2021 GS1 Answer

Q. Evaluate the nature of the Bhakti Literature and its contribution to Indian culture.

Question from UPSC Mains 2021 GS1 Paper

Model Answer: 

Bhakti Literature: Nature and Contribution to Indian Culture

Bhakti literature refers to the devotional poetry and prose composed by the saints and mystics of India during the medieval period. This literature was composed in various languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi, and Bengali and expressed the idea of personal devotion to God as a means of attaining salvation. In this answer, we will evaluate the nature of Bhakti literature and its contribution to Indian culture.

Nature of Bhakti Literature

Devotion to God: Bhakti literature expressed a deep devotion to God and advocated the idea of a personal relationship with God. It emphasized that the path to salvation was through devotion to God rather than through rituals or social status.

Rejection of caste system: Bhakti literature rejected the rigid caste system prevalent in society and advocated equality among all individuals. It emphasized that devotion to God was not dependent on one’s social status, caste, or gender.

Use of vernacular languages: Bhakti literature was composed in vernacular languages rather than Sanskrit, making it more accessible to the common people. This led to the spread of Bhakti movement across different regions of India, transcending linguistic and cultural barriers.

Influence of regional cultures: Bhakti literature was influenced by the regional cultures and traditions of the places where it was composed. This led to the emergence of different schools of Bhakti literature with distinct styles and themes.

Contribution to Indian Culture

Promotion of devotion: Bhakti literature promoted devotion to God as a means of attaining salvation. This idea of devotion became a central theme in Indian culture, leading to the emergence of various devotional practices such as Kirtan, Bhajan, and Arati.

Social reforms: Bhakti literature rejected the rigid caste system and advocated equality among all individuals. This led to social reforms such as the abolition of untouchability and the promotion of social equality.

Development of regional languages: Bhakti literature was composed in regional languages, leading to the development and enrichment of these languages. This also led to the emergence of vernacular literature, which became a part of the rich literary tradition of India.

Integration of diverse traditions: Bhakti literature integrated diverse traditions and cultural practices, leading to the emergence of a syncretic culture in India. This syncretic culture has been an important aspect of Indian culture, promoting religious and cultural tolerance.

In conclusion, Bhakti literature played a significant role in Indian culture, promoting devotion to God, social reforms, and the development of regional languages. It also integrated diverse traditions and cultural practices, leading to the emergence of a syncretic culture in India. Bhakti literature has been a source of inspiration and a guiding force for the people of India, shaping their beliefs, values, and traditions.

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