15 essential points on religion, social reform and cultural awakening movements in India.
1. In the nineteenth century AD, a spirit of reform began in India. It focused on both religious and social issues.
2. Raja Ram Mohan Roy pioneered this reform movement. He opposed social practices such as discrimination on the basis of caste, untouchability. Superstitions and the custom of ‘sati’. He believed in a free press and wanted English language to be introduced in India. He also supported widow remarriage and women’s education. In the religious field, he opposed idol worship and meaningless rituals. He set up the Brahmo Samaj to fight these evils.
3. Henry Vivian Derozio started the Young Bengal Movement. He was a radical reformist and condemned many socio-religious beliefs. He also pressed for the education of women.
4. Another reformer was Ishawar Chandra Vidyasagar. He did a great deal of work in the field of education and reforms for the women.
5. Swami Dayanand Saraswati also worked for reforms through the Arya Samaj. He laid emphasis on the Vedas.
6. Ramakrishna Pramhansa was a religious reformer. His disciple was Swami Vivekananda. He was fascinated by the Indian culture and wanted the Indians to work hard. He established the Ramakrishna Mission in AD 1897.
7. Annie Besant worked for social reforms. She was a leading member of the Theosophical Society.
8. In western India, the movement for reforms was led by Mahadev Govind Ranade, Ramakrishna Bhandarkar, Gopar Hari Deshmukh, Jotirao Phule and Ramabai Ranade. All of them worked for the upliftment of women and so-called lower castes.
9. The reform movement in the South was led by the Veda Samaj. Some of the leaders of the reform movement in this part were Chembeti Sridharalu Naidu, Kandukuri Veerasalingam and Sree Narayana Guru.
10. Reforms among the Muslims were introduced by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. He established the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh in AD 1875.
11. Naoroji Furdoonji, Dadabhai Naoroji and Sorabji Bengali were reformers among the Parsis.
12. Reform movements were also active among the Sikhs. The Singh Sabhas, the Khalsa College, the Akali DAl and the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee were instrumental in introducing reforms.
13. The government was indifferent towards the cause of reforms. However, the acts of AD 1872, AD 1891 and AD 1929 did bring some changes.
14. Education was neglected. The Wood’s Despatch of AD 1854, however, did introduce some reforms in education. Still, education remained backward. To spread education, Indians also became involved in this field.
15. Cultural awakening came in India with the rediscovery of past glory. Literature and art grew. The press also made rapid strides. Science, which was so far neglected, began to be studied.