Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Socio-Religious Reform Movements of 19th Century in India

Socio-religious reform movements of 19th century fall into two broad categories - Reformist and Revivalist movements. The only difference between the movements lay in the degree to which it relied on tradition or on reason and conscience.

Socio-Religious Reform Movements of 19th Century in IndiaOn the basis of their activities many a time the reform movements are also termed as reactionary, revolutionary, conservative, radical etc. The intensity and magnitude of the movement also led to its being branded as communal, liberal etc. Most of the movements emphasized on both religious and social reforms since most of the social practices in India were based on religious injunctions and sanctions. Movements like the Brahmo Samaj, The Prarthana Samaj and the Aligarh Movement fall under reformist movement category whereas, Arya Samaj, the Ramakhrishna Mission and the Deoband movement falls under Revivalist movements category. Indian reformers well understood the close interrelation betweent eh different aspects of human activities.


Causes for Socio-Religious Reform Movements

The analysis of the background and existing facts relating to socio-religious reform movement of 19th century in India suggest the following to be the main causes for the movements:

  • Political Unification, legal unification under British administrative system resulted into creation of new middle class e.g. Zamindars, money-lenders, merchants etc. who were earliest to be exposed to modern enlightened ideas.

  • Emergence of enlightened middle class that benefited most from the western education produced early leaders of the socio-religious reform movement. Since middle class were widely part of the urban area the earliest manifestation of these movements were found in urban areas.

  • Role of modern western education - Introduction of western education resulted in growth of intelligentsia and acted as fuel for liberalism, rationalism etc.

  • Growth of press and its role - Press acted as a medium of communication and was used as instrument for building opinion e.g. from Raja Ram Mohan Roy to Gandhi all used press to build opinion. Ram Mohan Roy brought out journals in Bengali, Persian and Hindi to spread scientific temperament among the people. In Maharashtra, a similar role was played by Gopoal Hari Deshmukh, popularly known as Lokhitavadi. Hundreds of Indian language newspapers and journals made their appearance during the 19th century. They were started  not as profit-making business enterprises, but as labor of love and social commitment with a view to disseminate nationalist and reformist ideas among the people.


There is hardly a major modern Indian political or social figure that did not edit or write for the popular Indian language press. The Amrit bazar patrika, Som Prakash, and Sanjivani in Bengali; Rast Gofter and Gujarat Samachar in Tamil; Andhra Prakasika, Andhra Patrika in Telugu; Matrubhoomi in Malayalam; the Hindi Pradeep, Elindustani, Aj and Pratap in Hindi; Azad, Akbar-i-Am and Koh-i-Noor in Urdu; and Utkal Dipika in Oriya, were some of the major newspapers of the time.

Role of the Indological research by scholars like Sir William Jones, Max Muller, James Princep, R.G. Bhandarkar supplied Indians with sufficient information related to formidable cultural achievements of India. This led to cultural revival of India.


Post a Comment