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Indian Renaissance

The nineteenth century is known as the ‘Age of Renaissance’ in the history of modern India. The following are the few socio-religious reformers of India.

Ram Mohan Roy and the BrahmoSamaj

He is known as the Father of Indian Nationalism, the Father of Indian Renaissance and the Prophet of Indian Nationalism. He started the BrahmoSamaj in 1828.
  1. He also started Atmiya Sabha by attracting young men from Calcutta and carried on struggle against the religious and social evils.
  2. He opposed idol worship, child marriage, sati system, rigidity of caste and the meaningless religious rituals. He condemned the priestly class, which encouraged these practices.
  3. He translated Vedas in Bengali language in support of worship of one god.
  4. He started a magazine called Samwad Kaumudi.
He established schools to impart English education to the Indians. He started the Hindu College. It emerged as the Presidency College.

Swami Dayananda Saraswathi

He founded the Arya Samaj in 1875.
  1. He had a great sense of pride about Indian culture and philosophy. He appealed to the people about the significance of Vedic philosophy. He gave the call ‘Go back to the Vedas’.
  2. He condemned idol worship and superstitious practices.
  3. His views were published in his famous work ‘Satyartha Prakasha’.
  4. He condemned the superiority of Brahmin priests.
  5. He opposed untouchability.
  6. He stood for the upliftment of women.
  7. He condemned child marriages and encouraged widow remarriage.
  8. He started the Shuddhi movement to bring back to Hinduism all those who had converted to Christianity or Islam.
  9. He established a number of Anglo-Vedic schools and colleges in different parts of the country.
  10. This Samaj advocated India is for Indians.

The Sathya Shokhak Samaj

Jyothiba Phule established this organisation in 1873 at Pune.
  1. The Samaj strove to secure justice and human rights for the exploited.
  2. He declared war against child marriage, exploitation of the widows and untouchability.
  3. He improved the status of mill workers of Bombay and also the peasants.
  4. One of the members of Sathya Shodak Samaj, N. M. Lokhande, established the first Trade Union called the Bombay Mill Hands Association.

Swami Vivekananda

He was the disciple of Ramakrishna, who carried the message of Ramakrishna throughout India and also to the western countries.
  1. He condemned the evil practices in Hindu society.
  2. He established the Ramakrishna Mission in memory of his Guru in 1869.
  3. Vivekananda participated in the World Parliament of Religions in 1893 at Chicago and at Paris in 1900. In these conferences, he tried to spread the message of universal brotherhood and religious toleration.
  4. He filled the thoughts of nationalism among the young men of India.
  5. In times of floods, famine and epidemic outbreaks, the mission helped people.
  6. Service to mankind was the highest philosophy of Ramakrishna Mission. The Belur Math (near Calcutta) became the centre of the mission’s activities.
  7. Various schools, colleges and hospitals were started to render humanitarian services to the people.
  8. He has been hailed by the West as the ‘Cyclonic Monk of India’ and by his countrymen ‘Patriot Saint of India’ and ‘the Lion of Vedanta’. His birthday on 12 January is celebrated as the Youth Day every year.

Sayyid Ahmed

He is the most important reformer among the Muslims. He started the Aligarh Movement in 1875.
  1. He interpreted the Quran in the light of contemporary rationalism and science.
  2. He warned against fanaticism.
  3. He established an English school in 1844, and Anglo-Oriental college at Aligarh in 1877 (at present Aligarh Muslim University).
  4. He urged the Muslims to give up the medieval customs and ways of thought and behaviour.
  5. He favoured the raising of women’s status in society and advocated removal of purdah and spread of education among woman.
  6. He condemned the customs of polygamy and easy divorce that prevailed among the Muslims.

Annie Besant

The Theosophical Society was founded in the US in 1875 by Madame H. P. Blavatsky, a Russian and Colonel H. S. Olcott, an American, along with others. Theosophy means Brahmavidya in Sanskrit. Its international headquarters are at Adyar in Chennai. The Theosophical Movement in India gained momentum with the arrival of Annie Besant in India.
  1. She adopted India as her motherland and worked for its regeneration. She translated Bhagavad Gita.
  2. She interpreted Hinduism, Indian culture and values in the right perspective. This appealed to the English educated Indians.
  3. She established the Central Hindu College at Banaras in 1898, at present known as the Banaras Hindu University.
  4. In 1918, she established the National University at Adyar in Chennai.
  5. She also supported the freedom struggle of India. She called the freedom struggle as ‘Home Rule’ for India and started Home Rule League in 1916. She became the President of the Indian National Congress.

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