Cultural Developments under the Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate lasted from 1206 to 1526. Historians have got valuable information about these developments from the writings of scholars Alberuni, Ziauddin Barani and Ibn Batutah, who visited India during this time.
Religious Developments
The Sufi Movement
Since the eighth century, some Muslims began to be influenced by Hindu, Greek and Buddhist religious ideas. This gave rise to the Sufi Movement. Sufi philosophy was basically Islamic. But, it included new ideas and religious practices like penance. The Indo-Islamic culture was a blend of Hinduism and Islam. It was neither strict Hindu nor strict Islam.
The word Sufi is derived from suf meaning wool. The Sufis were so called because they wore course garments made of wool. They led simple lives in khanqahs(meaning hermitages) which resembled monasteries. The Sufis gaves a lot of importance to the relation between the pir and his disciples. The pir chose a succssor to carry on his work.
Teachings: The Sufis preached devotion to God and brotherhood among men. They believed in one God. They accepted that there could be many ways of reaching God, and were, therefore, tolerant of other religions. They mixed freely with people and preached in the local languages.
Sufi orders
The Sufis were organised in several silsilahs, or orders. The Chisti and Suhrawardi silsilahs became popular in India. The Chisti order was established in India by Khwaja Muin-ud-din Chisti, who had his headquarters in Ajmer. Shaikh Baha-ud-din Zakariya founded the Suhrawadi order in India. This order was popular in Punjab and Multan. While the Chisitis kept away from politics, the Suhrawadis accepted important political posts.
The Bhakti Movement
The Bhakti Movement, which was begun by the Alvar(Vaishnava) and Nayanar(Shaivite) saints of South India in the seventh century, gradually spread to the north.
The Bhakti Movement stressed on devotion to a personal God, either with form, that is, saguna, or without any form, that is, nirguna. Saguna worship is based mainly on devotion to some incarnation of Lord Vishnu, such as Rama or Krishna.
The bhakti saints rejected the caste system. A preacher could be from any caste, and people from any caste could join the order. The bhakti saints preached in the local languages and, therefore, had a large following among common people.
The works of bhakti saints
The saints Ramanuja of twelfth century and Madhava of the thirteenth century were worshippers of Lord Vishnu. Mirabai, wife of the crown prince of Mewar, composed hyms to Lord Krishna. Vallabhacharya, who came from a Telegu Bramhan family, built a temple to Krishna on Govardhan Hill near Mathura. Surdas composed the devotional work Sursagar. In Bengal, the worship of Krishna through devotional songs was popularised by Chaitanya.
Among popular saints from Maharashtra were Jnaneshwar and Namadeva. The saint Ramananda of Varanasi was a devotee of Lord Rama. One of his disciples was a weaver named Kabir, who went on to become a preacher of the nirguna form of worship. Kabir conveyed simple messages through dohas, which became very popular. Like the Sufis, he preached that God could be reached in various ways. Kabir's followers were called Kabirpanthis.

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