Religious and Social Awakening in Colonial India Notes Questions

Religious and Social Awakening in Colonial India Notes Questions

Religious and Social Awakening in Colonial India Notes Questions

Before British rule, Indian society was completely divided based on caste, region, and religion. The condition of women in society was extremely deplorable. The Indian society was trapped in religious superstitions and orthodoxies. Due to these reasons and the exploitation of Indians by the British at every level, a class of educated Indians introspected and found that it was because of the backwardness and shortcomings of Indian society that a vast country like India had become a puppet in the hands of a few foreigners. As a result, there was an intellectual and cultural transformation in society, which attempted to eliminate many social and religious evils present within.

In the 19th century, there were many conservative classes in Indian society that adhered to practices that were against human ideas. The main reason for this was the lack of education. Education was available to very few people around the world. In India, education was mainly confined to men of the highest castes. Some of the evil practices in Indian society included Sati, child marriage, female infanticide, and polygamy. Thus, the lives of women during this century were very difficult.

To raise awareness against discrimination and inequality in society, social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Jyotiba Phule, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, and Pandita Ramabai contributed significantly.

In ancient times, the caste system in Indian society was primarily based on occupation. The Varna system in Hindu society was based on Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras, dividing people according to their professions. In the 19th century, education was provided in schools, madrasas, mosques, and gurukuls, teaching subjects like Sanskrit, grammar, mathematics, religion, and philosophy along with religious education.

Many Indian thinkers and reformers came forward in the 19th century to bring about social reforms. Educated Indians like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Jyotiba Phule, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, and Swami Vivekananda first reformed society inspired by religious beliefs. During the 19th century, Indian socio-religious movements succeeded in awakening the Indians. These reformers realized that modern ideas and culture could be integrated and assimilated into Indian cultural streams. Modern education could guide Indians towards a scientific and rational perspective.

All the reformers worked to improve the status of women and criticized the caste system, especially untouchability. Emphasis was placed on education, particularly women’s education. Some legal measures were initiated to improve the status of women. They strongly criticized the practices of Sati and female infanticide. The tireless efforts of the reformers had a profound impact on society. Religious reform movements instilled a sense of self-respect, self-confidence, and patriotism among Indians. Later, the Indian national movement became the main propagator of social reform.

Religious and Social Awakening in Colonial India Notes Questions

Question 1: List any two social practices against which social reform movements were initiated.
Answer: In Indian society, practices such as Sati, the caste system, child marriage, and the plight of widows were the evils against which reform movements were initiated.

Question 2: Why was the caste system considered illogical and unscientific?
Answer: The caste system was considered illogical and unscientific because it was against the fundamental principles of humanity.

Question 3: What were the bases of the social reformers’ criticism of ‘rigidity in religion’?
Answer: The main bases of the social reformers’ criticism of ‘rigidity in religion’ were courage, determination, inspiration, and an appropriate approach to achieving their goals.

Question 4: Read the following excerpt and answer the questions:

“Dr. B. R. Ambedkar belonged to a poor Mahar family, which was considered an untouchable caste. He received his college education in India and later obtained degrees and doctorates for his studies and research work from Columbia University and the London School of Economics. Dr. Ambedkar was the chairman of the drafting committee of the Indian Constitution. Despite facing social and financial difficulties, Dr. Ambedkar spent his entire life fighting against social discrimination. In 1990, he was posthumously awarded the ‘Bharat Ratna’.”

Question: Besides education, what other factors enabled Dr. Ambedkar to fight against the discrimination prevalent in society?
Answer: Factors such as the renunciation of rigidity and superstitions in religious scriptures enabled Dr. Ambedkar to fight against the discrimination prevalent in society.

Question 5: Mention any two limitations of the reform movements.
Answer: Reform movements influenced a very small percentage of the educated population, and their impact did not reach the general public.

Question 6: Why do you think there was a need to awaken society for reforms?
Answer: The main reasons for awakening society for reforms were ignorance and backwardness, which were major obstacles to progress and development. When British missionaries propagated Christianity, they criticized and questioned our social and religious practices. The desire for reform was so strong that, despite traditional conservative Indian challenges, these social reformers initiated numerous movements to bring about desired changes in society.

Question 7: Why do you think a social reform movement is meaningless without religious reforms?
Answer: Enlightened individuals criticized prevalent religious and social practices. They believed that society should embrace the concept of equality and freedom for both men and women, which was possible only through the spread of modern and scientific education among women. This movement became known as the ‘socio-religious movement.’ These social reformers felt that no change in society was possible without religious reforms.

Question 8: Do you think the reformers were able to bring about change in Indian society?
Answer: Most social practices were carried out in the name of religion; therefore, change would be meaningless without social reform. Our enlightened social reformers had extensive knowledge of Indian traditions and philosophy, as well as the scriptures. They were able to integrate positive Indian values with Western ideas and principles of democracy and equality. Based on this knowledge, they challenged practices like rigidity and superstitions in religion. They raised numerous questions about religious superstitions in society. These reformers wanted society to accept a rational and scientific approach. They wanted all men and women to receive social equality and equal respect.

Question 9: How did the socio-religious reform movements lead to the national movement?
Answer: During the 19th century, Indian socio-religious movements succeeded in awakening Indians. All these reformers realized that modern ideas and culture could be integrated and assimilated into Indian cultural streams. Modern education could guide Indians towards a scientific and rational perspective. All reformers worked to improve the status of women and criticized the caste system, especially untouchability. Emphasis was placed on education, particularly women’s education. Some legal measures were initiated to improve the status of women. They strongly criticized the practices of Sati and female infanticide. All these efforts strengthened the national movement.

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