Socio-religious reform movements of 19th century Part 2

To read Part 1 Click Socio-religious reform movements of 19th century Part 1

Wahabi movement:

  • The Wahabi movement offered the most serious and well-planned challenge to British supremacy in India from 1830’s to 1860’s.
  • Syed Ahmad of Rae Bareli, the leader of this movement in India was influenced by the teaching of Abdul Wahab of Arbia, but even more by the preaching of the Delhi saint Shah Waliullah.
  • Syed Ahmed condemned all accretions to and innovations in Islam and advocated a return to the pure Islam and society of Arabia of the Prophet’s times. The Wahabi movement was basically a revivalist movement.
  • Syed Ahmad looked for (i) the right leader, (ii) a proper organisation and (iii) a safe territory wherefrom to launch his Jihad.
  • Since Dar-ul-Harb (land of  non-believer) was to be converted into Dar-ul-Islam (land of pure islma) & Jihad was declared against the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab. Peshawar was captured in 1830, but lost to the Sikhs the following year with Syed Ahmad losing his life in action (In the Battle of Balakot).
  • After the overthrow of the Sikh ruler and incorporation of the Punjab into the East India Company’s dominion in 1849 the sole target of the Wahabi’s attack became the English dominion in India.
  • In the 1860’s the Government launched a multi-pronged attack by organising a series of military operations on the Wahabi base of operations in Sithana while in India a number of court cases for sedition were registered against Wahabi’s.

Deoband Movement:

  • The Deoband Movement was organised by the orthodox section among the Muslim ulema as a revivalist movement with the twin objectives of propagating pure teachings of the Quran and Hadis among Muslims and keeping alive the spirit of jihad against the foreign rulers.
  • The Deoband Movement was established in Deoband in Saharanpur district (United Provinces) in 1866 by Mohammad Qasim Nanotavi (1832-80) and Rashid Ahmed Gangohi (1828- 1905) to train religious leaders for the Muslim community.
  • In contrast to the Aligarh Movement, which aimed at the welfare of Muslims through western education and support of the British Government, the aim of the Deoband Movement was moral and religious regeneration of the Muslim community.
  • On the political front, the Deoband School welcomed the formation of the Indian National Congress and in 1888 issued a fatiua (religious decree) against Syed Ahmed Khan’s organisations.
  • Shibli Numani, a supporter of the Deoband School, favoured the inclusion of English language and European sciences in the system of education. He founded the Nadwatal Ulama and Darul Ulum in Lucknow in 1894-96.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati and Arya Samaj movement

  • Swami Dayananda Saraswati, known as Mulshankar in the childhood, was born in 1824 in a small town of Tankara belonging to Kathiawar of Gujarat
  • He established the Arya Samaj at Bombay on 10th April, 1875.
  • Dayananda wrote books like ‘Satyarth Prakash’, Vedanga Prakash, ‘Ratnamala’ ‘Sankarvidhi’, ‘Bharatinivarna’ etc
  • Principles of Arya Samaj:

    1. Acceptance of the Vedas as the only source of truth.

    2. Opposition to idol worship.

    3. Opposition to the theory of God-incarnation and religious pilgrimages.

    4. Recitation of the mantras of the Vedas and performance of ‘Havan’ and ‘Yajna’.

    5. Faith in female education.

    6. Opposition to child-marriage and polygamy.

  • On the basis of the above mentioned principles, the Arya Samaj emphasized on the liberation of the Hindu society. Dayananda claimed that only Vedas were the repositories of true knowledge and the only religion was the religion of the Vedas.
  • His clarion call “Go Back to the Vedas” created consciousness among the people. He rejected other scriptures and ‘Puranas’. He strongly opposed idol worship, ritualism, practice of animal-sacrifice, the concept of polytheism, the idea of heaven and hell and fatalism.
  • Dayananda started “Shuddhi Movement” as a process of converting the people of other religions to Hinduism and also to reconvert those who have changed from Hinduism to other religions.
  • He protested against injustice to women and worked for the education of the females. He vehemently opposed child-marriages, polygamy, “Purdah” and the practice of “Sati” etc.
  • Inter-caste marriages and interdining were practised by the members of the Arya Samaj.

Ramakrishna Mission:

  •  Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836-86) was the founder of this socio-religious movement. He had faith in all religions and performed religious exercises in accordance with Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.
  • All the different religious views are different ways leading to the same goal – was the message of Ramakrishna.
  • Two objectives of the Mission are:

    (1) To bring into existence a band of monks dedicated to a life of renunciation and practical spirituality, from among whom teachers and workers would be sent out to spread the universal message of Vedanta as illustrated in the life of Ramakrishna; and

    (2) In conjunction with lay disciples, to carry on preaching, philanthropic and charitable works, looking upon all men, women and children, irrespective of caste, creed or colour, as veritable manifestations of the Divine.

  • The headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission are at Belur, near Kolkata. This centre was established in 1898 by Swami Vivekananda. The Math is a religious trust dedicated to the nursing of the inner spiritual life of the members of the monastery.
  • Certain spiritual experiences of Ramakrishna, the teachings of the Upanishads and the Gita, and the examples of the Buddha and Jesus are the basis of Vivekananda’s message to the world about human values.
  • He wanted to make the Vedanta practical. His mission was to bridge the gulf between paramartha (service) and vyavahara (behaviour), and between spirituality and day-to-day life.
  • He advocated the doctrine of service – the service of all beings. The service of jiva (living objects) is the worship of Siva.
  • His teachings opened up interfaith debates and interfaith awareness.
  • He also worked against superstitions and advocated the upliftment of women’s position in society.
  • He wanted the people to embrace the spirit of equality and free thinking.
  • His interpretation of Vedanta is called neo-Vedanta.
  • He worked towards a better understanding of Hinduism and also towards nationalism.
  • According to him, the best form of worship was the service of the people.
  • He laid stress on physical and moral strength. One of his many quotes say, “You Will Be Nearer To Heaven through Football than through the Study of the Gita.”
  • The four pillars of nationalism according to Swami Vivekananda are:
    1. Consciousness and pride in the ancient glory of India.
    2. Development of moral and physical strength.
    3. Awakening of the masses.
    4. Unity based on common spiritual ideas.

Thank you!

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