Sant tradition

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Sant tradition. In Indian religions, a sant is a holy or dedicated religious person. He or she is thus equivalent to a sādhū (fem., sadhvī). More specifically, Sant traditions are those in which a succession of styles and teachings have been developed and transmitted. Of these, one is the Vārkarī movement of Paṇḍharpur in Maharaṣṭra. But more usually the Sant tradition refers to a succession of religious teachers and devotees in N. India whose influence was extensive from the 15th to 17th cents., and persists to the present day. The Sant tradition also refers to itself as Nirguṇa Saṃpradāya (see NIRGUṆA; SAṀPRADĀYA), or Nirguṇa Pantha. This Sant tradition was a coalescence of different religious strands, of which Vaiṣṇava bhakti, especially as associated with Ramananda, was particularly important. Major figures among the Sants include Nāmdev, Ravi Dās, and Kabīr; but the most dramatic influence was exercised on Gurū Nānak, and thus on the formation of the Sikh tradition. See NIRAṄKĀRĪ.

The term ‘sant’ is also an honorific title given to revered teachers (cf. sādhu).