What were the major reformist and revivalist movements in 19th century India? How they were similar to, or different from each other? Discuss with suitable examples.

Published: November 9, 2017

Some major reformist movements were Brahmo Samaj; Prarthana Samaj; Satya Sodhak Samaj; Aligarh movement; Young Bengal Movement and Ramakrishna mission. Some major revivalist movements were Arya Samaj; Deoband movement etc.
The key similarity between these movements was that all of them wanted to change the status quo in the society wherein several deformities had crept in. All of them, in some way or other, attacked on inhuman practices such as sati, female infanticide, child marriage etc. along with superstitions, complex rituals and so on.
While the reformist movements strived to change the fundamental system and structures of the society through gradual changes within the existing institutions; revivalist movements tended to revive former customs or practices and thus take the society back to the glorious past. The reformist movements responded with the time and scientific temper of the modern era. The spread of western education and liberal ideas were the main reasons for emergence of reform movements In India. One example of such movement is Brahmo Samaj.
Revivalist movements believed that the western thinking and missionary propaganda would ruin Indian culture and ethos, and thus there was a need to protect the religion. They were also influenced by the rich cultural heritage of India brought to light by the western scholars, and found that it was even superior to the western culture. The Arya Samaj followed the motto “Go Back to Vedas” and the Suddhi movement started by it aimed reconversion of those Hindus who had once been willingly or forcibly converted into other religions, but were now willing to come back into the fold of Hinduism also it prevented further conversion.

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