Chapter-9 : Socio-Cultural Reform Movements in India

Arora IAS Class Notes

Raja Rammohan Roy (1772-1833):

  • Nicknames:Father of Indian Renaissance, Maker of Modern India
  • Beliefs:
    • Monotheism (one God)
    • Reason and social equality
  • Writings:
    • Gift to Monotheists (1809)
    • Translated Vedas and Upanishads into Bengali
  • Atmiya Sabha (1814):
    • Promoted monotheistic ideals of Vedanta.
    • Campaigned against social evils.
  • Influences:
    • Rationalist ideas
    • Advocated using reason over blind faith

Brahmo Samaj (1828):

  • Founded by Raja Rammohan Roy
  • Goals:
    • Institutionalize reform ideas
    • Worship the “Eternal, Unsearchable, Immutable Being”
    • Oppose idolatry and meaningless rituals
  • Practices:
    • Prayers, meditation, Upanishad readings
    • No idols or images allowed in buildings
  • Long-Term Agenda:
    • Purify Hinduism
    • Preach monotheism
  • Principles:
    • Reason and Vedas/Upanishads
    • Human dignity
    • Anti-idolatry
    • Criticize social evils (e.g., sati)


  • Orthodox Hindus formed Dharma Sabha to counter Brahmo Samaj.

Raja Rammohan Roy’s Social Reforms:

  • Anti-Sati Movement (1818):
    • Fought against burning widows alive.
    • Used scripture and reason to argue against practice.
    • Contributed to government ban on sati in 1829.
  • Women’s Rights:
    • Condemned subjugation of women.
    • Opposed polygamy and low status of widows.
    • Advocated for women’s inheritance rights.
  • Education:
    • Supported founding of Hindu College (1817).
    • Established Vedanta College (1825) with both Indian and Western subjects.
  • Language:
    • Compiled Bengali grammar book.
    • Developed modern Bengali prose style.
  • Journalism:
    • Published journals in Bengali, Hindi, English, and Persian.
    • Aimed to educate, inform public, and represent grievances.
  • Political Activism:
    • Criticized oppressive practices of zamindars (landlords).
    • Demanded reforms like rent control and tax reductions.
    • Advocated for Indianization of government services.


Brahmo Samaj: After Raja Rammohan Roy

Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905):

  • Joined Brahmo Samaj in 1842.
  • Led Tattvabodhini Sabha (founded in 1839) promoting rational study of Indian past and Rammohan’s ideas.
  • Strengthened Brahmo Samaj with new members and publications.
  • Focused on Hindu reform within Brahmo Samaj and opposed Christian missionary efforts.
  • Brahmo Samaj under Tagore supported:
    • Widow remarriage
    • Women’s education
    • Abolition of polygamy
    • Improved conditions for farmers (ryots)
    • Temperance

Keshab Chandra Sen (1838-1884):

  • Joined Brahmo Samaj in 1858, became acharya.
  • Increased Brahmo Samaj’s popularity and opened branches across India.
  • Introduced controversial ideas:
    • Cosmopolitanization of meetings with teachings from all religions.
    • Strong opposition to caste system, including inter-caste marriage.
  • Disagreements with Debendranath Tagore led to a split in 1866:
    • Keshab formed Brahmo Samaj of India.
    • Debendranath’s group became Adi Brahmo Samaj.
  • Further splits within Keshab’s group:
    • 1878: Marriage of his daughter to a minor Hindu Maharaja caused friction.
    • Some followers saw him as an incarnation, leading to accusations of authoritarianism.
    • 1878: Disgruntled followers formed Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.

Sadharan Brahmo Samaj:

  • Founded by Ananda Mohan Bose, Sib Chandra Deb, and Umeshchandra Dutta.
  • Reiterated core Brahmo beliefs:
    • Supreme Being (one God)
    • No infallible scriptures or people
    • Importance of reason, truth, and morality
  • Established Brahmo centers in Madras and supported Dayal Singh College in Lahore (1910).

Significance of Brahmo Samaj:

  • Social reforms:
    • Opposed superstitions and prejudice against traveling abroad.
    • Advocated for women’s rights:
      • Ending sati
      • Abolishing purdah system
      • Discouraging child marriage and polygamy
      • Supporting widow remarriage and education
    • Limited success in challenging caste system and untouchability.
  • Influence primarily in Calcutta and Bengal, with limited lasting impact.


Prarthana Samaj (1867):

  • Founded by Atmaram Pandurang with help from Keshab Chandra Sen.
  • Preceded by Paramahansa Sabha promoting liberal ideas and dismantling caste barriers.
  • Key figures:
    • Mahadev Govind Ranade (joined 1870) – Increased national reach.
    • G. Bhandarkar (1837-1925)
    • G. Chandavarkar (1855-1923)
  • Emphasis on monotheism, but more focused on social reform than religion.
  • Influenced by Maharashtra’s Bhakti cult.
  • Strategies:
    • Education and persuasion
    • Avoiding confrontation with Hindu orthodoxy
  • Social Reform Agenda:
    • Disapproving caste system
    • Women’s education
    • Widow remarriage
    • Raising marriage age (both genders)
  • Leaders in Social Reform:
    • Dhondo Keshav Karve
    • Vishnu Shastri
    • Ranade (founded Widow Remarriage Movement & Widows’ Home Association with Karve)

Young Bengal Movement (Late 1820s – Early 1830s):

  • Led by Henry Vivian Derozio (1809-1831), a teacher at Hindu College.
  • Inspired by French Revolution ideals.
  • Promoted:
    • Free and rational thinking
    • Questioning authority
    • Love for liberty, equality, and freedom
    • Opposing decadent traditions
    • Women’s rights and education
  • Derozio considered the first modern Indian nationalist poet.
  • Limited Success:
    • Derozio removed from college in 1831 for radicalism.
    • Unripe social conditions for such ideas.
    • Lack of broader social support.
    • Limited connection with the masses (e.g., ignoring peasant issues).
    • “Bookish” radicalism.
  • Legacy:
    • Carried forward Rammohan Roy’s tradition of public education on social, economic, and political issues.
    • Advocated for Indian rights:
      • Higher government service positions
      • Protection of farmers from oppressive landlords
      • Better treatment for Indian laborers abroad
      • Revision of British East India Company’s charter
      • Freedom of press
      • Trial by jury

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Early Life and Beliefs:

  • Scholar and reformer blending Indian and Western thought.
  • Emphasized high moral values, humanism, and generosity towards the poor.

Academic Achievements:

  • Principal of Sanskrit College (1850)
  • Opened Sanskrit College to non-Brahmins (breaking priestly monopoly)
  • Introduced Western thought into Sanskrit College
  • Developed new methods for teaching Sanskrit
  • Authored a new Bengali primer and prose style

Social Reforms:

  • Championed widow remarriage, leading to its legalization.
  • Advocated against child marriage and polygamy.
  • Pioneered women’s education:
    • Organized 35 girls’ schools (some funded personally)
    • Secretary of Bethune School (1849) – a key institution for women’s higher education.

Balshastri Jambhekar (1812-1846):

  • Pioneer of social reform journalism in Bombay.
  • Attacked Brahminical orthodoxy and advocated for reforming Hinduism.
  • Founded newspapers:
    • Darpan (1832): Used to raise awareness about social reforms like widow remarriage and promote scientific thinking.
    • Digdarshan (1840): Published articles on science and history.
  • Founded institutions:
    • Bombay Native General Library
    • Native Improvement Society (with a student library branch)
  • First professor of Hindi at Elphinstone College
  • Director of the Colaba Observatory

Paramahansa Mandali (Founded 1849):

  • Secret society working to reform Hinduism and society.
  • Ideology linked to Manav Dharma Sabha.
  • Key beliefs:
    • Monotheism
    • Importance of love, morality, and free thought
    • Breaking caste rules (members ate food prepared by lower castes during meetings)
  • Advocated for:
    • Widow remarriage
    • Women’s education
  • Branches in Poona, Satara, and other Maharashtra towns.

Jyotirao Phule (1827-1890) and Savitribai Phule (1831-1897):

  • Jyotirao Phule:
    • Born into the Mali (gardener) community in Maharashtra.
    • Founded Satyashodhak Samaj (Truth Seekers’ Society) in 1873.
    • Focused on social transformation and education for the oppressed classes.
    • Opposed upper-caste domination and Brahminical supremacy.
    • Advocated for:
      • Abolition of caste system and socio-economic inequalities
      • Ending exploitation
      • “Satyashodhak” marriage ceremony – simple, inexpensive, and without Brahmin priests
    • Inspired by the common masses through works like “Sarvajanik Satyadharma” and “Gulamgiri”
    • Used the symbol of Rajah Bali against the Brahminical symbol of Rama.
    • Awarded the title “Mahatma” in 1888.
    • Faced caste discrimination in education but received support for schooling.
  • Savitribai Phule:
    • Jyotirao’s wife, born into the Mali community.
    • Married at a young age (9 years old).
    • Educated by Jyotirao at home and later took teacher training.
    • Faced abuse for teaching but persisted.
    • Advocated for women’s education and taught girls and women from downtrodden castes.
    • Established educational trusts:
      • Native Female School, Pune
      • Society for Promoting the Education of Mahars, Mangs, and others
    • Championed women’s rights through the Mahila Seva Mandal.
    • Fought against social evils like:
      • Dehumanization of widows (organized a barbers’ strike against shaving widows’ heads)
      • Infanticide (established Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha – a home for unwed mothers and widows)
    • Presided over Satyashodhak Samaj meetings and worked for plague victims after Jyotirao’s death.
    • Poet – wrote collections like “Kavyaphule” and “Bavankashi Subodh Ratnakar”.
    • Honored by renaming the University of Pune to Savitribai Phule Pune University in 2014.


Gopal Baba Walangkar (1840-1900):

  • Pioneer of the Dalit movement, considered so by B.R. Ambedkar.
  • Born into a Mahar family in Maharashtra.
  • Served in the army and retired in 1886.
  • Influenced by Jyotirao Phule’s ideas, including the Aryan invasion theory:
    • Untouchables were indigenous inhabitants.
    • Brahmins descended from Aryan invaders who subjugated the indigenous people.
  • Empowered Mahars by forming a group of Mahar astrologers, challenging Brahmin dominance in ceremonies.
  • Founded organizations:
    • Anarya Dosh-Parihar Mandali (Society for the Removal of Evils Among the Non-Aryans) – advocated against ending Mahar recruitment in the army.
  • Publications:
    • Vital Vidhvansak (Destroyer of Brahmanical or Ceremonial Pollution) – monthly journal criticizing the caste system and Dalit position.
    • Vital Viduvansan (Annihilation of Ceremonial Pollution) – pamphlet against untouchability.
    • Hindu Dharma Darpan (1894)
  • Contributed to social awareness through Marathi language journals like Sudharak and Deenbandhu.
  • Faced upper-caste opposition when appointed to the local taluk board of Mahad in 1895.

Kisan Faguji Bansod (1879-1946):

  • Advocate for Dalit education, especially girls’ education.
  • Founded Chokhamela girls’ school at Nagpur.
  • Published journals:
    • Nirashrit Hind Nagarik
    • Vital Vidhvansak
    • Majur Patrika
  • Owned a printing press (established 1910).
  • Secretary of the All India Depressed Classes Conference (1920).
  • Influenced by:
    • Bhakti movement
    • Brahmo Samaj
    • Prarthana Samaj
  • Advocated reforms within Hinduism for Dalit upliftment, despite subscribing to the Aryan invasion theory.

Vitthal Ramji Shinde (1873-1944):

  • Marathi social reformer born in Karnataka.
  • Spiritual influences: Tukaram, Eknath, Ramdas.
  • Intellectual influences: Hari Narayan Apte, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Mahadev Govind Ranade, Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar, G.B. Kotkar.
  • Joined Prarthana Samaj and worked to abolish untouchability.
  • Established institutions:
    • Night school for untouchable children in Pune (1905)
    • Depressed Classes Mission in Bombay (1906) – aimed at education, ending untouchability, and solving Dalit problems.
  • Advocated for:
    • Special representation for untouchables in government
    • Educational opportunities for untouchables
    • A united front between Dalits and caste Hindus (feared British exploitation of divisions)
  • Opposed to:
    • Caste system
    • Idol worship
    • Gender inequality
    • Exploitation of Dalits and women
    • Meaningless rituals
    • Hereditary priesthood
    • Need for a priest as a mediator between devotee and God
  • Participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement and was imprisoned.
  • Author of “Bharatiya Asprushyatecha Prashna” (The Question of Untouchables in India)



Gopalhari Deshmukh (1823-1892):

  • Social reformer, rationalist, and judge under British rule.
  • Pen name: Lokahitawadi (meaning “one who works for the good of the people”)
  • Advocated for:
    • Social reform based on reason and modern values
    • Equality and dismantling Hindu orthodoxy
    • Abolishing the caste system (famous quote: “If religion does not sanction social reform, then change religion.”)
  • Publications:
    • Weekly Prabhakar (articles on social reform)
    • Weekly Hitechhu (founded by him)
  • Played a leading role in founding periodicals:
    • Gyan Prakash
    • Indu Prakash
    • Lokahitawadi

Gopal Ganesh Agarkar (1856-1895):

  • Educationist and social reformer.
  • Championed reason and criticized blind adherence to tradition.
  • Co-founded institutions:
    • New English School
    • Deccan Education Society
    • Fergusson College (served as principal)
  • First editor of Kesari journal (founded by Lokmanya Tilak)
  • Founded his own periodical: Sudharak (spoke against untouchability and caste system)

Servants of India Society (Founded 1905):

  • Founded by Gopal Krishna Gokhale (liberal leader) with M.G. Ranade.
  • Aim:
    • Train national missionaries for serving India
    • Promote Indian people’s interests through constitutional means
    • Develop selfless workers devoted to the nation
  • Publication: Hitavada (founded 1911 to express the society’s views)
  • Remained independent of political activities and organizations like the Indian National Congress.
  • Current status: Continues functioning (though with a smaller base) in various parts of India.
  • Activities: Education (ashram-type schools for tribal girls, balwadis)

Social Service League:

  • Founded by Narayan Malhar Joshi (follower of Gokhale) in Bombay.
  • Goal: Improve living and working conditions for the masses.
  • Activities:
    • Establishing schools, libraries, reading rooms, day nurseries, and cooperatives
    • Legal aid and advice for the poor and illiterate
    • Excursions for slum dwellers
    • Gymnasiums, theatrical performances
    • Sanitary work, medical relief
    • Boys’ clubs and scout corps
  • Joshi also founded the All India Trade Union Congress (1920).


Swami Vivekananda (1862-1902)


  • Born as Narendranath Datta, later known as Swami Vivekananda.
  • Disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, spread his message and adapted it to contemporary India.
  • Considered a key figure in Neo-Hinduism.

Spiritual Influences:

  • Ramakrishna’s experiences
  • Upanishads and Gita teachings
  • Examples of Buddha and Jesus


  • Universal Values:Advocated for human values based on these influences.
  • Vedanta:Championed Vedanta as a rational and superior philosophical system.
  • Bridging the Gap:Aimed to connect spiritual and material aspects of life (paramartha and vyavahara).

Social Reforms:

  • Oneness of God:Believed in one God and the potential for harmony between religions.
  • Action over Knowledge:Emphasized the importance of social action alongside spiritual pursuits.
  • Criticized Social Issues:
    • Opposed isolationist tendencies and religious intolerance in Hinduism.
    • Condemned the oppression of the poor and advocated for their upliftment.
    • Believed prioritizing religion over basic needs like food was an insult to humanity.
  • Education for the Masses:Advocated for both secular and spiritual education to empower people.
  • Liberty and Equality:Promoted ideals of freedom, equality, and free thinking.

Global Impact:

  • Parliament of Religions (1893):Delivered a well-received speech at the Chicago event.
  • Western Influence:Called for a blend of Western materialism and Eastern spiritualism for global harmony.
  • Lectures and Influence:Delivered lectures on Vedanta in the US and England before returning to India.

Reforms in India:

  • National Pride and Confidence:Aimed to instill these qualities in the new generation.
  • Hindu Unity:Sought to unify Hinduism by highlighting the common ground among its sects.
  • Social Upliftment:Urged educated Indians to work for the downtrodden based on Vedanta principles.
  • Social and Personal Good:Emphasized both personal salvation and social reform.

Ramakrishna Mission (1897):

  • Founded by Vivekananda.
  • Activities:
    • Humanitarian relief, social work, and religious and social reform.
    • Service to all beings (“service of jiva is worship of Siva”).
    • Integrated life and religion (“Life itself is religion”).
    • Utilized technology and science for human betterment.
    • Operated schools, hospitals, and offered disaster relief.
    • Grew into a global, non-proselytizing organization.
    • Open to all men regardless of caste or creed.
    • Respected image worship alongside the core Vedanta philosophy.


  • Vivekananda remains a significant figure in Hinduism and social reform movements in India.


Dayananda Saraswati and Arya Samaj


  • Dayananda Saraswati (1824-1883), born Mulshankar in Gujarat.


  • Revivalist movement responding to Western influences.
  • Founded Arya Samaj in Bombay (1875), later headquartered in Lahore.


  • Classless and casteless society.
  • United India (religion, society, nation).
  • India free from foreign rule.
  • “Back to the Vedas” for a purer Hinduism.

Religious Beliefs:

  • Vedas as infallible source of knowledge (“India’s Rock of Ages”).
  • Rejected later Hindu scriptures (Puranas) and ignorant priests.
  • Criticized escapist belief in “maya” (illusion) and focus on moksha (salvation).
  • Advocated God, soul, and matter (prakriti) as distinct eternal entities.
  • Individual interpretation of scriptures and direct access to God.
  • Upheld karma and reincarnation, but good deeds for others, not oneself.

Social Reforms:

  • Attacked Hindu orthodoxy, caste rigidities, untouchability, idolatry, polytheism.
  • Opposed magic, charms, animal sacrifices, taboos (sea voyages, shraddhas).
  • Reinterpreted caste system based on merit and occupation, not birth.
  • Advocated for:
    • Inter-caste marriage
    • Widow remarriage
    • Higher marriageable age (25 for men, 16 for women)

Arya Samaj Principles (10):

  1. God is the source of all true knowledge.
  2. Only God is worthy of worship.
  3. Vedas are the true knowledge books.
  4. Embrace truth, abandon untruth.
  5. Dharma (right conduct) guides all actions.
  6. Promote world well-being (material, spiritual, social).
  7. Treat everyone with love and justice.
  8. Dispel ignorance, increase knowledge.
  9. Individual progress depends on uplifting others.
  10. Social well-being above individual well-being.

Social Ideals:

  • Fatherhood of God, brotherhood of Man.
  • Equality of sexes, absolute justice.
  • Inter-caste marriage, widow remarriage.

Education and Social Service:

  • Promoted education through Dayananda Anglo-Vedic (DAV) Colleges.
  • Provided social service during disasters (earthquakes, famines, floods).

Split within Arya Samaj (1893):

  • College Party (Lala Hansraj, Lal Chand, Lajpat Rai):
    • Favored government curriculum, English education for economic needs.
  • Mahatma Party (Guru Datta Vidyarthi, Lala Munshi Ram):
    • Emphasized Sanskrit, Vedic philosophy in traditional gurukul style.
    • Advocated strict vegetarianism.

Outcomes of the Split:

  • College Party controlled DAV institutions.
  • Mahatma Party formed Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, local Arya Samaj branches.
  • Swami Shraddhanand opened Gurukul Kangri (1900) for Vedic education and social reform.
  • Kanya Mahavidyalaya (1896) for girls’ education, supported widow education.


  • Increased self-respect and confidence among Hindus.
  • Shuddhi movement to reconvert those who converted to Christianity or Islam (controversial, led to communal tensions).
  • Upliftment efforts for those considered “untouchables”.


Seva Sadan (1908):

  • Founded by Behramji M. Malabari (Parsi social reformer) and Diwan Dayaram Gidumal.
  • Aimed to help exploited and discarded women (all castes).
  • Provided education, medical care, and social welfare services.
  • Malabari also advocated against child marriage and for widow remarriage (led to Age of Consent Act).

Dev Samaj (1887):

  • Founded by Shiv Narayan Agnihotri (former Brahmo follower) in Lahore.
  • Religious and social reform society.
  • Emphasized:
    • Eternity of the soul
    • Supremacy of the guru
    • Importance of good actions
  • Advocated for ideal social behavior (avoiding bribes, intoxicants, non-vegetarian food, violence).
  • Opposed child marriage.
  • Teachings compiled in “Deva Shastra.”

Dharma Sabha (1830):

  • Founded by Radhakant Deb.
  • Orthodox society promoting the status quo in socio-religious matters.
  • Opposed abolishing sati but favored Western education (even for girls).

Bharat Dharma Mahamandala (1902):

  • All-India organization of orthodox Hindus.
  • Defended orthodox Hinduism against Arya Samaj, Theosophists, Ramakrishna Mission.
  • Aimed to:
    • Improve management of Hindu religious institutions
    • Open Hindu educational institutions
  • Leaders: Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (prominent figure)
  • Formed by combining:
    • Sanatana Dharma Sabha (1895)
    • Dharma Maha Parishad (South India)
    • Dharma Mahamandali (Bengal)

Radhaswami Movement (1861):

  • Founded by Tulsi Ram (also known as Shiv Dayal Saheb) in Agra.
  • Beliefs:
    • One supreme being
    • Supremacy of the guru
    • Importance of Satsang (company of pious people)
    • Simple social life
    • Spiritual attainment without worldly renunciation
    • All religions are true
  • Practices:
    • No temples, shrines, or sacred places
    • Works of faith, charity, service, and prayer are essential

Sree Narayana Guru Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Movement (1903):

  • Founded by Sree Narayana Guru Swamy (1856-1928) in Kerala.
  • Uplifted Ezhava caste (backward toddy-tappers considered untouchables).
  • Actions:
    • Installed a Sivalinga at Aruvippuram (1888) – challenged upper caste monopoly on idol consecration.
    • Formed Aruvippuram Kshetra Yogam (1889) – later became SNDP Yogam (1903) under Indian Companies Act.
    • Advocated for:
      • Religious equality (all religions are same)
      • No animal sacrifice
      • No caste, race, or creed-based discrimination
      • Ezhava community upliftment (education, government jobs, temple entry, political representation)
    • Key figures:
      • Kumaran Asan (famous poet, disciple of Narayana Guru)
      • Palpu (initiated social justice movements)
    • Movement’s impact:
      • Upward social mobility for Ezhavas
      • Shift in traditional power distribution
      • Federation of backward castes


Anti-Caste Movements:

  • Vokkaliga Sangha (1905): Launched an anti-Brahmin movement in Mysore.
  • Justice Movement (Madras Presidency):
    • Founded by C.N. Mudaliar, T.M. Nair, and P. Tyagaraja.
    • Aimed to secure jobs and legislative representation for non-Brahmins.
    • Formed Madras Presidency Association in 1917 demanding separate representation for lower castes.
  • Self-Respect Movement (1920s):
    • Founded by E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker (Balija Naidu).
    • Rejected Brahminical religion and culture seen as exploiting lower castes.
    • Advocated for:
      • Formalizing weddings without Brahmin priests.
      • Caste equality.

Temple Entry Movement:

  • Pioneered by reformers like Sree Narayana Guru and N. Kumaran Asan.
  • Vaikom Satyagraha (1924):Led by K.P. Kesava in Kerala.
    • Demanded temple entry and access to roads for untouchables.
    • Supported by jathas (groups) from Punjab and Madurai.
    • Gandhi supported the movement through a Kerala tour.
  • 1931 Temple Entry Movement:Led by K. Kelappan in Kerala.
    • Inspired by P. Krishna Pillai and A.K. Gopalan.
  • 1936:Travancore Maharaja opens government-controlled temples to all Hindus.
  • 1938: Rajagopalachari administration in Madras allows temple entry for all Hindus.

Indian Social Conference (1887):

  • Founded by M.G. Ranade and Raghunath Rao.
  • Held annually alongside the Indian National Congress.
  • Focused on social issues:
    • Advocated inter-caste marriage.
    • Opposed polygamy and kulinism (hypergamy practice).
    • Launched “Pledge Movement” against child marriage.

Muslim Reform Movements:

  • Wahabi/Walliullah Movement (18th century):
    • Inspired by teachings of Abdul Wahab (Arabia) and Shah Walliullah (India).
    • Aimed for:
      • Revival of Islam.
      • Harmony among Muslim jurisprudence schools.
      • Individual conscience in interpreting religious texts.
    • Leaders: Shah Abdul Aziz, Syed Ahmad Barelvi.
    • Opposed un-Islamic practices and called for a return to Prophet’s time Islam.
    • Considered India “dar-ul-Harb” (land of non-believers) needing conversion to “dar-ul-Islam” (land of Islam).
    • Initially targeted Sikhs, then shifted to British after 1849 Punjab annexation.
    • Key role in spreading anti-British sentiment during the 1857 Revolt.
    • Fizzled out in the 1870s due to British opposition.
  • Titu Mir’s Movement (1831):
    • Led by Syed Mir Nisar Ali (disciple of Syed Ahmad Barelvi).
    • Advocated Sharia (Islamic law).
    • Organized Muslim peasants against Hindu landlords and British indigo planters.
    • Leader killed in action by British police (1831).
  • Faraizi Movement (1819):
    • Founded by Haji Shariatullah in East Bengal.
    • Aimed to:
      • Eliminate un-Islamic practices among Muslims.
      • Emphasize Islamic duties.
    • Became revolutionary under Haji’s son, Dudu Mian (1840s).
    • Established a paramilitary force to fight zamindars (landlords) and indigo planters.
    • Advocated against rent payment and established own law courts.
    • Weakened after Dudu Mian’s arrest (1847) and death (1862). Continued as a religious movement.

Ahmadiyya Movement (1889):

  • Founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in India.
  • Based on liberal principles.
  • Claimed Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Messiah.
  • Beliefs:
    • End of religious wars and bloodshed.
    • Morality, peace, and justice.
    • Separation of mosque and state.
    • Human rights and tolerance.
  • Considered mystical by some.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and the Aligarh Movement (1875):

  • Context:
    • British viewed Muslims as conspirators after 1857 revolt.
    • Wanted to use Muslims as allies against rising nationalism.
  • Leader: Syed Ahmed Khan (1817-1898).
  • Aimed at:
    • Muslim education and employment opportunities.
    • Reconciling Western science with Quranic teachings.
    • Critical approach to religion and freedom of thought.
  • Founded Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College (later Aligarh Muslim University) in 1875.
  • Advocated for:
    • Women’s education.
    • Ending purdah and polygamy.
    • Easier divorce.
    • Condemning piri-muridi system.
  • Believed in:
    • Underlying unity of religions.
    • Commonality of Hindu and Muslim interests.
  • Opposed political activity by Muslims at the time.
  • Aligarh Movement:
    • Spread modern education among Indian Muslims.
    • Promoted social reforms (purdah, polygamy, etc.).
    • Advocated liberal interpretation of Quran.
    • Sought to create a distinct Muslim socio-cultural identity.

The Deoband School (Darul Uloom) (1866):

  • Founded by Muhammad Qasim Nanautavi and Rashid Ahmad Gangohi.
  • Aimed at:
    • Propagating pure Quran and Hadith teachings.
    • Keeping alive the spirit of jihad against foreign rulers.
  • Offered traditional Islamic religious education.
  • Initial political stance:
    • Welcomed Indian National Congress formation.
    • Issued fatwa against Syed Ahmed Khan’s organizations.
  • Later stance:
    • Developed a synthesis of Islamic principles and nationalist aspirations.
    • Jamiat-ul-Ulema promoted Muslim rights within Indian unity.
  • Shibli Numani (supporter):
    • Favored including English and European sciences in education.
    • Believed in Congress idealism and Hindu-Muslim cooperation.


Parsi Reform Movements:

  • Rahnumai Mazdayasnan Sabha (1851):
    • Founded by English-educated Parsis for religious and social reform.
    • Leaders: Naoroji Furdonji, Dadabhai Naoroji, K.R. Cama, S.S. Bengalee.
    • Spread message through “Rast Goftar” (Truth-Teller) newspaper.
    • Reforms:
      • Parsi religious rituals and practices.
      • Parsi creed redefined.
    • Social reforms:
      • Uplifted Parsi women’s status:
        • Removed purdah system.
        • Raised marriage age.
        • Promoted education.
      • Outcome: Parsis became the most westernized Indian community.

Sikh Reform Movements:

  • Singh Sabha Movement (1873):
    • Founded in Amritsar with two goals:
      • Modern Western education for Sikhs.
      • Counter religious conversion efforts.
    • Established a network of Khalsa schools throughout Punjab.
    • Reformed practices based on Guru teachings.
  • Akali Movement (1873):
    • Offshoot of Singh Sabha Movement.
    • Aimed to liberate Sikh gurudwaras from corrupt Udasi mahants.
    • Launched non-violent satyagraha in 1921.
    • Sikh Gurdwaras Act (1922):
      • Control of gurudwaras to Sikh masses.
      • Administered by Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC).
    • Akali leaders participated in the national liberation struggle.

Theosophical Movement:

  • Founded in New York City (1875) by H.P. Blavatsky and M.S. Olcott (Westerners).
  • Headquarters moved to Adyar, India (1882).
  • Beliefs:
    • Connection between soul and God through contemplation, etc.
    • Accepted Hindu concepts of reincarnation and karma.
    • Inspired by Upanishads, Yoga, and Vedanta philosophies.
  • Aimed for:
    • Universal brotherhood of humanity.
    • Investigating unexplained natural laws and human potential.
  • Allied with Hindu renaissance and Arya Samaj (initially).
  • Opposed child marriage and advocated for:
    • Abolition of caste discrimination.
    • Upliftment of widows.
  • Leaders:
    • Annie Besant (president after 1907).
  • Activities:
    • Founded Central Hindu College in Benaras (1898).
    • Promoted women’s education.
    • Provided a common ground for Hindu sects.
  • Impact:
    • Limited to a segment of the Westernized class.
    • Gave self-respect to Indians fighting British rule.
    • May have instilled a sense of pride in outdated traditions.

Positive Aspects:

  • Individual Liberation:
    • Challenged blind conformity and exploitation by religious authorities.
    • Promoted individual interpretation of scriptures.
    • Simplified rituals for a more personal religious experience.
    • Emphasized reason and critical thinking.
  • Countering Colonial Taunts:
    • Refuted claims of Indian religious and social inferiority.
    • Provided cultural roots for the rising middle class.
    • Countered feelings of humiliation from British rule.
  • Modernization:
    • Promoted a secular and rational outlook.
    • Encouraged scientific knowledge and modern thinking.
    • Challenged traditional notions of “pollution and purity.”
    • Aimed for modernization, not blind Westernization.
  • Cultural Revival:
    • Counteracted cultural isolation from the world.
    • Advocated integrating modern ideas with Indian traditions.
    • Revived India’s cultural identity.
    • Contributed to national consciousness and resistance to colonial influence.

Negative Aspects:

  • Limited Reach:
    • Focused on educated urban middle class, neglecting the masses.
  • Mysticism and Pseudo-Science:
    • Appealed to past glory and scriptures, hindering full scientific acceptance.
  • Communal Divisions:
    • Highlighted differences between Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Parsis.
    • Alienated upper-caste Hindus from lower castes.
  • Selective View of History:
    • Overemphasized the glory of ancient India.
    • Downplayed medieval India and alienated lower castes.
    • Muslims sought pride in West Asian history, hindering cultural unity.
    • Contributed to the rise of communal consciousness.















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