19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 13, 2022, 9:42

19th Century India was rigid, casteist, and tilting towards cultural decline due to evil social practices. Many social practices that were unacceptable in a cultured society were being followed. A notable few were child marriage, female infanticide, untouchability, the purdah system, polygamy, and caste discrimination. This article details the 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements that aimed to supersede them.

What are the 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements?

The 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements were reformist, revivalist, and other issue-based social movements.

They systematically eliminated the evil practices of society. While a few movements focused on modernization, others worked to protect the ancient Indian culture.

19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements Types

The 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements eradicated some of the worst evils of Indian society. Some of these prominent movements were:

  • Brahmo Samaj
  • Aligarh Movement
  • Prarthana Samaj
  • The Theosophical Movement
  • Ramakrishna Mission
  • Satyashodhak Samaj
  • Young Bengal Movement
  • Widow Remarriage Association
  • Tattvabodhini Sabha

19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements Causes

Some of the key factors that led to 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements were:

Colonial rule -

With the dawn of imperial rule, the English language got introduced. Simultaneously, many modern ideologies like liberty, equality, democracy, and justice impacted Indians greatly.

Increased Missionary Activity -

Missionary activity was used as a tool to increase imperial power in India but was viewed as detrimental by Indians.

Rise of Nationalism -

The English language ushered in awareness of the outside world. Indians learned the importance of nationalism which in turn led to reform moments.

19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements - Prominent Leaders

Numerous leaders fought for and influenced positive change. The most important of those were:

  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy
  • Sayyid Ahmed Khan
  • Swami Dayanand Saraswati
  • Swami Vivekananda
  • Jyotirao Phule
  • Annie Besant
  • Pandit Vishnu Shastry
  • Debendranath Tagore
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Effects of 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements

Many of the 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements faced initial resistance from conventional thinkers. But the founders were educated, intelligent, and forward-looking. They steered through difficult paths, pushing their agenda deep into society.

These movements brought great benefits by eliminating major evil social practices. Child marriage, female infanticide, and untouchability became history because of these 19th-century social and religious reform movements.

The credit goes to the great leaders whose first bold step in an unfavourable situation brought in many favourable social changes. Ultimately, these practices were adopted by the government as laws of the land, giving them the required legal sanction.

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Notably, the efforts for reform movements collectively called The Renaissance were launched when India was under colonial control with limited freedom for Indians.

British colonialism during the 18th and 19th centuries mirrored the weakness in Indian society. This was to be fought over the next century to bring back the glory of Indian culture.

The 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements came into being because of this and were instrumental in changing the cultural landscape of the time.

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FAQs on 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements

Q1: Who was the father of the Indian Renaissance during the 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements?

Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the Brahmo Samaj founder, is known as the father of the Indian Renaissance during the 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements.

Q2: What is the difference between reformism and revivalism in 19th-century social and religious reform movements?

Reformism focused on modernization, whereas revivalism revived traditional Indian culture in the 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements.

Q3: What major issues in India led to the 19th-century social and religious reform movements?

Child marriage, female infanticide, untouchability, the purdah system, polygamy, and caste discrimination were major issues resulting in the 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements.

Q4 Which city showed the maximum impact during the 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements?

Calcutta (now Kolkata) showed the maximum impact during the 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements.

Q5: Who founded the Arya Samaj during the 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements?

Swami Dayananda set up the Arya Samaj during the 19th Century Social and Religious Reform Movements.