India is the largest democracy in the world. The country is known for the multiplicity of culture. In the words of Jawaharlal Nehru, India is the land of unity in diversity. But when we look back, we could identify several aspects were Indian culture lacked humanity and compassion.
People around the world are coming to India to experience and study the rich culture of the nation. But when we look back, we could identify several aspects which faced severe criticisms from humanitarians around the globe. So, how did this change happen?
The paradigm shift in the culture and practices are a result of combined efforts of the social reformers in the pre independent India.
Let us check some social reform movements during the independence struggle:
- Prathana samaj
Prarthana Samaj or “Prayer Society” in Sanskrit, was a movement for religious and social reform in Bombay, India, based on earlier reform movements. Prarthana Samaj was founded by Atmaram Pandurang in 31 March 1867. The movement was started as a movement for religious and social reform in Maharashtra and can be seen much more alike Brahmo Samaj.
- Brahmo samaj
It was one of the most influential religious movements in India and made a significant contribution to the making of modern India. It was started at Calcutta on 20 August 1828 by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Dwarkanath Tagore as reformation of the prevailing Brahmanism of the time (specifically Kulin practices) and began the Bengal Renaissance of the 19th century pioneering all religious, social and educational advance of the Hindu community in the 19th century.
- Atmiya sabha
Atmiya Sabha was a philosophical discussion circle in India. The association was started by Ram Mohan Roy in 1815 in Kolkata (then Calcutta). They used to conduct debate and discussion sessions on philosophical topics, and also used to promote free and collective thinking and social reform. The foundation of Atmiya Sabha in 1815 is considered as the beginning of the modern age in Kolkata. In 1823, the association became defunct.
- Satyashodhak Samaj
Satyashodhak Samaj (Truth-seekers’ Society) was a social reform society founded by Jyotiba Phule in Pune, Maharashtra, on 24 September 1873. It espoused a mission of education and increased social rights and political access for underprivileged groups, focused especially on women, Shudras, and Dalits, in Maharashtra. Jyotirao’s wife Savitribai was the head of women’s section of the society.
- Young Bengal movement
The Young Bengal was a group of Bengali free thinkers emerging from Hindu College, Calcutta. They were also known as Derozians, after their firebrand teacher at Hindu College, Henry Louis Vivian Derozio.
- Tattwabodhini sabha
The Tattwabodhini sabha was a group founded in Calcutta on 6 October 1839 as a splinter group of the Brahmo Samaj, reformers of Hinduism and Indian Society. The founding member was Debendranath Tagore, previously of the Brahmo Samaj, eldest son of influential entrepreneur Dwarkanath Tagore, and eventually father to renowned polymath Rabindranath Tagore. In 1859, the Tattwabodhini sabha were dissolved back into the Brahmo samaj by Debendranath Tagore.
As a result of the concerted efforts, there were several changes in Indian society. The abolishment of Sati, promotion of widow remarriage, education of women several other changes were the result of these activities.
Last two centuries were not only the period of independence struggle but was also the phase of Indian renaissance. There were many reformers who fought against the social evils and acted as the eye openers for the general public. These values have also contributed towards the framing of constitution.
Let us uphold the values shared by these great people.