Bhakti and Sufi Movement - Difference Between Bhakti and Sufi Movement

By Ritika Pant|Updated : February 3rd, 2023

The most vital Difference Between Bhakti and Sufi Movement is that the Bhakti Movements largely influenced Hindus, and on the other hand Sufi movement was majorly followed by Muslims in the country. Another difference is that the Bhakti movement means the theistic devotional trends that emerged during medieval India, and the Sufi movement is the practice of asceticism, which through practice, helps the believers to feel nearness to God.

Difference Between Bhakti and Sufi Movement PDF

The Bhakti Movement is one such movement that initiated a wave of reforms in the country. The Sufi movement, too, began with similar intentions however various differences can be seen between Bhakti and Sufi movements. Both the Bhakti and Sufi movements of Medieval India played an important role in creating a composite culture. Let's discuss the key Difference Between Bhakti and Sufi Movement below.

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Difference Between Bhakti and Sufi Movement

The Bhakti movement and Sufi movement differ in many ways. The Bhakti movement was prevalent in Hinduism, whereas Sufi Movement was prevailing in Islam. We have highlighted the key Difference Between Bhakti and Sufi Movements below in table format.

Bhakti and Sufi Movement

Difference Between Bhakti and Sufi Movement

Bhakti Movement

Sufi Movement

Bhakti Movement was adopted majorly by the Hindus of the country

The Sufi Movement targeted the Muslims in the country

The roots of the Bhakti Movement can be traced back to medieval India; it became prominent starting in the late 7th to early 8th century

The Sufi movement had its roots in the Arabian peninsula and began in the 7th century, far earlier than Bhakti Movement

The Bhakti Movement involved the hearty singing of Bhajans in devotion to the Hindu deities

The Sufi movement involves singing and dancing to religious Qawwalis dedicated to their god

The Bhakti movement is limited in its reach to India only

The Sufi movement covered many Islamic countries spread across continents

The scholars interpret Bhakti Movement as a wave of renewal and revival in the social Hinduism setup of India

The Sufi Movement is a way of life and not a subsect of Islam which is a common perception.

Some pioneers of the Bhakti movement are Kabeer Das and Meera bai.

Some pioneers of the Sufi movement are Moinuddin Chishti and Amir Khusrau.

Bhakti and Sufi Movement

The Bhakti movement originated in southern India during the medieval era and spread to the north and east later in the 15th century. Sufism is a practice in Islam that deals with attaining closeness to Allah through asceticism.

Sufi and Bhakti movements are both religious practices, but they are concerned with different religions and achieve different objectives. 

What is Bhakti Movement?

The Bhakti movement focused on creating and sharing an emotional bond with the divine through devotion. It can be defined as the wave of collective social revival in Hinduism that dealt with love and devotion to the gods and goddesses through bhajans.

  • Bhakti literally signifies “devotion” in Sanskrit.
  • Rama, Ganesha, Krishna, and Shiva are considered to be incarnations of the divine in human form who entirely offer themselves to the devotees seeking their help or are in need.

What is Sufi Movement?

Sufism isn't a sect of Islam; it is a religious practice that reinforces the love for Allah through initiating a personal experience by way of practicing it. The Sufi Movement concerned itself primarily with establishing disciplined and simplistic ways of life.

  • The word “Sufi” is derived from the Arabic root denoting “woollen cloak”.
  • Sufism is one of the ideologies of Islam and instructs that Allah is a personal God Allah who values every individual, and adores Muslims above all other religions.


Key Difference Between Bhakti and Sufi Movement

The key Difference Between Bhakti and Sufi Movement is that while the Bhakti movement aims to achieve social reforms through devotion to deities, Sufism is directed inwards into self-reform.

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FAQs on Difference Between Bhakti and Sufi Movement

  • The key Difference Between Bhakti and Sufi Movements is that the Bhakti Movement was adopted majorly by the Hindus of the country, and on the other hand, Sufi Movement was majorly adopted by the Muslims of the country.

  • Both Bhakti and Sufi movements rejected outward religiosity and believed in compassion toward all human beings. Additionally, both movements believed that God is one and can be reached through meditation and prayer.

  • The Bhakti movement started with the Vaishnavite and Shaivite poets of south India, Nayanars and Alvars.

    • Nayanars are devotees of Lord Shiva, while Alvaras are devotees of Lord Vishnu.
    • These devotees journeyed to diverse locations singing carols in their gods' glory. 
  • The difference between Bhakti and Sufi Movement based on when they started is that the Bhakti movement started in the eighth century in South India. Whereas the sources of the Sufi movement can be sketched to the early days of Islam in the seventh-century Arabian Peninsula.

  • Ramananda is the father of the Bhakti movement. He was a disciple of Ramanuj and was born in Allahabad and educated in Varanasi. In the 7th century, the Bhakti Movement originated in South India as the revitalization of belief.

  • Abd-Allah ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, a Persian poet, was the first Sufi. He was a member of the Banu Hashim family of the Quraish tribe in Mecca.

  • The Difference Between Bhakti and Sufi Movement importance is that the Bhakti movement and Sufi movement were the two most effective spiritual ways to God in India.

    • These movements highlighted an immediate connection with God.
    • Both Bhakti and Sufi movement significantly influenced Hinduism and Islam in the country through their teachings of devotion to all humankind, regardless of caste or belief.
  • Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti introduced Sufism to India. He arrived in India from Afghanistan with the military of Shahab-ud-Din Ghori in 1192 AD and began living perpetually in Ajmer from 1195.

  • Both the Bhakti and Sufi movement focused on the notion that God is one and that individuals should practice prayers and meditation to communicate with God. The Bhakti and Sufi saints penned exquisite poetry and hymns to their theologies.

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