Socio-Religious Reforms- History Guide for Class 8

Socio-Religious Reforms- History Guide for Class 8

Information about Socio-Religious Reforms


Socio-Religious Reforms


Class 8


Class 8 History

Topics Covered

  • Shri Narayana Guru (1854-1928)
  • Jyotiba Phule (1827-90)
  • Veeresalingam Kandukuri (1848-1919)
  • Periyar E.V. Ramasamy (1879-1973)
  • Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1824-83)
  • Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar (1891-1956)
  • Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
  • Impact of the Reform Movements

Socio-Religious Reforms

During the nineteenth century, a social transformation began in India and kindled the spirit of rationalism. Close contact with western science, literature and thought changed the mindset of the nasses. In the beginning, only the elite classes were campaigning against discrimination of the so-:ailed low castes. But later, the lower castes themselves rose against social injustice and evils in the ndian society.
Many socio-religious reform movements spread in different parts of India. Kerala had suffered at the hands of a very rigid and oppressive caste system. The social and economic status of a person was determined by his position in the caste hierarchy in Kerala. In the princely states of Kochi and Travancore, the governmental positions were denied to lower castes and the non-Hindus.

Let us discuss some social and religious reformers.

Shri Narayana Guru (1854-1928)

Shri Narayana Guru was a great Hindu saint and social reformer. He was born in the Ezhava Community of Kerala.
  • He campaigned against caste system, untouchability, Brahmin dominance and discrimination against the lower castes.
  • Shri Narayana constructed alternate temples and propagated for one god, one caste and one religion.
  • He opposed conversion to other religions as the way to escape from suffering.

Jyotiba Phule (1827-90)

Jyotiba Phule was a social reformer of Maharashtra who founded the Satya Shodhak Samaj, an organisation that worked for the upliftment of the low and oppressed classes.
  • Phule considered education as a means of liberation and started a special school for the underprivilged class.
  • He was successful in creating awareness about the miserable condition of the depressed classes.
  • His campaign for the removal of untouchability and upliftment of lower castes took the form of an anti-Brahmin movement. 

Veeresalingam Kandukuri (1848-1919)

Veeresalingam is considered the prophet of modern Andhra Pradesh as he awakened the Andhra society from their orthodox customs and superstitions.
  • He was a reformer and the first person to write a novel, drama, books on natural sciences and history in Telugu.
  • He wrote Abhagyopakhyanamu, a humorous satire on the Andhra society.
  • Veeresalingam started a magazine, titled Vivekavardhini, in which he propagated women's education, widow remarriage and the rights of women. He was the first writer to write prose for women.
  • He opposed Kanyasulkam (price of bride) and marriage of old men with young girls.

Periyar E.V. Ramasamy (1879-1973)

He was born in Erode town of Tamil Nadu. He was a great rationalist and revolutionist. He left Congress in 1925 because he felt that the party was only serving the interest of Brahmins. He called Congress—a Fort of Brahmins.
  • He questioned the subjugation of Dravidian Race by the Brahmins, who enjoyed the donations and gifts of Dravidians but discriminated against them in social and religious matters.
  • Periyar was a strong supporter of Dravidian culture and launched a Self-Respect Movement in 1925.
  • He propogated the principles of nationalism, self-respect, women's right and eradication of caste system.

Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1824-83)

Swami Dayanand Saraswati was a great sage, a philosopher, scholar and a social reformer. He was born in a Brahmin family and in 1875, he established Arya Samaj Society of Nobles at Bombay and later at Lahore.
  • He, believed in one God and propagated the message of 'Back to Vedas', which are a source of great knowledge.
  • He also started Shuddhi Movement to reconvert Hindus, who had been converted to other religions.
  • He opposed idol worship, child marriage and caste system.
  • He was a great supporter of widow remarriage and women's education.
Swami Dayanand wanted to build a free, strong and united India. These social and religious reformers prepared a background for nationalist movement of India. 

Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar (1891-1956)

Dr. Ambedkar was popularly known as Babasaheb. He led millions of oppressed people to a life of self-respect and dignity. Born into a poor, so called untouchable family, he had to sit in the corner of the classroom on a mat, away from the desks of the other pupils. He went to Columbia University and it was here that he experienced freedom and equality. He realised that education was the only way to achieve justice. He said, 'Justice will not be granted by others. The sufferers must secure justice for themselves.'
  • He founded a Marathi newspaper Mock Nayak (Leader of the Dumb) to champion the rights of the so-called 'untouchables'.
  • He founded the Bahiskrit Hitakarini Sabha and set-up hostels, schools and free libraries to promote education and socio-economic upliftment of Dalits.
  • He is known as the Architect of India's Constitution.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

Mahatma Gandhi, popularly known as Father of Nation, played a stellar role in India's freedom struggle. 
  • He initiated many activities like Satyagraha and Sarvodaya under non-violent resistance.
  • He wanted to transform India into a community where every individual would serve others, especially, the poor and the meek.
  • Gandhiji was opposed to child marriage, untouchability and discrimination against women.
  • He considered, so-called untouchables, as Harijans—people of God.
  • He believed that the spinning wheel, khadi and revival of village industries were necessary for the villagers so that they do not have to migrate to cities in search of work.
  • He supported education of women and widow remarriage. He opposed dowry and purdah system.
Gandhiji said, 'a wife is not the husband's slave but a companion and a help-mate of her husband and an equal partner in all his joys and sorrows.'

Impact of the Reform Movements

The socio-religious movements brought about remarkable changes in the society and religion. These movements had a deep impact on all sections of society all over India and strengthened both Hinduism and Islam by eradicating many social evils. The educated Indians revived the past glory and helped in the formation of Modern India.

The reform movements also brought a cultural awakening. India saw a rapid development in the field of literature, science and art. There was a remarkable improvement in the status and education of women. Laws were enforced to curb social evils. The reform movements created a middle class of teachers, doctors, lawyers, scientists and journalists. This enlightened and educated class played a crucial and constructive role in the progress of India.

The caste system had faced challenges since the times of Buddha and Mahavir, and even earlier than that. But it was during the reform movements that the opposition to the caste system spread throughout India and among all sections of the society. The movement was helped by education, contact with Europeans, printing press, etc.

The Printing Press played a pivotal role in mobilising public opinion.
  • It enabled the reformers to spread awareness through their writings.
  • Many English educated Indians learnt Sanskrit and translated books into English.
  • The spirit of national pride instilled patriotism and prepared the ground for the rise of nationalism in India.
  • Moreover, people from different castes, communities and regions came in closer contact, which gave a great impetus to the struggle for freedom.

The most remarkable phenomenon was the surgence of national consciousness and cutural unity.
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