Women in Bhakti Movement

The liberal current, which to some extent widened the horizon of women, was the Bhakti movements, the medieval saints’ movements. Female poet­saints also played a significant role in the bhakti movement at large. Bhakti movements which flourished during the medieval age gave rise to a new class of man and women who cared little for gender bias.

  • In many cases, they rejected traditional women’s roles and societal norms by leaving husbands and homes altogether, choosing to become wandering bhaktas.
  • In some instances they formed communities with other poet saints.
  • Their new focus was utter devotion and worship of their Divine Husbands.

Famous women during this period:

  • Janabai: Janabai was born around the 13th century in Maharashtra in a low caste sudra family. She was sent to work in the upper caste family of Namdev, one of the most revered of the bhakti poet saints.
  • Akkamahadevi: Akkamahadevi, also known as Akka or Mahadevi was a bhakta from the southern region of Karnataka and a devotee of Shiva in the 12th century CE.
  • Mirabhay: Mirabai, or Mira is said to have been born into a ruling Rajput Mirabai’s poetry tells about her vision of Lord Krishna when she was a child; from that point on Mira vowed that she would forever be his bride.
  • Bahinabhai: Bahinabai was a poet saint from 17th century Maharashtra. written in the form of abangas, women’s songs that accompanied their labors, especially in the fields. Her writings are particularly autobiographical, recounting her childhood, puberty and married life.