Indian History – I

Delhi Law Academy


•            Indian Philosophy or Hindu Philosophy is generally classified into 6 orthodox schools (āstika) and 3 heterodox (nāstika) schools.

Difference between Astik schools and Nastik schools

•            The basic difference between the two branches of Hindu Philosophy schools is said to be based on the recognition of Vedas.

•            Orthodox schools recognize the authority of Vedas while heterodox schools don’t believe in the authority of Vedas.

•            Out of these nine systems, eight are atheistic as there is no place for God in them. Only Uttara Mimansa, which is also called Vedanta, has a place for God in it.

Six Orthodox Schools (Classical Schools) of Indian Philosophy

•            The 6 classical schools (shatdarshan) are Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshik, Purva Mimansa and Uttar Mimansa (Vedanta).

•            Almost all Indian schools of thought accepted the theory of karma and rebirth, and the ideal of moksha is conceived as liberation from the cycle of births and deaths.

•            Moksha/liberation is considered as the highest goal of human struggle.

Sankhya Philosophy

•            Sankhya is the oldest philosphy. It was put forward by Kapila.

•            Sankhya philosophy provided the materialistic ontology for Nyaya and Vaisheshik, but there is very little original literature in Sankhya.

•            It is generally believed that Sankhya Philosophy is dualistic and not monistic because it has two entities, purush (spirit) and prakriti (nature) in it.

•            Samkhya emphasizes the attainment of knowledge of self by means of concentration and meditation.

•            Sankhya holds that it is the self-knowledge that leads to liberation and not any exterior influence or agent. Samkhya forms the philosophical basis for Yoga.

•            In Samkhya, the necessity of God is not felt for epistemological clarity about the interrelationship between higher Self, individual self, and the universe around us.

Purush vs Prakriti:

•            In the beginning, the philosophy was materialistic as it talked only about prakriti, but later the element of purush was also added to it.

•            While Purusha is posited as the only sentient being, ever existent, and immaterial, Prakriti is said to be the material basis of this universe, composed of three basic elements (Gunas) – namely Tamas, Rajas, and Sattva.

Yoga Philosophy

•            Yoga presents a method of physical and mental discipline.

•            The Yoga presents a practical path for the realization of the self, whereas Samkhya emphasizes the attainment of knowledge of self by means of concentration and meditation.

•            Releasing Purush from Prakriti by means of physical and mental discipline is the concept of Yoga.

o            Founder of Yoga is Patanjali.

•            Yoga does not require belief in God, although such a belief is accepted as help in the initial stage of mental concentration and control of the mind.

Nyaya Philosophy

•            Nyaya Philosophy states that nothing is acceptable unless it is in accordance with reason and experience (scientific approach).

•            Founder of this philosophy is Gautam and the principles are mentioned in Nyaya Sutras.

•            Nyaya says that the world is real and the philosophy does not follow a monist view.

•            Nyaya philosophy relies on several pramanas i.e. means of obtaining true knowledge as its epistemology.

o            According to it, the pradhan pramana or principal means of obtaining knowledge is pratyaksha pramana i.e. the knowledge obtained through the 5 senses.

o            There are also other pramanas like anumana (inference, through which we can obtain true knowledge) and shabda pramana (a statement of an expert).

Vaisheshik Philosophy

•            The classical Indian philosophy Vaisheshika was the physics of ancient times.

•            It propounded the atomic theory of its founder Kannada. At one time Vaisheshika was regarded as part of the Nyaya philosophy since physics is part of science.

•            But since physics is the most fundamental of all sciences, Vaisheshika was later separated from Nyaya and put forth as a separate philosophy.

•            To make it short, Vaisheshik is a realistic and objective philosophy of the universe.

Purva Mimansa (Mimansa)

•            The word Mimamsa means to analyze and understand thoroughly.

•             Purva Mimamsa examines the teachings of the Veda in the light of karma-kanda rituals, i.e. karma-mimamsa system is called purva-mimamsa.

•            Purva mimansa lays emphasis on the performance of the yagya for attaining various spiritual and worldly benefits. 

•            Hence this philosophy relies on the Brahmana (and Samhita) part of the Vedas.

Uttara Mimamsa (Vedanda)

•            Vedanta says that the world is unreal, Maya.

•            Vedanta is monistic, in other words, it says that there is only one reality, Brahman.

•            Vedanta lays emphasis on brahmagyan, hence relies on the Upanishad part of the Vedas.

•            Vedanda has its roots in Sankya Philosophy.

•            There are three sub-branches for Vedanda :

o            Absolute Monism of Shankara

o            Vishishtha Advaita or qualified monism of Ramanuja

o            Dvaita of Madhva

•            A close examination shows that the first 4 classical systems are not entirely based on Vedas. But last two, the Purva Mimansa and the Uttar Mimansa, certainly rely on the Vedas.

Three Heterodox Schools of Indian Philosophy

•            Schools that do not accept the authority of vedas are by definition unorthodox (nastika) systems.

•            The following schools belong to heterodox schools of Indian Philosophy.


•            It is characterised as a materialistic and aesthetic school of thought.

•            It accepts direct perception as the surest method to prove the truth of anything and insists on joyful living.

•            Also known as Lokayata, Charvaka is a materialistic school of thought.

•            Its founder is Charvaka, author of the Barhaspatya Sutras in the final centuries B.C.

•            The original texts have been lost and our understanding of them is based largely on criticism of the ideas by other schools.

Ajivika Philosophy

o            A related philosophy which some classify under the heterodox sytem is Ajivika Philosophy.

o            The Ājīvikas may simply have been a more loosely-organized group of wandering ascetics (shramanas or sannyasins).

o            Some of its prominent figures were Makkhali Gosala and Sanjaya Belatthaputta.

o            This was an ascetic movement of the Mahajanapada period in the Indian subcontinent.



•            The complex rituals and sacrifices of the Brahmins in the later Vedic period weren’t acceptable to the common people.

•            The sacrifices and rituals were too expensive and mantras and superstitions confused the people.

•            The teachings of the Upanishads were philosophical in nature and weren’t easily understood.

•            The common man needed simple, short and intelligible ways to salvation. The religious teachings should be in a language known to them. Jainism and Buddhism fulfilled this need.

•            The rigid caste system was also another reason that the new religions were accepted easily. The varna system gave highest status to Brahmins.

•            This caused resentment in kshatriyas.

•            The merchant class i.e. vaishyas wanted to improve their status in society as they were economically and socially more forward.

•            The varna system didn’t allow this. It should be noted that this merchant class embraced these new religions.


Jainism had 24 tirthankars, 1st was Rishabdev, 23rd Parshvanath.

Vardhaman Mahavir

•            He is the 24th tirthankar of Jainism. His original birth was in a kshatriya family. He was married and had a daughter.

•            At age of 30 he gave up his old life and became an ascetic. After 12 years of wandering in the 13th year he attained salvation or highest spiritual level known as Keval Gnana.

•            His followers called him Mahavir or Jina. They became the Jains. Mahavir preached for 30 years and died at 72 years at Pavna.

•            Triratnas of Mahavir:

o            Right faith

o            Right conduct and

o            Right knowledge

•            Mahavir believed in five vows:

o            not to lie

o            not to steal

o            not to strive for luxury and not to strive for possessions

o            not to be unchaste and

o            not to injure

•            Jainism believes that there is no god and world is without a creator. All objects have a soul and feel pain and possess life. The universe functions on a law.

•            Mahavir organised sangha to spread his teachings. The growth of Jainism is due to the work of Sangha. In Bihar there was a famine and Bhadrabahu and Chandra Gupta Maurya came to Sravana Belgola in Karnataka. The monks who remained were led by Sthalabahu.

•            This created two sects in Jainism: Svetambar [white clad] and Digambar [sky clad or naked].

•            The first Jain council was held at Patliputra and held by Sthulabahu the leader of Svetambar. The second Jain council was held at Vallabhi and the final compilation of 12 angas of Jain literature was done.

•            Mahavir preached in Magadhi, the language spoken by the common people. His teachings were confined to the Gangetic valley. Though in later years they spread to different parts of the subcontinent. The main champions of the teachings were the trading communities.

•            Jain teachings were preserved through oral traditions but in the 3rd Century BC at a council convened at Patliputra it was collected and recorded.  The final version was edited in 5th Century AD.

•            Jainism was no able to spread as fast as Buddhism did. One reason could be lack of patronage from kings as much as Buddhism enjoyed. The Jain monks were active in spreading their religion.



•            The founder of Buddhism, Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini. He too was of kshatriya clan. He was married with a son.

•            But he left home to become an ascetic. He wandered for 7 years and under different teachers but couldn’t get enlightenment.

•            Finally under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya on banks of Niranjan river after deep penance he attained enlightenment.

•            He became Buddha or the enlightened one. Buddha means “A person who knows good, bad and suffereing”.

•            He gave his first sermon at Sarnath at deer park. He died at 80 in Kusinagara.

•            The kings Bimbisara and Ajatashatru became his disciples.

Four Noble Truths in Buddhism are the following.

o            There is suffering

o            There is a cause of suffering

o            There is a cessation of suffering

o            There is a way to the cessation of suffering

Eight-Fold Path of Buddhism

Buddhists philosophy of life to get ‘Nirvana’ from suffering is based on the following eight principles:

o            Right Faith (Samyak Dristi)

o            Right Resolve (Samyak Sankalpa)

o            Right Speech (Samyak Vakya)

o            Right Action (Samyak Karmanta)

o            Right Living ( Samyak Ajiva)

o            Right Thought (Samyak Smriti)

o            Right concentration (Samyak Samadhi)

o            Right Effort (Samyak Vyayama)

•            Buddha didn’t accept or reject god. He was a rationalist and didn’t believe in blind faith.

•            He never dealt with metaphysical questions like god, soul but focused on problems concerning man.

•            He believed in karma.

•            He was against any caste distinctions.

•            Buddhism belives that soul is not immortal and dies with the body. There is no transmigration of the soul.

•            Buddha organised the religious disciples into sanghas. The work of these sanghas made Buddhism into a large religion.

•            Two hundred years after Buddhas death Emperor Ashok embraced Buddhism and through missionary efforts spread it to East Asia and Ceylon.

•            Buddha just like Mahavir also laid down Shilas or Codes of conduct which a person must follow in his life.

•            Practically, Buddhism took shape in the form of Viharas (monastaries) or Sanghas (church or assemblies) which were used to bring together monks and laymen.

Buddhist councils:

•            First Buddhist council was convened by Ajatashatru at Rajgir

•            Second Buddhist council was convened at Vaisali

•            Third Buddhist council was convened at Patliputra by Emperor Ashok.

o            The Tri-Pitakas [Sutta, Vinaya and  Abhidhamma] were compiled.

•            Fourth Buddhist council was convened by Kanishka at Kashmir.

o            Here a second sect of Buddhism emerged called Mahayana Buddhism.

 •           The Buddhism preached by Buddha and propagated by Ashok was Hinayana.

Causes of decline of Buddhism:

o            Revival of Brahminism and the rise of Bhagavatism

o            Adoption of Sanskrit in place of Pali by monks

o            Increase in sacrifice and idol worship due to advent of Mahayana led to lowering of moral values

o            Destruction of Buddhist monuments by Huns and the Turkish invaders.

Buddhist Caves:

o            Ajanta caves were discovered by British. They had carvings of Buddhas life and Jataka tales inscribed

o            Ellora caves: Hindu, Buddhist and Jain paintings

o            Bhimbetka: stone Age paintings

o            Elephanta: Shiva, Parvati deities

Contributions of Buddhism to Indian culture:

o            Creation of chaityas and viharas in different areas of the country. Stupa’s too were beautiful piece of art.

o            Concept of ahimsa became popular. It was the chief contribution. It later became one of our nations cherished values.

o            Promotion of education through residential universities like Nalanda, Vikramshila and Taxila.

o            Language of Pali and other local languages developed through Buddhas teachings.


•            Brahminism based on caste-system was prominent during the Medieval period. But there was opposition to the same as well.

•            Many people were uneasy with such ideas and turned to the teachings of the Buddha or the Jains according to which it was possible to overcome social differences and break the cycle of rebirth through personal effort.

•            Others felt attracted to the idea of a Supreme God who could deliver humans from such bondage if approached with devotion (or bhakti).

o            This idea, advocated in the Bhagavadgita, grew in popularity in the early centuries of the Common Era.

•            Intense devotion or love of God is the legacy of various kinds of bhakti and Sufi movements that have evolved since the eighth century.

o            The idea of bhakti became so popular that even Buddhists and Jains adopted these beliefs.


•            Bhakti was accepted as a means to attain moksha along with jnana and karma.

•            The development of this cult took place in South India when the Nayanars and Alvars moved against the austerities propagated by the Buddhist and Jain schools and professed that ultimate devotion to god was the means to salvation.

•            People were no longer satisfied with a religion which emphasized only ceremonies.

•            The cult is the combined result of the teachings of various saints, through the then times.

•            Each of them had their own views, but the ultimate basis of the cult was a general awakening against useless religious practices and unnecessary strictness.

•            The cult also emerged as a strong platform against casteism.

Some of the important leaders of the movement are:

•            Namadeva and Ramananda (Maharashtra and Allahabad)

o            Both of them taught the concept of bhakti to all the four varnas and disregarded the ban on people of different castes cooking together and sharing meals.

•         Sankara and Ramanuja

o            The propounders of Advaita (non-duality) and Vishishta Advaita (qualified non-duality) respectively.

o            They believed god to be Nirguna Parabrahma and Satguna Parabrahma respectively.

•            Vallabhacharya

o            propounder of Shuddha Advaita or pure non-duality.

•            Chaitanya (Bengal)

o            relied on the use of music, dance and bhajans to get in touch with God. ‘love’ was the watchword of the Chaitanya cult.

•            Kabir

o            was a disciple of Ramananda and was raised by a Muslim weaver.

o            He stood for doing away with all the unnecessary customs and rituals in both religions and bringing union between these religions.

•            Guru Nanak

•            Nimbakacharya

o            founder of the Radha-Krishna cult.

o            He expressed this relation to substantiate the importance of marriage.

o            It was also used as an example of God’s love to the people.

Nayanars and Alvars

•            In South India 7th to 9th centuries saw the emergence of new religious movements, led by the Nayanars (saints devoted to Shiva) and Alvars (saints devoted to Vishnu) who came from all castes including those considered “untouchable” like the Pulaiyar and the Panars.

•            They were sharply critical of the Buddhists and Jains.

•            They drew upon the ideals of love and heroism as found in the Sangam literature (Tamil literature).

•            Between 10th and 12th centuries, the Chola and Pandya kings built elaborate temples around many of the shrines visited by the saint-poets, strengthening the links between the bhakti tradition and temple worship.

Philosophy and Bhakti

•            Shankara, from Kerala in the 8th century, was an advocate of Advaita or the doctrine of the oneness of the individual soul and the Supreme God which is the Ultimate Reality.

•            He taught that Brahma, the only or Ultimate Reality, was formless and without any attributes.

•            He considered the world around us to be an illusion or maya, and preached renunciation of the world and adoption of the path of knowledge to understand the true nature of Brahman salvation.

•            Ramanuja, from Tamil Nadu in the 11th century, propounded the doctrine of Vishishtadvaita or qualified oneness in that the soul, even when united with the Supreme God, remained distinct.

•            Ramanuja’s doctrine inspired the new strand of bhakti which developed in north India subsequently.

Basavanna’s Virashaivism

•            This movement began in Karnataka in the 12th century which argued for the equality of all human beings and against Brahmanical ideas about caste and the treatment of women.

•            They were also against all forms of ritual and idol worship.

Saints of Maharashtra

•            The most important among them were Janeshwar, Namdev, Eknath and Tukaram as well as women like Sakkubai and the family of Chokhamela, who belonged to the “untouchable” Mahar caste.

•            This regional tradition of bhakti focused on the Vitthala (a form of Vishnu) temple in Pandharpur, as well as on the notion of a personal god residing in the hearts of all people.

•            These saint-poets rejected all forms of ritualism, outward display of piety and social differences based on birth.

•            It is regarded as a humanist idea, as they insisted that bhakti lay in sharing others’ pain.

Nathpanthis, Siddhas, and Yogis

•            They criticised the ritual and other aspects of conventional religion and the social order, using simple, logical arguments.

•            They advocated renunciation of the world.

•            To them, the path to salvation lay in meditation on the formless Ultimate Reality and the realization of oneness with it.

•            To achieve this, they advocated intense training of the mind and body through practices like yogasanas, breathing exercises and meditation.

•            These groups became particularly popular among “low” castes.

Sant Kabir

•            Probably lived in the 15th-16th centuries.

•            His ideas came to be known through a vast collection of verses called sakhis and pads said to have been composed by him and sung by wandering bhajan singers.

•            Some of these were later collected and preserved in the Guru Granth Sahib, Panch Vani, and Bijak.

•            Kabir’s teachings were based on a complete, rejection of the major religious traditions and caste systems. He believed in a formless Supreme God and preached that the only path to salvation was through bhakti or devotion.

•            The language of his poetry was simple which could even be understood by ordinary people.

•            He drew his followers from among both Hindus and Muslims.


•            The word Sufi means wool. The preachers from Arabia wore wool to protect themselves from dust winds.

•            The Sufi movement is believed to have begun in Persian countries against the highly puritan Islamic culture.

•            Later, it spread into India and adopted various things like yogic postures, dance and music into it, and turned itself into a pantheistic movement.

•            The Sufi orders were of two types – ba-shara and be-shara, where shara stood for the Islamic law.

o            The former obeyed the laws while the latter was more liberal.

•            The saints organized themselves into twelve silsilas or orders. The important among them were the Chisti and Suhrawardi silsilas, both of which belonged to the ba-shara order.

•            The Chisti Silsila was begun by Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti who came to India around 1192.

•            The most famous of the Chisti saints were Nizamuddin Auliya and Naziruddin chirag-i-Delhi.

•            They mingled freely with people of low classes, even Hindus.

•            The Chistis didn’t want anything to do with the administration or money. They led simple austere lives.

•            This was just the opposite in the case of the Suhrawardi saints who were rich, and often held positions in the government.

•            Bahauddin Zachariah Suhrawardi is a famous saint from this silsila.

Points to remember:

o            Sufis were Muslim mystics and who composed poems.

o            They adopted many ideas of each other[religions].

o            They rejected outward religiosity and emphasized love and devotion to God and compassion towards all fellow human beings.

o            Silsilas, a genealogy of Sufi teachers, each following a slightly different method (tariqa) of instruction and ritual practice.

o            Islam propagated strict monotheism or submission to one God. Muslim scholars developed a holy law called Shariat.

o            The Sufis often rejected the elaborate rituals and codes of behaviour demanded by Muslim religious scholars.

Summary of Sufi & Bhakti Movements:

•            The coming of the Turks to the Indian sub-continent led to a revamp of culture, religion, architecture and almost all fields of life.

•            This was due to the two strongly established religious views that confluenced here.

o            The strong Islamic views of the Turks combined with the established Hinduistic culture already prevalent in India.

•            Both Sufism and Bhakti cult were out-of-the-box thoughts on religion.

•            They were mainly against the common religious views, and most importantly, they both were strongly against the caste system.

Baba Guru Nanak (1469-1539) and SIKHISM


•            The word ‘Sikh’ in the Punjabi language means ‘disciple’. Sikhs are the disciples of God who follow the writings and teachings of the Ten Sikh Gurus.

•            Sikhs believe in one God. They believe they should remember God in everything they do. This is called simran.

•            The Sikhs call their faith Gurmat (Punjabi: “the Way of the Guru”).

•            Sikhism was established by Guru Nanak (1469–1539) and subsequently led by a succession of nine other Gurus. All 10 human Gurus, Sikhs believe, were inhabited by a single spirit.

o            Upon the death of the 10th, Guru Gobind Singh (1666–1708), the spirit of the eternal Guru transferred itself to the sacred scripture of Sikhism, Guru Granth Sahib, also known as the Adi Granth, which thereafter was regarded as the sole Guru.

•            Sikhism was well established by the time of Guru Arjan, the fifth Guru.

o            Guru Arjan completed the establishment of Amritsar as the capital of the Sikh world and compiled the first authorised book of Sikh scripture, the Adi Granth.

Philosophy and Beliefs

•            There is only One God “Ek Onkar “. He is the same God for all people of all religions.

•            The soul goes through cycles of births and deaths before it reaches the human form. The goal of our life is to lead an exemplary existence so that one may merge with God.

•            Sikhs should remember God at all times and practice living a virtuous and truthful life while maintaining a balance between their spiritual obligations and temporal obligations.

•            The true path to achieving salvation and merging with God does not require renunciation of the world or celibacy, but living the life of a householder, earning an honest living and avoiding worldly temptations and sins.

•            Sikhism condemns blind rituals such as fasting, visiting places of pilgrimage, superstitions, worship of the dead, idol worship etc.

History and Practices

•            Guru Nanak preached a message of love and understanding and criticized the blind rituals of the Hindus and Muslims.

•            Guru Nanak passed on his enlightened leadership of this new religion to nine successive Gurus.


The development of Sikhism was influenced by the Bhakti movement and Vaishnava Hinduism. However, Sikhism was not simply an extension of the Bhakti movement.

•            Sikhism developed while the region was being ruled by the Mughal Empire. Two of the Sikh gurus – Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur, after they refused to convert to Islam, were tortured and executed by the Mughal rulers.

•            The Islamic era persecution of Sikhs triggered the founding of the Khalsa, as an order for freedom of conscience and religion.

•            The final living Guru, Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa order, soldier-saints. The Khalsa upholds the highest Sikh virtues of commitment, dedication and a social conscious.

•            The Khalsa are men and women who have undergone the Sikh baptism ceremony and who strictly follow the Sikh Code of Conduct and Conventions and wear the prescribed physical articles of the faith

o            5K’s: Kesh (uncut hair), Kangha (a wooden comb), Kara (an iron bracelet), Kachchha (cotton underpants) and Kirpan (an iron dagger)).

The three duties that a Sikh must carry out can be summed up in three words; Pray, Work, Give.

o            Nam japna: Keeping God in mind at all times

o            Kirt Karna: Earning an honest living

o            Vand Chhakna: Giving to charity and caring for others

The five vices:

•            Sikhs try to avoid the five vices that make people self-centred, and build barriers against God in their lives.

•            These are lust, covetousness and greed, attachment to things of this world, anger and pride.

The Ten Gurus in Sikhism

The First GuruGuru Nanak(1469 to 1539)
The Second GuruGuru Angad(1504 to 1552)
The Third GuruGuru Amar Das(1479 to 1574)
The Fourth GuruGuru Ram Das(1534 to 1581)
The Fifth GuruGuru Arjan(1563 to 1606)
The Sixth GuruGuru Hargobind(1595 to 1644)
The Seventh GuruGuru Har Rai(1630 to 1661)
The Eighth GuruGuru Harkishan(1656 to 1664)
The Ninth GuruGuru Tegh Bahadur(1621 to 1675)
The Tenth GuruGuru Gobind Singh(1666 to 1708)

•            The year 2019 marks the 550th birth anniversary year of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, whose birthplace is Sri Nankana Sahib in Pakistan.

•            On this occasion, Kartarpur Sahib Corridor was inaugurated by PM Modi and Pakistani PM Imran Khan to connect Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab with Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal district.


•            The revolt of 1857 was the conscious beginning of the Independence struggle against the Britishers. There are various names for the revolt of 1857 – India’s First War of Independence, Mutiny of Sepoy, etc.

•            The revolt began on May 10, 1857, at Meerut as sepoy mutiny. It was initiated by sepoys in the Bengal Presidency against the British officers.

•            This war of Independence marked the end of rule by the British East India company.

•            Post this, India was directly ruled by the British government through representatives called as Governor-General.

Causes of Revolt of 1857

The revolt of 1857 was initiated due to various factors which are stated below:

Religious & Social Causes

o            Racism and racial discrimination was believed to be a major reason for the revolt of 1857 wherein Indians were exploited and were kept away from mixing with Europeans.

Political Causes

o            The British expansion had unjust policies that led to the loss of power from the Nawabs and Zamindars residing at various places of India.

o            The introduction of unfair policies of trade and commerce, the policy of indirect subordination (subsidiary alliance), the policy of war and annexation, policy of direct subordination (doctrine of lapse), policy of mis-governance (under which Awadh was annexed) greatly hampered the interests of the rulers of the native states, and they one by one became victims of British expansionism.

o             Therefore, those rulers, who lost their states to the British, were naturally against the British and took sides against them during the revolt.

Economic Factors

o            There were various reforms in the taxation and revenue system that affected the peasants’ heavily.

o            British Government had imposed and introduced various administrative policies to expand their territory.

o            The major policies are listed below:

•            Permanent Settlement in Bengal

•            Mahalwari settlement in Central India

•            Ryotwari settlement in southern India

o            These three settlements were highly exploitative, and in particular, the Permanent settlement had created a devastating impact.

o            Thus, the peasants were greatly encouraged to overthrow the British Government from India and led to their active participation in the revolt of 1857.

Military Factors

o            The Indian soldiers went through a lot of harassment by the British officials with respect to their salaries, pensions, promotions.

o            Indians were discriminated against in the military. This arose discontent and was a major factor that resulted in the revolt of 1857.

Immediate Reason of Revolt of 1857

o            The immediate factor was the introduction of the ‘Enfield’ rifle. The cartridge had to be bitten off before loading it into the gun.

o            Muslims had a belief that the cartridge was greased with pig fat where Hindus believed the grease was made from cow fat.

o            Thus, both Hindu and Muslim soldiers were reluctant to use the rifle.

o            This was believed to be the immediate factor for the revolt of 1857.

Impact of Revolt of 1857

o            The revolt of 1857 shook the foundation of British East India Company and disclosed their inefficiency in handling the Indian administration.

o            The major impact was the introduction of Government of India Act 1858, which abolished the rule of British East India Company and marked the beginning of British raj that bestowed powers in the hands of the British government to rule India directly through representatives.

Causes of Failure of the revolt of 1857

o            The revolt was eventually not successful in ousting the British from the country because of several factors.

o            The sepoys lacked one clear leader; there were several.

o            They also did not have a coherent plan by which the foreigners would be routed.

o            Indian rulers who aided the revolt did not envision any plan for the country after the British were defeated.

o            Majorly northern India was affected by this revolt. The three presidencies of Bengal, Bombay and Madras remained mostly unaffected.

o            The Sikh soldiers also did not take part in the rebellion.

List of Important Leaders associated with the revolt of 1857

PlaceRevolt of 1857 -Important Leaders
DelhiBahadur Shah II, General Bakht Khan
LucknowBegum Hazrat Mahal, Birjis Qadir
KanpurNana Sahib, Rao Sahib, Tantia Tope
JhansiRani Laxmibai
BiharKunwar Singh, Amar Singh
RajasthanJaidayal Singh and Hardayal Singh
FarrukhabadTufzal Hasan Khan
AssamKandapareshwar Singh, Maniram Dutta Baruah
OrissaSurendra Shahi, Ujjwal Shahi

Important Questions – Revolt of 1857

Who coined the name Sepoy Mutiny?

o            In India, the term First War of Independence was first popularized by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in his 1909 book, The History of the War of Indian Independence.

What was the immediate reason for the revolt of 1857?

o            The immediate factor was the introduction of the ‘Enfield’ rifle. It was said that the cartridge of this rifle was wrapped in the fat of cow and pig.

o            The cartridge had to be bitten off before loading it into the gun. Thus, the Hindu and Muslim soldiers were reluctant to use the ‘Enfield’ rifle.

What were the causes of revolt 1857?

o            There are many reasons that led to the revolt of 1857. Major reasons for the revolt can be broadly classified into – Political, Social, Economic, Religious, Military, etc.


Factors in the Growth of Modern Nationalism

•            The rise and growth of Indian nationalism has been traditionally explained in terms of Indian response to the stimulus generated by the British Raj through creation of new institutions, new opportunities, resources, etc.

•            In fact, it would be more correct to see Indian nationalism as a product of a mix of various factors:

(i)          Worldwide upsurge of the concepts of nationalism and right of self-determination initiated by the French Revolution.

(ii)         Indian Renaissance.

(iii)        Offshoot of modernisation initiated by the British in India.

(iv)        Strong reaction to British imperialist policies in India.

Understanding of Contradictions in Indian and Colonial Interests

•            People came to realise that colonial rule was the major cause of India’s economic backwardness and that the interests of the Indians involved the interests of all sections and classes— peasants, artisans, handicraftsmen, workers, intellectuals, the educated and the capitalists.

•            The nationalist movement arose to take up the challenge of these contradictions inherent in the character and policies of colonial rule.

Political, Administrative and Economic Unification of the Country

•            The British rule in the Indian subcontinent extended from the Himalayas in the north to the Cape Comorin in the south and from Assam in the east to Khyber Pass in the west.

•            While large areas of India had been brought under a single rule in the past—under the Mauryas or later under the Mughals— the British created a larger state than that of the Mauryas or the great Mughals.

•            While Indian provinces were under ‘direct’ British rule, the princely states were under ‘indirect’ British rule.

•            The British sword imposed political unity in India. A professional civil service, a unified judiciary and codified civil and criminal laws throughout the length and breadth of the country imparted a new dimension of political unity to the hitherto cultural unity that had existed in India for centuries.

From the nationalists’ point of view, this process of unification had a two-fold effect:

(i)          The economic fate of the people of different regions got linked together; for instance, failure of crops in one region affected the prices and supply in another region.

(ii)         Modern means of transport and communication brought people, especially the leaders, from different regions together.

o            This was important for the exchange of political ideas and for mobilisation and organisation of public opinion on political and economic issues.

Western Thought and Education

•            The introduction of a modern system of education afforded opportunities for assimilation of modern Western ideas. This, in turn, gave a new direction to Indian political thinking.

o            The liberal and radical thought of European writers like Milton, John Stuart Mill, Rousseau, Paine, and Voltaire helped many Indians imbibe modern rational, secular, democratic and nationalist ideas.

•            The English language helped nationalist leaders from different linguistic regions to communicate with each other.

o            Those among the educated who took up liberal professions (lawyers, doctors, etc.) often visited England for higher education.

•            There they saw the working of modern political institutions in a free country and compared that system with the Indian situation where even basic rights were denied to the citizens.

•            This ever-expanding English educated class formed the middle-class intelligentsia who constituted the nucleus for the newly arising political unrest.

•            It was this section which provided leadership to the Indian political associations.

Role of Press and Literature

•            The second half of the nineteenth century saw an unprecedented growth of Indian-owned English and vernacular newspapers, despite numerous restrictions imposed on the press by the colonial rulers from time to time.

•            In 1877, there were about 169 newspapers published in vernacular languages and their circulation reached the neighbourhood of 1,00,000.

•            The press while criticising official policies, on the one hand, urged the people to unite, on the other.

•            It also helped spread modern ideas of self-government, democracy, civil rights and industrialisation.

Rediscovery of Indias Past

•            The historical research by European scholars, such as Max Mueller, Monier Williams, Roth and Sassoon, and by Indian scholars such as R.G. Bhandarkar, R.L. Mitra and later Swami Vivekananda, created an entirely new picture of India’s past.

•            This picture was characterised by well-developed political, economic and social institutions, a flourishing trade with the outside world, a rich heritage in arts and culture and numerous cities.

•            The theory put forward by European scholars, that the Indo-Aryans belonged to the same ethnic group from which other nations of Europe had evolved, gave a psychological boost to the educated Indians.

•            The self-respect and confidence so gained helped the nationalists to demolish colonial myths that India had a long history of servility to foreign rulers.

Progressive Character of Socio-religious Reform Movements

•            Socio-religious reform movements, such as Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj, etc. sought to remove social evils which divided the Indian society.

•            This had the effect of bringing different sections together and proved to be an important factor in the growth of Indian nationalism.

Rise of Middle Class Intelligentsia

•            British administrative and economic innovations gave rise to a new urban middle class in towns.

•            This class, prominent because of its education, new position and its close ties with the ruling class, came to the forefront.

•            The leadership to the Indian National Congress in all its stages of growth was provided by this class.

Impact of Contemporary Movements in the World

•            Rise of a number of nations on the ruins of the Spanish and Portuguese empires in South America, and the national liberation movements of Greece and Italy in general and of Ireland in particular deeply influenced the nationalist ranks.

Reactionary Policies and Racial Arrogance of Rulers

•            Racial myths of white superiority were sought to be perpetuated by the British through a deliberate policy of discrimination and segregation.

•            Indians felt deeply hurt by this. Lytton’s reactionary policies such as reduction of maximum age limit for the I.C.S. examination from 21 years to 19 years (1876), the grand Delhi Durbar of 1877 when the country was in the severe grip of famine, the Vernacular Press Act (1878) and the Arms Act (1878) provoked a storm of opposition in the country.

•            It became clear to the nationalists that justice and fair play could not be expected where interests of the European community were involved.

Political Associations Before the Indian National Congress

•            The Indian National Congress was not the first political organisation in India. However, most of the political associations in the early half of the nineteenth century were dominated by wealthy and aristocratic elements.

•            They were local or regional in character. Through long petitions to the British Parliament most of them demanded—

•            administrative reforms,

•            association of Indians with the administration, and

•            spread of education.

•            The political associations of the second half of the nineteenth century came to be increasingly dominated by the educated middle class—the lawyers, journalists, doctors, teachers, etc.,—and they had a wider perspective and a larger agenda.

Political Associations in Bengal

•            The Bangabhasha Prakasika Sabha was formed in 1836 by associates of Raja Rammohan Roy.

•            The Zamindari Association, more popularly known as the ‘Landholders’ Society’, was founded to safeguard the interests of the landlords. Although limited in its objectives, the Landholders’ Society marked the beginning of an organised political activity and use of methods of constitutional agitation for the redressal of grievances.

•            The Bengal British India Society was founded in 1843 with the object of “the collection and dissemination of information relating to the actual condition of the people of British India.”

•            In 1851, both the Landholders’ Society and the Bengal British India Society merged into the British Indian Association. It sent a petition to the British Parliament demanding inclusion of some of its suggestions in the renewed Charter of the Company, such as

(i)          establishment of a separate legislature of a popular character

(ii)         separation of executive from judicial functions

(iii)        reduction in salaries of higher officers and

(iv)        abolition of salt duty, abkari and stamp duties

•            These were partially accepted when the Charter Act of 1853 provided for the addition of six members to the governor-general’s council for legislative purposes.

•            The East India Association was organised by Dadabhai Naoroji in 1866 in London to discuss the Indian question and influence public men in England to promote Indian welfare. Later, branches of the association were started in prominent Indian cities.

•            The Indian League was started in 1875 by Sisir Kumar Ghosh with the object of “stimulating the sense of nationalism amongst the people” and of encouraging political education.

•            The Indian Association of Calcutta (also known as the Indian National Association) superseded the Indian League and was founded in 1876 by younger nationalists of Bengal led by Surendranath Banerjea and Ananda Mohan Bose, who were getting discontented with the conservative and pro-landlord policies of the British Indian Association.

•            The Indian Association was the most important of pre-Congress associations and aimed to “promote by every legitimate means the political, intellectual and material advancement of the people.”

•            It set out to—

(i)          create a strong public opinion on political questions, and

(ii)         unify Indian people in a common political programme.

•            It protested against the reduction of age limit in 1877 for candidates of the Indian Civil Service examination. The association demanded simultaneous holding of civil service examination in England and India and Indianisation of higher administrative posts.

•            It led a campaign against the repressive arms act and the vernacular press act.

•            Branches of the association were opened in other towns and cities of Bengal and even outside Bengal. The membership fee was kept low in order to attract the poorer sections to the association.

•            The association sponsored an all India conference which first took place in Calcutta on December 28 to 30, 1883. More than hundred delegates from different parts of the country attended. So, in a way the association was a forerunner of the Indian National Congress as an all-India nationalist organisation. It later merged with the Indian National Congress in 1886.

Political Associations in Bombay

•            The Poona Sarvajanik Sabha was founded in 1867 by Mahadeo Govind Ranade and others, with the object of serving as a bridge between the government and the people.

•            The Bombay Presidency Association was started by Badruddin Tyabji, Pherozshah Mehta and K.T. Telang in 1885.

Political Associations in Madras

•            The Madras Mahajan Sabha was founded in 1884 by M. Viraraghavachari, B. Subramaniya Aiyer and P. Ananda Charlu.

Pre-Congress Campaigns

•            The associations organised various campaigns before the Indian National Congress appeared on the scene.

•            These campaigns were—

o            for imposition of import duty on cotton (1875)

o            for Indianisation of government service (1878-79)

o            against Lytton’s Afghan adventure

o            against Arms Act (1878)

o            against Vernacular Press Act (1878)

o            in support of Ilbert Bill

o            against reduction in maximum age for appearing in Indian Civil Service; the Indian Association took up this question and organised an all-India agitation against it, popularly known as the Indian Civil Service agitation.


Raja Rammohan Roy and Brahmo Samaj

•            Raja Rammohan Roy (1772-1833), often called the father of Indian Renaissance and the maker of Modern India, was a man of versatile genius.

•            Rammohan Roy believed in the modern scientific approach and principles of human dignity and social equality. He put his faith in monotheism.

•            He wrote Gift to Monotheists (1809) and translated into Bengali the Vedas and the five Upanishads to prove his conviction that ancient Hindu texts support monotheism.

•            In 1814, he set up the Atmiya Sabha (or Society of Friends) in Calcutta to propagate the monotheistic ideals of the Vedanta and to campaign against idolatry, caste rigidities, meaningless rituals and other social ills.

•            Raja Rammohan Roy founded the Brahmo Sabha in August 1828; it was later renamed Brahmo Samaj.

•            Prayers, meditation and readings of the Upanishads were to be the forms of worship and no graven image, statue or sculpture, carving, painting, picture, portrait, 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 the Brahmo Samaj—to purify Hinduism and to preach monotheism—was based on the twin pillars of reason and the Vedas and Upanishads.

•            The Samaj also tried to incorporate teachings of other religions and kept its emphasis on human dignity, opposition to idolatry and criticism of social evils such as sati.

The features of Brahmo Samaj may be summed thus—

•            it denounced polytheism and idol worship

•            it discarded faith in divine avataras (incarnations)

•            it denied that any scripture could enjoy the status of ultimate authority transcending human reason and conscience

•            it took no definite stand on the doctrine of karma and transmigration of soul and left it to individual Brahmos to believe either way

•            it criticised the caste system.

Raja Rammohan Roy’s Efforts at Social Reform

•            Rammohan was a determined crusader against the inhuman practice of sati.

•            He started his anti-sati struggle in 1818 and he cited sacred texts to prove his contention that no religion sanctioned the burning alive of widows, besides appealing to humanity, reason and compassion.

•            He also visited the cremation grounds, organised vigilance groups and filed counter petitions to the government during his struggle against sati.

•            His efforts were rewarded by the Government Regulation in 1829 which declared the practice of sati a crime.

•            Rammohan Roy did much to disseminate the benefits of modern education to his countrymen.

•            He supported David Hare’s efforts to found the Hindu College in 1817, while Roy’s English school taught mechanics and Voltaire’s philosophy.

•            In 1825, he established a Vedanta college where courses in both Indian learning and Western social and physical sciences were offered.

Debendranath Tagore and Brahmo Samaj

•            Maharishi Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905), father of Rabindranath Tagore gave a new life to Brahmo Samaj and a definite form and shape to the theist movement, when he joined the Samaj in 1842.

•            Earlier, Tagore headed the Tattvabodhini Sabha (founded in 1839) which, along with its organ Tattvabodhini Patrika in Bengali, was devoted to the systematic study of India’s past with a rational outlook and to the propagation of Rammohan’s ideas.

•            The revitalised Samaj supported widow remarriage, women’s education, abolition of polygamy, improvement in ryots’ conditions and temperance.

Keshab Chandra Sen and the Brahmo Samaj

•            The Brahmo Samaj experienced another phase of energy, when Keshab Chandra Sen (1838-1884) was made the acharya by Debendranath Tagore soon after the former joined the Samaj in 1858.

•            Keshab was instrumental in popularising the movement, and branches of the Samaj were opened outside Bengal—in the United Provinces, Punjab, Bombay, Madras and other towns.

•            Keshab and his followers founded the Brahmo Samaj of India in 1866, while Debendranath Tagore’s Samaj came to be known as the Adi Brahmo Samaj.

Significance of the Brahmo Samaj

•            In matters of social reform, the Samaj attacked many dogmas and superstitions.

•            It condemned the prevailing Hindu prejudice against going abroad.

•            It worked for a respectable status for women in society—condemned sati, worked for abolition of purdah system, discouraged child marriage and polygamy, crusaded for widow remarriage and for provisions of educational facilities.

•            It also attacked casteism and untouchability though in these matters it attained only limited success.

Prarthana Samaj

•            In 1867, Keshab Chandra Sen helped Atmaram Pandurang found the Prarthana Samaj in Bombay.

•            Mahadeo Govind Ranade (1842-1901), joined the samaj in 1870, and much of the popularity of and work done by the society was due to his efforts. His efforts made the samaj gain an all-India character.

•            The emphasis was on monotheism, but on the whole, the samaj was more concerned with social reforms than with religion.

•            The samaj relied on education and persuasion and not on confrontation with Hindu orthodoxy.

•            There was a four-point social agenda also:

(i)           disapproval of caste system

(ii)         women’s education

(iii)        widow remarriage and

(iv)        raising the age of marriage for both males and females

•            Dhondo Keshav Karve and Vishnu Shastri were champions of social reform with Ranade.

•            Along with Karve, Ranade founded the Widow Remarriage Movement as well as Widows’ Home Association with the aim of providing education and training to widows so that they could support themselves.

Young Bengal Movement and Henry Vivian Derozio

•            During the late 1820s and early 1830s, there emerged a radical, intellectual trend among the youth in Bengal, which came to be known as the ‘Young Bengal Movement’.

•            A young Anglo-Indian, Henry Vivian Derozio (1809-31), who taught at the Hindu College from 1826 to 1831, was the leader and inspirer of this progressive trend.

•            Drawing inspiration from the great French Revolution, Derozio inspired his pupils to think freely and rationally, question all authority, love liberty, equality and freedom, and oppose decadent customs and traditions.

•            The Derozians also supported women’s rights and education.

•            The Derozians, however, failed to have a long-term impact. Derozio was removed from the Hindu College in 1831 because of his radicalism. The main reason for their limited success was the prevailing social conditions at that time, which were not ripe for the adoption of radical ideas.

•            But, despite their limitations, the Derozians carried forward Rammohan Roy’s tradition of public education on social, economic and political questions.

•            For instance, they demanded induction of Indians in higher grades of services, protection of ryots from oppressive zamindars, better treatment to Indian labour abroad in British colonies, revision of the Company’s charter, freedom of press and trial by jury.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

•            In 1850, he became the principal of Sanskrit College. He was determined to break the priestly monopoly of scriptural knowledge, and for this he opened the Sanskrit College to non-brahmins.

•            He introduced Western thought in Sanskrit College to break the self-imposed isolation of Sanskritic learning.

•            Vidyasagar started a movement in support of widow remarriage which resulted in legalisation of widow remarriage.

•            He was also a crusader against child marriage and polygamy. He did much for the cause of women’s education.

•            As government inspector of schools, he helped organise thirty- five girls’ schools many of which he ran at his own expense.

•            As secretary of Bethune School (established in 1849), he was one of the pioneers of higher education for women in India.

Satyashodhak Samaj and Jyotirao Phule

•            Jyotiba Phule (1827-1890), bom in Satara, Maharashtra, belonged to the mali (gardener) community and organised a powerful movement against upper caste domination and brahminical supremacy.

•            Phule founded the Satyashodhak Samaj (Truth Seekers’ Society) in 1873, with the leadership of the samaj coming from the backward classes, malis, telis, kunbis, saris and dhangars.

•            The main aims of the movement were (i) social service, and (ii) spread of education among women and lower caste people.

•            Phule’s works, Sarvajanik Satyadharma and Gulamgiri, became sources of inspiration for the common masses.

•            Phule aimed at the complete abolition of the caste system and socio-economic inequalities.

•            Phule, a firm believer in gender equality, was a pioneer in women’s education; he with the help of his wife, Savitribai, opened a girls’ school at Poona; he was a pioneer of widow remarriage movement in Maharashtra and also opened a home for widows in 1854.

Gopalhari Deshmukh ‘Lokahitawadi’

•            Gopalhari Deshmukh (1823-1892) was a social reformer and rationalist from Maharashtra.

•            He held the post of a judge under British but wrote for a weekly Prabhakar under the pen name of Lokahitawadi on social reform issues.

•            He advocated a reorganisation of Indian society on rational principles and modern, humanistic, secular values.

•            He attacked Hindu orthodoxy and supported social and religious equality.

•            He wrote against the evils of the caste system. He started a weekly, Hitechhu, and also played a leading role in founding the periodicals, Gyan Prakash, Indu Prakash and Lokahitawadi.

The Servants of India Society

•            Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915), a liberal leader of the Indian National Congress, 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; and 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 still continues to function, though with a shrunken base, at many places in India.

•            It works in the field of education, providing ashram type of schools for tribal girls and balwadis at many places.

The Ramakrishna Movement and Swami Vivekananda

•            The teachings of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836-1886), a poor priest at the Kali temple in Dakshineshwar, on the outskirts of Calcutta found many followers.

•            Ramakrishna is considered to have attained the highest spiritual experience available to Hindus. He did not write books, but his conversations with people formed the basis of what were considered his teachings.

Two objectives of the Ramakrishna movement were—

(i)          to bring into existence a band of monks dedicated to a life of renunciation and practical spirituality, from among whom teachers and workers would be sent out to spread the universal message of Vedanta as illustrated in the life of Ramakrishna, and

(ii)         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.

•            Paramahamsa himself laid the foundations of the Ramakrishna Math with his young monastic disciples as a nucleus to fulfil the first objective.

•            The second objective was taken up by Swami Vivekananda after Ramakrishna’s death when he founded the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897.

•            The headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission are at Belur near Calcutta.

Swami Vivekananda

•            Narendranath Datta (1862-1902), who later came to be known as Swami Vivekananda spread Ramakrishna’s message and tried to reconcile it to the needs of contemporary Indian society.

•            He emerged as the preacher of neo-Hinduism. He subscribed to the Vedanta which he considered a fully rational system with a superior approach.

•            Vivekananda believed in the fundamental oneness of God and said, “For our own motherland a junction of the two great systems, Hinduism and Islam, is the only hope.”

•            Emphasising social action, he declared that knowledge without action is useless. He believed that it was an insult to God and humanity to teach religion to a starving man.

•            At the Parliament of Religions held at Chicago in 1893, Swami Vivekananda made a great impression on people by his learned interpretations.

•            The keynote of his opening address was the need for a healthy balance between spiritualism and materialism.

•            Envisaging a new culture for the whole world, he called for a blend of the materialism of the West and the spiritualism of the East into a new harmony to produce happiness for mankind.

•            In 1897 he founded the Ramakrishna Mission. Vivekananda was a great humanist and used the Ramakrishna Mission for humanitarian relief and social work.

•            Vivekananda advocated the doctrine of service—the service of all beings.

•            The service of jiva (living objects) is the worship of Siva.

•            Vivekananda was for using technology and modern science in the service of mankind.

•            Ever since its inception, the Mission has been running a number of schools, hospitals, dispensaries.

•            It offers help to the afflicted in times of natural calamities like earthquakes, famines, floods and epidemics.

•            The Mission has developed into a worldwide organisation.

•            Unlike the Arya Samaj, the Mission recognises the utility and value of image worship in developing spiritual fervour and worship of the eternal omnipotent God, although it emphasises on the essential spirit and not the symbols or rituals.

•            It believes that the philosophy of Vedanta will make a Christian a better Christian, and a Hindu a better Hindu.

Dayananda Saraswati and Arya Samaj

•            The Arya Samaj’s founder, Dayananda Saraswati or Mulshankar (1824-1883) was born in the old Morvi state in Gujarat.

•            The first Arya Samaj unit was formally set up by him at Bombay in 1875 and later the headquarters of the Samaj were established at Lahore.

•            Dayananda’s views were published in his famous work, Satyarth Prakash (The True Exposition).

•            His vision of India included a classless and casteless society, a united India (religiously, socially and nationally), and an India free from foreign rule, with Aryan religion being the common religion of all.

•            He took inspiration from the Vedas and considered them to be ‘India’s Rock of Ages’, the infallible and the true original seed of Hinduism.

•            He gave the slogan “Back to the Vedas’’.

•            Dayananda’s slogan of ‘Back to the Vedas’ was a call for a revival of Vedic learning and Vedic purity of religion and not a revival of Vedic times.

•            He accepted modernity and displayed a patriotic attitude to national problems.

•            Dayananda launched a frontal attack on Hindu orthodoxy, caste rigidities, untouchability, idolatry, polytheism, belief in magic, charms and animal sacrifices, taboo on sea voyages, feeding the dead through shraddhas, etc.

•            Dayananda subscribed to the Vedic notion of chaturvarna system in which a person was identified as a brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya or shudra not by birth but according to the occupation and merit of the person.

•            The Arya Samaj fixed the minimum marriageable age at twenty-five years for boys and sixteen years for girls. Swami Dayananda once lamented the Hindu race as “the children of children”.

•            The Arya Samaj came to be known for the social service it rendered in times of calamities such as earthquake, famine and floods. It also took initiative in promoting education.

•            Education was an all-important field for the Samaj. The Dayananda Anglo- Vedic (D.A.V.) College was established in 1886 at Lahore.

•            In its zeal to protect the Hindu society from the onslaught of Christianity and Islam, the Samaj started the shuddhi (purification) movement to reconvert to the Hindu fold the converts to Christianity and Islam. An aggressive campaign of shuddhi led to increasing communalisation of social life during the 1920s and later snowballed into communal political consciousness.

Sree Narayana Guru Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Movement

•            The SNDP movement was an example of a regional movement born out of conflict between the depressed classes and upper castes.

•            It was started by Sree Narayana Guru Swamy (1856-1928) among the Ezhavas of Kerala, who were a backward caste of toddy-tappers and were considered to be untouchables, denied education and entry into temples.

•            Narayana Guru began a revolution that soon led to the removal of many discriminations in Kerala’s society.

•            The Sree Narayana Guru Dharma Paripalana Yogam (in short SNDP) was registered in 1903 under the Indian Companies Act.

•            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 SNDP Yogam took up several issues for the Ezhavas, such as (i) right of admission to public schools, (ii) recruitment to government services, (iii) access to roads and entry to temples, and (iv) political representation.

•            The movement as a whole brought transformative structural changes such as upward social mobility, shift in traditional distribution of power and a federation of ‘backward castes’ into a large conglomeration.

Self-Respect Movement

•            This movement was started by E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker, a Balija Naidu, in the mid-1920s.

•            The movement aimed at nothing short of 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.

Temple Entry Movement

•            Significant work in this direction had already been done by reformers and intellectuals like Sree Narayana Guru.

•            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.

•            The satyagraha was reinforced by Jathas from Punjab and Madurai. Gandhi undertook a tour of Kerala in support of the movement.

•            Again in 1931 when the Civil Disobedience Movement was suspended, temple entry movement was organised in Kerala.

•            Inspired by K. Kelappan, poet Subramaniyam Tirumambu (the ‘singing sword of Kerala’) led a group of sixteen volunteers to Guruvayur. Finally, on November 12, 1936, the Maharaja of Travancore issued a proclamation throwing open all government-controlled temples to all Hindus.

•            A similar step was taken by the C. Rajagopalachari administration in Madras in 1938.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and the Aligarh Movement

•            Syed Ahmed Khan (1817-1898), born in a respectable Muslim family, was a loyalist member of the judicial service of the British government.

•            After retirement in 1876, he became a member of the Imperial Legislative Council in 1878. His loyalty earned him a knighthood in 1888.

•            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 was also a zealous educationist—as an official, he opened schools in towns, got books translated into Urdu and started the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College (later, the Aligarh Muslim University) at Aligarh in 1875.

•            He also struggled to bring about an improvement in the position of women through better education and by opposing purdah and polygamy, advocating easy divorce, and condemning the system of piri and muridi.

•            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. Soon, Aligarh became the centre of religious and cultural revival of the Muslim community.

The Theosophical Movement

•            A group of westerners led by Madame H.P. Blavatsky (1831-1891) and Colonel M.S. Olcott, who were inspired by Indian thought and culture, founded the Theosophical Society in New York City, United States in 1875.

•            In 1882, they shifted their headquarters to Adyar, on the outskirts of Madras in India.

•            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.

•            The Theosophical Movement came to be allied with the Hindu renaissance.

•            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 after the death of Olcott in 1907.

•            She laid the foundation of the Central Hindu College in Benaras in 1898 where both Hindu religion and Western scientific subjects were taught. The college became the nucleus for the formation of Benaras Hindu University in 1916.

•            Annie Besant also did much for the cause of the education of women.

•            The Theosophical Society provided a common denominator for the various sects and fulfilled the urge of educated Hindus.

•            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.