2000), The Essentials of Indian Philosophy, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120813304, pages 32-36
- JD Fowler (2012), The Bhagavad Gita: A Text and Commentary for Students, Sussex Academy Press, ISBN 978-1-84519-520-5, see Foreword
- Minor, Robert Neil (1986). Modern Indian Interpreters of the Bhagavadgita. SUNY Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-88706-297-1.
- Glucklich, Ariel (2008). The Strides of Vishnu. Oxford University Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-19-531405-2.
- Jacobsen, Knut A., ed. (2005). Theory And Practice of Yoga: Essays in Honour of Gerald James Larson. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 351. ISBN 90-04-14757-8.
- Christopher Key Chapple (Editor) and Winthrop Sargeant (Translator), The Bhagavad Gita: Twenty-fifth–Anniversary Edition, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-1438428420, pages 302-303, 318
- Bary, William Theodore De; Stephen N Hay (1988). "Hinduism". Sources of Indian Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 330. ISBN 978-81-208-0467-8.
- Georg Feuerstein; Ken Wilber (2002). The Yoga Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 55. ISBN 978-81-208-1923-8.
- Swami Vivekananda (2006). "Bhakti Yoga". In Amiya P Sen. The indispensable Vivekananda. Orient Blackswan. p. 212. ISBN 978-81-7824-130-2.
- SM Pandey (1965), Mīrābāī and Her Contributions to the Bhakti Movement, History of Religions, Vol. 5, No. 1, pages 54-73
- Embree, Ainslie Thomas; Stephen N. Hay; William Theodore De Bary (1988). Sources of Indian Tradition. Columbia University Press. p. 342. ISBN 978-0-231-06651-8.
- Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-521-43878-0.
- Olson, Carl (2007). The many colors of Hinduism: a thematic-historical introduction. Rutgers University Press. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-8135-4068-9.
- Sheridan, Daniel (1986). The Advaitic Theism of the Bhagavata Purana. Columbia, Mo: South Asia Books. ISBN 81-208-0179-2.
- J. A. B. van Buitenen (1996). "The Archaism of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa". In S.S Shashi. Encyclopedia Indica. pp. 28–45. ISBN 978-81-7041-859-7.
- Karen Pechilis Prentiss (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195351903, pages 17-18
- Note: The earliest arrival dates are contested by scholars. They range from 7th to 9th century, with Muslim traders settling in coastal regions of Indian peninsula, to Muslims seeking asylum in Tamil Nadu, to raids in northwest India by Muhammad bin Qasim. See: Annemarie Schimmel (1997), Islam in the Indian subcontinent, Brill Academic, ISBN 978-9004061170, pages 3-7; Andre Wink (2004), Al-Hind: the Making of the Indo-Islamic World, Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN 90-04-09249-8
- Bhakti, Encyclopædia Britannica (2009)
- Karen Pechelis (2011), Bhakti Traditions, in The Continuum Companion to Hindu Studies (Editors: Jessica Frazier, Gavin Flood), Bloomsbury, ISBN 978-0826499660, pages 107-121
- John Stratton Hawley (2015), A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement, Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0674187467, pages 39-61
- Rekha Pande (2014), Divine Sounds from the Heart—Singing Unfettered in their Own Voices, Cambridge UK, ISBN 978-1443825252, page 25
- Vasudha Narayanan (1994), The Vernacular Veda: Revelation, Recitation, and Ritual, The University of South Carolina Press, ISBN 978-0872499652, page 84
- Gavin Flood (2003). The Blackwell companion to Hinduism. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-631-21535-6.
- Stephen Neill (2002), A history of Christianity in India, 1707-1858, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-89332-9, page 412
- Mary Kelting (2001), Singing to the Jinas: Jain laywomen, Maṇḍaḷ singing, and the negotiations of Jain devotion, Oxford University Press, page 87, ISBN 978-0-19-514011-8
- Klaus G Witz (1998), The Supreme Wisdom of the Upaniṣads: An Introduction, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120815735, page 10
- Guy Beck (2011), Sonic Liturgy: Ritual and Music in Hindu Tradition, The University of South Carolina Press, ISBN 978-1611170375, Chapters 3 and 4
- David Kinsley (1979), The Divine Player: A Study of Kṛṣṇa Līlā, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-0896840195, pages 190-204
- Richard Kieckhefer and George Bond (1990), Sainthood: Its Manifestations in World Religions, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0520071896, pages 116-122
- John Stratton Hawley (2015), A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement, Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0674187467, pages 304-310
- David Lorenzen (1995), Bhakti Religion in North India: Community Identity and Political Action, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791420256, pages 182-199
- Peasants and Monks in British India, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0520200616, pages 2–3, 53-81
- Rupert Snell (1991), The Hindi Classical Tradition: A Braj Bhāṣā Reader, Routledge, ISBN 978-0728601758, pages 39-40
- Rachel McDermott (2001), Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kālī and Umā from Bengal, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195134346, pages 8-9
- Maheswar Neog (1995), Early History of the Vaiṣṇava Faith and Movement in Assam: Śaṅkaradeva and his times, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120800076, pages 1-4
- Learning History Civis Standard Seven. Jeevandeep Prakashan Pvt Ltd. p. 30. GGKEY:CYCRSZJDF4J.
- Rekha Pande (13 September 2010). Divine Sounds from the Heart—Singing Unfettered in their Own Voices: The Bhakti Movement and its Women Saints (12th to 17th Century). Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 162–163. ISBN 978-1-4438-2525-2.
- Schomer & McLeod (1987).
- Axel Michaels (2003), Hinduism: Past and Present, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0691089539, pages 62-65
- Karen Pechilis Prentiss (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195351903, page 21
- Jeaneane D. Fowler (2012), The Bhagavad Gita, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 978-1845193461, pages xxvii-xxxiv
- Jeaneane D. Fowler (2012), The Bhagavad Gita, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 978-1845193461, pages 207-211
- Jessica Frazier and Gavin Flood (2011), The Continuum Companion to Hindu Studies, Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 978-0826499660, pages 113-115
- David Lorenzen (1996), Praises to a Formless God: Nirguni Texts from North India, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791428054, page 2
- Iwao (1988), pp. 184-185
- Peter van der Veer (1987), [Taming the Ascetic: Devotionalism in a Hindu Monastic Order], Man, New Series, Vol. 22, No. 4, pages 680-695
- John Stratton Hawley (2015), A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement, Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0674187467, pages 338-339
- Schomer & McLeod (1987), pp. 154-155.
- Nirmal Dass (2000), Songs of the Saints from the Adi Granth, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791446836, pages 181-184
- A term in Shaiva Hindu religiosity, referring to an individual who is always on the go, seeking, learning; See: Winnand Callewaert (2000), The Hagiographies of Anantadas: The Bhakti Poets of North India, Routledge, ISBN 978-0700713318, page 292
- Winnand Callewaert (2000), The Hagiographies of Anantadas: The Bhakti Poets of North India, Routledge, ISBN 978-0700713318, page 292
- John Hawley (2015), A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement, Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0674187467, pages 1-4 and Introduction chapter
- Karen Pechelis (2011), The Bloomsbury Companion to Hindu Studies (Editor: Jessica Frazier), Bloomsbury, ISBN 978-1472511515, pages 22-23, 107-118
- Jill Mourdaunt et al, Thoughtful Fundraising: Concepts, Issues and Perspectives, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415394284, pages 20-21
- Gene Thursby (1992), The Sikhs, Brill Academic, ISBN 978-9004095540, page 12
- Schomer & McLeod (1987), pp. 181-189, 300.
- Helmut Anheier and Stefan Toepler (2009), International Encyclopedia of Civil Society, Springer, ISBN 978-0387939940, page 1169
- W. Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi (1997), A Popular Dictionary of Sikhism: Sikh Religion and Philosophy, Routledge, ISBN 978-0700710485, page 22
- David Lorenzen (1995), Bhakti Religion in North India: Community Identity and Political Action, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791420256, pages 1-3
- Hardip Syan (2014), in The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies (Editors: Pashaura Singh, Louis E. Fenech), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199699308, page 178
- A Mandair (2011), Time and religion-making in modern Sikhism, in Time, History and the Religious Imaginary in South Asia (Editor: Anne Murphy), Routledge, ISBN 978-0415595971, page 188-190
- Mahinder Gulati (2008), Comparative Religious And Philosophies : Anthropomorphism And Divinity, Atlantic, ISBN 978-8126909025, page 305
- E Nesbitt (2014), in The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies (Editors: Pashaura Singh, Louis E. Fenech), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199699308, pages 360-369
- Shapiro, Michael (2002). Songs of the Saints from the Adi Granth. Journal of the American Oriental Society. pp. 924, 925.
- Mahinder Gulati (2008), Comparative Religious And Philosophies : Anthropomorphism And Divinity, Atlantic, ISBN 978-8126909025, page 302;
HS Singha (2009), The Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Hemkunt Press, ISBN 978-8170103011, page 8
- Mann, Gurinder Singh (2001). The Making of Sikh Scripture. United States: Oxford University Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-19-513024-9.
- Patro, Santanu (2015). A Guide to Religious Thought and Practices (Fortress Press ed.). Minneapolis: Fortress Press. p. 161. ISBN 978-1-4514-9963-6.
- David Lorenzen (1995), Bhakti Religion in North India: Community Identity and Political Action, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791420256, pages 1-2, Quote: "Historically, Sikh religion derives from this nirguni current of bhakti religion"
- Louis Fenech (2014), in The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies (Editors: Pashaura Singh, Louis E. Fenech), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199699308, page 35, Quote: "Technically this would place the Sikh community's origins at a much further remove than 1469, perhaps to the dawning of the Sant movement, which possesses clear affinities to Guru Nanak's thought sometime in the tenth century. The predominant ideology of the Sant parampara in turn corresponds in many respects to the much wider devotional Bhakti tradition in northern India."
- Sikhism, Encyclopædia Britannica (2014), Quote: "In its earliest stage Sikhism was clearly a movement within the Hindu tradition; Nanak was raised a Hindu and eventually belonged to the Sant tradition of northern India,"
- Pruthi, R K (2004). Sikhism and Indian Civilization. New Delhi: Discovery Publishing House. pp. 202–203. ISBN 9788171418794.
- HL Richard (2007), Religious Movements in Hindu Social Contexts: A Study of Paradigms for Contextual “Church” Development International Journal of Frontier Missiology, Vol. 24, Issue 3, page 144
- Jon Mayled (2002). Sikhism. Heinemann. pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-0-435-33627-1.
- Dalbir Singh Dhillon (1988). Sikhism, Origin and Development. Atlantic Publishers. p. 229.
- Cave, David; Norris, Rebecca (2012). Religion and the Body: Modern Science and the Construction of Religious Meaning. BRILL Academic. p. 239. ISBN 978-9004221116.
- Anna S. King; J. L. Brockington (2005). The Intimate Other: Love Divine in Indic Religions. Orient Blackswan. pp. 322–323. ISBN 978-81-250-2801-7.
- Surinder S. Kohli (1993). The Sikh and Sikhism. Atlantic Publishers. pp. 74–76. ISBN 81-7156-336-8.
- Singh, Nirmal (2008). Searches In Sikhism (First ed.). New Delhi: Hemkunt Press. p. 122. ISBN 978-81-7010-367-7.
- Jagbir Jhutti-Johal (2011). Sikhism Today. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-4411-8140-4.
- Sant Singh Khalsa (Translator) (2006). Sri Guru Granth Sahib. srigranth.org. pp. 305–306 (Ang).
- "Sikh Cultural Center". The Sikh Review. 33 (373-384): 86. 1985.
- Karen Pechilis; Selva J. Raj (2012). South Asian Religions: Tradition and Today. Routledge. p. 243. ISBN 978-1-136-16323-4.
- Pashaura Singh; Michael Hawley (2012). Re-imagining South Asian Religions. BRILL Academic. pp. 42–43. ISBN 90-04-24236-8.
- Ronki Ram (2015). Knut A. Jacobsen, ed. Routledge Handbook of Contemporary India. Routledge. pp. 379–380. ISBN 978-1-317-40358-6.
- Opinderjit Kaur Takhar (2005). Sikh Identity: An Exploration of Groups Among Sikhs. Ashgate. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-7546-5202-1.
- John Cort, Jains in the World : Religious Values and Ideology in India, Oxford University Press, ISBN , pages 64-68, 86-90, 100-112
- Karen Pechelis (2011), The Bloomsbury Companion to Hindu Studies (Editor: Jessica Frazier), Bloomsbury, ISBN 978-1472511515, pages 109-112
- Karel Werner (1995), Love Divine: Studies in Bhakti and Devotional Mysticism, Routledge, ISBN 978-0700702350, pages 45-46
- William A. Dyrness, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen (Edited), Global Dictionary of Theology: A Resource for the Worldwide Church, Inter Varsity Press, Nottingham, 2008, p.422.
- Anna Sarah Kugler, Guntur Mission Hospital, Guntur, India, Women's Missionary Society, The United Lutheran Church in America, 1928, p.39. 
- Karen Pechilis Prentiss (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195351903, pages 13-14
- J Miller (1996), Does Bhakti appear in the Rgveda?: An enquiry into the background of the hymns, ISBN 978-8172760656; see also J Miller (1995), in Love Divine: Studies in 'Bhakti and Devotional Mysticism (Editor: Karel Werner), Routledge, ISBN 978-0700702350, pages 5, 8-9, 11-32
- John Stratton Hawley (2015), A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement, Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0674187467, page 10
- Sheldon Pollock (2009), The Language of the Gods in the World of Men, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0520260030, pages 423-431
- Sheldon Pollock (2009), The Language of the Gods in the World of Men, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0520260030, pages 529-534
- Keat Gin Ooi (2004), Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, ISBN 978-1576077702, page 587
- John Guy (2001), The Emporium of the World: Maritime Quanzhou, 1000-1400 (Editor: Angela Schottenhammer), Brill Academic, ISBN 978-9004117730, pages 283-299
- Karen Pechelis (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195351903
- David Lorenzen (1995), Bhakti Religion in North India: Community Identity and Political Action, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791420256
- John Hawley (2015), A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement, Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0674187467
- Schomer, Karine; McLeod, W. H., eds. (1987), The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 9788120802773
- Bhakti bibliography, Harvard University Archive (2001)
- Definition of Bhakti, Swami Vivekananda, Wikisource
- The Sacred Geography of the Tamil Shaivite Hymns, George Spencer (1970), Numen, Vol. 17, Fasc. 3, pages 232-244
- Shrines, Shamanism, and Love Poetry: Elements in the Emergence of Popular Tamil Bhakti, Glenn Yocum (1973), Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 41, No. 1, pages 3–17
- Mīrābāī and Her Contributions to the Bhakti Movement, SM Pandey (1965), History of Religions, Vol. 5, No. 1, pages 54–73
- Bhakti and the British Empire, Vijay Pinch (May 2003), Past & Present, No. 179, pages 159-196
- The Music in Faith and Morality, John Hawley (1984), Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 52, No. 2, pages 243-262
- Author and Authority in the Bhakti Poetry of North India, John Hawley (1988), The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 47, No. 2, pages 269-290
- Female Gurus and Ascetics, Karen Pechilis (2015), Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Edited by: Knut Jacobsen et al., (Requires subscription)
- Iwao, Shima (June–September 1988), "The Vithoba Faith of Maharashtra: The Vithoba Temple of Pandharpur and Its Mythological Structure" (PDF), Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, 15 (2–3): 183–197, ISSN 0304-1042, archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-26