A social and political reformer, Ranade was born in 1842 in Maharashtra. A graduate of the University of Bombay, his professional career touched the peak in 1893 with his appointment as judge of the Bombay High Court. He became involved in the working of a number of institutions aiming at social, economic and political advancement of India such as the poona Sarvajanik Sabha, the Social Conference, Industrial Conference, the Prarthana Samaj and the Indian National Congress.
For social reform, Ranade believed that the discriminatory caste values must be done away with. Hence, he supported the Bhakti movement (Bhagwat Dharma) which gave all castes equal status in society. Equality of the sexes, the spread of education, rescuing children and widows from social injustices, protection of agricultural workers and land tenants from exploitation—these causes were espoused by Ranade with fervor. The State had an immense responsibility in ensuring social equality but ultimately it is the people themselves who have to work for their betterment. Ranade held that the social, economic and administrative aspects of society are interlinked so that social uplift, political liberties and economic rights go hand in hand.
The necessary transformation of the Indian society would be a gradual process. Ranade advocated moderate methods and not outright rebellion to effect the transformation. Such moderate activities include legislative and executive methods, teaching and enlightening the masses and finally reforms through state penalties.