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Devotional Paths to the Divine Class 7 Notes CBSE History Chapter 8 (Free PDF Download)

Last updated date: 23rd May 2024
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Devotional Paths To The Divine Class 7 Notes History Chapter 8 - PDF Download

The Class 7 History Chapter 8 Notes give students brief insights about different rituals of worship that people perform. It further sheds light on different devotional paths that people practice. The chapter talks about various dedicated devotions of distinguishing Sufi and Bhakti movements that evolved from the 8th century. The Class 7 History Chapter 8 Notes will help students prepare well on essential topics of the chapter.

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Access Class 7 History Chapter 8 -Devotional Paths To The Divine Notes

The Idea of a Supreme God

Before the emergence of large kingdoms, people were not only free to worship their gods and goddesses but were also brought together through the growth of towns, trade, and empires and also shared new ideas. The idea that all living things pass through countless cycles of birth and rebirth performing good deeds and bad came to be widely accepted. Besides that, the idea that all human beings are not equal even at birth gained ground during this period. People had believed that social privileges came with a child who was born in a noble family. Slowly people who were not comfortable with such concepts turned towards new religions like Buddhism and Jainism.

Nayanars and Alvars - New Kind of Bhakti in South India.

The 7th to 9th centuries saw the emergence of new religious movements, led by the Nayanars (saints devoted to Shiva) and Alvars (saints devoted to Vishnu) who came from all castes including those considered 'untouchable' like the Pulaiyar and the Panars but critical of the Buddhists and Jainas and preached ardent love of Shiva or Vishnu as the path to salvation.

The Nayanars and Alvars went from place to place composing exquisite poems in praise of the deities enshrined in the villages they visited and set them to music. Between the 10th and 12th centuries, the Chola and Pandya kings built elaborate temples around many of the shrines visited by the saint-poets, strengthening the links between the bhakti tradition and temple worship. 

Philosophy and Bhakti


Shankara, one of the most influential philosophers of India, was born in Kerala in the 18th century. He advocates Advaita or the doctrine of the oneness of the individual soul and the Supreme God that declares that there is but Ultimate Reality, that the individual self and the Brahman are one. He opines that the reality of the world is then relative as opposed to the absolute nature of Brahman. He considered that the world is an illusion or maya and preached renunciation of the world and adoption of the path of knowledge to understand the true nature of Brahman and attain salvation.


In the 11th century, Ramanujan was born in Tamil Nadu. Alvars swayed him. He stated that one could get salvation through an intense dedication of God Vishnu.He propounded the doctrine of Vishishtadvaita or qualified oneness in that the soul even when united with the Supreme God remained distinct. Ramanuja's doctrine greatly inspired the new strand of bhakti which developed in north India subsequently.

Basavanna’s  Virashaivism

The connection between the Tamil bhakti movement and temple worship, in turn, led to a reaction that is best represented in the Virashaiva movement initiated by Basavanna and his companions like Allama Prabhu and Akkamahadevi. This movement began in Karnataka in the mid-12th century. The Virashaivas argued strongly for the equality of all human beings and against Brahmanical ideas about caste and the treatment of women. They were also against all forms of ritual and idol worship.

The Saints of Maharashtra

During the 13th to 17th century, Maharashtra saw several saint poets who sang Marathi songs and inspired many people. The most important among them were Dnyaneshwar (Gyaneshwar), Namdev, Eknath, and Tukaram as well as women like Sakhubai and the family of Chokhamela, who belonged to the “untouchable” Mahar caste. These saint-poets rejected all forms of ritualism, outward display of piety, and social differences based on birth.

Nathpanthis, Siddhas, and Yogis

A number of religious groups that emerged during this period criticised the ritual and other aspects of conventional religion and the social order, using simple, logical arguments. Notables among them were the Nathpanthis, Siddhacharas, and Yogis. They advocated renunciation of the world & which can be achieved by intense training of the mind and body through practices like yogasanas, breathing exercises, and meditation.

Islam and Sufism

  • Sufis were Muslim mystics.
  • They rejected outward religiosity and emphasised love and devotion to God and compassion towards all fellow human beings.
  • Muslim scholars developed a holy law called Shariat.
  • A large number of Sufis from Central Asia settled in Hindustan from the 11th century onwards. This process was strengthened with the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate when several major Sufi centres developed all over the subcontinent.
  • They developed elaborate methods of training using zikr (chanting of a name or sacred formula), contemplation, sama(singing), raqs (dancing), discussion of parables, breath control, etc. under the guidance of a master or pir.

New Religious Development in North India

  • The period after the 13th century saw a new wave of the bhakti movement in North India. 
  • Kabir and Baba Guru Nanak rejected all orthodox religions.
  • Tulsidas and Surdas accepted existing beliefs and practices but wanted to make these accessible to all.
  • Tulsidas conceived of God in the form of Rama. Tulsidas's composition, the Ramcharitmanas, written in Awadhi (a language used in Eastern Uttar Pradesh), is important both as an expression of his devotion and as a literary work.
  • Surdas was an ardent devotee of Krishna. His compositions, compiled in the  Sursagara, Surasaravali, and Sahitya Lahari, express his devotion.
  • Shankaradeva of Assam (late 15th century) who emphasised devotion to Vishnu, and composed poems and plays in Assamese. He began the practice of setting up namghars or houses of recitation and prayer, a practice that continues to date.
  • Mirabai was a Rajput princess married into the royal family of Mewar in the sixteenth century. Mirabai became a disciple of Ravidas, a saint from a caste considered “untouchable”. She was devoted to Krishna and composed innumerable bhajans expressing her intense devotion.


  • Kabir, who probably lived in the fifteenth-sixteenth centuries, was one of the most influential saints.
  • He was brought up in a family of Muslim julahas or weavers settled in or near the city of Benares (Varanasi).
  • Kabir believed in a formless Supreme God and preached that the only path to salvation was through bhakti or devotion. Kabir drew his followers from among both Hindus and Muslims.

Baba Guru Nanak (1469-1539)

  • Born at Talwandi (Nankana Sahib in Pakistan), he traveled widely before establishing a centre at Kartarpur (Dera Baba Nanak on the river Ravi).
  • Before his death in 1539, Baba Guru Nanak appointed one of his followers as his successor. His name was Lehna but he came to be known as Guru Angad, signifying that he was a part of Baba Guru Nanak himself.
  • Guru Angad compiled the compositions of Baba Guru Nanak, to which he added his own in a new script known as Gurmukhi.
  • By the beginning of the seventeenth century, the town of Ramdaspur (Amritsar) had developed around the central Gurdwara called Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple).

Class 7 Social Science History Chapter 8 - Devotional Paths To The Divine

The Idea of a Supreme God 

Before the establishment of large kingdoms, a wide range of groups of people was devoted and worshipped their goddesses and gods. As the towns evolved and developed, empires and trade were united, thereby giving rise to newer and much more elaborate ideas. The very concept of living creatures passing through endless cycles of birth and rebirth practising bad and good deeds was approved vastly. In this section of the chapter, students can learn in detail about the very concept of a supreme god. This concept of Bhakti gained peak popularity among several devotees. 

A New Kind of Bhakti in South India- Nayanars and Alvars 

The 7th to 9th-century eras encountered the emergence of newer and distinguished religious movements. These movements were primarily led by the saints devoted to Shiva (Nayanars) and saints devoted to Vishnu (Alvars). These individuals resided from various castes. Even the untouchables like the Panars and the Pulaiyars were censorious of the Jains and Buddhists. The entire subtopic under the chapter, ‘Devotional paths to the divine’, talks about Nayanars and Alvars. 

Philosophy and Bhakti 

The most popular and impactful philosopher of India, Shankara, was born in Kerala back in the 8th century. These philosophers were the prime advocates of The doctrine of the oneness of distinguishing souls or the Advaita, along with the Supreme god you that is known to be the exclusive reality. Students will learn thoroughly about the philosophy and Bhakti among the devotees of God. This section of the chapter talks about the mere Bhakti and philosophy of the devotees in the 8th century and later even. 

Basavanna’s Virashaivism 

The connection within the temple worship and Tamil Bhakti movement influenced a supreme reaction best displayed in the Virashaiva movement. This movement was introduced by Basavanna and his closest companions like Akkamahadevi and Allama Prabhu. This movement was led in Karnataka around the mid 12th century. The Virashaivas continually argued for the basic equality of all human beings. In brief, the movement gave paramount importance to issues of discrimination against women or lower castes. Students will learn everything they need to know about the Virashaiva movement and how it took place. 

The Saints of Maharashtra 

Between the 13th and 17th centuries, Maharashtra encountered a significant number of saint-poets. These poets drafted simple Marathi songs and played a fundamental role to motivate the people of Maharashtra. Among these poets, Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram, Eknath, and Namdev, are a few of the most noteworthy and famous poets. This section of the chapter tells students more about the prominent saints of Maharashtra and their influence on inspiring the people of the state. 

Nathpanthis, Siddhas, and Yogis 

Over a myriad of religious groups evolved during this century. These religious groups condemned the ritual and other similar elements of standard religion. The social order, moreover, was quite simple. Several logical arguments took place between these religious groups. Some of these religious groups that most people were familiar with include Siddhacharas, Nathpanthis, Yogis, and other such groups that advised renunciation of the world. This subtopic of the chapter deals with different religious groups that made a significant impact in this era concerning the beliefs and other religious aspects of the conventional religion. 

Islam and Sufism 

Saints generally favoured the Sufis. They incorporated a wide range of ideas from each other. Sufis or Muslims were moreover Mystics. Under ‘Islam and Sufism’, students will learn about the vital connection between Islam and Sufism. Sufis were Muslims that primarily didn’t give in to outward religiosity. Learn more about this concept by referring to the Class 7 History Chapter 8 Notes. 

New Religious Developments in North India 

After the 13th century, a whole new wave of the already existing Bhakti movement emerged in north India. Brahmanical Hinduism, Islam, several strands of Bhakti, Sufism, along with the Nathpanths, Yogie, and Siddhas impacted one another. In this section, you’ll learn more about the developments that took place in North India after the 13th century. 

A Closer Look - Kabir 

Kabir lived between the 15th and 16th centuries. He was recognized as one of the most well-known and impactful saints. The Muslim Julahas brought him up. Students will get more insights into the life of Kabir and his influence in the century. 

A Closer Look- Baba Guru Nanak

Baba Guru Nanak was born in the year 1469. He was born in Talwandi and travelled extensively. He then introduced a centre at Kartarpur. The last section of the chapter gives students brief insights into the life of Baba Guru Nanak. It talks about what Baba Guru Nanak did throughout his years of living and how he impacted the religious beliefs of people.

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For an enhanced comprehension of this subject, NCERT - Class 7 History Chapter 8 - "Devotional Paths To The Divine." thoughtfully prepared by experienced educators at Vedantu is your invaluable companion. These notes break down the complexities of  “Devotional Paths To The Divine" into easily digestible sections, helping you grasp new concepts and navigate through questions effortlessly quickly in the last minute as well. By immersing yourself in these notes, you not only prepare for your studies more efficiently but also develop a profound understanding of the subject matter.

FAQs on Devotional Paths to the Divine Class 7 Notes CBSE History Chapter 8 (Free PDF Download)

1. What were the prime teachings of Baba Guru Nanak?

Baba Guru Nanak offered the following teachings to his devotees- 

  • Worshipping one god 

  • Man, the dam, is one of the most prone essences of Baba Guru Nanak’s teachings. 

  • Irrelevance of gender, creed, and caste for attaining liberation

  • The concept of equality 

  • The pursuit of a solid life with a robust sense of social commitment

2. What was the attitude of Virashaivas towards the caste?

The Virashaivas believed that all humans are equal. They didn’t give in to the Brahmanical ideas on the treatment of women and caste. They also wanted to form a society wherein all people of different backgrounds could unite and live in harmony without feeling inferior or superior to each other.

3. What were the prime ideals expressed by Kabir?

Given below are different ideas of Kabir and how he expressed them- 

  • Religion is accessible to everyone

  • Belief in a formless God 

  • Independence of case system 

  • Criticism of every external worship of Islam and Brahmanical Hinduism 

  • Expression of ideas through couplets 

  • Devotion and Bhakti are the only paths to salvation 

  • Rejection of religious traditions and orthodox religion

4. What are devotional paths, and how do they contribute to religious practices?

Devotional paths are religious approaches focused on personal connection and devotion to a divine entity. In Chapter 8, understand how these paths, such as Bhakti and Sufi, emphasize direct, heartfelt connections with the divine, shaping religious practices and fostering a deeper spiritual understanding.

5. How did devotional paths influence the cultural and social fabric of historical societies?

Delve into the impact of devotional paths on cultural and social aspects in Chapter 8. Learn how Bhakti and Sufi movements transcended traditional boundaries, fostering inclusivity, and influencing art, literature, and social interactions, leaving a lasting imprint on historical societies.