DMPQ- Throw light on the factors giving rise to the desire for socio-religious reforms in 19th century.

Impact of British Rule

The presence of a colonial government on Indian soil played a complex, yet decisive role in this crucial phase of modern Indian history. The impact of British rule on Indian society and culture was widely different from what India had known before. Most of the earlier invaders, who had come to India settled within its frontiers, were either absorbed by its superior culture or interacted positively with it and had become part of the land and its people. However, the British conquest was different. It came at a time when India, in contrast to an enlightened Europe of the eighteenth century affected in every aspect by science and scientific outlook, presented the picture of a stagnant civilisation and a static and decadent society.

Social Conditions Ripe for Reform

Indian society in the nineteenth century was caught in a vicious web created by religious superstitions and social obscurantism. Hinduism had become steeped in magic and superstition. The priests exercised an overwhelming and, indeed, unhealthy influence on the minds of the people. Idolatry and polytheism helped to reinforce their position, and their monopoly of scriptural knowledge imparted a deceptive character to all religious systems. There was nothing that religious ideology could not persuade people to do.

Opposition to Western Culture

The establishment of colonial rule in India was followed by a systematic attempt to disseminate colonial culture and ideology as the dominant cultural current. Faced with the challenge of the intrusion of colonial culture and ideology, an attempt to reinvigorate traditional institutions and to realise the potential of traditional culture developed during the nineteenth century.

New Awareness among Enlightened Indians

The impact of modern Western culture and consciousness of defeat by a foreign power gave birth to a new awakening. There was an awareness that a vast country like India had been colonised by a handful of foreigners because of weaknesses within the Indian social structure and culture. For some time it seemed that India had lagged behind in the race of civilisation. This produced diverse reactions. Some English- educated Bengali youth developed a revulsion for Hindu religion and culture, gave up old religious ideas and traditions and deliberately adopted practices most offensive to Hindu sentiments, such as drinking wine and eating beef. The response, indeed, was varied but the need to reform social and religious life was a commonly shared conviction.

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