(Last Updated on : 26/03/2012)
Indian Renaissance occurred after the emergence of the British forces, when a mass religious and social awakening took place. The foremost reformists had undertaken the task with a lot of eagerness and enthusiasm. Renaissance stands for rebirth and Indian renaissance refers to that period which was marked by the quest of knowledge and development of science and arts. The incredible effects of Indian Renaissance were reflected in the quality of life and the new frontiers scaled by dance, music and other performing arts. Behind the famous creeds and ceremonials of the country, stand the Bhagavad Gita
, the Upanishads
, the Tantra, the Vedas
; these, though referable to receding ages as regards their rise, are living influences at the present era.
Emergence of Indian Renaissance
The period when the Hindu religious system was revived can be termed as Hindu renaissance, which was marked with the restoration of the Hindu deities and tradition. The Guptas, pioneer of the Golden age resuscitated all lost glory by setting up a tradition, which was very Indian, with developments in Sanskrit literature
, art forms and religion at its peak. The late 18th century marked the beginning of a new era with movements essential for a complete reformation. The reformists did never think of discriminating on the basis of caste or sub caste, gender, or race. Hindu nationalism also rose to a great extent during this period.
During the Renaissance in Europe, India witnessed a renaissance of its own; the Taj Mahal
was built during this period; sacred texts were translated into different languages and there was development of overseas trade. Moreover, the Grand Trunk Road was constructed during this extensive period and many social reformers also had lived during this period. The most significant renaissance had occurred during the period of colonial rule in India. The British imperialists had ruled and dominated for the most prolonged period, during which both worse and beneficial incidents passed by, till the year 1947. The Indian Independence had earned the countrymen their vision of Swaraj and made them their own masters. Indian renaissance had rediscovered roots of economic and administrational stability. Renaissance was a solemn effort by a differentiated and higher class of people, who had made them distinguishable in every sphere of art, culture and education.
As a result, these native intellectuals earned themselves an opportunity to interact with the English class, when speaking, writing, or associations are being spoken about. And the territory of Bengal was absolutely leading in this Indian renaissance context, beginning from writers, politicians, historians, freedom fighters and religious saints. Such was their influence upon the then Indian society, that Bengal renaissance
has now come to be coined as a cardinal element under British Indian episodes.
Social Reformers in Indian Renaissance
Indian Social Reformers had germinated mostly from Bengal, which was inclined towards a tendency to continuously produce luminaries in every field. Beginning from Raja Ram Mohan Roy
and perhaps ending in the last days of Indian Freedom Struggle
with Nirad Chaudhuri
, reformist movements had incessantly procured multi-faceted results. In this context, the Muslim League was also not left far behind. In the erstwhile undivided India, with the concept of brotherhood, Muslims made major contributions into Indian renaissance, making the English-native interface much facilitating. Muslim renaissance thus counts into a unique amalgamation of religious and nationalistic concepts, mingling well with British Indian history.
was a religious teacher and his contributions were important for a traditional revival of Hinduism comparable to Chaitanya`s. Swami Vivekananda
had established Ramakrishna Mission on May 1st, 1897, with a motto for assisting in welfare services with a spiritual point of view. He had advocated Vedanta philosophy and Yoga not only to India, but also the West. The Ramakrishna Math and Mission are the integral institutions of faith for the Hindus currently.
was a nationalist, scholar, poet and philosopher who preached a new spiritual path called the integral Yoga
. He had contributed to Hinduism
greatly with a new interpretation of Vedas concerned with inner spirituality. Ram Mohan Roy was founder of the Brahmo Samaj
and among the pioneers of the Indian socio-religious reform movements. He had exerted supreme influence upon politics, social life, education and religion alike. Swami Dayananda Saraswati
was the founder of Arya Samaj
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan
was a politician and a pioneer of modern education among the Muslim community in India. The founder of the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College, which later developed into the Aligarh Muslim University, his ideas were shaped by a strong aversion to the emerging nationalist movement.
Allama Iqbal is revered for his contributions for the revival of Islamic civilisation all over the world. He had penned about politics, religion and other topics envisaging the cause of the Muslims, conferring them status and identity at political level and achieving their unity widely.
Reformist Groups during Indian Renaissance
The religious reformers and reformists groups played an integral part in the ushering in of Indian renaissance, though they also functioned at regional levels. Brahmo Samaj was the society formed by the ideas of developing a universal religion, whose ideology to a large extent was derived from the Isa Upanishad
, a monotheistic Hindu scripture. Ideas behind Raja Ram Mohan Roy`s Brahmo Movement included abolition of caste system, abolition of dowry, and abolition of Sati and improvement of the educational system.
There were many other groups that developed during this period. Hindu Dharma Sabha was founded in 1830 by Raja Ram Mohan Roy to limit the intrusion of English culture in India. Sanatan Singh Sabha was the original Singh Sabha formed in 1873 by Sikhs in Amritsar
to recover a distinctive Sikhism. Tattvabodhini Sabha was an essential reformist organisation, which was founded by Debendranath Tagore
to popularise Brahmo Dharma or Brahmo faith. Paramahansa Yogananda founded Yogoda Satsanga Society in 1917 on the banks of the Ganga River
at Dakshineswar Kali Temple. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
or Veer Savarkar formed the Ratnagiri Hindu Sabha in 1924, aiming to the preservation of Hindu social and cultural heritage. Nikhil Manipuri Mahasabha was initially a Hindu nationalist organisation of Manipur
, formed by Maharaja Churachand Singh.
Keshab Chandra Sen
founded the Sangat Sabhas, Believer`s Associations in 1860. These Sabhas comprised small discussion groups that met on a weekly basis, but his energetic disciples soon showed an inclination for action rather than mere discussions. Hitaishini Ganga Dharma Sabha was founded in Haridwar for the benefit of the cow, social order and the holy River Ganges. The Radhasoami Satsang Beas, based in Northern India, is a philosophical organisation, following the spiritual teachings of all religions. Manav Dharma Sabha was one of the earliest socio-religious reform movements in Gujarat and British India, founded on 22nd June 1844. Prarthana Samaj, or the Prayer Society in Sanskrit, is a movement for religious and social reform in Maharashtra that was based on previous reform movements and traditions of the state.
Nowrozjee Furdoonjee and Dadabhai Naoroji
founded the Rahnumai Mazdayasnan Sabha and put in considerable efforts. The Sabha was meant for the purification of Zoroastrian religion, which was being prejudiced by Hindu elements.
India did not merely stand still, while Europe had gone on towards some bright goal during the renaissance period. India had moved and carried its history with it as well, not merely in books but in its thoughts and evolution.