Bhakti Movement in the Deccan:
The Bhakti movement in the South led by Swami Shankaracharya, Nathmuni, Ramanuja and Nimbarka aimed at reforming the Hindu society.
It condemned caste system, laid stress on the brotherhood of man and unity of God.
It decried the observance of unnecessary rituals. Jnaneshwar, a leading saint of the Bhakti movement played a prominent role in breaking down religious and social barriers. He brought the Maratha people together. He was instrumental in establishing closer ties among the different faiths.
Nath Sampradaya (Nath Cult) was another sect of the Bhakti cult which flourished in Karnol district. The Nathpanthis were all yogis’ who went from place to place to preach the main features of Bhakti. They emphasised the virtues of renunciation and leading a simple life of devotion. They did not believe in possessing material things. The impact of Islam was quite discernible in the Lingayat Movement started in Karnataka by Basava in the 12th century A.D.
It advocated devotion to one God and condemned rituals and discrimination on the basis of caste. It wanted its followers to adopt simple marriage rites. The overwhelming population of the Bahmani Kingdom comprised Hindus. The Bhakti movement made much headway in this Kingdom.
Sufism in India was welcomed as its teachings and philosophy were very similar to the Bhakti cult of the Hindus. Muin-ud-din Chisti who founded his ‘silsilah’ at Ajmer borrowed several Hindu practices. ‘Qawalis’ were substituted for ‘Bhajans’ and ‘Kirtans’. ‘ Khanqahas’ look the place of Hindu ‘Matts’. Chief protagonists of Sufism were Nizam- ud-din Auliya in Delhi and Khwaja Bande Nawaz Gaisu-Daraz in Gulbarga. The Khwaja had migrated to the Deccan during the reign of Firoz Shah Bahmani where he was welcomed by the Sultan.
The Sultan gave him an estate where he continued his religio-socio activities. He lived in Deccan for about 24 years and died at the ripe age of about 105 years. He is said to have written a number of works. His monumental work ‘Isma-ul-lsvar’ is considered as an authority on Sufism.
His motto of life was ‘love for humanity and service of the down-trodden. He did not believe in caste system. He regarded service as the highest form of worship. He had his followers both among the Muslims and the Hindus. Muntajab-ud-din Zarzari Zar Baksh was another well known Sufi of the Deccan. The teachings of the Sufis led to the fusion of Hindu-Muslim culture.