Seven Bhakti Saints Of North India

Before we speak of the great bhakta poets, we should acknowledge the primary language that was the tool for many of them. Hindi is the treasured national language of India, with 615 million speakers worldwide. Hindu devotees from all regional and language backgrounds engage with Hindi through popular devotional songs (bhajans), scriptures such as Ramcharitmanas (the famed story of Lord Rama), the poems of Kabir, religious stories (katha), and in other ways big and small. Hindi is written in Devanagari script, which it shares with Sanskrit, Marathi, Nepali, Rajasthani, Kashmiri, and dialects such as Brajbhasha and Awadhi which can both be classified linguistically as Hindi. This family of tongues is the medium of a vast body of literature, with every dialect carrying unique nuances.

Brajbhasha, meaning "language of Braj," was one of North India's most notable literary languages from the 16th to the early 20th century. Braj is a region in India on both sides of the Yamuna river with its center at Mathura-Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh state. Brajbhasha was also a major court language, in addition to being the poetic vehicle of many Krishna bhaktas. We refer to a time when there was fluid interweaving between the "devotional" and the "courtly."