NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 6: Bhakti-Sufi Traditions

Hello Students. Are you Searching for NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 6? If yes then you are most welcome to NCERTian. Here we have provided you with the complete Question and Answers of Chapter 6: Bhakti-Sufi Traditions Changes in Religious Beliefs and Devotional Texts. These solutions are written by expert teachers and faculties keeping the need of students in mind.

Chapter6. Bhakti-Sufi Traditions Changes in Religious Beliefs and Devotional Texts
TextbookThemes in Indian History-II
CategoryNCERT Solutions for Class 12

It is important to use NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History as they can give students a clear understanding of the syllabus. Class 12 History has fifteen chapters, and our NCERT Solutions are a detailed guide that covers each of them. It provides step-by-step solutions to all the questions in the textbook. On this page, we have provided you with complete Solution of Chapter 6 – Bhakti-Sufi Traditions Changes in Religious Beliefs and Devotional Texts.

NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 6

Bhakti-Sufi Traditions Changes in Religious Beliefs and Devotional Texts Solutions

Q1) Explain with examples what historians mean by the integration of cults.

Answer) During the period of the 10th Century to the 17th Century, an important trend noticed in the religious life in India is the worship of God in many forms. Many God and Goddesses appear in the scultures and texts but they are various forms of the original deities only. These original deities are Vishnu, Shiva, and Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Parvati.

Historians have noticed the two marked trends in the socio-religious life of those days. The first was dissemination of the Brahminical ideas. The Brahminical texts were reproduced in simple Sanskrit. They were now made available to women and shudras, who did not have access to Brahminical literature by and large. The second was the Brahmins who were working on the beliefs and practices. It was a process of evolution, wherein traditional classical traditions were getting new shapes continuously as they were being impacted by the traditions of common people throughout the land.

Q2) To what extent do you think the architecture of mosques in the subcontinent reflects a combination of universal ideals and local traditions?

Answer) With the arrival of Islam in the Medieval ages, the architecture of Islam also came to India. However, the Arab-cum-Islamic architecture got impacted by the local traditions and rites too. Hence, we see a fusion of the two. This can be further elaborated by the examples of architecture mainly the constructions of the mosques of those days.

Some features of the architecture of mosques are universal. All mosques have orientation towards Mecca. This is manifested in the placement of Mehrab and Minar within a mosque. But at the same time we have influences that can be described only as local influences. A 13th Century mosque in Kerala has a shikhar like roof unlike a normal mosque where it is dome. The Shah Hamdan Mosque in Kashmir is made of Kashmiri woods and its facade is like that of a temple. The Atia Mosque in Bangladesh is made of bricks, though its roof is round. Thus, we can see that the architecture of Mosques is that of fusion.

Q3) What were the similarities and differences between the be-shari‘a and ba-shari‘a sufi traditions?



  • Both be-sharia and ba-shari‘a sufis turned to asceticism and mysticism and were against the growing materialism of the Caliphate as a religious and political institution.
  • They are critical of the dogmatic definitions and scholastic methods of interpreting the Quran and sunna adopted by the theologians.
  • Both laid emphasis on seeking salvation through intense devotion and love for God.
  • Both sought an interpretation of the Quran on the basis of their personal experience.


They scorned the Khanqah and took to mendicancy and observed Celibacy.They organised communities around the khanqah controlled by a teaching master known as Shaikh, Pir or Murshid.
They ignored rituals and observed extreme forms of asceticism.They observed special rituals of initiation. The initiates took an oath of allegiance, wore a patched garment and shaved their hair.
They were known by different names as Qalandars, Madaris, Malangs, and Haidaris.The Chishti silsila is the most important and influential tradition.
They deliberately defied the shari‘a i.e., law governing the Muslim community.They complied with the sharia.

Q4) Discuss the ways in which the Alvars, Nayanars and Virashaivas expressed critiques of the caste system.

Answer) The early Bhakti Movement was led by Alvars and Nayanars. It was the period of the 6th Century. Alvars are those who were disciples of Vishnu and Nayanars were those who claimed themselves the followers of Lord Shiva. They travelled place to place and would sing devotional songs in Tamil in the name of Shiva or Vishnu as the case may be. Apart from being a religious movement, it was a social movement too. Many historians are of the view that Alvars and Nayanars gave a blow to the caste system and Brahminism. This is corroborated by the fact that the movement was open to people from diverse background. The Bhaktas came from the castes of Brahmin to artisans to even those that were considered untouchables.

Virashaivas was a movement of the 12th Century that took place in Karnataka. The movement was led by a Brahmin named Basavanna (1106-68), who was a minister in the court of Chalukya king. The followers of Basavanna are called Virashaivas and they worshipped Shiv. They were also called and perhaps more often Lingayats, which literary means wearer of Lingas. They challenged the caste system and they challenged the idea of any caste being pollutant. This helped them grow support among marginalised sections of the society. Virashaivas also attacked some evil practices supposedly not approved by Shashtras, such as post puberty marriage and remarriage of widows. Further they also questioned the theory of rebirth.

Q5) Describe the major teachings of either Kabir or Guru Nanak and the way they have been transmitted.
Or, Explain the teachings of Guru Nanak. Did he want to establish a new religion?

Answer) Kabir is a great poet-cum-saint of Indian society. He has had appeal among Hindus and Muslims alike as it is believed that he was born as Hindu but was brought up by a muslim couple. He wrote poems that exhorted both communities to take to social reforms.

The major teachings of Kabir were as follows:

  1. Kabir described God as nirankar (having no shape). He used the terms drawn from Islamic tradition like Allah, Khuda, Hajrat and Peer but also used words of Vedic traditions like Alakh ( (the unseen) and nirakar ( the formless). Thus, he freely took to both traditions viz. Islamic and Vedantic.
  2. He repudiated idol worship and polytheism.
  3. He emphasised on the oneness of God though there can be many names of His.
  4. He criticised religious rituals of hindus and muslims alike.
  5. He also preached against caste discrimination.

Thus, the essence of the teachings of Kabir was simple living based on love and respect all. He wrote in simple language to be understood by common man of the country.

Guru Nanak was born in a Hindu family in 1469 at Nankana Saheb on the bank of the river Ravi. His birth place is now in Pakistan. He learnt Persian, Arabic , Hindi and Mathematics. He spent time in the company of Sufi saints and Bhaktas of various socio-religious movements.

The major teachings of Guru Nanak are as follows:

  1. He rejected the religious texts of both Hindus and Muslims.
  2. He preached God is Nirakar viz. without any shape.
  3. He criticised the religious practices like ceremonial bath, sacrifices , idol worship, and emphasised simplicity.
  4. He called upon his followers to connect to divine by remembering and repeating the divine name.

Guru Nanak expressed himself in Punjabi, the language of the local people in a lyrical form called Shabad. Shabad can be recited in various ragas.

Q6) Discuss the major beliefs and practices that characterised Sufism.

After the advent of Islam in the early, middle ages, it saw a new movement in later part. The movement has had great impact and reach in the Indian subcontinent. It is called Sufi movement. The Sufi saints were mystics. Their preachings included:

  1. Sufi saints did not subscribe to the theological and rigid interpretations of religious scriptures of Islam. They believed that the interpretation have to be based on individual experiences. This way the theological interpretations became flexible. Further the control of the orthodox religious leaders got weakened. This was a people centric move.
  2. They rejected the high sounding rituals. They also emphasised on simplicity in religious traditions and rites.
  3. Sufi saints prescribed devotion to Almighty as path to salvation. They even approved of singing and dancing as part of devotion. It is notable that classical Islam has forbidden singing, dancing and any music.
  4. The most important theme of Sufi philosophy was that serving people is the true religion. With the objective of serving the poor people they also held Langar. Today also one can go to Ajmer and can partake in the Langar organised on the tomb of Nijammudin Auliya, the great Sufi saint.
  5. Sufi saints also emphasised on the equality among people and oneness among all.

Q7) Examine how and why rulers tried to establish connections with the traditions of the Nayanars and the sufis.

Answer) Rulers and tradition of the Nayanars:

Nayanars were revered by the Vellala peasants, wealthy landlords, whose resources were important for the state treasure. Chola kings attempted to win over the support of the Vellala peasants by establishing their relations with the Nayanars. They also attempted to claim divine support and proclaim their own power by building splendid temples. Stone and metal sculptures recreated the visions of the Nayanars. These kings also introduced the singing of Tamil Shaiva hymns in the temples under royal patronage. They took initiative to collect hymns into a popular bhakti text (Tevaram). Chola ruler Parantaka I had consecrated metal images of Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar in a Shiva temple.

Rulers and tradition of sufis:

Sultans attempted to secure the support of the masses by recognizing sufi saints and making material donations to them. Rulers of Sultante set up charitable trusts (auqaf) as endowments for sufi hospices (khanqahs) and granted tax-free land (inam). Sufis’ piety and scholarship, and people’s belief in their spiritual power made them popular among the masses. Kings wanted the legitimation of Sufis for their rule to control the masses and territory.

Q8) Analyses, illustrations, why bhakti and sufi thinkers adopted a variety of languages in which to express their opinions.

Answer) In medieval India, though Sanskrit and Persian may be the language of the educated people or at the court, the vast number of people living in villages conversed in the local languages. It was, therefore, needed that the Bhakti and Sufi saints preached in the languages of the common people. This was in fact essential in order to make these movement truly popular.

This is manifested in the following examples:

  1. The traditional Bhakti saints composed the hymns in Sanskrit. Such hymns were sung on special occasions often within temples.
  2. The Nayanars and the Alvars were wandering saints. They travelled far and wide, often walking on foot. They met people in different villages. These saints would sing the verses in praise of God all in the language of the local people only. The language was Tamil only. These travelling saints established temples where prayers took place in Tamil and the devotional songs were composed by the Bhakti Saints.
  3. In North India the language was different. Here too the saints took to the language of the common people. Guru Nanak created Shabad all in Punjabi. Baba Farid and Swami Raidas (Ravidas) all composed in Punjabi and Hindustani.
  4. Kabirdas who lived in Benaras, wrote in local language which was closer to Hindustani. He used words there part of local dialect.
  5. The Sufi tradition of singing on tombs carried on in the language of the local people only. The shrines were the place of Sama sung in Hindustani or Hindavi. Another Sufi Saint Baba Farid composed in Punjabi too that even became part of Guru Granth Sahib.
  6. Some other saints wrote in Kannada, Tamil and other languages too.

Thus, we are inclined to agree with the view that the Saints of Bhakti and Sufi Movement composed in many languages and the languages of the common people to connect with them.

Q9) Read any five of the sources included in this chapter and discuss the social and religious ideas that are expressed in them.

Answer) The social and religious ideas that are expressed in five of the sources are given below:

  • Source 1. The Chaturvedin Brahmana versed in the four Vedas) and the “outcastes”- In this source Tondaradippodi has opposed the caste system by stating that the “outcastes” who express their love for Vishnu are better than the ‘Chaturvedins” who are strangers and without allegiance towards Vishnu.
  • Sources 4. Rituals and the real world – In this source Basavanna who led the Virashaiva tradition in Karnataka opposed the Brahmanical rituals. In his vachana, he describes that the followers of Brahmanical traditions on seeing a serpent carved in stone, they pour milk on it but when they see a real serpent, they try to kill him. It implies that the rituals are useless.
  • Sources 5. A church in Khambat – It is about a farman (imperial order) issued by Akbar in 1598 to the people of Khambat that no one should stand in the way of construction of a church there but should allow the padris (fathers) to build a church. This proves that Akbar followed a policy of religious toleration and people were allowed to follow any religion in his empire.
  • Source 6. Reverence for the Jogi – It is an excerpt from a letter by Aurangzeb to a Jogi in 1661-62 sending him a piece of cloth and twenty-five rupees. It shows that till 1661-62, Aurangzeb was following a policy of religious toleration and granted help to non-Muslims. It was only later on 1678 that Aurangzeb imposed Jaziya on non-Muslims.
  • Source 7. The pilgrimage of the Mughal princess Jahanara, 1643 – It is about Jahanara’s pilgrimage to the dargah of Shaikh Muinuddin Chishti in which she has narrated her experience. This shows that the sufi saints were revered by the royal family too. The Emperor and the members of the royal family used to visit their tombs or dargah to seek their blessings.

That’s it. These were the solutions of NCERT Class 12 History Chapter 6 – Bhakti-Sufi Traditions Changes in Religious Beliefs and Devotional Texts. Our team hopes that you have found these solutions helpful for you. If you have any doubt related to this chapter then feel free to comment your doubts below. Our team will try their best to help you with your doubts.

Leave a Comment