Saturday, July 14, 2012

Salient features of socio religious movements of 19th century

These movements made an attempt to reorder and reshape society, social behavior, custom, structure, control etc. All socio-religious movements demanded changes. The existing socio-cultural evils and malpractices such obscurantism, superstition and irrationality embedded in the society were the severest targets of the intellectual attack. The intellectuals did not however attack the social system as a whole. Their attack centered only on the perversions and distortions that had crept into it. They did not advocate a sharp rupture in the existing social structure of the country.

Changes were sought within the framework of the existing structure. They were advocates of reform and not revolution. All used the basics of the religions in India to established authority so as to legitimize their ideology that generally targeted the religious belief based on superstitions. Their authority was based on scriptures that were not longer considered to be properly observed. Most of them reinterpreted the doctrine or scriptures to spread their message. At times different types of authority were combined to legitimize a particular programme.

The ultimate object of the reform movement was the attainment of social happiness the well-being of the people and thus progress. The intellectuals associated with such movements placed a very high premium on knowledge. Ignorance was viewed as a curse and the root cause of all the problems associated with Indian society. All the socio-religious movements laid emphasis on spread of education. Nearly all the intellectuals held education to be panacea for all problems.

All the reformers laid stress on the growth of Indian vernaculars. It was deemed necessary to realize the goal of popular education. The role of English education was to be an aid and never an instrument of social change.

Another significant concern of the intellectuals was female education. It was emphasized as the 'root of all reform' and social advancement. Illiteracy among women was viewed as one of the major causes of their pitiable plight and the general backwardness of the society. They advocated expansion of women's role outside the home.

All the movements were especially popular during the lifetime of its founder. The movements with formal organizational structure and efficient disciples/heir mostly succeeded in maintaining the popularity even after the death of the founder.

They all worked relentlessly for the upliftment of the position of women, late marriage, monogamy, widow-marriage, elimination of caste destructions, monotheism etc. The course they delineated for transformation was to be evolutionary and not revolutionary.


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