Trace the rise and growth of socio-religious reform movements with special reference to Young Bengal and Brahmo Samaj. UPSC GS Paper 1 2021, 10 Marks

Q2. Trace the rise and growth of socio-religious reform movements with special reference to Young Bengal and Brahmo Samaj. (150 words) 10 Marks

Q2. यंग बंगाल एवं ब्रह्मो समाज के विशेष संदर्भ में सामाजिक-धार्मिक सुधार आन्दोलनों के उत्थान तथा विकास को रेखांकित कीजिए । (150 शब्दों में उत्तर दीजिए)

Answer

The socio-religious reform movements arose among all Indian communities during the 19th century. They challenged the British supremacy and the power of the priestly class. They campaigned for the abolition of castes and untouchability, purdah system, sati, child marriage, social inequalities, and illiteracy.

Young Bengal and Brahmo Samaj represent two important points of these reformist movements.

The rise and growth of socio-religious movements can be traced to these reasons:

  • The British invasion of India in the 18th and 19th centuries uncovered severe flaws in Indian social systems. The responses were varied, but the necessity to improve social and religious life was a widely held belief.
  • It also introduced entirely new sets of concepts and a social realm. The exposure to post-Enlightenment rationalism, which came to represent modernity, influenced the attitude of a small set of Indians.
  • The advent of western education and ideas has far-reaching consequences on Indian society. A small number of people began to investigate the nature of their own civilization through the lenses of usefulness, reason, justice, and progress. The public’s opinion gradually emerged.
  • The arguments between Orientalists, experts of Eastern countries such as India on one side, and Utilitarian’s, Liberals, and Missionaries on the other, facilitated the spread of ideas, at least among the upper classes. The resulting cultural shift prompted reflection on Indian customs, institutions, and culture.
  • Role of the educated elite class: They provided the backbone of religious reform movements. E.g., Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
  • Rising tide of nationalism and democracy during the late 19th century also influenced Indian renaissance movement.

rise growth of socio-religious reform movements Young Bengal Brahmo Samaj

Contribution of Young Bengal Movement

Derozio motivated his students to think freely and rationally by drawing inspiration from the French Revolution. Below was the ideology of the movement.

  • All authority should be questioned.
  • Decadent practises and traditions must be avoided.
  • Women’s rights and education were also promoted by the movement.
  • Combating societal ills such as child marriage, child labour, sati etc. were the main objectives of the movement
  • Disseminated principles from the French Revolution such as liberty, fraternity, and equality.
  • They aimed to foster value-based and logical thinking rather than rote learning through scientific information.

Contribution of Brahmo Samaj

  • Condemn polytheism and idolatry.
  • Faith in divine avatars was abandoned.
  • It rejected the idea that any text could have ultimate power over human reason and conscience.
  • The caste system was criticised.
  • On the doctrines of karma and soul transmigration, Brahmo Samaj took no firm stance.
  • The Samaj maintained its focus on human dignity, resistance to idolatry, and condemnation of societal ills such as Sati.
  • The Samaj advocated for widow remarriage, women’s education, the eradication of polygamy, and the improvement of ryots’ living conditions.

Conclusion

The reform movements of the 19th and 20th centuries made significant contributions to the development of contemporary India. They represented societal democratisation, the abolition of superstition and heinous habits, the spread of enlightenment, and the development of a reasonable and modern worldview.

 

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Approach for Solution: Trace the rise and growth of socio-religious reform movements with special reference to Young Bengal and Brahmo Samaj. 

  1. Write the reasons for rise and growth of socio-religious reform movements
  2. Write about Young Bengal and Brahmo Samaj in different subheadings

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