Religious Reform Movements in Modern India
COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL REFORM MOVEMENTS
- arose among all communities of the Indian people. They attacked bigotry, superstition and the hold of the priestly class
- worked for abolition of castes and untouchability, purdahsystem, sati, child marriage, social inequalities and illiteracy
- supported directly or indirectly by the British officials and some of the reformers also supported reformative steps and regulations framed by the British Government
BRAHMO SAMAJ AND RAJA RAMMOHAN ROY
- 1828 of the Brahmo Samaj
- forbade idol-worship and discarded meaningless rites and rituals
- forbade its members from attacking any religion.
- It believed in the basic unity of all the religions.
- Raja Rammohan Roy believed that man should adopt truth and
goodness and should give up things based on falsehood and superstition.
- greatest achievement was the abolition of Sati in 1929
- deeply opposed to the caste system
- did not insist on the creation of a new religion but merely endeavoured to ‘purify’ the Vedic religion from the crude and most ignorant superstitions.
- only one God for all religions and for all humanity
- wrote in Bengali and English
- promoter of English education
- versed in the Persian language
- advocated the abolition of polygamy (a practice of man having more than one wife) and child marriage
- condemned the subjugation of women and opposed the prevailing ideas that women were inferior to men in intellect or in a moral sense
- advocated the rights of widows to remarry
- Brahmo Samaj was open to all persons regardless of
their colour, convictions, caste, nationality, and religion
- emphasised human dignity, opposed idol worship and condemned social evils like sati pratha.
- No images were allowed and no sacrifices and offerings permitted
- Debendra Nath Tagore (l817-1905) son of Dwarkanath Tagore. Founder member of Brahmo Samaj. Succeeded Raja Rammohan Roy
- Keshub Chandra Sen (l838-1884) took over the leadership of the Samaj from Tagore
- First organised vehicle for the expression of national awakening and inaugurated a new era for the people of India.
PRARTHANA SAMAJ AND RANADE
- established in Bombay by Dr. Atma Ram Pandurang (1825-1898) in 1876
- rational worship and social reform
- Shri R.C. Bhandarkar and Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade
- inter-caste dining, intercaste marriage, widow remarriage and improvement of the lot of women and depressed classes
- Mahavdev Govind Ranade
- founder of the Widow Remarriage Association (1861) and the Deccan Education Society
- established the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha
- religious reform was inseparable from social reform
- believed that if religious ideas were rigid there would be no success in social, economic and political spheres
- leader of social reformation and cultural renaissance in Western India
- did not insist upon a rigid exclusion of idol worship and a definite break from the caste system
- did not regard the Vedas as the last word, nor did it believe in the doctrine of transmigration of the human soul and incarnation of God.
- Its central idea was one positive belief in the unity of God.
DEROZIO AND YOUNG BENGAL MOVEMENT
- Henry Lui Vivian Derozio promoted radical ideas through his teaching and by organizing an association for debate and discussions on literature, philosophy, history and science
- followers, known as the Derzians and Young Bengal
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
- reformer in Bengal
- due to his sincere efforts that obstacles to the marriage of widows were removed through a law in 1856
- education of girls
- did not concern himself much with religious questions
- against all those who opposed reforms in the name of religion
SPREAD OF THE REFORM MOVEMENTS IN WESTERN AND SOUTHERN INDIA
- Bal Shastri Jambekar was one of the first reformers in Bombay
- In 1849, the Parmahansa Mandali was founded in Poona, Satara and other towns of Maharashtra. Its followers had faith in one God and they opposed caste system.
- Mahadev Ranade believed that without social reforms it was not possible to achieve any progress in the political and economic fields.
- Western India Reformers: Gopal Hari Deshmukh Lokahitwari and Jotirao Govindrao Phule popularly known as Jotiba
- Jotiba Phule was also a pioneer of the widow remarriage movement in Maharashtra
- Given the tile of ‘Mahatma’ for his work for the cause of the oppressed. In 1873, he founded the Satya-Shodhak
- Southern Part
- Kandukuri Veeresalingam (1848-1919) pioneered the movement in support of widow remarriage and girl’s education in Andhra.
- Veda Samaj founded in Madras in 1864 advocated discarding of caste distinctions and promotion of widow remarriage and women’s education
- Chembeti Sridharalu Naidu was the most popular leader of the Veda Samaj. He translated books of the Veda Samaj in Tamil and Telugu.
- Shree Narayana Guru (1854-1928) of Kerala founded the Shree narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) in 1903. He called ‘One Caste, one Religion and on God’ for all
SWAMI DAYANAND SARASWATI (1824-1883) AND ARYA SAMAJ
- Dayanand Saraswati- Arya Samaj in 1875
- opposed to idolatry, ritual and priesthood, particularly to the prevalent caste practices and popular Hinduism
- favoured the study of western science
- Important Work- Satyarth Prakash
- opposed child marriages and encouraged remarriage of widows
- Dayanand Anglo-Vedic School
- In 1902, Swami Shradhananda started the Gurukul near Hardwar
to propagate the more traditional ideas of education.
- prescribed a purificatory ceremony calld suddhi for those Hindus who had been converted to other religions like Islam and Christianity.
THE RAMAKRISHNA MISSION AND SWAMI VIVEKANANDA
- Gadadhar Chattopadhyaya (l836-86) known as Ramakrishna Paramahansa
- there were many roads to God and the service of man was the
service of God, because man was the embodiment of God.
- Narendra Nath Datta (l863-1902) later known as Swami Vivekananda was the most devoted pupil
- Condemned the caste system, rigid rituals, century old superstitions and advocated liberty, free thinking and equality
- promoted the Vedanta philosophy which he considered the most rational system
- insistence on the upliftment of the masses
- service to the poor and downtrodden was the highest religion
- founded the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897
- In 1893 he participated in the All-World Religious Conference (Parliament of Religions) at Chicago in the United States of America
THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY AND ANNIE BESANT
- founded in the USA in 1875 by a Russian spiritualist Madame H.P. Blavatsky and an American Col. H.S. Olcott
- promote studies in ancient religions, philosophies and science, develop the divine powers latent in man and form a universal brotherhood of man
- introduced to India in 1879 and its headquarters were set up at Adyar near Madras in 1886.
- Spread under Annie Beasant in 1893
- recognized the doctrine of the transmigration of the soul
- founded the Central Hindu College at Banaras which she later handed over to Madan Mohan Malaviya.
- established a Home Rule League in 1916
- fought against untouchability and advocated upliftment of women
- Branches were opened all over India
ALIGARH MOVEMENT AND SAYYID AHMAD KHAN
- Muhammedan Literary Society founded in Calcutta in 1863 founded by Nawab Abdul Latif 1828-1893
- Shah Waliullah in Delhi, who opposed the unorthodox religious practices and revived the Shia sect and strict monotheism
- Firangi Mahal in Lucknow was incorporated into the new educational syllabus
- Sharitulla of Bengal was the leader of the Faraizi movement Bengal
- most notable of the Muslim reformers was Sayyid Ahmed Khan of Rai Bareilly, in Uttar Pradesh.
- Got many Western books translated into Urdu.
- Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875 at Aligarh
- Aligarh Muslim University
- Aligarh Movement
- wanted women to be educated and advocated the removal of the purdah. He was also against polygamy
- Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had founded the Ahmediya Movement in 1899
- Muhammad Iqbal, (1876-1938)
REFORM MOVEMENTS AMONG PARSIS
- In 1851, the Rehnumai Maz’dayasan Sabha or Religious Reform Association was founded by Nauroji Furdonji, Dadabhai Naoroji, S.S. Bengalee and others.
RELIGIOUS REFORM AMONG SIKHS
- Khalsa College started at Amritsar
- Khalsa College was founded at Amritsar in 1892
- After 1920 the Sikh momentum gained momentum when the Akali Movement rose in Punjab
- In 1925, a law was passed which gave the right of managing Gurudwaras to the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee
IMPACT OF THE REFORM MOVEMENT
- British wanted to appease the orthodox upper section of society
- Sati was declared illegal (1829)
- Widow remarriage was permitted by a law passed in 1856
- Marriageable age of girls was raised to ten by a law passed in 1860.
- law passed in 1872, sanctioned inter-caste and inter-communal marriages
- Sharda Act was passed in 1929
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