main forms of religious practice consist of several types of poojas
or prayer services and Temple rituals to God in various forms.
The practice also included singing bhajans in praise of God, telling
the stories from mythology and reading and explaining the scriptures.
Most of the schools of Bhakthi pathway are guided by the teachings
of Gurus of the 8th to 15th century like Sri Sankara, Sri Ramanuja,
Sri Madhva, Sri Meykandar, Sri Thirumoolar, Sri Vallabha, Sri
Thulasidas, Sri Chaitanya and several others in that period.
pathway became a very popular form of worship with Temple prayer
rituals and home vigraha forms of rituals. They often used group
singing and house worship of an Ishtadevatha, a personal Deity,
as a picture [Prathima]. There were differences from house to
house and different areas of the country in this practice, but
they all realized in their prayers that they pray to One God in
Originally, group-singing of Bhajans were popular in ancient times
among the people of Southern India even before the idea of Vedic
rituals of the Gangetic plains spread to the South. This became
very popular in the Northern India during the Moghul rule with
religious persecution and destruction of most Temples by the Muslim
rulers. Local languages of the community were used and even common
uneducated people could follow this practice.
Saivites and Smarthas followed Advaitha, prayers,
bhajans and Bhakthi path along with Jnana yoga and Karma yoga
pathway. Bhakthi pathway is most popular among the Vaishnavites.
The Vaishnavites always considered that prayers to the Divine
Narayana or Krishna are the basic duty to be performed by every
one with Saranagathi or Prapatti which is the act of self surrender
to His Grace.
Southern School of Vaishnavites, Thenkalai, followers of
Pillai Lokaacharya and Manavala Mahaamunigal said it is Maarjaara
Nyaaya, like the Cat carrying its kitten; God will help us without
any effort on our part. The Northern School, Vadakalai,
followers of Vedhaantha Desikar said it is Markata Nyaaya, like
the baby monkey clinging to the mother's belly, one has to show
at least some effort and desire and God will carry us through
our life cycle.