Mughal empire religious Tolerance Upsc

Religion during Mughal empire

By SK Desai – Own work, Public Domain,


Mughal empire religious tolerance is the one which in recent years gained momentum. Their period saw a continuing assertion of all basic elements in puranic traditions.

As it was tough to say that Hinduism was a Single body of doctrine. It has countless faiths and a number of practices and customs. Having said that, it had developed in Mutual interaction and expressed in large part in Sanskrit.

But different sections of Hinduism shared the same idiom and similar deities. The 16th and 17th centuries were the age of Vaishnavism.

Tulsidas (Ramcharitmanas), a great supporter of the Rama Cult. He portrayed Rama as a God incarnate in his popular verses. The expression of bhakti was deeply emotional as the object of bhakti (devotion) was Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu.

The Bhakti movement made great strides during this period. A number of poets and saints emerged from various parts of the country and were critical of rituals and criticized the caste system. They use people’s common language for their expression of devotion rather than using Sanskrit.

The radical ideas, and the easy but catchy language often set to music made them popular among the masses. Some of the major religious figures like Vallabhacharya and his son Vitthalnath propagated a religion of grace and Surdas, an adherent to this sect, wrote Sur-Saravali in the local language.

Eknath and Tukaram were Bhakti poets from Maharashtra. The Dasakuta movement, a bhakti movement in Karnataka, popularised by Vyasaraya, turned out to be a lower-class movement.

The most important figure of the Bhakti movement was Kabir. He was said to be a weaver, Kabir propounded absolute monotheism, condemned image worship and rituals, and the caste system. His popular poetry was written in a simple language was spread orally across large parts of north India.

An interesting aspect of the Bhakti poets was that they came from so-called lower castes who practised various crafts and service occupations.

Kabir was a weaver, Ravidas, a worker in hides, Sain, was a barber, and Dadu, a cotton carder. The Satnami sect in Haryana credited its origin to Kabir and his teachings.

While Sanskrit and Persian were the languages of administration and intellectual activity, the vernacular languages demonstrated their literary vitality.


Sikhism originated as a popular monotheistic movement and evolved into one of the recognized religions of the world.

Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs, contained the sayings of Muslim saint Shaikh Farid and of Bhakti poets such as Namdev, Kabir, Sain, and Ravidas.

Guru Nanak believed in one God who was formless and omnipresent and he condemned image worship and religious rituals and he also stressed ethical conduct, kindness to all human beings and condemned the caste system.


India was fertile soil for the prevalence of Sufism or Muslim mysticism that had its origin in Iran and it was accepted by the orthodox theologians as long as it fulfilled the obligations of the shariah.

Sufism played a key role in creating religious harmony.


Along with the European traders came the Christian missionaries like Roberto De Nobili, Francis Xavier. The early missionaries were Catholics.

The first Lutheran missionaries under Danish patronage arrived in 1706 at Tranquebar and Ziegenbalg translated the New Testament of the Bible into Tamil in 1714, and soon the Old Testament as well.

This was the earliest translation of the Bible in any Indian language.

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* * All the Notes in this blog, are referred from Tamil Nadu State Board Books and Samacheer Kalvi Books. Kindly check with the original Tamil Nadu state board books and Ncert Books.
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