Socio-Economic and Political Trends The bhakti movements are an
expression of the people in a particular given society. They rose out of certain
socio-economic conditions aiming at the upliftment of the unprivileged and
oppressed sections of the society. They were products of a transitional society
when a number of changes were taking place on the political, economic and
social fronts. Since there is a close relationship between socio-political and
economic trends and religious activity, the bhakti movements cannot be seen
in isolation.
     • On the political front, the 14th and 15th centuries saw the decline of
        the powerful and centralised state. The conflicts among the feudal
        lords, rebellions of vassal states and the increasing discontent of the
        peasantry combined to undermine the authority of the sultanate.
     • On the economic front, the Delhi Sultanate brought in a number of
        changes in the period. In its early phase, it had released social forces
        which led to the expansion of urban centres and alteration of agrarian
        relations. The increase in craft production and commerce had created
        unstable conditions for the artisans and the merchant classes. Though
        a number of artisans were coming from the ranks of people outside
        the professions, they were not accepted as equals among the Indian
        artisans. Merchants also did not find place in the social hierarchy. The
        situation was similar to what had happened during the life of Buddha
        and Mahavira which led to the rise of various unorthodox sects.
     • On the social front, in order to maintain status quo, complex rites
        were introduced and practiced by the orthodox followers of
        Hinduism. The people who did not fit into the broad varna set-up
        were termed as the chandalas or the out-castes. By this time,
        Buddhism and Jainism had practically disappeared from the scene and
        the period witnessed the revival of the Hinduism. Brahmins alone
        understood the Sanskrit books in which rites and rituals were
        mentioned and hence the whole religious structure was their
        monopoly, which perhaps is the reason why the bhakti saints preached
        in simple vernaculars.
Need for Social Reform The bhakti movements were products of the
society and their saints were not idle philosophers or arm-chaired reformers.
They came from the lower sections     of the society and worked for their living.