Hindu Songs of Love and Praise: Bhajan and Kirtan

devotion. A feeling of love and intimacy with the divine, longing for the divine presence, or the agony of separation.

When bhakti poems are sung

Objects of longing in Bhakti
Krishna, Shiva, the Mother Goddess, or the unnamable ultimate divine.

Bhakti is expressed in
ritual actions and, most prominently, in poetry and song.

Tamil region, south India
The place where the earliest bhakti poetry has been traced to.

7th century
The time that the earliest bhakti poetry has been traced to.

Poets composed poems in
Colloquial languages, using a full range of imagery, which they drew from a long tradition of love poetry.

Themes of bhakti poetry
Separation, longing, entreaty to a distant lover, tenderness, blissful remembrance.

Not themes of bhakti poetry
Rejoicing, celebration, suicide, songs to distant friends, confessions, acceptance.

Bhakti is thought to have originated
As a reaction against dependence on the priestly elite.

Bhakti is not thought to have originated
As a last resort for when priests were unavailable.

An 8th century Tamil poet
Expressed anguish of a girl who feels Vishnu has deserted her.

One manifestation is a beautiful figure reclining on a great serpent and floating on the cosmic ocean.

Surdas was a poet of
the 15th century

expressed a love for Krishna that leaves no room for any other.

A manifestation of Vishnu that is visualized as a playful and handsome youth who was raised by a human family in rural north India.

Sants are
Poets who composed bhajans and are honored as people who know the spiritual truth

Sants are not
Poets who composed bhajans and are honored as gods.

A sant who became a devotee to Krishna. She refused to act as a loyal daughter-in-law and joined groups of wandering devotees.

Mira fell in love with her deity in
her childhood

Mira did not fall in love with her deity in
her elderly years

Mira was born in
The 16th century to a royal family of Rajasthan

Mira was not born in
The 18th century to a royal family of Rajasthan

Mira’s poems
Express longing, suffering, and the ecstatic joy of pure devotion.

Mira’s poems did not
Express jolly living, an extravagant lifestyle, and the stresses of devotion.

Mira’s father in law
tried to poison her and persecuted her

Mira’s father in law did not
try to rape her and persecuted her

As a young woman, Mira was
given in marriage to the king of another royal household.

As a young woman, Mira was not
bestowed with 68 lovely cows

Nirgun bhakti
the worship of a divine who is beyond all description.

The senses cannot perceive him, and no words are capable of describing him. The divine is “without characteristics”.

A nirgun bhakti sant who is admired across sectarian lines. He was born into a poor weaves family in 15th century North India.

The Hindus say Kabir is

The Muslims say Kabir is

Kabir spoke

Kabir did not speak

Kabir’s poems
Speak out against hypocrisy, blind ritual, and class prejudices.

They address the listener directly, asking them to find truth by looking deeply into ourselves.

Kabir says
Don’t depend on a priest, scholar, or teacher. Don’t even depend on a deity like Brahma. The only real teacher is within you.