In the first part of the nineteenth century, Indian society was caste-ridden, decadent, and rigid. Various reformers such as Raja Rammohun Roy, Ishawarchandra Vidyasagar, and Swami Dayananda Saraswati pushed people to adopt a new way of life in order to abandon degrading age-old customs such as Sati, child marriage, polygamy, and female infanticide.
They wanted to spread modernization knowledge throughout the country and provide women and “lower caste” people more freedom and equality.
Young Bengal’s and the Brahmo Samaj’s Contributions
Raja Ram Mohan Roy and the Brahmo Samaj:
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy is regarded as the “Father of Modern India’s Renaissance” and a relentless social reformer who ushered in India’s period of enlightenment and liberal reformist modernization.
- In 1828, he formed the Brahmo Sabha, whose principal goal was to worship the eternal God. It was, however, opposed to priests, ceremonies, and sacrifices.
- The elimination of Sati in 1829 was the most significant victory in the sphere of social reform.
- He fought for the elimination of polygamy and the education of women, as well as the right to inherit property.
- This resulted in the growth of rationalism and enlightenment in India, which aided the nationalist cause indirectly.
- It was the progenitor of all modern India’s social, religious, and political movements.
Henry Lui Vivian Derozio & Young Bengal:
- He became a teacher at the Hindu College of Calcutta.
- Through his teaching and the organisation of an association for debate and discussion on literature, philosophy, history, and science, Derozio supported radical ideals.
- His followers and students were encouraged to question all forms of authority.
- Derozio and his illustrious followers, the Derzians and Young Bengal, were ferocious patriots.
- They believed in the principles of the French Revolution (1789 A.D.) as well as British liberal ideas. Derozio died of cholera while he was only 22 years old.
Apart from combating societal ills such as intolerance, superstition, untouchability, the purdah system, sati, child marriage, social inequities, and illiteracy, social and religious reform organisations also assisted in combating racism perpetuated by colonial rule.
This finally resulted in the rise of nationalism in opposition to the British government.