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Role of Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj and Satyashodhak Samaj

Last Updated : 08 Sep, 2022
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The nineteenth century was a time of unrest in Indian civilization. A number of social ills, including female infanticide, sati, child marriage, the caste system, purdah, the restriction on female education, widow remarriage, religious dogmatism and superstitions etc., have replaced the age-old customs and traditions in Hinduism. Women and people from lower castes experienced severe humiliation as the society was patriarchal and caste-based. The British conquest of India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries revealed significant weaknesses in Indian social systems. They brought modern ideas of liberty, social and economic equality, fraternity, democracy, and justice to India, which significantly influenced Indian society.

Hindu Reform Movements:

In an effort to reform and revitalise Indian society, especially the Hindu religion, a number of people and movements worked to change social and religious norms. These initiatives formed a socio-intellectual revolution that occurred in the domain of social reform, known as the Renaissance. It’s vital to remember that this phenomenon took place when the British were in control of colonial India. In particular, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dayanand Saraswati, and Jyotiba Phule were enlightened Indians who were prepared to struggle for the Hindu reform movement, so that India could meet the challenges of its own. These reformers founded Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj and Satya Shodhak Samaj respectively.

Role of Brahmo Samaj in Hindu Reform Movements

Brahmo Sabha was established in 1828 by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and eventually changed its name to Brahmo Samaj. This socio-religious movement played an important role in Hindu Reform Movement. The following roles are played by Brahmo Samaj:

  • Brahmo Samaj placed a strong focus on human dignity while criticising idolatry and social vices including sati and child marriage. 
  • They rejected the concept of incarnations and opposed the caste system. 
  • Brahmo Samaj’s goals included preaching monotheism and purifying Hinduism. It primarily took inspiration from the Upanishads and Vedas. 
  • It was opposed to sacrifices, ceremonies, and priesthood. It placed a strong emphasis on scripture reading, meditation, and prayer. It held that all religions were interconnected. 
  • It was the country’s first intellectual reform movement. It caused enlightenment and rationalism to flourish in India, which indirectly supported the nationalist movement. 
  • Brahmo Samaj served as the role model for all subsequent modern Indian social, religious, and political movements. 

The Brahmo Samaj of India, led by Keshub Chandra Sen, and the Adi Brahmo Samaj, led by Debendranath Tagore, split apart from it in 1866.

Role of Arya Samaj in Hindu Reform Movements

Dayanand Saraswati (1824–1833) founded the Arya Samaj, an Indian revivalist movement, in the late 19th century. It began in Punjab and western India and gradually expanded to a significant portion of the Hindi heartland. He formed the Arya Samaj in 1875 in Bombay and wrote Satyarth Prakash, also known as “the light of truth,” in the same year. Following were the objectives of Arya Samaj:

  • The Arya Samaj’s role was to reject the ritual-heavy Hindu religion and advocate for Vedas. 
  • Dayanand Saraswati said Vedas are infallible, the words of God, and the foundation of all knowledge. 
  • He denounced idolatry, polytheism, the Puranas, and the hegemony of the priestly class. 
  • While condemning polygamy, child marriage, Sati, and other customs, it promoted women’s equality in society, widow remarriage, and female education.
  • The Arya Samaj initiated the Shuddhi (purification) movement to bring back Hindus who had converted to Christianity and Islam. 
  • They believed that a strong social order could only be built on the foundation of excellent education, so they opened Dayanand Anglo-Vedic (D.A.V.) schools. These attempted to emphasis the value of Western education and served as the movement’s foundation. They also encouraged the growth of Hindi and Sanskrit.
  • Arya Samaj defined the minimum age for getting married as 25 for men and 16 for women. 
  • It also became well renowned for its humanitarian work.

Arya Samaj was able to give Hindus a sense of self-worth and confidence, which helped shatter the myth of white superiority and Western culture.

Role of Satya Shodhak Samaj in Hindu Reform Movements

A significant struggle against brahminical and upper-caste dominance was led by Jyotiba Phule. In 1873, he established the Satyashodhak Samaj (Truth Seekers’ Society). Following was the role played by Satya Shodhak Samaj:

  • Satya Shodhak Samaj disapproved caste system and opposed the Brahmanas’ dominance in society and politics.
  • In an effort to free individuals from any superstitious and religious ideas, the society emphasised that no mediums or mediators were necessary to communicate with the gods. 
  • Additionally, they denied the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the rule of the Aryan culture. 
  • It provides social services and promotes education among women and members of lower castes. 
  • Sarvajanik Satyadharma and Gulamgiri, two of Jyotiba Phule’s writings, inspired the general populace. 
  • In contrast to the brahmins’ use of Rama, Jyotiba Phule used the sign of Rajah Bali. 

The caste system and socio-economic inequality were samaj’s main targets. In opposition to the Brahmins, who were viewed as the exploiters, this movement offered the downtrodden people a feeling of class identification.


Modern Hindu reform movements shared a fundamental unity. Most of them were founded on the principles of Reason (Rationalism) and Humanism, along with relying on faith and traditional authority to support their appeal. The ritualistic, superstitious, illogical, and obscurantist aspects of Indian religion were criticised by the Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj, and Satya Shodhak Samaj. The founders of these movements thought that the best way to absorb contemporary ideas and culture was to incorporate them into Indian cultural traditions. Numerous Indians found it easier to adjust to modern life because of the Hindu reform movements. These movements paved the way for the rise of Indian nationalism and ultimately the struggle for independence.

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