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Reform movements of early 20th century in India

 

British rulers underrated reformative efforts of great Indian leaders like Gandhi, Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Nehrus, Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Patel etc, who influenced thinking of the masses towards end of 19th and beginning of 20th centuries in different ways.

British introduced modern education system in India in 1834 with an intention “To form a class…..of persons, Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals and in intellect” (Lord Macaulay). Many Indians developed a complex about primitiveness and evil practices prevalent in Indian society at that time and embraced Christianity.

Rulers succeeded in achieving their goal to some extent, but could not pevent growth of great national leaders, reformers, intellectuals along with it, who welcomed rationality of Modern education. Out of a fragmented, poverty stricken, weak, indifferent, backward and inward looking society, they wished to build a modern, open, plural, culturally rich, prosperous and powerful India through Sanskritisation. They advised people to remain firmly rooted to Indian Culture and then move forward.

They made efforts to stop all forms of exploitation, inequality and injustice and to remove social evils like Sati, Polygamy, child marriage, untouchablity or inhuman treatment to women etc prevalent at that time because of ignorance, superstitions. They advised people to fight with “Abhava” (Scarcity), “Agyan” (Ignorance), “Annyaya” (Injustice), and “Alasya” (Laziness), as these were the causes of all evils. They criticized numbo-jumbo of rituals and superstitions created by vested interests to entangle the ignorant and poor masses.

Some of social reform movements were “Arya Samaj” (1875 onwards) initiated by Swami Dayanand or “Achutodhar” by Gandhiji. “Rama Krishna Mission” founded by Swami Vivekanand, Theosophical Society of India “Brahma Samaj” founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in 1928. They inspired people of Bengal, Maharashtra, UP, Punjab, Madras and other provinces to form similar organizations and interpret everything rationally.

Some reformists noticed erosion of rich ancient Indian Culture and tried to revive it. To them, traditional system of living was like an anchor, which had kept the boat of Indian society in safe harbor, so far. In absence of that anchor, the boat would be left at mercy of wild waves on a stormy ocean. They advised masses not to be swayed away by glamour and materialism of alien culture.

To them, it was not Hindu principles, but practices, which went wrong. Vivekanand said, “It is we, who are responsible for our degradation.” They advised the people to set free Hinduism from all degenerate features and “Return to Vedas” as Vedas were source of knowledge and truth.. Swami Vivekanand said, “Each nation like each individual has a theme in this life, which is its center, the principle note, around which every other note comes to form the harmony. If any nation attempts to throw off its national vitality or the direction, which has become its own through the transmission of centuries, it dies.”

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August 21, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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