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Quiz

Brahma Samaj

Brahma Sabha was founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in 1828.

Later Brahma Sabha changed into Brahma Samaj.

RajaRam Mohan Roy was regarded as father of Indian renaissance.

He started Atmiya Sabha in 1814.

After the death of Raja Ram Mohan Roy Brahma Samaj was divided into Brahma Samaj of India and Adi Brahma Samaj. --------------------------------- Pandit Iswar Chandra Vidyāsāgar (1820-1891) was born in an orthodox Hindu Brāhmin family, but he was very liberal in his outlook. He feels sorry and compassionate for the poor, weak and needy. For his charity and philanthropy he is known as ‘Dayārsāgar’- ocean of kindness. He prefers to work for social reform without being associated with any socio-religious organisation of his time. He dedicates his whole life for the betterment of the condition of the child widows of the Hindu society. He works particularly for the upliftment of Indian women. He raises his voice in favour of the marriage of the widows and a movement emerges in its favour under his leadership. Because of his continuous efforts, the Government passed the Hindu Widow’s Remarriage Act in 1856 which legalised the marriage of widows. The first lawful Hindu widow remarriage among the upper castes is celebrated in Calcutta on December 7, 1856, under the supervision of Vidyāsāgar. He is against child-marriage and launches a powerful agitation against kulinism and polygamy. Kulinism was a remarkable system that had evolved in Bengal during the reign of Ballāl Sen in the 12th Century. Due to the shortage of kulin bridegrooms, a large number of girls were used to be married to the same groom, often simultaneously on the same nuptial night. So polygamy was the natural result of kulinism. Sometimes very young girls were married to very aged persons who were on the verge of death, and as a result there were speedy widowhood. A kulin brāhmin groom used to take honoraria to visit his wife and naturally it becomes a means of livelihood for him; and so he used to marry as many women as he could. Rāmmohan Roy also protests against kulinism and polygamy, but it was Vidyāsāgar who starts a powerful crusade against the entire system. He continues to write against these practices 60 and tries to make people aware of its evil effects. However, with the spread of education and change of public attitudes, kulinism died a natural death. Vidyāsāgar’s heartfelt for the oppressed section of the society and he tries his best to better their condition. He is against untouchability and even dined with them. He opened the doors of Sanskrit College for the lower caste students which were previously meant for Brāhmin students only. He is in favour of education of the girls and set up nearly 35 girls’ schools, many of which were run at his own cost. He rendered yeoman’s service to the cause of women’s education in Bengal. KENDUKURI VEERESᾹLINGAM : Veeresālingam (1848-1919) worked for the social reformation in Andhra Pradesh. Throughout his lifetime he works for the betterment of the condition of women. He dedicates his life in eradicating social evils concerning Indian women. He supports the cause of Western education, education of women and coeducation. He raises his voice against the prevalent social evils like child-marriage, dowry and marriage of young girls with aged persons. He preaches against corruption and the system of Devdāsis21 and prostitutes. He starts ‘Widows’ Remarriage Society’ in 1881 and supports and arranges the remarriage of widows. He starts several educational institutions of different categories: day schools for adult women, night schools for workers, and schools for Harijans. He gives stress on vocational education. Because of his immense service for the betterment of women, Mahādev Gobinda Rāṇāde calls him Iswar Chandra Vidyāsāgar of the Deccān. ----------------------------------- RᾹMAKRISHNA-VIVEKᾹNANDA MOVEMENT : The 2nd half of the 19th century witnessed a tremendous upheaval in the religious, social and cultural arena. It is the direct outcome of the Rāmakrishna-Vivekānanda movement. Sri Rāmakrishna Paramahamsa (1836-1886), earlier known as Gadādhar Chattopādhyāya, is a great spiritual leader of India. Though he has not received the socalled higher education, yet he was an ocean of true knowledge. He practised various religious forms and ultimately came to the realisation ‘Yata mat tata path’ 22 i.e.,different creeds are but different paths to reach the same God. He used to lead a very simple life and tried to explain different social and religious issues in very eloquent language. He realised the inherent divinity of human beings and emphasised the service of mankind as a means of salvation. Swāmi Vivekānanda is his greatest disciple who carries the message of his Master all over India as well as in Western countries. Vivekānanda was born at a time when Brāhmo Samāj under the leadership of Keshab Chandra Sen was exerting powerful influence upon the minds of the educated peoples, especially, the youths. Naturally, Vivekānanda, known as Naren at that time was also got attracted towards it. But he is not a blind follower of Brāhmo Samāj. His contact with Sri Rāmakrishna at the age of 18 in1881 marks a turning point in his life. Young Naren becomes very much influenced by the simple but practical teachings of Sri Rāmakrishna. Under the influence of his Master he gave up his thought of own salvation and dedicates his whole life for the uplift of the masses. Though a monk and a spiritual personality he does not turn off his eyes from the problems faced by Indian society. On 63 the contrary, he tries to penetrate deep into the root of the problems and to find out their solutions. During his wandering throughout the country he got the opportunity to meet people from various strata of the society and to have direct acquaintance with their problems. So he got practical knowledge about the condition of the society and the need for reforming them. But unlike the so-called reformers of his time he is against any sudden and outward change. He has sound knowledge of the history of India and on the basis of that knowledge he declares that reform is a through going process and in India there was no want of reformers in the past. According to him, Śaṅkara, Buddha, Nānak, Chaitanya, Kabir, Dādu all were great social reformers and they tried to reform the society of their time. They tried to bring back of the Indian masses to the pristine purity of the Vedāntic religion. They said, “You have been good, but let us now be better”. Rāmānuja felt for the lower classes and throughout his life he tried to admit even the Pāriah to his community. Vivekānanda makes a detailed analysis of the concept of social reform, its needs in Indian society as well as the required qualities of a social reformer. He analyses the whole situation of India from the standpoint of an historian. He holds that India has been governed by the kings from time immemorial and those kings used to look after the subjects. Now the days of the kings are gone and the foreign government. Fashion its ways according to the growth of public opinion. He says that it will take a long time to make a healthy, strong public opinion which will solve its own problems, and in the interim we shall have to wait. According to Vivekānanda, for social reform, the first duty 64 is to educate the people. Then a time will come when the people will be able to realise the depth of their problem and they can solve those problems by themselves. In his own words, “you must go down to the basis of the thing, to the very root of the matter. That is what I call radical reform.”23Vivekānanda reminds us that the solution of the problem is not so easy, as it is a big and vast one. He says that reform does not mean mere imitation of the Western ideas and cultures. He says that we must grow according to our own nature. In his own words,”......but I am sorry to say that most of our modern reform movements have been inconsiderate imitations of Western means and methods of work; and that surely will not do for India; therefore, it is that all our recent reform movements have had no resu 65 even refuses to recognise the right of the reformer to think out what reform is needed for the nation. Again, he points out that the whole problem of social reform resolves into the question- where are those who want reform? He gives stress on making them first. Vivekānanda vehemently criticises the so-called social reformers of his time....”....you talk about social reform? But what you do? All that you mean by your social reform is either widow remarriage, or female emancipation, or something of that sort.......Such a scheme of reform may do good to a few no doubt, but of what avail is that to the whole nation?25 Vivekānanda admits that there is need of social reform. But that reform is not what the so-called reformers aims at. He says that most of these social reforms touch only the first two castes, and does not touch the poor masses because they have already those things--the widow remarriage, female emancipation, etc. His method of treatment is also different. While the other reformers tried to treat the problem outwardly, Vivekānanda tries to take out by the roots the very causes of the problems and not to keep them suppressed. He says that the modern reformers are very busy about widow remarriage. He is sympathetic towards the widows, but at the same time he declares that the fate of a nation does not depend upon the number of husbands their widows get, but upon the condition of the masses.26 According to him, “our reformers do not see where the wound is; they want to save the nation by marrying the widows......The whole defect is here: the real nation who lives in cottage have forgotten their manhood, their individuality....They are to be given back their lost individuality. They are to be educated.” He says that our duty is to put the chemicals together; the crystallisation will come through God’s laws. Our 66 duty is to put ideas into their heads, and they will do the rest. This is what Vivekānanda means educating the masses.27 He further says that a Hindu seeks to uplift himself by being the servant of all. That is how the Hindus should uplift the masses, and not by looking for any foreign influence. Again he exhorts, “let any one of our reformers bring out that life, ready to serve even a Pariah, and then I will sit on his feet and learn, and not before that. One ounce of practice is worth twenty thousand tons of big talk”. 28 Though Vivekānanda has not commented much on child-marriage, yet his occasional remarks on this issue reveal that he has strong hatred for this evil practice. He considers it as a sin and says, “....it is the great sin for which our nation has to suffer......I must set my foot to the best of my ability upon the devilish custom of child-marriage.”29 He further says that the prevailing child-marriage is one of the main reasons of the large number of widows in India. So he strongly protests against child-marriage and gives emphasis on educating the girl child. Vivekānanda has immense respect for women and he firmly believes in 67 education to them. He says, “Educate your women first and leave them to themselves; then they will tell you what reforms are necessary for them. With such an education they will solve their own problems.” He further says that all the mischief to women has come because man undertook to shape the destiny of women. Again, the so-called social reformers of that time sets before Indian women the ideal of Western women, but Vivekānanda wants them to absorb the good things of the West only without losing the good national characteristics they already possess. Vivekānanda criticises the deformed caste system of his time due to its evil consequences, yet he is not in favour of abolishing it altogether. Rather he wants to reestablish it in its original pristine state. Regarding the question of caste and of social reformation Vivekānanda declares that he is neither a caste- breaker nor a mere social reformer. He says, “I have nothing to do directly with your castes or with your social reformation.........It is love and love alone that I preach, and I base my teaching on the great Vedantic truth of the sameness and omnipresence of the soul of the Universe ”.31 In his ‘My Plan of Campaign’ Vivekānanda boldly declares, “To the reformers I will point out that I am a greater reformer than any one of them. They want to reform only little bits. I want root-and-branch reform. Where we differ is in the method. Theirs is the method of destruction, mine is that of construction......I do not dare to put myself in the position of God and dictate to our society......I simply want to be like the squirrel in the building of Rama’s bridge, who was quite content to put on the bridge his little quota of sand-dust. That is my position. This wonderful national machine has worked through ages, this wonderful river of national life is flowing before us. Who knows, and who 68 dares to say, whether it is good and how it shall move?.........Feed the national life with the fuel it wants, but the growth is its own; none can dictate its growth to it”.32 Vivekānanda holds that he is the real friend of mankind who helps them to find out a way out of their difficulties. In this regard he mentions about the story of the drowning boy and the philosopher. When the philosopher was lecturing the drowning boy, the boy cried, “take me out of the water first”. In the same way, the suffering masses of our country have had enough lectures, enough societies, enough papers etc., now what they really need is the man who will lend them a hand to drag them out. Vivekānanda exhorts, “Ay, that man is wanted. That is where I differ entirely from these reform movements”.33 Vivekānanda is a preacher of spirituality. He is the first thinker who attempts to tag social reform to spiritual realisation. He says that in India, social reform has to be preached by showing how much more spiritual a life the new system will bring; and politics has to be preached by showing how much it will improve the one thing that the nation wants--its spirituality. So, every improvement in India requires first of all an upheaval in religion. He says, “before flooding India with socialistic or political ideas, first deluge the land with spiritual ideas”. He compares the country with a ship and says that with the passage of time, perhaps through our own faults it has become little damaged, has sprung a leak. It now our duty to repair the holes and not to curse it. Echoing the voice of the ancient Rishis, he asserts that helping others, reforming them socially means : (i) Imparting spiritual knowledge to them, (ii) Providing intellectual help, (iii) Lastly, providing physical help. 69 Ordinarily social reform is identified with the last one. But Vivekānanda courageously points out, “in considering the question of helping others, we must always strive not to commit the mistake of thinking that physical help is the only help that can be given. It is not only the last, but the least, because, it cannot bring about permanent satisfaction.” He is of the opinion that helping man spiritually is the highest help that can be given to him. According to him, three things are necessary for a social reformer. The first is to feel; the second is to discover truth; and the third is to preserve it even at the cost of his/her own life. “The first thing is to feel. He or she is to feel for others, for the misery, ignorance, superstitions in the world and be sympathetic to others. You must next think if you have found any remedy. The old ideas may be all superstitions, but in and round these masses of superstitions are nuggets of gold and truth. One has to discover the means by which to keep the gold alone, without any of the dross......A real reformer should be ready to sacrifice everything, even his life for the sake of his duty.” 34 Vivekānanda is against forcible legislation on reforms. He is of opinion that a reform must be based on individual and social initiative. His views on the method of reform are revolutionary and are of far-reaching importance. His method of reform is not an abolition, but only readjustment; not destruction, but construction; not revolution, but evolution. Vivekānanda is not a traditionalist and did not accept anything only because it is traditional. On the contrary, he believes that traditionalism may bring stagnation and obscurantism. Commenting on Vivekānanda’s view of social reform R.C. Majumdar says, “he did not altogether discard the old nor deny the merit of the new, but pointed out the synthesis between the two. The conflict between the thesis represented by the Anglican Reformists, 70 and the anti-thesis represented by the reactionary orthodox Hindus was resolved by the synthesis propounded by Swāmi Vivekānanda.” His value sense did not convert him to social reformer, but transformed him to accept changes, changes being inevitable, and to move on, to fight divisiveness created by perverted religious thoughts like casteism, untouchability etc. Vivekānanda says that we have not done badly in the past, our society is not bad, but good; only we need to do better. In his own words, “not from error to truth, nor from bad to good, but from truth to higher truth, from good to better, best. I tell my countrymen that so far they have done well—now is the time to do better”. Vivekānanda is of opinion that the motives and methods of the reform movement of the nineteenth century were fundamentally wrong. The reformers opted blindly the Western means and methods of altering society. Their attitude was destructive, rather than constructive. They wanted to demolish everything old and traditional as meaningless and they blamed religion for all the social evils. He did not attach much importance to the isolated social reform movements of his time. Instead he plans for a total uplift of the country— moral, spiritual, cultural, economic. He has a programme of root and branch social reform aiming at eradicating poverty and ignorance of the masses. In this regard he is more radical than his contemporaries. He wants reform not from above, but from below. He says that being a conquered race, we are taught that we are nobodies and we are weak. We have lost Śraddhā and for this reason the country has gone to ruin. Śraddhā must be brought back once more to us, the faith in ourselves must be 71 reawakened and then only all the problems which face our country will be solved. It is this Śraddhā which the social reformer essentially lacked. D. V. Athalya in his ‘Swami Vivekananda — A Study’ commented that the ideal type of reform that Swāmi wanted contained in it two elements : discriminating but enthusiastic respect for and attachment to the past as well as readiness to absorb new ideals and methods and throw away whatever has become lifeless and degenerate in the social organisation of the people. He stood for equal rights and equal opportunities for all and for all-round progress of all. He is not against anything that is Western rather; he is ready to absorb the good elements from them. He insists that social reform should not be brought about at the cost our religion, or in other words, at the cost of all the great and good things we have inherited from our Rishis.

Medieval

Muslim Invasions
Delhi Sultans
Mughal Empire
Bahmani Empire
Bhakti Movement
Gajapaties
Hoysalas
Independent Kingdoms
Kakatiyas
Later Pandyas
Marathas
Rajputs
Sikhs
Sur Dynasty
Vijayanagara Empire
Yadavas
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Modern

Advent of Europeans
Constitutional Developments
Establishment of British Rule
Expansion of British Rule
British Rule in India
Education and Press
Governor Generals
National Leaders
Popular Movements
Revolts
Revolutionary Terrorism
Rise of Nationalism
Socio-Religious Movements
Viceroys
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