Social-Religious Reforms, Personalities, and Organizations:
Movements for social and religious reforms in India up to the 20th century played a vital role in the upliftment of India. The list of some important social and religious reforms in our society is provided below:
Brahmo Samaj- Founded in August 1828
Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772- 1833)– Also called the Father of the Indian Renaissance and the maker of Modern India.
Raja Rammohan Roy founded, In 1814 founded the Atmiya Sabha in Calcutta. The main objective of Atmiya Sabha was-Emphasis on Monotheism on the evils of the Hindu religion.
He founded Brahmo Sabha in August 1828, later it was renamed Brahmo Samaj in Calcutta in 1830.
- Adi Brahmo Samaj was later formed by Debendra Nath Tagore,
- Keshub Chandra Sen was associated with Brahmo Samaj of India.
- The Brahmo Samaj worked on various reforms of religious, social, and cultural reforms.
- They opposed incarnation, sacrifices, Idolatry, priest existence, Sati, and other reforms in Hinduism.
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy Brought journal –Sambad Kaumudi (1821), Mirat-ul-Akbar, Percepts of Jesus 1820.
- Tattva Bodhini Patrika by Devendra Nath Tagore
- Indian Mirror by Keshub Chandra Sen
- Tattva kaumudi, The Indian messenger, The Sanjibari, The Nayabharat, and Prabasi by Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.
Features/Objectives of Brahmo Samaj:
- Polytheism and idol worship denounced
- No faith in Avataras (incarnations)
- It denied that any scripture could enjoy the status of ultimate authority transcending human reasons and consciences.
- The caste system was criticized by Brahmo Samaj.
Dharm Sabha (1830):
The founder of Dharma Sabha was Radhakant Deb. He founded Dharma Sabha in 1829 in Calcutta.
- The main objective of Dharma Sabha was that they believed in the preservation of the status quo and were basically opposed to the Brahmo Samaj.
- The theme of Dharma Sabha was to counter Brahmo Samaj. It helped in spreading western education and condemned radical and liberal reforms.
Tattvabodhini Sabha (1839)
Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905) headed the Tattvabodhini Sabha.
- The Tattvabodhini Sabha was founded in 1839 in Calcutta.
- Tattvabodhini Patrika was published in Bengali, and devoted to the systematic study of India’s past with a rational outlook.
Paramhans Mandali: (1849)
A socio-religious group founded by Durgaram Mehta, Dadoba Pandurang, and his friends in 1849 in Bombay.
- It was the first socio-religious organization of Maharastra.
- They preached monotheism.
- Supported the rights of women.
- They advocated for widow remarriage.
- They objected to and criticized the caste system in society by which inequality was generated.
Young Bengal Movement- (1826-1831)
- Young Bengal Movement was Founded by Anglo Indian – Henry Louis Vivian Derozio (Who taught at Hindu College).
- Other people associated with the organization were Rasik Krishna Mullick, Tarachand choker-Vati, and Krishna Mohan Banerjee.
- He supported Love, liberty, equality, Freedom, and Women’s right also.
Wahabi Movement- 1820
- Wahabi Movement – Founded by Syed Ahmed.
- Other people associated with the movement – were Vilayat Ali, Shah Muhhamad Hussain, Farhat Hussain, and Inayat Ali.
- Started from Rohilakhand and spread in Bengal, central provinces
- This was opposed British and they also fought against Sikhs.
Namdhari or Kuka Movement- 1849
- The Kuka movement from 1849-1871, founded by Balak Singh and Baba Ram Singh
- This movement among Sikhs, in NWF provinces and Punjab.
- This worked for various reforms in social, cultural, and religious reforms.
Rahnumai Mazdayasanan Sabha (Religious reform association for Parsis)- 1851
- Rahnumai Mazdayasanan was founded by S.S Bengali, Naoroji Furdonji, Dada Bhai Nauroji
- For improving the social conditions of Parsis.
- The journal Rast Goftar is associated with this organization.
Prarthana Samaj- 1867
The Prarthana Samaj was founded by Atmaram Pandurang, and Keshab Chandra Sen was also associated.
- The Prarthana Samaj was founded in Bombay in 1867.
- The chief mentor was Govind Ranade, he joined the Prarthana Samaj in 1870. Other leaders like R.G. Bhandarkar and N.G. Chandavarkar were also associated with the Samaj.
- They worked for the upliftment of women, the abolition of caste discrimination, and religious reforms from orthodoxy.
- widow remarriage and for raising the age of marriage for both males and females.
The four points of the Social agenda of Prarthana Samaj:
- Disapproval of the caste system
- Women’s education
- for widow remarriage
- raises the age of marriage for both males and females.
Indian reform association – 1870
- The Indian reform association was founded by Keshub Chandra Sen in Calcutta.
- Against child marriage, for the uplift of women’s status in society, to legalize the Brahmo Type marriage.
Satyasodhak Samaj- 1873
- Satyasodhak Samaj was founded by Jyotiba Fule, in Maharashtra.
- This was against the domination of Brahman and for the upliftment of the lower caste.
- They also worked for untouchables and widows.
Arya Samaj -1875
- Arya Samaj was founded by Dayanand Saraswati (Mulshankar) -1824-1883- in Bombay.
- He took inspiration from the Vedas.
- The slogan of Dayanand Saraswati was- “Back to Vedas”
- Satyarth Prakash was associated with his views.
- Arya Samaj fixed age of – 25 yrs. and 16 yrs. for boys and girls respectively.
- They asserted that the Veda is the book of true knowledge.
- Dayanand Anglo Vedic (DAV) schools were established.
The Theosophical Society- 1875
- The Theosophical Society was founded by Madam H.P Blavatsky (1831-91) a Russian and Col. H.S. Olcott (1832-1907) an American.
- Annie Besant was one of its presidents.
- Founded in New York but its headquarters shifted to Adyar near Madras.
- Worked for social and religious reforms.
Seva Sadan- 1885
- Seva Sadan was founded by Behramji M.Malabari in Bombay
- They worked for various reforms in the social and cultural fields.
- This was against child marriage, forced widowhood, and helping women who were socially suppressed.
Indian National Social Conference – 1887
- Founded by M.G.Ranade and Raghunath Rao in Bombay
- Worked for social reforms.
Deva Samaj- 1887
- Deva Samaj was founded by Shiv Narayan Agnihotri in Lahore.
- They followed The Ides of Brahmo Samaj in religious reforms.
- Social code Against bribes, gambling, alcohol consumption, and non-vegetarian food.
Ramakrishna Mission- 1897
- Founded by Vivekanand (Narendra Nath Dutta)- (1863-1902) in Bengal.
- His guru was Ramkrishna Paramhansa (1834- 1886)
- worked to revive Hinduism on the basis of Ancient India’s religious Text and concept of Vedanta and Gita and other books.
- They were against cast discrimination and superstitions in Hinduism.
- They aimed to uplift women’s status and education system.
- Swami Vivekananda made a great impression at the Chicago Parliament of Religion in 1893.
The Servants of India Society- 1905
- Founded by Gopal Krishna Gokhale in Bombay
- for Women uplift.
- For improvement of the condition of tribals.
The Indian Women’s Association- 1917
- Founded by Annie Besant in Madras
- for the upliftment of Indian Women
- All India women’s conferences were held for women’s betterment.
Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha – 1924
- Dr. Ambedkar established the Bahishkrit Hitakarni Sabha in 1924
- Ambedkar established it to highlight the difficulties and grievances of the Dalits before the government.
- The motto of Bahishkrit Sabha was ‘Educate, Agitate, and Organise’.
The steps to improve Women’s position/Women’s Reforms
A number of administrative measures were adopted by the government as well to improve the conditions of women in society. Some important are discussed below:
Abolition of Sati
The abolition of Sati was launched by Raja Rammohan Roy. The government declared the practice of Sati illegal and punishable as a homicide.
The Regulation of 1829- Regulation XVII, A.D 1829 of the Bengal Code, as applicable to Bengal province, later was simply modified and applicable to Madras and Bombay Presidencies in 1830.
Preventing Female Infanticide
Preventing female Infanticide was introduced to stop the practice of Murdering female infants immediately after their birth, which was a common practice among upper-class Bengalis and Rajputs.
- They considered females as an economic burden. The step taken by the government against it was- The Bengal Regulation of 1795 and 1804 which declared infanticide as equivalent to murder.
- The Act of 1870 made it compulsory to register the birth of all babies and provided for female child verification after some years of birth.
Associated People and their actions for Widow Remarriage:
- The Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act 1856, was passed due to the efforts of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. Pandit Vidya Sagar cited Vedic text to prove that the Hindu religion sanctioned widow remarriage.
- Vishnu Shastri Pandit founded the Widow Remarriage Association in the 1850s.
- Karsondas Mulji started the “Satya Prakash” in Gujarati in 1852, to advocate widow remarriage.
- Professor D. K Karve in western India married himself a widow in 1893. He dedicated his life to the upliftment of Hindu widows. He became the secretary of the Widows Remarriage Association.
Steps for Controlling Child Marriage
To prohibit Child Marriage – The Native Marriage Act (or Civil Marriage Act) of 1872 signified the legislative actions against child marriage. The Act was not applicable to Hindus, Muslims, and others where religious faith was recognized so it had limited impact.
Some major stapes for controlling child marriage:
- Due to the efforts of B.M Malabari, the enactment of the Age of Consent Act (1891) forbade the marriage of girls below the age of 12 years.
- The Sharda Act, of 1930 stated the new age bar of marriage as 18 for boys and 14 for girls.
- The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act 1978 raised the age of marriage for girls and boys. The age of girls for marriage is 18, and for boys, it is 21.
Some other administrative steps for the upliftment of the condition of women were-
- Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act (1937),
- Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act (1954)
- Special Marriage Act (1954)
- Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (1956)
- Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (1956)
- The Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women Act (1958)
- Maternity Benefits Act (1961)
- Dowry Prohibition Act (1961)
- Equal Remuneration Act (1958, 1976)
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