Chapter – 10 Religious Reform Movements in Modern India: Derozio and Young Bengal Movement and Spread of the Reform Movements in Western and Southern India (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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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 ofnumbers 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.
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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