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Sant Tradition of Northern India

Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xxxiii ] The S ant tradition of northern India is commonly confused with Vaishnava ( see V ishnu ) B hakti. It is, however, a distinct movement, one which draws heavily on Bhakti antecedents but also has other roots. Two major sources can be identified. Vaishnava Bhakti is one of these, and for most Sants is clearly the dominant source. To it must be added the N ath tradition , a source which is particularly evident in the works of Kabir (probably c. 1440–1518). S ufi influence may also have contributed to the development of Sant ideals. Like Bhakti adherents, the Sants stress devotion as essential to mukti (see S ach-khand ). They differ in their insistence that God is nirguna (without form or ‘qualities’) and can be neither incarnated nor represented iconically ( saguna ). To the Naths they evidently owe their stress on interior religion. God, immanently revealed, is contemplated inwardly and all exterior forms are spurned. The two most prominent representatives of the tradition are N anak and Kabir. [27: 151–8; 28: 23–31] ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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