Role of Social Reformers in India
Indian history has witnessed some of the unusual reformers that laid the foundation of modern India. In India, social reform movement was mainly an upper class movement. Several reforms came from a top and leading class of the Indian society. These reforms were worried with problems associated to the uplifting of society. India saw the rise of nationalist movements and various social organizations in the 20th century.
Rain Mohan Roy is regarded as India’s foremost social reformer. He believed that to get rid of the existing evils in Hindu religion, it was necessary to bring awareness among the masses. He brought into light the truth stated in the Shastras. He translated Vedas and the Upanishads to publish them in Bengali. He revealed to people that there is only one God and idol worship had no place. In 1828, a new society called Brahmo Samaj was started by him. This society rejected caste divisions and other meaningless rites and rituals existing in society. Ram Mohan fought against all kinds of social evils. He also demanded that women must be given the right of inheritance and property.
Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve was a well-known social reformer of his time. He was one of the pioneers of promoting women’s education and the right for widows’ remarriage in India. He started his social activities through Vidhwa Vivahottajak Mandali’. In 1907. he started Women’s Educational Institute’ near Pune at Hingne. It was an important landmark in women’s education. In 1958, the Government of India recognized his works by awarding him with the Bharat Ratan, highest civilian award.
lshwar Chandra Vidyasagar was another important social reformer of India. He was a philosopher, writer, educator, printer, publisher, translator and an entrepreneur. He was an important figure of the Bengal Renaissance. He supported the cause of raising the status of Indian women. He wanted to change orthodox Hindu society and thus, introduced the practice of widow remarriages. In earlier times, remarriages of widows would occur only among broad-minded members of the Brahmo Samaj.
Gopal Hari Deshmukh was another important social reformer from Maharashtra. He started writing articles with the aim of bringing social reform. To address the society, he wrote articles in Bhau Mahajan’s newspaper called Piabhakar’. He wrote books like Jatibhed’, ‘Laxmi Dnyan’, ‘Gitavavra’, ‘Bhikshuk’, ‘Aitihasik Goshti’ and Panipatachi Ladhai Kaliyug’. He not only voiced his opinions over the prevailing worthless customs and traditions in society but also attacked the evil practices like child marriage, dowry and polygamy.
India has seen numerous social reformers like Ramakrishna Paramhans, Swami Vivekananda, Dayanand Saraswati, Baba Amte, Vinoba Shave and Mahatma Jyotirao Phule. They played significant role in making India a progressive and modern nation. These social reformers fought against several social evils and dedicated their life for various causes.