Socio-Religious Reforms In 19th Century India- Reforms, Exam Overview And Approach

The Indian social reform movement produced a multifaceted intellectual expression of the social and cultural transformations which took place under the impact of British rule. The two most important kinds of reform movements were the (i) reformist: Brahmo Samaj, Aligarh Movement, Prarthana Samaj, and (ii) revivalist: Arya Samaj, Deoband Movement, and Theosophical Movement that took place during the 19th century. 

The examination questions would revolve around topics such as widow remarriage, the Deoband movement, the Young Bengal movement, marriage reforms among the Hindus, and various educational reforms that took place in the 19th century. 

Socio-Religious Reforms In 19th Century India

From the thirties of the nineteenth century, there was in India a wave of reforming activities, which influenced the minds of her people through the wholesome activities of different samajas, societies and other organisations such as Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj, Prarthana Samaj, Aligarh movement etc. The major social problems which came in the purview of these reforms movements were the emancipation of women in which sati, infanticide, child marriage and widow re-marriage were taken up, casteism and untouchability, education for bringing about enlightenment in society and in the religious sphere idolatry, polytheism, religious superstitions, and exploitation by priests. The movement described as the “Indian Renaissance” or “Indian Awakening” grew in enormity in the latter half of the century.

Leaders Associated With Social Religious Reforms In 19th Century India

Raja Rammohan Roy (scholar, patriot, humanist)Fought against evils such as sati, female infanticide, child marriage, polygamy and caste discrimination.
Propagator of modern western education for modernization of the country.
Henry Vivian DerezioInfluenced by the ideas of fraternity, equality and liberty, he started the Young Bengal Movement. He condemned religious rituals and pleaded for female education and enhancement of women condition. 
Debendranath TagoreRevitalized the Brahmo Samaj
Keshab Chandra SenSet up educational institutions and propagated widow remarriage. 
Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar (scholar and reformer)Worked towards the upliftment of poor and underprivileged admitting them to schools also challenging the caste system.  
Started a school for girls in his district.
Worked towards the upliftment of widows. He advocated widow remarriage. 
Sri Ramakrishna ParamhamsaPromoted unity among all religions promoting single-minded devotion. 
Swami VivekanandaHe condemned the caste- system, religious rituals, ceremonies and superstitions. He propagated Ramakrishna’s message of peace and brotherhood and emphasized the need for religious tolerance which would lead to the establishment of peace and harmony in the country. He believed that it was the social responsibility of the better-placed people to take care of the downtrodden, or the ‘daridra narayan.’
Dayanand SaraswatiFounder of the Arya Samaj Movement. He questioned idol worship and the prevailing caste system. He was also the propagator of the Shudhi Movement that allowed Hindus who had converted into Muslims or Christians to return to Hinduism. He also established Dayanand Anglo Vedic Schools and highlighted the importance of education for young boys and girls. 
Jyotirao Govindrao PhuleHe fought for improving the condition of women, the poor and the untouchables. He started a school for the education of girls of the lower castes and founded an association called the Satyasodhak Samaj.
Syed Ahmad KhanStarted the Aligarh Movement and established the Mohammedan Oriental College. He was the main person behind bringing social reforms among the Muslim population.
Pandita RamabaiWorked towards education for women also helping out destitute widows. 
Sarojini Naidu (poet and social worker)Stood up for the voting rights of women and was actively involved in the country’s politics. 

Exam Overview And Approach

The questions will be both multiple-choice questions and detailed. Questions about Socio religious reforms in 19th century India must be elaborate as there are a lot of aspects to be covered. The answer must cover the following points:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body (westernization vs modernization)
  3. Conclusion

In the introduction, all aspects of the socio-religious reform movement must be explained briefly. The difference between modernization and westernization must be explained. Discuss how the reforms impacted Indian society and the people. In conclusion, write about the positive impacts of these reforms on Indian society. 


The conquest of India by the British all through the 18th and nineteenth-century uncovered a few severe weaknesses and disadvantages of Indian social institutions. The response, indeed, becomes numerous however they want to reform social and spiritual existence become a usually shared conviction. It additionally introduced absolutely new units of thoughts and the social world. The publicity to post-Enlightenment rationalism that got here to suggest modernity introduced a change in the outlook of a selected group of Indians.

The three main contexts to these reforms were the following:

  1. Development of the socio-religious institution. 
  2. Impact of anti-colonial nationalism. 
  3. Formalization of the colonial state. 

Frequently asked questions 

What are socio-religious reform movements?

The movement spread across all communities of the Indian people. It included marriage reform among the Hindus, women’s rights, a plea for widow remarriage – the classic case of sati, child marriage, and the abolition of untouchability and illiteracy. It also targeted the bigotry and status of the priestly class. 

Which are the major issues revolving around socio-religious reforms in 19th century India?

The major issues included women’s rights, women’s education, widow remarriage, issues of casteism, and untouchability.

Which were the three reformist movements during the 19th century?

Brahma Samaj, Prarthana Samaj, and Aligarh Movement

Which were the three revivalist movements during the 19th century?

Deoband Movement, Theosophical Movement, and Arya Samaj

Who established the Mukti Mission in Pune?

Pandita Ramabai

What was the Singh Sabha Movement?

It was aimed at modernizing the Sikhs through western education. The Akali movements were an off-shoot of this movement. It was mainly created to counter the proselytizing activities in Sikhs by Hindu revivalists. 

Who was the founder of the Namdhari Movement?

Baba Ram Singh


Leave a comment

Download 500+ Free Ebooks (Limited Offer)👉👉