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Southern Asian devotional movement, particularly in Hinduism, emphasizing the love of a devotee for his or her personal god. In contrast to Advaita, bhakti assumes a dualistic relationship between devotee and deity. Though Vishnu, Shiva, and Shakti (seeshakti) all have cults, bhakti characteristically developed around Vishnu's incarnations as Rama and Krishna. Practices include reciting the god's name, singing hymns, wearing his emblem, and making pilgrimages. The fervour of South Indian hymnists in the 7th–10th centuries spread bhakti and inspired much poetry and art. Poets such as Mirabai conceived of the relationship between the worshiper and the god in familiar human terms (e.g., the lover and beloved), while more abstract poets such as Kabir and his disciple Nanak, the first Sikh Guru and founder of Sikhism, portrayed the divinity as singular and ineffable.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on bhakti, visit Britannica.com.