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Nirguṇa and Saguṇa
(4,936 words)

Hinduism as it is lived and practiced today is deeply indebted to the bhakta-poets of the early modern period of Indian history (12th to 17th cents.). These bhaktas composed poetic verses in the vernacular languages, and thus effectively subverted the monopoly of Sanskrit as the language of the sacred. Among these bhaktas the nirguṇapanthīs (followers of the path of the formless) vigorously questioned the “infallible authority” of the vedic and Islamic scriptures, in fact, of the organized religion as such in all its nomenclatures; and forcefully attacked the caste system. The sagu…

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Agrawal, Purushottam, “Nirguṇa and Saguṇa”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online, Editor-in-Chief Associate Editors Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Narayanan. Consulted online on 05 June 2023 <>
First published online: 2018

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