Introvert people

Putting together a large number of contemporary tests of personality, Grimes, Cheek, Julie Norem, and Courtney Brown created the STAR test to measure four kinds of introversion. To figure out your primary introverted type, take this online test:

To find out where you stand on each of the four meanings of introversion, answer the following questions by deciding to what extent each item is characteristic of your feelings and behavior. Fill in the blank next to each item by choosing a number from the following scale:

1 = very uncharacteristic or untrue, strongly disagree

2 = uncharacteristic

3 = neutral

4 = characteristic

5 = very characteristic or true, strongly agree

Social Introversion

____ 1. I like to share special occasions with just one person or a few close friends, rather than have big celebrations.

____ 2. I think it would be satisfying if I could have very close friendships with many people.

____ 3. I try to structure my day so that I always have some time to myself.

____ 4. I like to vacation in places where there are a lot of people around and a lot of activities going on.

____ 5. After spending a few hours surrounded by a lot of people, I am usually eager to get away by myself.

____ 6. I do not have a strong need to be around other people.

____ 7. Just being around others and finding out about them is one of the most interesting things I can think of doing.

____ 8. I usually prefer to do things alone.

____ 9. Other people tend to misunderstand me—forming a mistaken impression of what kind of person I am because I don’t say much about myself.

____ 10. I feel drained after social situations, even when I enjoyed myself.

Thinking Introversion

____ 1. I enjoy analyzing my own thoughts and ideas about myself.

____ 2. I have a rich, complex inner life.

____ 3. I frequently think about what kind of person I am.

____ 4. When I am reading an interesting story or novel or when I am watching a good movie, I imagine how I would feel if the events in the story were happening to me.

____ 5. I seldom think about myself.

____ 6. I generally pay attention to my inner feelings.

____ 7. I value my personal self-evaluation, that is, the private opinion I have of myself.

____ 8. I sometimes step back (in my mind) in order to examine myself from a distance.

____ 9. I daydream and fantasize, with some regularity, about things that might happen to me.

____ 10. I am inclined to be introspective, that is, to analyze myself.

Anxious Introversion

____ 1. When I enter a room I often become self-conscious and feel that the eyes of others are upon me.

____ 2. My thoughts are often focused on episodes of my life that I wish I’d stop thinking about.

____ 3. My nervous system sometimes feels so frazzled that I just have to get off by myself.

____ 4. I am confident about my social skills.

____ 5. Defeat or disappointment usually shame or anger me, but I try not to show it.

____ 6. It does not take me long to overcome my shyness in new situations.

____ 7. I feel relaxed even in unfamiliar social situations.

____ 8. Even when I am in a group of friends, I often feel very alone and uneasy.

____ 9. My secret thoughts, feelings, and actions would horrify some of my friends.

____ 10. I feel painfully self-conscious when I am around strangers.

Restrained Introversion

____ 1. I like to be off and running as soon as I wake up in the morning.

____ 2. I’ll try anything once.

____ 3. For relaxation I like to slow down and take things easy.

____ 4. I like to wear myself out with exertion.

____ 5. I often say the first thing that comes into my head.

____ 6. I generally seek new and exciting experiences and sensations.

____ 7. I like to keep busy all the time.

____ 8. I often act on the spur of the moment.

____ 9. I sometimes do “crazy” things just to be different.

____ 10. I often feel sluggish.

How’d you do?

To find out your score for each of the four kinds of introversion,RECODE the following Reverse-Worded items: (1=5) (2=4) (4=2) (5=1):

Social Introversion items: 2, 4, & 7

Thinking Introversion item: 5

Anxious Introversion items: 4, 6, & 7

Restrained Introversion items: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, & 9

Next, add together all the numbers to come up with a total score.

Here’s a guide of how you scored compared to others in the general population:

  • Social Introversion — below 24 low, around 30 average, above 36 high​
  • Thinking Introversion — below 28 low, around 34 average, above 40 high
  • Anxious Introversion — below 23 low, around 30 average, above 37 high
  • Restrained Introversion — below 25 low, around 31 average, above 37 high

This alternative way of assessing introversion is not likely to be embraced by Big Five personality researchers [6]. But if it offers you a more satisfying, personally meaningful way to glean insight into your unique personality, feel free to throw the Big Five framework out the window.

© 2014 Scott Barry Kaufman, All Rights Reserved.

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Connor Child at Qzzr for his help with the online quiz, and Jennifer Odessa Grimes and Jonathan Cheek for their help with this post.

[1] This list is adapted from Jonathan Cheek’s book review, which can be found here.

[2] As another example, take people who conceptualize themselves as highly introverted because they are very introspective and value their rich inner mental lives, but who score high in enthusiasm and assertiveness on the Big Five test. These folks are being told by modern personality psychologists: “You are really an extrovert who is also high in intellect/imagination.” For those who have spent their entire lives equating their love of thinking and fantasy with their “introversion”, they respond: “huh?” In the Big Five, imagination, fantasy, and introspection are positively associated with Extraversion. But if we do away with the label of introversion in the Big Five, then that allows a person to be introverted in the thinking/introspective sense but also be an extravert in the Big Five sense (high in enthusiasm and assertiveness).

[3] Popular writers on introversion are also not pleased with this psychological imperialism. For instance, in Sophia Sembling’s book The Introvert’s Way, she has a chapter titled “Introverts are Not Failed Extroverts”.

[4] Keep in mind, the Big Five is a descriptive model; it merely describes patterns of covariation between people. The labels used to describe the five personality dimensions are subjective. A lot of the arguments over what counts as introversion come down to a naming game. In my view, it’s really unfortunate that Big Five researchers started to use the label “introversion” to mark the lower end of extraversion. It wasn’t always this way. In fact, the original name for “extraversion” in the Big Five was “Surgency“. If it were up to me, it would have stayed that way, leaving the label “introversion” free to continue roaming the personality landscape. As Jonathan Cheek told me, “if the Big Five folks would just go back to that phrase [“Surgency”], they would not be crossing swords with folk psychology/ordinary language introverts. Perhaps introversion should *not* be used as a label in the Big Five system.” I agree.

[5] Here is the link to the research report about the new STAR scale. You might be wondering: “What about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test? Isn’t that good enough to measure introversion?” Well, no it isn’t. As it turns out, the MBTI extraversion-introversion scale only includes items relating to being talkative, gregarious, and sociable (vs. quiet and reserved). Since there’s not a single item on the MBTI extraversion-introversion dimension that mentions being introspective or reflective, even the MBTI doesn’t measure Jung’s original conceptualization of the term!

[6] Big Five researchers could make the case that each of these four meanings of introversion can easily be mapped onto the Big Five framework. For instance, they could argue that:

-Social introversion is really just “low enthusiasm” (part of the extraversion domain)

-Thinking introversion is not part of the extraversion-introversion domain at all, but really is “high intellect/imagination”

-Anxious introversion is really just a blend of “high neuroticism” and “low assertiveness” (part of the extraversion domain)

-Restrained introversion” is a blend of a number of lower-order extraversion-related traits, including “low sensation seeking”, “low excitement seeking”, and “low activity”.


What Kind of Introvert Are You?

Are you an introvert? It depends on which book you read. Here’s a sampling of the various conceptualizations of introversion in pop culture [1]: Preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments: Quiet by Susan Cain Preference for concentration and solitude: The Introvert’s Way by Sophia Dembling Rechargeable battery: The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney Thoughtful-introspective

Are you an introvert? It depends on which book you read.

Here’s a sampling of the various conceptualizations of introversion in pop culture [1]:

Historically, there has been just as much confusion in the psychological literature. Carl Jung originally defined introversion as a focus on one’s “inwardly directed psychic energy”. However, in the 30s, the psychologist J.P. Guilford showed that various attempts to measure Jung’s conceptualization of introversion resulted in multiple, distinct factors. In other words, there didn’t appear to be a single dimension of personality that captured all of introversion.

In the 60s Patricia Carrigan echoed this point, arguing that introversion was not effectively captured by a single scale. She cautioned that if the phrase introversion is to continue to be used, “care must be taken to specify its conceptual and operational referent. What appear to be minor distinctions between the various conceptions may in fact be crucial ones.” In the 70s, the heated debate continued, with a much older Guilford arguing with H.J. Eysenck over whether introversion can possibly, or even should, be captured by a single scale.

All seemed to be settled in the 90s with the emergence of the “Big Five” framework of personality. The five main factors of personality– extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and intellect/imagination– were empirically derived based on what patterns of behavior tend to go together within individuals. Under this framework, introversion is merely defined as the opposite of extraversion.

In the Big Five framework, extraversion comprises two main aspectsenthusiasm (reflecting sociability, positive emotions, and warmth) and assertiveness (reflecting the tendency to take charge, become a leader, and captivate attention). The common factor seems to be high sensitivity to rewards in the environment— which due to the highly social nature of humans throughout the course of human evolution, most prominently consists of rewards associated with social attention.

Therefore, under the dominant personality framework in modern psychology, if you score low in enthusiasm and assertiveness, you’re an introvert

Here’s the problem: the Big Five framework forces a definition of introversion onto people, many of whom do not conceptualize introversion in the same way. For instance, one study did a comparison of common-sense/everyday notions of introversion and ‘scientific’ conceptions of introversion. They found that the most prototypical characteristic of introversion, as identified by the general public, was the following item:

Clearly, many people equate introversion with introspection. In the Big Five framework, however, this item is classified as part of the intellect/imagination domain of personality, not the introversion domain. So there’s a serious mismatch between folk definitions of introversion and scientific definitions. People who view themselves as introverted because they are highly introspective are being told by scientists: “You aren’t really introverted based on patterns of covariation among the general population.” To which everyday people rightfully respond: “WTF?” [3]

As noted personality psychologist Jonathan Cheek told me, “by invalidating the ordinary language meaning of introversion by defining it solely as the opposite of Big Five Extraversion, the Big Five researchers are guilty of Psychological Imperialism [4].” Influenced by the seminal work of Jung, Guilford, and Carrigan, Cheek and his colleagues have decided to take a different approach, by focusing on the phenomenon of introversion on its own, free from having to be force-fit into one scheme or another.

As Carl Jung said, each individual is ultimately a unique crystal, but type theories can be helpful for navigating social life. Embracing this Jungian philosophy, Cheek and his colleagues argue that when people use the term “introversion”, they should never just use it by itself. Instead, they argue that researchers should put a specific modifier in front of the term. What modifiers could be used?

In her masters thesis (written under the advisement of Cheek), Jennifer Odessa Grimes defined four meanings of introversion: social, thinking, anxious, and restrained (which happens to form the positive acronym STAR). It’s possible to score high or low on either of these flavors of introversion. For instance, you could be low in social introversion by preference but not be particularly anxious in the presence of people. Or you could suffer from crippling social anxiety, but still have the desire to be highly social. Or any other combination of these four meanings of introversion.

By this point you’re probably wondering what kind of introvert you are. Well, you’re in luck. There’s a new test for that.

Education is life

Today the World is becoming a superficial place. Our time appoints the absurd, making social networks as a real-world by a considerable part of the younger generations.

It is a virtual reality, more precise than high-definition video games, more addictive and harmful to the mind and the body.

This fake reality indeed kills the neurons converting people into zombies led by a leader of unknown appearance.

Ignorance acts as the lock, and manipulation working as the key entering every mind. Then, it hacks and promotes war even over the most absurd topic that any influencer shares in a post.

The social network profile becomes an epicentre of empty universes, universes that conflict with the real-life, where, as in the war, leads to the destruction of entire generations.

Using actualized tools, but the same indoctrination mechanisms used in the world wars. Again, the end justifies it, annulling individuals’ conscience and making them members of the social mass.

Even though each social profile is seemingly unique, there is no perspective on what life is in its essence. The network is a game that only favours some private interests.

We know the truth: countries born from interests, wars arise, passions move. Interests motivate greed. Greed sooner or later destroys life. Life, which, without a doubt, is the only thing we have.

Blood wars are no longer an option in our time across the rich countries. New wars are too expensive and risky.

Wars are now abstract. Wars involve factual powers whose shadow is unknown and whose attacks are directed to control the terrestrial and the extraterrestrial.

The end of empires has never come. In our time, empires are mainly commercial, managing everything that allowed us to be free.

Now empires dictate what to be and how to be.

Indeed, commercial or blood, all war implies the destruction of every trace that makes us human.

Every war, directly and indirectly, destroys our soul and breaks the only thing we take when we leave.

War destroys what we have lived and what we will no longer discover for ceasing to be ourselves.

There are not strong leaders to help us. Corruption and secrets are always leaked by someone who is behind the scenes.

We are the unique leaders of our time; we are the bosses of our destiny.

We must not perish. Responding to Hamlet, the worthiest thing for the soul is to fight for our fortune, live our lives, and rebel against this wild sea of misery.

The only thing that saves us from interest, the only thing that separates us from greed, the only thing that allows us to see reality is education.

However, all education is written by the victors and not by the vanquished. Our salvation involves investigating, delving into every little remorse and lack of meaning of our multiple thoughts.

The only thing that educates us is ourselves.

What do I mean when I say “Education for Life?” I can present the problem and the solution. The problem is that people in traditional forms of education usually approach it from the standpoint of just preparing a person for a job. But one’s job isn’t the definition of one’s life—it’s only that which enables you to have enough money to meet your needs. Our lives encompass a much broader arena than one’s capacity to earn money. Any educational system that teaches only job skills or offers only intellectual information is neglecting the essential needs of human beings. The solution is a form of education that trains us in that which is most relevant to us—how to find lasting happiness in life.

We deeply need proper training in “how-to-live” skills such as how to find the right mate, how to raise our children, how to be a good employee, how to get along with our neighbors, and how to concentrate our minds so that we can draw success into all our endeavors. There are many such skills that are essential to prepare a child for adulthood, and in traditional education many of them are completely ignored. Education for Life is a system that prepares the child to face the challenges of living as a human being, and helps him to achieve balance and harmony in all he does. What we’re really talking about is preparing everyone, not just children, for true maturity. This is a much bigger concept than just coming of age. As defined it in the book, Education for Life, maturity is the ability to relate appropriately to other realities than one’s own. You’ll find that even people of advanced years are often childish and immature with regard to this definition, yet this ability to relate to others’ realities is what education should accomplish.

The Case for a New Avenger

S.H.I.E.L.D. might have missed assembling team members from India, but it is never too late to correct an oversight. Imagine our larger-than-life superhero, Rajinikanth, partnering with other Avengers in a combined mission to save the planet from dangerous predators with bad intentions. Some aliens, some familiar ones! Yes, India is far from America, and the distance seems to have increased during the pandemic, but Rajinikanth could give some worthy company to Iron Man and perhaps teach him a trick or two, too, through holographic interfaces and augmented reality. Who knows, he could also kill all the mutants of Coronaviruses in this quest!

I wish to present some facts now to give you a background of my strategic human resource and leadership plan for S.H.I.E.L.D. India has one of the largest numbers of gig workers in the world. As per a March 2021 report by consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the gig economy in India is expected to soar to 90 million in approximately a decade from now. Choose any vocation here and you will be spoilt for choices. Almost everyone is an expert on politics, economics, socio-cultural issues, fashion, sports, career, marriage, children, nature, animals, traffic, the dos, and don’ts … the list is endless. People can even advice others on how they should lead their lives. It’s affection, silly!

War for talent? Clearly, recruiters have not been able to explore the depth of this vast pool. To reiterate, India is a land bubbling with high potentials. Now let us go back to the topic of superpowers. There is plan B too. Rajinikanth could have a serious competition in a plain-looking community here. S.H.I.E.L.D. could consider appointing some members from this fraternity too.

You are rolling your eyes? Why? Hear me out. Presenting to you the case of beholders of the mighty pen (over a sword or a gun), and the upholders of fine speech. Their words hit no less than the missiles unleashed by Israel over the Gaza strip. Let me walk you through the innate gifts of a less publicized community with an immensely amoeba-like (plasma membrane) flexibility.

The teachers.

The extremely sturdy ones can stand the whole day, operate (teach) without a table and a chair, or, the basic infrastructure, and sometimes work even at low or no salaries for months. The strengths, struggles and coping mechanism of the privileged ones out of this lot are embedded in different realms. More on that, later! You will be astonished to learn how many hats teachers can don at the same time. They juggle between being a mentor, coach, counsellor, Devil’s advocate, friend, philosopher, or guide. Interestingly, even their DNA personifies versatility. Over the years, the mutations in their genetic material have helped them learn how to make milestones of the stones thrown at them by students unhappy with their marks, and parents unhappy with the teachers for giving those marks! Talk about heightened senses, their eyes can easily observe and sense the intention behind each greeting, smile and calls to the office. They are like Sharma ji ka beta/beti’, always expected to excel at everything and set an ideal example for the others to emulate.

Here, I would take a detour and ask you to recall the violinists who continued to play music for as long as they were alive, just to calm the passengers on the sinking Titanic ship. On similar lines, teachers continued to teach while the pandemic unleashed havoc around the world. The unlearning of years of classroom teaching was replaced by the immediate need to adopt new technological tools and re-learn the art of virtual teaching. The new and changed landscape was no less than the one post Thanos snapping his finger.

Aren’t convinced yet? Go to the polling booths and follow the polio immunization drives, you will know what I mean.

Now the final hook. Except for some teachers working with elite institutions, the rest won’t even charge much for their services. You can simply smile, appreciate their work, show some respect, and boy, see how they melt! Just watch how it lights up their faces. They are so motivated, especially on September 5 every year in India, that even Abraham Maslow bows to them from time to time from his grave. Had told you about their genetic sequencing earlier, remember? I do hope I have presented their (our) case well, S.H.I.E.L.D. Hopefully, you will have a relook at your current team now.

On a sidenote, can I be a contender too? Just saying. I can take it up as a gig assignment during the semester breaks. Imagine the newest Avenger on the block and that too a female from India! It will further boost the diversity and inclusion factors for you. If you can give equitable salary and perks, you could even find yourself on the pages of Harvard cases.

You might want to provide supplements of Vitamin T(eacher) to your team if Rajinikanth’s diary of appointments is full. Professor Hulk would not mind some more erudite company. In return, I vow to start quoting your example in my classes as a great employer brand with an excellent employee value proposition. Who knows, I might even write a research article. Told you, pen and words are the weapons here. Think about it. What say? Are you game?

P.S. I have recently bought a telescope to keep an eye on the stars and planets too. Taking my possible future role tad too seriously, eh?

What are different types of aggressions

Researchers identify two types of aggression related to sports: instrumental aggression and hostile aggression.What is instrumental aggression?By nature, certain sports (such as football, ice hockey, etc.) have higher levels of contact between players. Thus, they inevitably include more aggression. But such violence is often within the bounds of the game. You often need to play with a certain measure of physical aggressiveness in order to win. That’s instrumental aggression.Hostile aggression, on the other hand, is violence that goes beyond the scope of the sport. Being hostile refers to “impulsive, angry aggression intended to hurt someone who has in some way provoked an individual” (Russell, 2008). One famous example of hostile aggression in sport is a 2006 World Cup football (soccer here in the U.S.) match. After being insulted by Italian athlete Marco Materazzi in the middle of the game, French player Zinedine Zidane delivered a serious headbutt to his chest, which sent him flying to the ground. Such action was in no way necessary to the game itself; it was simply a way to retaliate against the athlete. Zidane wanted to hurt his provoker as badly as possible.Hostile Aggression Among Teen AthletesIn discussing the problem of aggression, most experts are talking about the concept of hostile – not instrumental – aggression.In surveying 800 adolescent athletes playing 10 different sports all across the U.S., Shields (2005) found that 13% of students have tried to deliberately hurt an opponent at least once during a game. Seventeen percent have said something mean to an opponent. And almost 40% have tried to “get back” at another player.

Heroes Modeling Bad Behavior

Increased media attention on pro-athletes has revealed shocking displays of violence both on and off the sports field. This has an influence on young fans, who often admire and glamorize such athletes. One researcher (Smith, 1983) asked adolescent hockey players who their favorite National Hockey League (NHL) player was. He found that there was a positive correlation between skaters whose NHL hero was aggressive and the young athlete’s own play.

Aggressive Parents

But aggressive behavior isn’t only seen on TV. Often, it’s closer to home. Certain parents could be violent and aggressive with their children at home, as well as on the sports field. (One Minnesota survey found that 17% of adolescent athletes said that an adult had hit, kicked, and slapped them while participating in sports.) Experiencing such violent behavior has a mimicking effect, says researchers. See the case of Thomas Junta and Michael Costin in 2000, and what happened to their kids thereafter.

Showing Loyalty or Seeking Revenge

Moral reasoning theory suggests that some teens think aggressive behavior is not just okay, but even the right thing to do in certain circumstances. “Aggressive behavior is often…justified by players to demonstrate loyalty to teammates, and especially injured teammates, by seeking revenge particularly in competitive, body-checking leagues,” says Cusimano (2016). Hurtful insults, mean taunts, and even stares can provoke certain players, who will then retaliate by become more aggressive (Gordon Russell, 2008). Sports psychologists note that not all athletes respond to the same provocation in the same way. Personality differences, temperament, and even regional hometown (!) change the way athletes will respond to a hurtful remark. For example, Type-A teens will be more likely to get angry when they’re insulted.

Getting Too Hot

Sounds crazy, but it really is true: environmental factors like heat leads to aggression. Science even proves it. Research on weather and crime shows that acts of violence happen most during the summer. In the same vein, getting hot during a sports game can make an athlete more physically aggressive. In analyzing more than 2,300 National Football League games and matching them up with the temperatures on each day, researchers found that the hotter it was, the more aggressively teams played. They determined this conclusion based on comparing temperatures to the number of aggressive penalties teams accrued. Even when the temperature is fairly mild, though (or even cold, as in ice hockey) your teen athlete could be getting warm by all the physical activity they’re doing—running, throwing a ball, tackling, etc.—not to mention all the layers they’re wearing and the gear they’re carrying.

Biological factors

Certain teens may simply be more aggressive, naturally. Studies have shown, for example, that the level of testosterone in male athletes impacts their aggressive level. (Simpson, 2001). In one experiment, male participants with both high and low testosterone levels were given escalating shocks. The males with high hormone levels responded with more aggression than the others.  Changes in hormone levels can likewise increase or reduce aggression. During puberty, for example, which is when testosterone levels generally increase, competitive aggression increases as well.

Crowd Incitement

Many times, parents, coaches and fans encourage aggression from the sidelines. After analyzing parents’ remarks at more than 40 adolescent sports games, Meân and Kassing (2008) found that many parents and sports officials encourage a “war-like” aggression on the sports field. This winning-at-all-costs mentality (as evidenced by statements like ‘kill him!’, ‘trip him,’ “Do what you gotta do,’ let ‘em have it,”) could be trickling down to their children. These adolescents are getting the message that because it’s so important to win, playing aggressively is okay. To them, the sport transforms from “play” to “war” – because that’s what they’re hearing from the crowd.

Living Up to Expectations

They’re nervous about performing well. About 13% of parents admit they’ve angrily criticized their child’s sport performance after a game. (Shields, 2005). Oftentimes, sports have become so important to the parent, and the parent has such high expectations for performance and the winning of the game, that many children are probably “playing much more aggressively than they would if their main objective was to hang out with their friends and have fun.” Research shows that parents underestimate the pressure they place on their young athletes to succeed.

Changing the Culture: Sportsmanship First

According to a Monitoring the Future survey, 71% of adolescent boys and 68% of adolescent girls participate in school sports. With so many teen athletes playing sports, it’s important to understand the factors that can lead to hostile aggression and take any steps one can to reduce it.

For parents, this could mean being mindful of their interactions with their children. Parents who are calm and try their best to reduce angry outbursts (not just at sports games, but also at home) are more likely to produce children who will act similarly. Likewise, parents can do their best in maintaining a low-stress approach to sports so as not to pressure their young athletes. In regards to media exposure, parents can also try to limit how much violence their teens are exposed to by monitoring their TV and media consumption.

Though some factors linking to aggression (such as personality or hormone levels) are out of one’s control, youth sports officials can try to create an atmosphere where hurtful taunts, songs and chants are discouraged, and positive sportsmanship is encouraged. This might limit the number of provocations in the game and thus the number of fights between athletes. In the same vein, angry spectator violence – which is shown to have a mimicking effect on adolescents – should have appropriate consequences.


An important landmark in the cultural history of medieval India was the silent revolution in society brought about by a series of socio-religious reformers, a revolution known as the Bhakti Movement. The Bhakti Movement stressed on the mystic realization of God within oneself and the ultimate union of the individual with God, based on loving devotion on the part of the devotee (Bhakta). The seeds of the Sanskrit term ‘Bhakti’ can be traced back to both the Brahmanical and Buddhist traditions of ancient India as well as to the various scriptures such as the Vedas, Upanishads and
Gita, and had been in work in India long before the growth of Sufism in Islam and its arrival in India. With the worship of personal Gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh – that grew in the post-Vedic age, the concept of Bhakti or personal devotion also grew. Historian Satish Chandra has noted two main aspects of Bhakti Movement. First is the path of devotion based on service to God, where the devotee throws himself completely at the grace of God which could be followed
without learning any religious text or following any religious ritual. This was the path of ‘prapatti’ or surrender. The second was that of a bond based on pure love which emphasized on equality rather than service. Vishnu Purana sets an example of this kind of devotion where Prahald prays that he might be blessed with unwavering devotion to God wherever he is born.
Later this was interpreted with carnal love between a lover and his beloved, more specifically the love of Krishna with Radha and Gopis. The later aspect was emphasized by a series of saints who flourished in South India between the late 6th and 10th centuries.

Although the seeds of Bhakti can be found from the very beginning, it was not emphasized during the early part and it was for the first time in South India between the 6th and the 10th century that Bhakti emerged from a religious doctrine into a popular movement based on
religious equality. The movement which was headed and inaugurated by popular saint-poets reached its apex in the 10th century after which it gradually began to decline. However, it was refurnished as a philosophical and ideological movement by a series of scholars or ‘acharyas’, beginning with Ramanuja in the 11th century. The establishment of the Sultanate of Delhi coincided with many widespread socio-religious movements in various parts of the country drawing upon the concepts of Bhakti. These movements have been perceived as revival of the older South Indian Bhakti movement, where each one of these later movements had a historical context of its own and its own peculiarities.

In South India, the spread of the concept of Bhakti among different sections of the society irrespective of caste and sex was initiated by the Saiva Nayanar saints and Vaisnava Alvar saints during the period between the 6th and the 10th centuries. “The saint-poets preached Bhakti in an intense emotional manner and tried to promote religious egalitarianism.” The South Indian Bhakti saints criticized the Jains and Buddhists who enjoyed a privileged status at the courts of South Indian monarchs during that period. They simultaneously resisted the domination of the orthodox Brahmins by making Bhakti accessible to all without any caste or sex discrimination. Starting from the Tamil lands under Pallava rulers, Bhakti spread to different parts of south India, including the Pandya and Chera kingdoms. Their philosophy disregarded the austerities preached by the Jains and the Buddhists and preached personal devotion to God as the means of salvation. They preached their egalitarian approach which disregarded caste and gender, and carried their message of love and personal devotion to God to various parts of south India using local languages especially Tamil. Since these Alvars and Nayanars used local Tamil language instead of Sanskrit to enlighten people with their ideology, they got acceptance by
people easily. Sankara’s (8th-9th c.) ‘Advaita’ or ‘non-dualism’ philosophy systemized Bhakti ideology of monotheist. He used dialectics to demolish Buddhist ideas, and to establish that the Vedas were the origin of knowledge. According to him, “the separation of God and the phenomenal world was due to ignorance, and the way to salvation was through the realization, by means of knowledge (jnan), that God and the created world was one” and the Vedas were the “fountainhead of knowledge”.

The South Indian Bhakti movement had some drawbacks. Although egalitarian in nature, it was integrated with the caste system and the lower castes continued to suffer from social disabilities. There was no elimination of Brahmanical rituals such as worship of idols, recitation of the Vedic mantras and pilgrimages to sacred places in spite of the predominant stress on Bhakti as the superior mode of worship. The Jains and Buddhists were its principal targets not the Brahmins. This may have been the reason why the Brahman dominated temples played an
important role in the growth of South Indian Bhakti movement. The ideological and social foundations of caste system were not challenged by the South Indian saint-poets. As a result, the Bhakti movement of the south in the long-run strengthened the caste system and ultimately after the movement reached its apex in the 10th century; it gradually incorporated within the
traditional Brahmanical religion.

Despite these constraints, the South Indian Bhakti movement succeeded in defending the cause of religious equality and therefore, the Brahmins had to accept the right of the low caste to preach, to have access to Bhakti as a mode of worship and to have access even to the Vedas. When the popularity of the Bhakti movement in South India was declining, the concept of Bhakti was defended at the philosophical level by some greatest Vaishnava Brahmin scholars
(acharyas) like Ramanuja (11th century) who provided philosophical justification for Bhakti. He tried to establish a careful balance between orthodox Brahmanism and popular Bhakti which was open to all. Although he did not support the idea of the lower castes having access to the Vedas but advocated Bhakti as a mode of worship accessible to all including the Sudras and even the outcastes. While propagating Bhakti, he did not observe caste distinctions and even tried to eradicate untouchability. He tried to link Bhakti with the tradition of Vedas and therefore it is said that, “Ramanuja was a bridge between the popular movement based on Bhakti, and total surrender to God (prapatti), and the upper caste movement based on Vedas.” Nimbarka, a Telegu Brahman, is supposed to be the younger contemporary of Ramanuja, who spent most of his time in Vrindavana near Mathura in North India and believed in total devotion to Krishna and Radha. Another South Indian Vaishnavite Bhakti philosopher was Madhava who belonged to the 13th century. He believed that Bhakti provided Alternate Avenue of worship to the Sudras and his philosophy was based on the Bhagvat Purana. Two other prominent Vaishnava acharyas were Ramananda (late 14th and early 15th century) and Vallabha (late 15th and early 16th century).

The 13th to 15th century was marked by many popular socio-religious movements in North India, East India and Maharashtra, whose chief characteristics were the emphasis on Bhakti and religious equality. Almost all the Bhakti movements of the Sultanate period have
been related to one or the other South Indian Vaishnava acharya, for which many scholars believe that the Bhakti movements of the Sultanate period were a continuation of the older Bhakti movement as there existed philosophical and ideological links between the two either due to contact or diffusion. Thus it is believed that the ideas of Bhakti were carried to the north by the old Bhakti scholars and saints, among which were Namadeva and Ramananda. There are
many similarities between the older Bhakti tradition of South-India and various Bhakti movements of the Sultanate and Mughal periods. Like the South Indian Bhakti movement the Vaishnava Bhakti movements of North and Eastern India and Maharashtra exhibited egalitarian trends in the religious sphere. But they never denounced the caste system, the authority of Brahmanical scriptures and the Brahmanical privileges. Like the South Indian Bhakti, most of the Vaishnava movements of the later period were ultimately assimilated into the Brahmanical religion, though in the process of interaction, the latter itself sailed through many changes. “Bhakti movement was never a single movement except in the broad doctrinal sense of a
movement which laid emphasis on Bhakti and religious equality.” Despite the similarities, the Bhakti movements of medieval India differed in many significant respects from the older South Indian Bhakti tradition and heterogeneity is noticed even among the Bhakti movements which flourished in medieval India, where each had its own regional identity and socio-historical and cultural contexts.

It is important to note that Bhakti in north India did not arise as the counterattack of Buddhism or Jainism like south Indian Bhakti movement. In north India Buddhism and Jainism lost its eminent position much earlier but the rise of Brahmanical rigidities surged the rise of
Bhakti in northern India. Earlier, the socio-political and religious authority in north India was mostly in the hands of Rajputs and Brahmans. After the Turkish conquest, the Brahmans had lost their power, prestige and wealth following the defeat of the Rajput rulers and hence broke the dominant “Rajput-Brahman Alliance”. As a result, movements such as the Nath Panthi
Movement challenging the caste system and the superiority of the Brahmans gained popularity.
These coincided with the Islamic ideas of equality and brotherhood preached by the Sufi saints and people were no longer satisfied with a religion that emphasized only on rituals and ceremonies, rather wanted a religion which could satisfy their reason and emotion. These
circumstances helped to popularize Bhakti movement in India during the 15th and 16th centuries. It has also been argued that Bhakti was a “defense mechanism”, to save Hindu society from the threat of posed to it by the Turkish rulers and the Islamic ideology. Thus, “the seeds scattered by” the Bhakti saints “fell on fertile soil”, since the medieval period had already made ground for a philosophical and religious revolution.

It has been suggested that the Bhakti movements of medieval India represented sentiments of the common people against feudal oppression. Therefore often these medieval Bhakti movements are considered as Indian counterpart of the Protestant Reformation in
Europe. However, we find nothing in the verses of the Bhakti saints to suggest that they represented the class interests of the peasants against the feudal state. The Vaishnava Bhakti sects were against the Brahmanical orthodoxies, but they never opposed the whole social or
religious system. Similarly, the Bhakti movement leaders did not give any alternative economic plan of living to the lower sect of the society, but they always tried to identify and associate themselves with the sufferings of the common and distressed people. Thus, the Bhakti movement cannot be regarded as Indian variant of European Protestant Reformation. But it should be remembered that the economic extraction and social exploitation of the Turkish rulers spread the
Bhakti movement rapidly among the artisans and peasant class of the 13th and 14th centuries.

The extraction of large agricultural surplus leading to enormous concentration of resources in the hands of the ruling class and the rise of demands of this class for manufactured goods and other necessaries leading to the introduction of many new techniques and crafts on a large scale, in turn led to the expansion of the class of urban artisans in the 13th and 14th centuries. The growing classes of urban artisans were attracted towards the monotheistic movement because of its egalitarian ideas since they were now dissatisfied with the low status accorded to them in traditional Brahmanical hierarchy. It has been suggested that some group of traders like the Khatris in the Punjab, who benefited directly from the growth of towns, urban
crafts production and expansion of markets, were also drawn into the movement for the same reason. Thus it can be said that “the popularity of the monotheistic movement was the result of the support it obtained from one or more of these different classes of the society.”

Among the saints who carried the message of Bhakti, Kabir and Nanak made a strong influence on people. Kabir belonged to a family of weavers (Julaha) who were indigenous converts to Islam. He spent greater part of his life in Banaras (Kashi). Kabir was strongly
influenced by Nath Panthis. He came in touch with both Hindu saints and Sufis and believed in human equality and unity of being. His verses were included in the Sikh scripture, the Adi Granth in large numbers than those of other monotheists. Kabir’s poems were in vernacular
Hindi and they were transmitted by his followers. These poems are popularly known as Kabir’s Doha. Raidas (or Ravidas) most probably belonged to the generation next to Kabir’s and was a tanner by caste. He too lived in Banaras and was influenced by Kabir’s ideas. Another Bhakti saint was Dhanna, a 15th century Jat peasant from Rajasthan. Some other prominent saints of the same period were Sen (a barber) and Pipa. Guru Nanak (1469-1539) preached his ideas much in the same way as Kabir and other monotheists, but due to various developments later his teachings led to the emergence of a mass religion called Sikhism. “The basic similarity of his teachings with those of Kabir and other saints and the basic ideological agreement between them makes him an integral part of the monotheistic movement.” In his later life he travelled widely to preach his ideas and eventually settled in a place in Punjab now known as Dera Baba Nanak, where he attracted a large number of disciples.

Bhakti movement will remain incomplete without the mentioning of Sri Chaitanya and Mirabai. Chaitanya popularized Vaishnava Bhakti movement with his unconditional love and devotion to Krishna in Bengal, Orissa and other parts of India. Mirabai inspired many women of that period with her love and devotion to lord Krishna. The most significant feature of Bhakti
movement was that it was a monotheist movement in its nature, but was influenced by many other religious ideas specially Vaishnava, Nathpanthi and Sufism. It is important to state that Bhakti saints were very much connected with Sufism and their ideology of devotion and worship. It is evident that Sufi saints focused on the humanity and unconditional love, devotion towards god, their monotheist philosophy and unity of being’s ideology had thus influenced many Bhakti saints like Kabir, Nanak.

The teachings of all the saints associated with the monotheistic movement have certain common features giving the movement its basic unity. Most of the monotheists belonged to the low castes and were well aware about the existence of a unity of ideas among themselves and each other’s teachings and influences. “In their verses they mention each other and their
predecessors in such a way as to suggest a harmonious ideological affinity among them.” They believed that there was only one way of establishing union with God, and that was the way of personally experienced Bhakti. This was also the way of the Vaishnava Bhakti saints, but there was one fundamental difference that they all have been called monotheists because they uncompromisingly believed in one God. God of Nanak was non-incarnate and formless (nirankar), eternal (akal) and ineffable (alakh). The monotheistic Bhakti was nirguna Bhakti and not saguna like that of the Vaishnavites who rather believed in various human incarnations of God. It can be said that the monotheists adopted the notion of Bhakti from the Vaishnava Bhakti tradition but gave it a nirguna orientation. The monotheists followed a path which didn’t depend on both the dominant religions – Hinduism and Islam rather denied their allegiance to
either of them and criticized the superstitions and orthodox elements of both the religions. Some other features are that they preached in vernacular languages and travelled widely to propagate.

The discussion of Bhakti would be incomplete without mentioning its connection with Sufism. A prominent example of this argument is Nanak’s introduction of ‘langar’ or ‘free kitchen’ where irrespective of gender and caste people used to eat and serve food together. Sufis always emphasized on prayers through music or ‘sama’ and Sri Chaitanya also worshipped Krishna through ‘kirtan’. These similarities are important to understand the characteristics of Bhakti movement. Bhakti not only united people by its philosophy but also through regional languages. In south India Bhakti saints used Tamil instead of Sanskrit. Mirabai wrote her bhajans in Brajabuli language, Hindi literature also flourished during this period. Many books were written in Bengali about Chaitanya which enriched Bengali literature.

In order to conclude we can say that Bhakti helped to reduce social and religious discrimination among people and showed them the path of love and brotherhood. Their simple philosophy of worshipping God without grandeur rituals opened a new religious path to distraught people of the society. Bhakti connected people through the philosophy of monotheism, brotherhood and humanity and revived Hinduism from the hands of orthodox Brahmans giving it a new spirit and essence. The spirit of mutual understanding and toleration developed due to the
Bhakti movement reflected in literature, music, arts and spiritual life. Bhakti had some limitations too. For example, the Brahmin successors of Tulsidas mainly stressed the traditional and ritualistic aspects of his teachings and suppressed the humanistic view which confirms the fact that Bhakti movements were not always successful in challenging the Brahmana monopoly over knowledge. Though Bhakti had some limitations, still it engaged people to the path of
peaceful coexistence. Like Sufism, Bhakti taught people humanity is the moral of all religions and worship comes from pureness of soul, love and devotion towards the Supreme Being.