Article

Bhakti

Tracy Coleman

in Hinduism

ISBN: 9780195399318
Published online January 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0011
Bhakti

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The Sanskrit term “bhakti” is generally translated as “devotion” and refers to a variety of Hindu traditions in which devotees experience a direct relationship with the divine. Such divinity may be conceptualized as an incarnate personal deity or as the formless metaphysical essence of the cosmos, and modes or moods of devotion thus vary accordingly, ranging from contemplative forms of yoga to outbursts of passionate love. Expressed as loyalty to God incarnate in human form, bhakti in the Sanskrit epics is typically consistent with the demands of Brahmanical dharma, but devotion that defies social and religious norms is widely celebrated in later texts and traditions, with women and low-caste men among the most famous devotees, their poetic verse an enduring inspiration to others seeking salvation without the benefit of orthodox privileges and rituals. Flourishing in diverse linguistic and regional expressions, bhakti traditions reflect a wide variety of religious movements, some conceiving bhakti as intensely personal devotion, others finding in bhakti the power of social and political reform.

Article.  19024 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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