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Religious Reform Movements: Sufi & Bhakti Movement-Impact, Principles&Reformers|History ICSE Class 7

Religious Reform Movements Sufi & Bhakti Movement

The Sufi Movement

  • The word ‘Sufi’ is derived from ‘Suf’ , which means coarse cloth in Persian.
  • This represented the kind of simple life they led.
  • In addition, the word ‘Sufi’ is derived from the word ‘Safa’ that means Pure.
  • The Sufis came from Persia in the 11th century CE and settled in various parts of India

Principles of Sufism

  • God is all-powerful. All men are his children
  • Tolerance for other religions and sects
  • People should follow the teachings of a Pir (Guru) .
  • To love God is to love humankind
  • Respect for all human beings.

Sufi Orders

Sufi Orders

Sufi Reformers

Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti

Khwaja Moin-Ud-Din Chishti
  • He was born in Central Asia and came to India around CE 1192. He lived in Ajmer, died in CE 1236 and was buried in Ajmer. He is known as ‘Gharib Nawaz’ .
  • His Dargah is at Ajmer is visited by thousands of pilgrims globally irrespective of their religion.

Baba Farid

Baba Farid
  • Sufi saint who lived in Ajodhan & contributed to Punjabi literature as he used the language to preach.
  • Some of his verses are included in the Guru Granth Sahib. He had both Hindu and Muslim followers. His shrine in Pakpattan (Punjab province of Pakistan) , is visited by thousands of devotees.

Nizam-ud-din Auliya of Delhi

Nizam-Ud-Din Auliya of Delhi

He lived in Delhi and preached religious tolerance and love for humankind. He said that God is one. He is popularly known as Hazrat Nizamuddin.

Nasiruddin Chiragh-i-Dilli

Nasiruddin Chiragh-I-Dilli

He was another commanding figure of Sufism in Delhi Called - Roshan Chirag-e-Delhi

Impact of Sufism

  • The Sufi movement influenced many rulers and they imbibed the liberal, secular, and tolerant views of the Sufi saints.
  • The Sufis preached in the language of the local people which led to the development of regional languages and literature
  • The Sufi Movement brought the Hindus and Muslims closer.
  • Sufism also influenced poets of this period
Impact of Sufism

The Bhakti Movement

The Bhakti Movement

The Bhakti Saints



Most famous philosophers of India. He advocated Advaitism, a doctrine that preached oneness of the individual soul and the Supreme God. Called world as Maya.


Ramanuja Born Channai

He was born near Chennai in CE 1166. He preached the Bhakti cult in South India in the local language so that the people could understand his preaching՚s.


Worship of Rama

He was the follower of Ramanuja. He preached the worship of Rama rather than Vishnu. He enrolled disciples from all castes, including the low castes.



He was a weaver, who wrote poetry also. Hindus and Muslims alike recite his ‘Doha’ , full of deep meaning. His followers are called Kabirpanthis.

The Bhakti Saints

The Bhakti Saints

Sant Jnaneshwar or Dhyaneshwar

Sant Jnaneshwar or Dhyaneshwar

He expressed deep love for God through his ‘bhajans’ . He was born in Apegaon, on the banks of Godavari, in C. E 1275

Sant Tukaram

Sant Tukaram

He composed devotional songs in praise of Vithoba (Lord Krishna) and preached equality of humankind. Contemporary of Shivaji.

Namdev Maratha Saints

Namdev Maratha Saints
  • He was first a tailor then became a bandit and finally a Bhakti saint. His poems written in Marathi with intense love and devotion to God.
  • Dhyaneshwar – worshipped Lord Krishna, died at young age of 21 years, poems were called as abhangas. Wrote Dhyaneshwari (commentary on Geeta) at 15 years

Impact of Bhakti Movement

  • There was reform in the Hindu religion. The rigidity of the caste system decreased and the lower castes faced less discrimination
  • The popularity of Hinduism was revived. The simplicity of the teachings of the Bhakti saints impressed the common man.
  • The teachings of the Bhakti saints brought Hindu-Muslim unity.
  • The movement gave a boost to the enrichment of regional languages and literature.
  • Similarities between the Bhakti and Sufi Movements
Impact of Bhakti Movement

Religious Reform Movements


  • Bhakti cult got popular in South India in 8th century.
  • They emphasised supremacy of God, brotherhood of mankind and opposed caste, creed or racial distinctions.
  • It was a reform movement of the Hindus.
  • Important saints - Meerabai, Kabir, Ramanuja, Guru Nanak, Ramanand.

Impact of Sufi and Bhakti Movement

  • Understanding between communities and religions
  • Rulers became more tolerant
  • Local languages encouraged.


  • Sufis came from Persia.
  • Did not believe in rituals, rites, fasts, and feasts.
  • Emphasised love of God, fellow beings and devotion to God.
  • It was a reform movement of the Muslims.
  • Important Sufi saints Baba Farid, Nizam-ud-din Auliya.
  • Sufis were divided into orders or silsilahs. Two popular silsilahs — Suhrawardi and Chishti.