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Prarthana Samaj

Prarthana Samaj was founded in 1867 in Bombay. Atmaram Pandurang played a key role in its establishment.

M.G Ranade and G.G.Agarkar were closely associated with this society. ----------------------- PRᾹRTHANᾹ SAMᾹJ: The Prārthanā Samāj was established by Dr. Ᾱtmārām Pandurang (1823-1898) in Mahārāstra in 1867. It is an offshoot of Brāhmo Samāj and 55 K.C.Sen is a source of inspiration for this organisation. R.G.Bhānderkar, and Mahādev Gobinda Rāṇāde were the main pillars of this Samāj. It is under the leadership and guidance of Rāṇāde (1842-1901) that Prārthanā Samāj takes active role in social reform. It emphasises universal brotherhood and equality of all castes. Rāṇāde believes that there was an ideal Hindu society in old days, but evils crept in it during a period of depression, when in panic and weakness, a compromise was made with the brute forces of ignorance and superstition. To Rāṇāde, therefore, reform is merely the work of liberating society from the restraints that were wrongly imposed upon it. His vision of reform is so sweeping as to cover all aspects of human life. In his scheme of social reform, the whole existence is to be regenerated. He says, “The change which we should all seek is a change from constraints to freedom, from credulity to faith, from status to contract, from authority to reason, from blind fatalism to human dignity”.16 He considers social reform as an obligatory duty and not mere pastime. To him, a true reformer has not to write on a clean slate, but to complete the half written sentence. Rāṇāde attacks many existing social customs and practices only because of their uselessness in his time. He strongly protests against infant or child-marriage and considers it as harmful, unjustified and unscientific. He strongly denounces the institutions of polygamy and polyandry. Rāṇāde is one of the seventy two all India leaders launched the Indian National Congress in 1885. He is of opinion that political movements and social reforms should go together. But when he found that Congress restricted its sphere of work to politics only, he forms the Indian National Social Conference in 1887. He becomes its General Secretary and develops principles of the movement as a whole in relation to the political and religious movements of his time. 56 The followers of Prārthanā Samāj establishes a few associations like the Widow Remarriage Association, Deccān Educational Society, the Depressed Classes Mission etc. in Mahārāstra and carries on social and religious reform movements through them. They devote themselves to reform works such as inter-caste dining and marriage, remarriage of widows and improvement of the lot of women. They severely attack the prevailing caste system of that time. They emphasises on the principle of increasing the age of marriage for both male and female. They were in favour of women education and takes active role in spreading education among them. Prārthanā Samāj had several branches in other states like Andhra Pradesh and Karṇātaka.


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