Important Historical Literature/Books/Newspapers in the Freedom Struggle and Important Social Religious Reforms Movements


1st May 2021

Important Socio-Cultural Reform movements


1. Brahmo Samaj

  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833) founded the Brahmo Sabha in August 1828; it was later renamed Brahmo Samaj.
  • The Samaj was committed to “the worship and adoration of Eternal, Unsearchable, Immutable Being who is the author and Preserver of the Universe”.
  • Prayers, Meditations and reading of the Upanishads were to be the forms of worship and no forms of a graven image, statute or sculpture, carvings, paintings, picture, portraits etc were to be allowed in the Samaj buildings, thus underlining the Samaj’s opposition to idolatry and meaningless rituals.
  • The long-term agenda of Brahmo Samaj was to Purify Hinduism and to preach monotheism.
  • This long-terms agenda was based on twin pillars of reason and Vedas and
  • The Samaj kept its emphasis on human dignity, opposition to idolatry and criticism of social evils such as Sati.
  • Maharishi Debendranath Tagore gave a new life to the movement when the joined it in 1843.
  • The Samaj supported widow remarriage, women’s education, the abolition of polygamy improvement in ryots’ condition and temperance.
  • When Keshub Chandra Sen was made the acharya by soon after he joined it, the Samaj experienced another phase of energy, vigour and eloquence. He was instrumental in popularising the movement.
  • After Keshab Chandra Sen was dismissed from the Brahmo Samaj owing to his radical reforms he founded Brahmo Samaj of India.
  • Significance of the Brahmo Samaj-
    • Denounce polytheism and idol worship.
    • Discarded faith in divine avatars.
    • It denied that any scripture could enjoy the status of ultimate authority transcending human reason and conscience.
    • It criticised the caste system.
    • Took no definite stand on the doctrine of karma and transmigration of the soul.

2. Prarthana Samaj

  • Keshab Chandra Sen helped found the Prarthana Samaj in Bombay in 1863.
  • They relied on education and persuasion rather than on confrontation with Hindu orthodoxy.
  • It’s four-point social agenda includes-
    • Disapproval of the cast system.
    • Women’s education.
    • Widow remarriage
    • Raising the age of marriage for both male and female.
  • Prominent figures include-
    • G. Ranade (1842-1901)
    • G. Bhandarkar
    • G. Chandavarkar. 

 3. Young Bengal Movement

  • Henry Vivan Derozio, who taught at the Hindu College was the leader and its inspirer.
  • During the 1820s and early 1830s, there emerged a radical intellectual trend among the youth in Bengal which came to be known as ‘Young Bengal Movement’.
  • Drawing inspiration from the French Revolution, Derozio inspired his pupils to
    • Think freely and rationally.
    • Question all authority.
    • Love, liberty and equality and freedom.
    • Oppose decadent customs and traditions.
  • The movement also supported women’s rights and education.
  • The movement, however, failed to have long term impact, reasons for which are-
    • Prevailing social conditions at that time were not ripe for the adoption of radical ideas.
    • The movement lacked any real link with the masses.

 4. Paramhansa Mandalis

  • It was founded in Maharashtra in 1849.
  • The founder of this movement believed in one god.
  • They were primarily focused on breaking the caste barriers.
  • They also advocated widow remarriage and women’s education.
  • Branches of Paramhansa Mandalis existed in Poona, Satara and other towns of Maharashtra.

 5. Satya Shodhak Samaj

  • Jyotiba Phule founded the Satyashodhak Samaj in 1873.
  • Its leadership came primarily from the backward classes-Malis, Telis, Kunbis, Saris and Dhangars.
  • Main aims of the movement were-
    • Social service.
    • Spread of education among women and lower classes.
  • Phule aimed at the complete abolition of the caste system and socio-economic equalities.
  • The movement gave a sense of identity to the deprived communities as a class against Brahmins who were seen as the exploiters.

6.The Ramkrishna Movement

  • It was led by Ramkrishna Paramhansa.
  • The Brahmo Samaj appealed more to the intellectual elite in Bengal, while the average Bengali found more emotional satisfaction in the cult of bhakti and yoga so the movement found many followers.
  • Two objectives of the Ramakrishna movement were
    • To bring into existence a band of monks dedicated to a life of renunciation and practical spirituality.
    • 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 second objective was taken up by Swami Vivekananda after Ramakrishna’s death when he founded the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897.
  • Paramahamsa sought salvation through traditional ways of renunciation, meditation and bhakti amidst increasing westernisation and modernisation.

7. The Servants of India Society.

  • Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915), founded the Servants of India Society in 1905 with the help of M.G. Ranade.
  • The aim of the society was-
    • to train national missionaries for the service of India;
    • to promote, by all constitutional means, the true interests of the Indian people;
    • to prepare a cadre of selfless workers who were to devote their lives to the cause of the country in a religious spirit.
  • The society chose to remain aloof from political activities and organisations like the Indian National Congress.

8. Arya Samaj

  • Dayananda Saraswati (1824-1883) founded the movement.
  • Dayananda subscribed to the Vedic notion of chaturvarna system in which a person was not born in any caste but was identified according to the occupation the person followed.
  • The Arya Samaj fixed the minimum marriageable age at twenty-five years for boys and sixteen years for girls.
  • Inter-caste marriages and widow remarriages were also encouraged. Equal status for women was the demand of the Samaj, both in letter and in spirit.

9. Sree Narayana Guru Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Movement

  • It was started by Sree Narayana Guru Swamy (1856- 1928) among the Ezhavas of Kerala.
  • Ezhavas were a backward caste of toddy-tappers and were considered to be untouchables, denied education and entry into temples.
  • The SNDP movement was an example of a regional movement born out of the conflict between the depressed classes and upper castes.
  • Sree Narayana Guru held all religions to be the same and condemned animal sacrifice besides speaking against divisiveness on the basis of caste, race or creed.
  • The movement as a whole brought transformative structural changes such as upward social mobility, a shift in the traditional distribution of power and a federation of ‘backward castes’ into a large conglomeration.

10. Sef-Respect Movement

  • This movement was started by V. Ramaswamy Naicker, a Balija Naidu, in the mid-1920s.
  • The movement aimed at a rejection of the brahminical religion and culture which Naicker felt was the prime instrument of exploitation of the lower castes.
  • He sought to undermine the position of brahmin priests by formalising weddings without brahmin priests.

11. Temple Entry Movement

  • K. Madhavan, a prominent social reformer and editor of Deshabhimani, took up the issue of temple entry with the Travancore administration. Nothing transpired.
  • In the meanwhile, Vaikom, in the northern part of Travancore, became a centre of agitation for temple entry.
  • In 1924, the Vaikom Satyagraha led by K.P. Kesava was launched in Kerala demanding the throwing open of Hindu temples and roads to the untouchables.
  • Gandhi undertook a tour of Kerala in support of the movement.
  • Leaders like P. Krishna Pillai and A.K. Gopalan were among the satyagrahis.
  • Finally, in 1936, the Maharaja of Travancore issued a proclamation throwing open all government-controlled temples to all Hindus.

12. Aligarh Movement

  • A section of Muslims led by Syed Ahmed Khan (1817-1898) was ready to allow the official patronage to stimulate a process of growth among Indian Muslims through better education and employment opportunities.
  • He wanted to reconcile Western scientific education with the teachings of the Quran which were to be interpreted in the light of contemporary rationalism and science even though he also held the Quran to be the ultimate authority.
  • He said that religion should be adaptable with time or else it would become fossilised, and that religious tenet was not immutable.
  • He advocated a critical approach and freedom of thought and not complete dependence on tradition or custom.
  • He was also a zealous educationist-founded the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College (later, the Aligarh Muslim University) at Aligarh in 1875.
  • The Aligarh Movement emerged as a liberal, modern trend among the Muslim intelligentsia based in Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College, Aligarh.
  • It aimed at spreading-
    • (i) modern education among Indian Muslims without weakening their allegiance to Islam;
    • (ii) social reforms among Muslims relating to purdah, polygamy, widow remarriage, women’s education, slavery, divorce, etc.
  • The ideology of the followers of the movement was based on a liberal interpretation of the Quran and they sought to harmonise Islam with modern liberal culture.
  • They wanted to impart a distinct socio-cultural identity to Muslims on modern lines.

13. The Deoband School (Darul Uloom)

  • The Deoband Movement was begun at the Darul Uloom,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.
  • The Deoband Movement was organised by the orthodox section among the Muslim ulema as a revivalist movement.
  • It has 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.
  • On the political front, the Deoband school welcomed the formation of the Indian National Congress and in 1888.
  • 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 Uloom in Lucknow in 1894-96. He believed in the idealism of the Congress and cooperation between the Muslims and the Hindus of India to create a state in which both could live amicably.

14. Sikh Reform Movements.

  • The Sikh community could not remain untouched by the rising tide of rationalist and progressive ideas of the nineteenth century.
  • The Singh Sabha Movement was founded at Amritsar in 1873 with a two-fold objective—
    • to make available modern western education to the Sikhs, and
    • to counter the proselytising activities of Christian missionaries as well as the Brahmo Samajists, Arya Samajists and Muslim maulvis.
  • For the first objective, a network of Khalsa schools was established by the Sabha throughout Punjab.
  • In the second direction, everything that went against the Gurus’ teachings was rejected, and rites and customs considered to be consistent with Sikh doctrine were sought to be established.
  • The Akali movement (also known as Gurudwara Reform Movement) was an offshoot of the Singh Sabha Movement.
  • It aimed at liberating the Sikh gurudwaras from the control of corrupt Udasi mahants.
  • The government tried its repressive policies against the non-violent non-cooperation satyagraha launched by the Akalis in 1921 but had to bow before popular demands.
  • The government passed the Sikh Gurudwaras Act in 1922 (amended in 1925) which gave the control of gurudwaras to the Sikh masses to be administered through Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) as the apex body.
  • The Akali Movement was a regional movement but not a communal one.

15. The Theosophical Movement

  • A group of westerners led by Madame H.P. Blavatsky and Colonel M.S. Olcott, who were inspired by Indian thought and culture, founded the Theosophical Society in New York City, the United States in 1875.
  • In 1882, they shifted their headquarters to Adyar, on the outskirts of Madras.
  • The society believed that a special relationship could be established between a person’s soul and God by contemplation, prayer, revelation, etc.
  • It accepted the Hindu beliefs in reincarnation and karma and drew inspiration from the philosophy of the Upanishads and Samkhya, yoga and Vedanta schools of thought.
  • It aimed to work for the universal brotherhood of humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour.
  • It opposed child marriage and advocated the abolition of caste discrimination, uplift of outcastes, improvement in the condition of widows.
  • In India, the movement became somewhat popular with the election of Annie Besant (1847-1933) as its president.
  • She laid the foundation of the Central Hindu College in Benaras in 1898 where both Hindu religion and Western scientific subjects were taught.
  • The Theosophical Society provided a common denominator for the various sects and fulfilled the urge of educated Hindus.
  • To an average Indian, the Theosophist philosophy seemed to be vague and lacking a positive programme; to that extent, its impact was limited to a small segment of the westernised class.
  • As religious revivalists, the Theosophists did not attain much success.
  • But as a movement of westerners glorifying Indian religious and philosophical traditions, it gave much-needed self-respect to the Indians fighting British colonial rule.
  • Viewed from another angle, the Theosophists also had the effect of giving a false sense of pride to the Indians in their outdated and sometimes backwards-looking traditions and philosophy.



Important Newspapers associated with the freedom Struggle



    Name of the Paper             or journal


Year and Place  of           Publication        


Name of the Founder          or       Editor




     Bengal Gazette



1780, Calcutta



James Augustus Hicky

India Gazette 1787, Calcutta Henry Louis Vivian Derozio was associated with it


     Bombay Herald           (First Paper from                   Bombay)

1789, Bombay ————


(First Bengali Monthly)



1818, Calcutta






Bengal Gazette        (First Bengali                    Newspaper)


1818, Calcutta Harishchandra Ray


    Sambad Kaumudi

    (Weekly in Bengali)


1821 Raja Ram Mohan Roy


   Mirat-ul-Akbar                   (First Journal in        Persian)

1822, Calcutta Raja Ram Mohan Roy
        Banga-Duta            (A weekly in four languages- English, Bengali, Persian, Hindi) 1822, Calcutta Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Dwarkanath Tagore and others.
    Bombay Times   (From 1861 onwards, The Times of India)



1838, Bombay Foundation laid by Robert Knight                            Started by Thomas Bennett



      Rast Goftar            (A Gujarati fortnightly) 1851 Dadabhai Naoroji
      Hindu Patriot 1853, Calcutta Girishchandra Ghosh





1862, Calcutta

Girishchandra Ghosh


(Taken over by S.N. Banerjea in 1879)

    Amrit Bazar Patrika 1868, Jessore District Sisirkumar Ghosh and Motilal Ghosh
    Bangadarshana              (In Begali) 1873, Calcutta Bankimchandra Chatterji


    Indian Statesman

(Later, The Statesman)

1875, Calcutta Started by Robert Knight


 The Hindu (In Egnlish)

(Started as weekly)

1878, Madras G.S. Aiyar, Viraraghavachari and Subha Rao Pandit


   Tribune (daily)

1881, Lahore Dayal Singh Majeetia
   Kesari(Marathi daily)             and    Maharatta (English            weekly) 1881, Bombay Tilak, Chiplunkar, Agarkar
Swadeshmitran                  (A Tamil paper) Madras  


G.S. Aiyar

 Paridasak (a weekly) 1886 Bipin Chandra Pal (publisher)



1906, Bengal  


Barindra Kumar Ghosh andBhupendra Dutta




   Indian Sociologist






Shyamji Krishnavarma



    Bande Matram






Madam Bhikaji Kama









Virendranath Chattopadhyay









Ghadar Party



     Bombay Chronicle               (a daily)



1913, Bombay



Started by Pherozeshah Mehta



The Hindustan Times

1920, Delhi Founded by K. M. Panikkar as a part of the Akali Dal Movement


Leader (in English)

     ———- Madan Mohan Malaviya


Bahishkrit Bharat (Marathi fortnightly)






B. R. Ambedkar



   Kudi Arasu (Tamil)






E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker (Periyar)



Bandi Jivan






Sachindranath Sanyal



National Herald






Started by Jawaharlal Nehru

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