Social and Religious Reform Movements in the 19th Century
To acquaint ourselves with
• The influence of Western ideas and Christianity in creating a new awakening in 19th century British India
• Contestation in the social and religious sphere – opposition to practices like sati, slavery, untouchability, and child marriage
• Opposition to idolatry, rituals and superstitious beliefs
• Contribution of Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission, Theosophical Society and Aligarh Movement to the regeneration of India
• Role played by prominent personalities in bringing about this awakening amongst Parsees and Sikhs
• Social movement of Jyotiba Phule and reform movements in Kerala and Tamilnadu
English education, introduced with the object of producing clerks, also produced a new English-educated middle class. This class came under the influence of western ideas and thoughts. Christianity also had its effect on the newly emerging middle class. Though small in number, the educated middle class began to take a lead in political as well as in reform movements. The Indian reformers were, however, quite hesitant to subject their old notions and habits to critical scrutiny. Instead they attempted to harmonize both Indian and Western cultures. Their ideas and their actions helped to mitigate social evils such as sati, female infanticide, and child marriage and various superstitious beliefs.
The reform movements of nineteenth century in the realm of religion fall under two broad categories: reformist movements like the Brahmo Samaj, the Prarthana Samaj and the Aligarh Movement; and the revivalist movements such as the Arya Samaj, the Ramakrishna Mission and the Deoband Movement. There were also attempts to challenge the oppressive social structure by Jyotiba Phule in Pune, Narayana Guru and Ayyankali in Kerala and Ramalinga Adigal, and Iyothee Thassar of Tamil Nadu.