Women, Caste & Reform

Indian reformers felt the need for societal changes as they felt that many unjust practices should be ended. Raja Rammohan Roy founded the Brahmo Samaj, began a campaign against Sati practice. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Veeresalingam Pantulu worked for the widow remarriage, the Widow Remarriage Act was passed in 1856. Swami Dayanand Saraswati established the Arya Samaj also supported widow remarriage. The Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed in 1929.

Vidyasagar, Arya Samaj and Jyotirao Phule set up schools for girls in Bengal, Punjab and Maharashtra. Mumtaz Ali, Begums of Bhopal, Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain started schools for Muslim girls. Tarabai Shinde published Stripurushtulna. Pandita Ramabai founded a home for widows at Poona. The Prarthana Samaj and Paramhans Mandali worked for the abolition of the caste system. Christian missionaries set up schools for the children of tribals and lower caste. The army offered employment opportunities for many lower castes while others moved to work in plantations in Assam, Mauritius, Trinidad and Indonesia. Ghasidas’s Satnami Movement and Haridas Thakur’s Matua sect worked with low caste people. Sir Narayana Guru asserted the ideals of unity of all people within one sect, one caste and one guru. Jyotirao Phule founded Satyashodhak Samaj to propagate caste equality, and unity among Shudras and Ati Shudras. Dr B. R Ambedkar started the Temple Entry Movement, while E. V Ramaswamy Naicker or Periyar started Non-Brahmin Movements. joined the Indian National Congress. He started the Self-Respect Movement. The orthodox Hindu society reacted by founding Sanatan Dharma Sabhas, Bharat Dharma Mahamandal and Brahmin Sabha.

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