Paths to the Divine
Q36. What did Ramanuja propound?
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.
Q37. Who was Kabir? How do we know about him?
He 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
have little reliable information about his life. 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.
Q38. What purpose did khanqahs serve?
Ans. The Sufi masters held their assemblies in
their khanqahs or hospices. Devotees of all descriptions including members of
the royalty and nobility, and ordinary people flocked to these khanqahs. They
discussed spiritual matters, sought the blessings of the saints in solving
their worldly problems, or simply attended the music and dance sessions.
Q39. Describe the beliefs and practices of the Nathpanthis, Siddhas
They advocated renunciation of the world. To them the path to salvation lay in
meditation on the formless Ultimate Reality and the realisation of oneness with
it. To achieve this they advocated intense training of the mind and body through
practices like yogasanas, breathing exercises and meditation.
Q40. Why did people turn to the teachings of the Buddha or the Jainas
during the medieval 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.
Q41. “Mirabai rejected the rigidity of caste system.” Discuss
Mirabai was a Rajput princess married into the royal family of Mewar in the
sixteenth century. Mirabai became a disciple of Ravidas, a saint from a caste
considered “untouchable”. She was devoted to Krishna and
composed innumerable bhajans expressing her intense devotion. Her songs also
openly challenged the norms of the “upper” castes and became popular with the
masses in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Q42. Why Mughal emperor Jahangir looked upon Sikh community as a
Ans. 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
Q43. What were the major ideas expressed by Kabir? How did he
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. Kabir believed in a formless Supreme God and preached
that the only path to salvation was through bhakti or devotion. He
expressed these in verses called sakhis and pads.
Q44. Who were the Nayanars and Alvars?
There were 63 Nayanars, who belonged to different caste backgrounds such as
potters, “untouchable” workers, peasants, hunters, soldiers, Brahmanas and chiefs.
The best known among them were Appar, Sambandar, Sundarar and Manikkavasagar.
There are two sets of compilations of their songs – Tevaram and Tiruvacakam.
were 12 Alvars, who came from equally divergent backgrounds, the best known
being Periyalvar, his daughter Andal, Tondaradippodi Alvar and Nammalvar. Their
songs were compiled in the Divya Prabandham.