spanning nearly four centuries, extended from the 13th to the 16th
  centuries. This was an epoch of tremendous intellectual ferment and a
  natural outcome of the mutual contacts between Islam and Hinduism.
Common Features of Bhakti However, both these phases had some
common features, in the sense that both of them had a liberal outlook,
equality of all religions, unity of godhead, dignity of man’s actions, simple
devotion through bhakti, etc. Their view was that bhakti or devotion to god
was the only means of salvation. They had no desire to set up a separate
religion, nor did they have blind faith in any of the sacred scriptures. Apart
from condemning the rituals, they also did not believe in idolatry. Bhakti
implied single minded, uninterrupted and extreme devotion to god.
Ramananda (1360–1470) Born at Prayag, he was originally a follower of
Ramanuja. Later he founded his own sect and taught in Hindi at Banaras and
Agra. A worshipper of Rama, he taught against caste and admitted disciples
from all castes. His disciples included the following, showing his disregard
for caste rules: (a) Kabir, a Muslim weaver; (b) Raidasa, a cobbler; (c) Sena,
a barber; (d) Sadhana, a butcher; (e) Dhanna, a Jat peasant; (f) Narahari, a
goldsmith; and (g) Pipa, a Rajput prince.
    After Ramananda the bhakti movement in north India was propagated by
two schools of thought, namely the saguna school and the nirguna school.
The saguna school believed that god had many forms and attributes akin to
the human one. The nirguna school on the other hand believed in a god
without any form or attributes. The origin of nirguna bhakti is generally
traced to Ramananda’s teachings.
Kabir (1398–1518) Born near Banaras supposedly to a Brahmin widow, he
was brought up by a childless Muslim weaver, Niru. Married to Loi, he had
two children and led the normal life of a householder. Supposedly persecuted
by Sikandar Lodhi, who was his contemporary, he died a natural death at
Maghar in UP. His dohas and sakhi (poems), whose collection is found in the
Bijak, were very popular among the common people and throw light on his
teachings. He believed in pantheism, i.e. God is everywhere.
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