Sikhism & the Bhakti Movement

The Sikh Guru's and the Bhakti movement shared many similarities as well as a number of differences. Sikhism should not be looked at as simply an extension of the Bhakti movement but as a new movement entirely. While the Bhagat's shared some of the same beliefs as those expressed by the Guru's, the Bhagats were not able to make a clear break from their religious heritage. The Sikh Guru's on the other hand were able to make that clean break to form a new religion which grew and has survived the test of time, unlike many of the Bhakti reform movements which did not. Sikhs consider the works of the various Bhagats in Sri Guru Granth Sahib as being equal to the writings of the Guru's themselves and as such, deserving of the same respect and reverance.


Outspoken criticism of the caste system.

Stern condemnation of idol worship.

Harsh attacks on the hypocrisy of the priestly class and ritualization of religion.



Bhagat Kabir regarded the world and life as suffering and welcomed death as the beginning of a blissful existence. The Gurus believed you can achieve blissful mukhti while alive and do not have to wait for death.

Bhagat Kabir believed that either one should become a householder and do good actions or he should become a Vairagi and renounce the world. Guru Nanak believed only in the path of the householder.

Kabir was a strict vegetarian and strongly believed in the doctrine of Ahinsa, non destruction of any life; man, animal or even a flower. The Sikh Guru's did not believe in this Hindu practice.

Bhagat Ravi Das believed in a physical heaven, while the Sikh Gurus did not believe in a physical concept of heaven. The Sikh heaven is to merge and become one with God.