local dialects in lyrical forms which showed little adherence to conventional
literary traditions of Sanskrit. To Nanak, religion did not consist of mere
words, but one which looked on all men as equal. Dadu spoke of egalitarian
society where there would be no discrimination on the grounds of sex, race,
creed and caste. Kabir traced back the origins of man and said that in the
beginning, there were no distinctions which separated man from man.
Need for Religious Reform The bhakti saints continuously harped on love.
To them bhakti was a single-minded devotion growing ultimately to intense
love. Kabir states that one does not become a scholar by a mere learning of
the scriptures. These saints spoke of a direct relationship between man and
god. They were opposed to the traditional, rigid, elaborate and meaningless
rituals that had crept into the society.
Changing Position of Peasants and Artisans By enrolling a large number
of artisans and craftsmen, the bhakti movements were making them
conscious of their position and the need for democratising the religious and
social structure of the society. In fact, most of the bhakti saints were artisans
by origin or belonged to the class of less prosperous cultivators. By and large,
its adherents came from the lower classes. There was to be no privileged class
at the top, dominating over the majority of the silent and submissive
believers. The preaching of many of these saints gave a real shape to the
concept of egalitarian society. The highly urban character of this movement
awakened the Hindu consciousness to the necessity of reforming the religion
of its customs and superstitions. Thus, an occasional brahmin joined the
movement. Kabir and Nanak expressed the sentiments of the urban classes in
towns and of the artisans in the villages or in the small townships. By
establishing the institution of sangat and pangat, Nanak, for example,
brought all people to stand on a common platform.
Nature and Character
                       TWO PHASES OF BHAKTI
  Bhakti cults fall under two different phases of Indian history. The first
  phase can be traced back to the origin of the Bhagavata cult and continued