What is the ideology of the Sufi and Bhakti traditions? How can they be used as instruments to fight communalism?

Sufi and Bhakti movements emphasized on the devotion rather than rituals and worldly materials. They aimed to build a relationship with the god. Both Sufism and Bhakti movements have a similar ideologies like

  • They emphasise on mysticism and attach no importance to rituals. They aim to understand the divine through devotion.
  • Both transcended the barriers of religion by attracting the followers across different faiths and religions.
  • Bhakti and Sufi traditions fought the various disabilities imposed on the low castes.
  • The Bhakti and Sufi traditions opposed the rituals, hegemony of the elite in the society.
  • They adopted the languages more popular with the masses which resulted in greater acceptance among masses.
  • They talk of one God.

Sufi and Bhakti movements as instruments to fight communalism
Religious fundamentalism paves the way for communalism. Communalism propagates that the interests of the people of different religions are not only different but also conflicting. Communalism creates rift between religions. The teachings of the Bhakti and Sufi traditions can fight these tendencies because

  • They encompass the mystic elements of all the religions. Thus providing for an inclusive approach.
  • They propagate universal brotherhood and oneness of humanity.
  • They preach coexistence.
  • They act as bridge between the religions.

The vested interests often encash on the diversities across the religion to sow the seeds of hatred towards other people of other religion. They mask the phenomenon that diversities not necessarily conflicting to cause friction between the religions. Sufism and Bhakti movements through the principles of Universal brotherhood and oneness of humanity can fight the religious fundamentalism and communalism.

Question for UPSC Mains:
What is the ideology of the Sufi and Bhakti traditions? How can they be used as instruments to fight communalism? [The Hindu]

Published: March 5, 2018 | Modified:October 15, 2020

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