Ramananda, a disciple of Ramanuja, was born in Allahabad sometime in the 14th century AD. Ramananda was a worshipper of Ram-Sita.
He travelled through the holy places of India preaching the cult of Bhakti.
Ramananda used to say that it is not by performing sacrifice or rituals, but by devotion alone that one can realize godhead.
Ramananda preached his doctrine in Hindi language so that it could be easily understood by the unlettered masses. He made no distinction of caste and religion in selecting his disciples.
Of his twelve principal disciples, one was a barber, another a cobbler and a third was a Muslim weaver.
Of all the preachers of the Cult of Bhakti the contribution of Kabir and Nanak was the most significant.
Their emphasis on simple living and absence of rituals made strong appeal to the artisans and the cultivators who were their followers.
Kabir, born in 1440 AD. Was brought up by his foster-father who v. as a Muslim weaver. Kabir used to say that since human beings are the creation of God, all are equal to Him.
The distinction between man and man on the basis of caste and religion is, therefore, artificial and meaningless. To him Allah and Rama are but different names.
This is how Kabir sought to bridge the gulf between the Hindus and the Muslims.
c. Guru Nanak:
Nanak was born in 1469 at Nankana in present Lahore (Pakistan). Nanak had travelled from Mecca to Baghdad in search of Truth.
The theme of Nanak’s preaching is total submission to God discarding the complexities of religion. Nanak used to say that there is no separate existence of man as Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Jaina.
In fact, Nanak rejected both the Hindu and the Muslim conception of religion and preached altogether a new religious concept in which devotionals was of supreme importance.
It must, however, be remembered that Nanak during his lifetime did not organize his followers into a separate religious sect.
It was after his death that Nanak’s disciples emerged as an independent religious community and called themselves ‘Sikhs’, that is disciples of the Guru (the Preceptor).
Guru Nanak is regarded as the first guru of the Sikhs. Incidentally the tenth or the last guru of the Sikhas was Guru Govind Singh.