Hindi bhakti literature

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Hindi literature of the late medieval period was written in a number of different dialects. The dialect of Braj Bhasha, spoken around Agra to the south of Delhi, was particularly important, partly because this is the area where the god Krishna is said to have lived. The greatest of the Krishna-bhakti poets was Surdas, a blind poet of the 1500's. He was skilled in describing the child Krishna in very touching and homely language. The traditional life stories of poets such as Surdas are probably based on legend.

Greatest of the Rama-bhakti poets was Tulsidas (1532?-1623). His Ram-charit-manas (The Lake of the Deeds of Rama), a version of the Ramayana story written in the Avadhi dialect of Hindi, is the most popular devotional text in northern India.

The sayings and songs of the poet Kabir, who lived in the 1400's, are popular to this day. As a poet of the Sant tradition, Kabir taught that the path of religion consisted of an inner search for God, and that the rituals of both Hinduism and Islam are useless. Though he often used names such as "Rama" to refer to the Supreme Being, he did not worship individual deities.

Court poetry in Hindi is best represented by Biharilal, born about 1600. He wrote of love and other subjects in skilfully composed couplets. Biharilal and poets like him borrowed many of the conventions and images of bhakti literature for their love poetry.

Hindi developed from a conglomeration of many dialects and languages, and came to be known as an umbrella language. Geographically, Hindi covered a large, central area. Hindi literature attracted writers from other languages, such as Namdev (Marathi) and Guru Nanak (Punjabi) to write in Hindi.

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