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Important Saints of Maharashtra and North India

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Important Saints of Maharashtra and North India - Lesson Summary

During the medieval period, many saints emerged in the Indian Subcontinent teaching that the power to save people belongs to the "Divine Name". They usually taught using poems and songs written in their regional language. The important saint-poets of Maharashtra, were Jñāneshwar, Namdev, Eknath and Tukaram and taught in Marathi.

They worshipped Lord Vitthala, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, lived an ordinary life, and rejected the idea of renunciation. Sant Mirabai, a passionate devotee of Lord Krishna, greatly influenced the people of Rajasthan and Gujarat with her bhajans.

After the 13th century, new developments took place in the Bhakti movement in North India. In the north, people were greatly influenced by saints like Tulsidas, a devotee of Lord Rama, and Surdas, a devotee of Lord Krishna. To express his devotion, Tulsidas wrote the Ramcharitmanas, while Surdas composed the Sursagara, Surasaravali and Sahitya Lahari.

Another important saint is Sant Kabir who was brought up by a Muslim family of weavers. He is one of the first Indian saints to harmonize the teachings of Hinduism and Islam. His teachings can be found in books like the Guru Granth Sahib, Panch Vani and Bijak.

In the 15 th century, another great saint, Shankaradeva was born in Assam and was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. He started the practice of namghars or houses of recitation and prayer that is practiced till date.

The Nathpanthis, Siddhacharas and Yogis religious groups were formed around the same time and did not believe in rituals, but preached that one should sacrifice worldly pleasures. These groups were popular among people from the lower castes due to their different ideas on devotional religion.

A common feature among the saints is that their works were written in their regional languages and could be easily sung, one of the reasons for their popularity. The poor like artisans, peasants, laborers and traders were greatly influenced by the saints and helped to spread their teachings.

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