Many socio-religious reform movements started in India during the British rule.They were against social evils and superstitions.Their goal was to make changes in the society and to reform religion.
The Brahmo Samaj was started by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in 1828 at Calcutta (Kolkata). It believed in one god and preached monotheism(belief in one god). It also propagated monotheism through modern knowledge and education.
The reform movements launched by them were based on certain common principles like:
That all human beings are equal irrespective of caste, creed or sex.
That religion should be based upon the humanity.
That Hindus and Muslims should live together in peace and harmony.
That social evils like polygamy, child marriage and sati should be abolished from Indian society.
There was a general sense of dissatisfaction and discontent among the youth about contemporary Indian life. The social and religious systems were considered to be full of abuses, corruption and superstitions. The religious leaders were not acceptable to everyone. So some young men decided to reform them according to the needs of the time.
The Young Bengal Movement:
Raja Rammohan Roy, David Hare, Henry Vivian Derozio and several others formed a group known as the Young Bengal Group in 1828. They wanted to reform Indian society through their ideas and writings. They condemned social evils like polygamy, casteism, child marriage and sati.
David Hare founded Hindu College where he taught sciences, European history, literature and modern languages. He also started an English weekly called The Friend of India.
Henry Vivian Derozio (1818-31) was an Anglo-Indian teacher at Hindu college who preached liberal ideas among his students. He organized a group called ‘Derozians’ who later became famous writers, authors and journalists like Dwarkanath Ganguli and Peary Chand Mitra. Other leaders were Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Satish Chandra Mukherjee, Protap Chunder Mazoomdar etc
The Prarthana Samaj was established by Atmaram Pandurang in 1867 at Bombay (Mumbai). It believed in monotheism, one caste system, widow remarriage and education for women.
The Arya Samaj was established by Swami Dayanand Saraswati in 1875 at Mumbai. He toured all over India to spread his ideas that were based on Vedas.
Socio-religious Reform Movements in India
The various socio-religious reform movements, which flourished in the 19th and 20th centuries, were in a sense outcome of western impact in India and also a reaction against certain social evils which had crept into the Indian society.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy, considered as the father of modern Indian Renaissance, was instrumental in bringing about religious and social reforms through his Brahmo Samaj movement.
Mainly due to his efforts child marriage was abolished by the enactment of Child Marriage Restraint Act (1929).
He also opposed Sati system and appealed to Lord William Bentinck to abolish this evil institution. In 1829 Sati was abolished by a regulation after the death of Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
The Hindu Widow Remarriage Act (1856) was enacted due to the efforts of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and many other reformers. This act authorized widow remarriage and gave inheritance rights to children born out of such marriages.
Although the aforementioned movements such as Hindu Melas and the reformist movement in the field of education did influence a large number of educated Hindus, it was not enough to yield any significant results/outcomes. This shows that a united Hindu society could not be formed as there were discrepancies among certain groups which could not be reconciled. The Young Bengal movement was successful in influencing a large number of educated youth who became involved in it. Thereby, it gave rise to socio-religious reform movements like Brahmo Samaj.
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