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Day 1 – Q 1.While elaborating on the recurrent themes of the Bhakti literary tradition, examine the contribution of women poets towards India’s Bhakti literature.

1. While elaborating on the recurrent themes of the Bhakti literary tradition, examine the contribution of women poets towards India’s Bhakti literature. 

भक्ति साहित्यिक परंपरा के आवर्तक विषयों पर विस्तार से चर्चा करते हुए, भारत के भक्ति साहित्य के प्रति महिला कवियों के योगदान की जाँच करें।

The most powerful trend of medieval Indian literature between 1000 and 1800 A.D. is devotional (bhakti) poetry which dominates almost all the major languages of the country. Krishna and Rama, the two main incarnations of the great god Vishnu, began to be worshipped widely. Many temples were built for them, and their worshippers formed a number of different sects, each one following a particular religious teacher. Much bhakti literature was written in the form of hymns, still sung today. These hymns praised the deities and their deeds, or humbly requested their help.


The recurrent themes of the Bhakti literary tradition:

  • Bhakti poetry was an important influence in the development of regional languages because it emphasized people’s everyday speech, rejecting the elite tradition of Sanskrit. Bhakti also challenged the caste system as many of its poets were from the lower castes and a common theme of the poetry is that God is within every human being.
  • Some of the earliest bhakti poetry was written in Tamil. From the A.D. 900’s, Kannada became an important influence, with devotional literature such as the Vachanas (sayings) of the saints of various Hindu sects. Famous Kannada poets of the medieval period include Basavanna and Allama Prabhu.
  • The next language to adopt bhakti was Marathi, the most important poet being Gyaneswar (1200’s). Other Marathi poets were Eknath and Tuka Ram. 
  • In Gujarati, prominent poets were Narsi Mehta and Premananda. 
  • Other languages to follow the tradition were Kashmiri, Bengali, Assamese, Manipuri, Oriya, and early variants of Hindi. Another kind of bhakti is found in the Sant tradition, which believes in one omnipresent God. Bhakti became a great platform for Hindu-Muslim unity.

The contribution of women poets towards India’s Bhakti literature 

  • Lal Ded (1320-1384), the Muslim poetess from Kashmir Lalded & Habba Khatun, represented the sant tradition of bhakti and wrote Vakhs (maxims), which are peerless gems of spiritual experience. 
  • Mira Bai (1500’s) wrote in Gujarati, Rajasthani, and Hindi. She wrote songs of Krishna in a voice of longing, expressing the pain of separation from the god she loved as a husband. 
  • Avvayyar, writing in Tamil, and Akkamahadevi, writing in Kannada, wrote about the position of women in society
  • Janabai was a sudra from maharashta. She influenced by teachings of Saint Namdev. Her poetry encompasses the discrimination faced by women & sudras. This awaken the sudras and women for their rights.
  • Bahina was also from maharashtra and devotee of Krishna. She was the disciple of Saint Tukaram. But unlike others she never left her marriage but devoted to bhakti alongwith marriage.


The women, all wrote small lyrics or poems of devotional fervour, metaphysical depth, and with a spirit of dedication and utmost sincerity. Behind their mysticism and metaphysics is a divine sadness. They turned every wound inflicted by life into a poem.


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