Social and Religious Reforms Class 8 History Notes Maharashtra State Board
Along with the spread of English education, there was a spread of new thoughts, new ideas, and new philosophies. Indians were also introduced to Western thoughts and culture. Due to this, there were changes in social, religious, economic, and cultural aspects of Indian society. The modern educated Indians became aware that the backwardness of India was due to superstitions, casteism, old customs, class system, and lack of critical outlook. It was necessary to eradicate the flaws and undesirable tendencies for the progress of the country. And to create a new society based on the principles of Humanity, Equality, and Fraternity. The educated thinkers started social awareness through writing to solve the various problems in society. The intellectual awakening in contemporary society is called the ‘Indian Renaissance’.
Era of Religious and Social Reforms
In 1828, Raja Rammohan Roy established the Brahmo Samaj in Bengal. He had studied many languages and religions. Through it, his ideology of Advaita philosophy was developed. Monotheism, caste and class equality, protest against rituals, and following the way of prayers were the principles of Brahmo Samaj. He opposed the Sati practice, child marriage, Purdah system. He promoted widow remarriage and female education. He founded Hindu College in Calcutta. He created public awareness through the newspaper ‘Samvad Kaumudi’.
Dadoba Pandurang Tarkhadkar established Paramhansa Sabha in Mumbai in 1848. Later Paramhansa Sabha was dissolved and some of its members founded the Prarthana Samaj. Dadoba’s brother, Dr.Atmaram Pandurang, was the first President of Prarthana Samaj. The prestige of the institution increased due to the enrollment of young graduates from Mumbai University.
Justice Ranade and Dr. R.G.Bhandarkar carried forward the work of Prarthana Samaj. The opposition to idol worship, monotheism, opposition to rituals were the principles of Prarthana Samaj. They stressed devotion and prayers. To reform society, Prarthana Samaj started orphanages, women’s education institutes, night schools for workers, and society for Dalits. Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde, a member of Prarthana Samaj, established the ‘Depressed Classes Mission’. Through the mission, an attempt was made to solve the social problems.
Mahatma Jyotirao Phule started the Satyashodhak Samaj in 1873. Satyashodhak Samaj worked on the principle of the formation of a society based on equality. They protested against untouchability. They advocated education among the depressed classes and women. Mahatma Phule reformed society through the medium of books like ‘Brahmananche Kasab’, ‘Gulamgiri’, ‘Shetkaryacha Asud’ and ‘Sarvajanik Satya Dharma’. He severely criticized the traditions and customs that discriminated between man and woman, or rather human beings himself.
Arya Samaj was founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati in 1875. He wrote the book ‘Satyarth Prakash’ as a commentary on Vedas. Ancient Vedic religion is a true religion that has no place for casteism. He asserted that there should be gender equality. ‘Go Back to the Vedas’ was the slogan of Arya Samaj. The branches of Arya Samaj were opened all over India. Many educational institutions were established through the medium of Arya Samaj.
Ramakrishna Mission was established by Swami Vivekananda, a close disciple of Ramakrishna Paramhansa, in 1897. Ramakrishna Mission worked for service to the society. The mission worked for providing help to famine-stricken people, and patients, medical help to the poor, female education, and spiritual growth. Swami Vivekananda was an excellent orator. He attended the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 as a representative of Hinduism. ‘Arise, Awake, and stop not till the goal is achieved’ was the message given by him to the Indian youth.
Social Reforms Among the Sikhs:
The Singh Sabha was established at Amritsar to achieve reforms in the Sikh religion. This institute worked to spread education among the Sikh community and bring modernization among them. Later the Akali movement continued their tradition of reformation.
Emancipation of Women:
During the expansion of British rule in India, the position of women was very miserable. They had no right of education. They were not treated equally. Child marriage, dowry system, sati, keshavapan, and opposition to widow remarriage customs prevailed in the society. The then Governor Lord Bentinck took the help of social reformers like Raja Rammohan Roy to pass the Sati Prohibition Act. Gopal Hari Deshmukh, popularly known as ‘Lokhitwadi’ advocated gender equality through his writings in ‘Shatapatre’.
In 1848, Mahatma Phule started the first school for girls at Bhide Wada in Pune. His wife Savitribai Phule supported him. Savitribai Phule had to face great criticism from the Society but she continued to work in education. Mahatma Phule established the ‘Bal Hatya Pratibandhak Gruha’ in his own house. He conducted a strike of barbers against the custom of shaving the heads of the widows. To gain permission for widow remarriage, Pandit Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, Vishnushastri Pandit, and Vireshalingam took up special efforts.
In his newspaper, Sudharak, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar gave his staunch opinion about child marriage, the law of consent. Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde organized a conference against the practice of Devdasi. In her book, ‘Stri Purush Tulana’, Tarabai Shinde very fiercely put up her views about women’s rights. Maharshi Dhondo Karve started the ‘Anath Balikashram’ an orphanage for girls. He intended to give education to all women and make them stand on their own feet. Through his efforts, the first women’s university was set up in the 20th century. Pandita Ramabai founded the Sharada Sadan and took up the responsibility of taking care of disabled children and women.
Ramabai Ranade, through the medium of Seva Sadan Institute, started the Nursing course for women. She demanded the right to vote for women. Through articles, Dr.Ambedkar spoke about the injustice towards women. Mahatma Gandhi also advocated the education of women. Women have made valuable contributions during the freedom movement. Women’s reform movement helped in closing down many unjust practices in society. The voice for problems against women broke out. Women started putting up their thoughts through their writings. Their performance in every sector of life flourished due to education.
Religious Reforms Among the Muslims:
Abdul Latif started the social reform in the Muslim community. He established ‘The Mohammedan Literary Society’ in Bengal. Sir Sayyad Ahmad Khan founded ‘The Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College’. It later developed into the ‘Aligarh Muslim University’. He advocated Western science and technology. He firmly believed that Muslims could make progress only by studying modern education and science.
Movement in Hindu Society:
In 1915, ‘Hindu Mahasabha’ was established to give a respectable position to the Hindu community. Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya laid the foundation of ‘Banaras Hindu University’. Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, in 1925, established Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh at Nagpur. It aimed to set up a disciplinary and virtuous organization of Hindu youth. V.D. Savarkar built the ‘Patit Pawan Temple’ at Ratnagiri, open to all castes of the Hindu religion. Common dining programs were also arranged. In the history of Modern India, the movement of renaissance is very important. On the principles of Liberty, Equality, and Nationalism, the Indian social reformers set up a nationwide political movement.
Manifestation of Renaissance in Other Areas:
Just as the reform movement, the development in various fields of literature, art, and science during the Renaissance period is also important. In the field of literature, Rabindranath Tagore, and in the field of Science C.V. Raman received the Nobel prize. This gives us an idea of the progress in India. This progress was responsible for building up Modern India. Stories and novels gave the inspiration to gain independence. They also expressed thoughts on social reforms. During this period, women also took up writing. New newspapers and magazines became a source of social reform and political awakening. There was development in the field of art as well. Music became more popular. Indian style and Western techniques were combined and a new school of painting came forward. Many books were written based on Science. People started realizing that experimentation and scientific attitude were important for the progress of the Country.
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