Chapter – 10 Religious Reform Movements in Modern India Part – 2

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The Prarthana Samaj was established in Bombay by Dr. Atma Ram Pandurang in 1876 with the objective of rational worship and social reform.

  • Two great members of this Samaj were Shri R.C. Bhandarkar and Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade. They devoted themselves to the work of social reform such as inter-caste dinning, inter-caste marriage, widow remarriage and improvement of the lot of women and depressed classes.

  • Mahadev Govind Ranade devoted his entire life to Prarthana Samaj. He was the founder of the Widow Remarriage Association and the Deccan Education Society.

  • He established the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha as well to Ranade, Religious reform was inseparable from social reform.

  • He also believed that if religious ideas were rigid there would be no success in social, economic and political spheres.

  • Ranade’s great message to the persons who were involves in social service was “Strength of numbers we cannot command, but we can command earnestness of conviction, singleness of devotion, readiness for self-sacrifice, in all honest workers in the cause.

Derozio and Young Bengal Movement

Henry Lui Vivian Derozio, joined the Hindu College of Calcutta as a teacher. He had come from Scotland to sell watched in Calcutta, but later made the spread of modern education in Bengal as his life’s mission.

Image of Young Bengal Movement

Image of Young Bengal Movement

Image of Young Bengal Movement

  • Derozio promoted radical ideas through his teaching and by organizing as association for debate and discussions on literature, philosophy, history and science.

  • He inspired his followers and students to question all authority. Derozio and his famous followers, known as the Derzians and Young Bengal, were fiery patriots.

  • The Young Bengal Movement continued even after Derozio’s dismissal and his sudden death.

  • Though deprived of leadership, the embers of this group continued preaching radical views through of teaching and journalism.

Spread of the Reform Movements in Western and Southern India

  • After Bengal, the most important region where the movement for reforms spread was western India. Bal Shastri Jambekar was one of the first reformers in Bombay.

  • He attacked Brahmanical orthodoxy and tried to reform popular Hinduism.

  • 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. At its meetings, members took food cooked by low-caste people. They favoured education of women and supported widow remarriage.

  • Mahadev Ranade believed that without social reforms it was not possible to achieve any progress in the political and economic fields. He was a great advocate of Hindu-Muslim unity.

  • Two other great reformers in Western India were Gopal Deshmukh Lokahitwari and Joti Rao Govind Rao Phule popularly known as Jotiba.

  • Jotiba Phule was also a pioneer of the widow remarriage movement in Maharashtra.

  • An important movement particularly significant for the emancipation of the so-called backward and oppressed sections of Indian society was started by Shree Narayan Guru in Kerala.

  • In 1903 he founded the Shree Narayan Dharma Paripalana Yogam to carry on the work of social reform.

  • He considered differences based on caste and religion as meaningless and advocated what he called ‘One Caste, one Religion and on God’ for all.’

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