In Maharashtra it was Pramahans Sabha which was spreading the message of Brahmo Samaj. Arya Samaj was founded by Dayanand Saraswati in Bombay in 1875. A few years later its headquarter was established in Lahore. Dayanand Saraswati wrote the book Satyarth Prakash. In fact, Araya Samaj gave the slogan “return to the Vedas”. Dayanand Saraswati condemned child marriage, idol worship and caste system. He tried to purify Hinduism through vedas. He was also in favour of widow-remarriage.
Arya Samaj launched shuddhi movement to bring non-Hindus back to Hinduism. His political slogan was ‘India for Indians’. He advocated equal rights for men and women. Ram Krishna Mission was founded by Swami Vivekanand in 1897. He was a staunch disciple of Shri Ram Krishna Parmahans who was priest at the Kali Temple of Dakshineshwar near Calcutta. Ram Krishna Parmahans opposed caste system, untouchability and child marriage. He believed in oneness of all religions. He established many educational institutions, orphanages. Swami Vivekanand further propagated the message of Ram Krishna Parmahans. He participated in Parliament of Religions in Chicago (U.S.A.) in 1896 and adressed Americans as brothers and sisters.
In 1907 Swami Vivekanand passed away. Another organisation working for reform was Theosophical Society. ‘Theosophical’ means divine wisdom. It was established in 1882. In fact, Theosophical Society was introduced into India by an American lady Balavastsky. Later on, the headquarter of Theosophical Society was shifted to Adyar near Madras.
Theosophy is a system of philosophy that aims at direct knowledge of God by spiritual means. It combines truth of all religions. An Irish lady Annie Beasant came to India in 1893 and became its leader.
Theosophical Society also believes in incarnation and theory of Karma. It draws heavily from the philosophy of Upnishads and Vedant. Among the Muslims the major reform movements were Aligarh and Deoband movements. Aligarh movement was started by Sir Sayyad Ahmed Khan. The movement aimed at reconciling Muslims to modern scientific thoughts and British rule.
Sir Sayyad Ahmed Khan urged Muslims to accept services under British rule. He condemned Piri-Muridi. He published a monthly magazine Tahzub-ul-lkhlaq which contained his ideas. He established a college in 1875 at Aligarh, which became Aligarh Muslim University in 1920.
The Deoband Movement was initiated by Qasim Nanotvi and Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi. They founded Deoband School at Deoband (U.P.). The Deoband Movement was a revivalist movement while Aligarh movement was a reformist movement.
The Deoband school prepared in students for preaching whereas Aligarh University prepared its students for goverhnment jobs. In 1888 Deoband School welcomed the formation of the Congress. Deoband Ulemas issued a religious decree against Sir Sayyad’s organisation, The United Patriotic Association and The Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental Association.
Sikh Sabha was founded in the year 1873 at Amritsar with a view of bring Sikh community closer to western education. Singh Sabha opened Khalsa schools and colleges throughout Punjab.
The Akali Movement was an offshoot of the Singh Sabha. In 1921 Akalis launched movement (non-coop- eration/Satyagrah movement) against mahants of Gurudwara. This movement came to an end after the government passed Sikh Gurudwara Act in 1922.
In the year 1851 Parsis Refform Movement was launched by a group of Parsis- Rahnumaji Mazadaysan Sabha (Religious Reform Association for Regeneration of Social Conditions of Parsis). Great Parsi leaders Dada Bhai Noroji and C. R. Cama were in the forefront of Movement. Rahnumai Mazdaysan Sabha also published a paper Rast Guftaar to propagate its views. In Bengal, young Bengal Movement was spearheaded by revolutionary young Turks.
The Anglo Indian Henry Vivien Derozio was the leader of this movement. He followed most radical views and drew inspiration from French Revolution. He, along with his companions carried agitation for the freedom of Press, trial by jury and protection of peasants against oppression of Zamindars and employment of Indian in higher grades of government services. Ahrar Movement was also a major movement among Muslims. It was founded in 1910 under Maulana Muhammad AN, Hakim Ajinal Khan, Hasan Imam, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan and Mazhar ul Haque.
Ahrar movement was against the loyalist politics of Aligarh Movement and advocated participation in the nationalist movement. Ahmadia (Qadiani) movement was founded by Mirza Ghulam (1837-1908) at Qadiani in Punjab the objectives of Qadiani movement were to reform Islam and defend it against onslaught of Christian missionaries and Arya Samajis.
Apart from Sikh Sabha movement among Sikhs, another notable movement was Kuka Movement founded by Jawahar Mai popularly known as Mian Sahib. Jawahar Mai was succeded by Balak Singh in 1863. The aims of Kuka movement were both religious and political.
The religious aim was to reform Sikh community and the political aim was to restore sovereignty of Sikhs by driving Britishers away from Punjab. Prathna Samaj was founded in the year 1867 in Bombay by Atmaram Pandurang as an offshoot of the Brahmo Sajam. Theosophical Society was founded in New York in 1875 by Balavatsky and Olcott.
Other social reformers were Ishwar Chand Vedyasagar who struggled in favour of widow remarriage and opposed child marriage and polygamy. Britishers passed Widow’s Remarriage Act in 1656.
Ishwar Chand became principle of Sanskrit College in 185 at Calcutta. Gopal Hari Deshmukh (Lokhitwadi) was the champion of learning and social-religious equality in Maharashtra. M. G. Ranade associated with Prathna Samaj founded Deccan Education Society and started Indian National Social Conference in 1887 Gopal Ganesh Agarkar in Maharashtra adcoated the power of human reason and Deccan Education society in 1884 in Puna.
Jyotiba Phule of Maharashtra belonged to a lower Mali caste. He founded Satya Shodhak Samaj in 1873 and wrote a book Ghulam Giri against upper caste and Brahmanical supermacy in 1872. He was the champion of widow remarriage and women education.
Tulsi Ram (Shiv Dayal Saheb founded Radha Swami Satsang in 1861). His aim was to propagate monotheism. He wrote two books called Sarr Bachan essential truths. Tulsi Ram said that salvation is possible only through surat-sabdyoga which means union of human soul with spirit-current or word. Shiv Narayan Agnihotri founded Dev Samaj at Lahore. He was initially a member of Lahore branch of Brahmo Samaj.
The religious text of this Samaj was Dev Shastra and the teaching devadharma. Gopal Krishna Gokhle founded Servants of Indian Society in 1905 at Bombay with the aim of training Indians in different fields for the service of their motherland. He was initially a member of Ranades Deccan Education Society. N. M. Joshi founded Social Service League at Bombay in 1911 which aimed at securing for the masses better and reasonable conditions of life and work. He also founded All India Trade Union Congress in 1923 at Bombay. N. M. Joshi was initially the member of Gokhles Servants of Indian Society. H. N. Kunzru founded the Sarv Samiti at Allahabad in 1914 with the objective of organising social service during natural calamities, promoting education, sanitation, physical, culturre etc.
Shri Ram Bajpai founded Seva Samiti Boy Scouts Association in 1914 at Bombay on the lines of world wide Banden Powell organisation which at that time banned Indians from joining it. Virshlingam Pantulu was the most prominent social reformer of South India. He founded the Rajmundari Social Reform Association in Andhra Pradesh in 1878 with the objective of promoting widow remarriage.
The other noticeable movements particularly among Muslims were Ahl-e-Hadis by Sayyad Nazir Hussain. Barailvi movement by Ahmad Raza Khan, Ahlal Quran by Abdullah Chakralvi in Punjab Nadwatul ulama was founded by Maulana Shibli Naumani in 1894 in Lucknow.
Prof. D. K. Karve opened a widow’s home in Poona in 1899 and set up Indian Women University in 1916 in Bombay. B. M. Malbari started a crusade against child marriage. As a result of which Age of Consent Act in 1891 was passed.
In 1849, J.E.D Bethune founded a girl’s school in Calcutta. Self-respect Movement was launched by E. V. Ramaswami Naickar (Periyar) in 1925 in Tamil Nadu. He brought out a journal Kadi Arasu in 1924 and organised weddings without brahamans intervention and temple entry.
The Nadar Movement was launched by Shanans of the Ramnad district of Tamil Nadu. The Nadar Mahajan Sangam was formed in 1910 to promote education and social welfare among the Nadars.
The Depressed Class Movement was launched by Bhim Rao Ambedkar in 1924. Ambedkar belonged to Mahar (untouchable caste). He organised this movement with the objective of fighting for educational political and legal rights of untouchables. He condemned Manusmiriti and symbols of caste hierarchy.
Harijan Movement was initiated by Congress in 1917 with a view for uplifting depressed and backward sections of the society. Gandhiji established All India untouchability League and Harijan Sevak Sangh in 1923. He also published Harijan, a weekly magazine in 1933.