Religious reformation movements of 19th century & their characteristics

Religious reformation movements of 19th century & their characteristics

Question:-The religious reformation movements of the 19th century were not only religious. What were the essential characteristics of these movements? Discuss.

- In the 19th century the middle class, the English educated yet traditional class, felt dejected seeing their society and religion corrupt with evils. To save it from the western missionary criticism and at the same time reform it to create a better social and religious environment for themselves, many leaders in different parts of the country rose in movements to free their respective religions from superstition.

- However, more than religious, these movements had strong humanitarian value to provide a rational and secular outlook.

- The earliest of these movements was started by Raja Ram Mohan Roy who formed the Brahmo Samaj in 1828. It also had branches all across the country.

- Besides this, Paramahansa Mandali and the Prarthana Samaj in Maharashtra and the Arya Samaj in Punjab and North India were the most significants movements in the Hindu religion. The Ahmadiya and Aligarh movements of the Muslims, the Singh Sabha of the Sikhs and the Rehnumai Mazdeyasan Sabha represented the spirit of reform among the Parsees respectively. There were several other regional and caste specific movements like the Kayasth Sabha in Uttar Pradesh and the Sarin Sabba in Punjab. The backward castes also started the work of reformation with the Satya Sodhak Samaj in Maharashtra and the Sri Narayana Dharma Paripalana Sabha in Kerala.

- All these movements, though started based on religion, worked both for religious issues idolatry, polytheism, religious superstitions, exploitation of the priests, and social issues like Satisystem, infanticide, child marriage and atrocity inflicted on the widows, casteism, untouchability, etc. Innumerable other practices were there characterized by constraint, credulity, status, authority, bigotry and blind fatalism.

- Raja Ram Mohan Roy took endless efforts to abolish the Sati system. Religion essentially had the role of a medium since practices based on faith cannot be opposed without the help of faith itself. Hence, Raja Rammohan Roy tried to convince people and the government saying that sati had no religious sanction, Vidyasagar wrote in the defense of widow marriage only after being convinced about its Scriptural support and Dayanand Saraswati based his anti-casteism movement on the authority of the Vedas.

The religious reformation movements of 19th century were in actuality socio-religious reformation movements. And this struggle to establish the ideal cultural and ideological set up and revive the previous glory of Indian culture was an integral part of the growing national consciousness.
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