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Question A.1:

Explain the term Bhakti.

Answer:

The term 'bhakti' implies 'devotion'. It is the idea of worship or devotion to a particular deity or any other form of God, i.e. avatar.

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Question A.2:

Outline the main beliefs and practices of Sufism.

Answer:

Sufism is a mystic tradition of Islam and includes a range of practices and beliefs dedicated to Allah, divine love and cultivation of heart. The Sufis in the medieval period practised love and compassion towards all other beings. They rejected the elaborate rituals and codes of behaviour (based on shariatdemanded by the Muslim scholars.

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Question A.3:

What methods were used by Sufis for training?

Answer:

The followers of Sufism followed a path called tariqa to establish a direct communication with the divine reality under the guidance of a pir. The murids (disciples) attained zir (concentration) through sama (music recitals) and raq (dance). They also indulged in discussions and contemplation. The centre of the activity was khanqah, where the pir imparted knowledge to the disciples.

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Question A.4:

What were the common features of the Bhakti movement in north and South India?

Answer:

The term 'bhakti' implies 'devotion'. The Bhakti movement had almost the same features in both north and south India; the people in these regions practised bhakti in different languages. The Bhakti movement was against rituals and propagated devotion through singing and dancing. It did not have caste as a barrier; people from any caste could be a part of this movement. It included women as well as saints from lower castes.

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Question A.5:

Why were the prevalent religious beliefs and practices opposed by the saints?

Answer:

Various religious beliefs and rituals led to the intensification of the caste system; they propagated the idea that people were not born equal. They also emphasised the privileges of noble birth, high caste and cycles of birth and rebirth. The saints were against religions in which people were not treated equally and had to perform meaningless rituals to get closer to God. The saints advocated the idea of devotion, which treated everyone as equal and also believed in the existence of one God.

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Question A.6:

What were the main teachings of Kabir?

Answer:

Kabir was one of the leading figures of the monotheistic movement. He believed in the idea of one God, irrespective of the names by which people referred to him. He opposed idol worship, caste system and untouchability practised by the Hindus. He also condemned the orthodox and meaningless rituals of the Muslims.

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Question A.7:

Why did the saints travel widely?

Answer:

Monotheistic saints travelled widely to propagate their beliefs. Kabir, Raidas and many other saints are believed to have travelled widely to propagate their ideas and beliefs.

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Question B.1:

What were the reasons for the popularity of Chisti Silsila?

Answer:

'Silsila' is an Arabic word, which means a 'chain'. In Sufism, it stands for 'lineage'. A number of silsilas became popular in India during the Sultanate period. Of them, the most famous ones were the Suhrawardi silsila and the Chishti silsila. The Chishti silsila was introduced in India by Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. He settled in Ajmer and was revered equally by Muslims and non-Muslims. The main reasons behind the popularity of the Chishti silsila are as follows:

(1) Equality of treatment: It treated the rich and the poor alike. Further, it helped the state by creating a milieu in which people belonging to different classes and religious communities could live in harmony.

(2) Religious tolerance: It adopted a policy of religious tolerance towards non-Muslims.

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Question B.2:

Bring out the points of similarities between Sufism and Bhakti

Answer:

Sufism is a mystic tradition of Islam that includes a range of beliefs and practices dedicated to Allah, divine love and cultivation of the heart. On the other hand, Bhakti stands for complete devotion to one particular deity. Both Sufism and Bhakti started as an answer to the ever-growing orthodoxy of various religions. The similarities between them are as follows:

(1) Devotion to God: Sufism believes that one can become closer to God only through love and devotion. Bhakti, which means devotion, also emphasised devotion to the Almighty.
(2) Compassion for all: Sufism emphasised love and compassion towards all human beings. Bhaki saints and their followers also emphasised love for all.
(3) Equality for all: Sufism did not differentiate between people. Bhakti followers also preached equality for all and did not believe in caste discrimination.
(4) Against rituals: Both Sufism and Bhakti were against elaborate rituals of several religions.
(5) Music: The followers of Sufism and Bhakti expressed their love for God through music, poetry and dance.

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Question B.3:

What were the main features of the monotheistic movement?

Answer:

The monotheistic movement was based on the concept of monotheism, which is an ardent belief in the idea of one God. Some of the monotheistic leaders were Kabir, Raidas and Trilochan. The main features of the monotheistic movement are as follows:

(1) Synthesis of many traditions: It was influenced by Vaishnava Bhakti, the Nathpanthi movement and Sufism. It was a synthesis of the elements of all these traditions.
(2) Nirguna outlook: Monotheistic bhakti adopted the notion of bhakti from Vaishnava Bhakti but gave it a nirguna orientation; that is, it believed that God has no form.
(3) Independent path: This tradition followed a path that was independent of the dominant religions of that time, i.e. Hinduism and Islam.
(4) Against orthodoxy: It widely criticised the superstitious and orthodox elements of the religions prevalent during that period.

Monotheistic leaders emphasised the importance of a spiritual guru, community singing of devotional songs, companionship of saints and repetition of the divine name. They also wrote poems in languages common to all, not giving preference to their own dialects. Most of the monotheistic saints led a worldly life and were not ascetics.

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Question C.1:

Khanqahs

Answer:

Khanqah was a place where travellers could take rest. It was also a place for religious discourse. Here, the pir imparted knowledge to his disciples.

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Question C.2:

Nayanars

Answer:

The Nayanars were the worshippers of Lord Shiva; they spread the doctrine of bhakti among people, irrespective of their caste. They were against elaborate rituals and travelled all round the country, singing, dancing and advocating bhakti.

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Question C.3:

Nathpanthis

Answer:

The nathpanthis, siddhas and yogis criticised the elaborate rituals and other orthodox aspects of conventional religion. They advocated the renunciation of the world through meditation and the realisation of the idea of oneness. They advocated intense training of the mind and the body through yogasanas, breathing exercises and meditation to achieve this goal.

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Question C.4:

Adi Granth

Answer:

Adi Granth means the 'first book'. It is the holy book of Sikhs and an early compilation of Sikh scriptures by the fifth Guru Guru Arjan.

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Question C.5:

Chaitanya

Answer:

Chaitanya was a very prominent Vaishanava saint of Bengal. He disregarded any distinction based on caste, creed or sex and popularised Krishna Bhakti especially in the eastern India. His followers belonged to all castes and communities.



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