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Contemporary groups, collectively termed Hindu reform movements, reform Hinduism,[1][2] Neo-Hinduism,[2] or Hindu revivalism, strive to introduce regeneration and reform to Hinduism, both in a religious or spiritual and in a societal sense.[3] The movements started appearing during the Bengali Renaissance.[4]


Main article: History of Hinduism

See also: Neo-Vedanta

From the 18th century onward India was being colonialised by the British. This colonialisation had a huge impact on Indian society, where social and religious leaders tried to assimilate the western culture and modernise Hindu culture.[5]

Social reform movements

In social work, Swami Vivekananda, Dayananda Saraswati, Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave, Baba Amte and Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar have been most important. Sunderlal Bahuguna created the chipko movement for the preservation of forestlands according to the Hindu ecological ideas.[6] The less accessible Vedas were rejected and parallel Vachanas were compiled.[7]

Religious movements

Brahmo Samaj

The Brahmo Samaj is a social and religious movement founded in Kolkata in 1828 by Raja Ram Mohan Roy. The Brahmo Samaj movement thereafter resulted in the Brahmo religion in 1850 founded by Debendranath Tagore, better known as the father of Rabindranath Tagore.[8]

Brahmo Samaj of South India

The faith and Principles of Brahmo Samaj had spread to South Indian states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala with many followers.

In Kerala the faith and principles of Brahmosamaj and Raja Ram Mohun Roy had been propagated by Ayyathan Gopalan, and reform activities had been led by establishing Brahmosamaj in 1898 in the Calicut (now Kozhikode) region. Gopalan was a doctor by profession, but dedicated his life to Brahmosamaj, and was an active executive member of the Calcutta Sadharan Brahmosamaj until his death.[1][9][10][11][12][4][13][14]

Arya Samaj

The Arya Samaj is a monotheistic Hindu reform movement founded in India by Maharshi Dayananda in 1875 at Bombay. He was an ascetic who believed in the infallible authority of the Vedas.[15]

It aimed to be a universal structure based on the authority of the Vedas. Dayananda stated that he wanted 'to make the world noble', i.e., to return Hinduism to its universality of the Vedas. To this end, the Arya Samaj started Shuddhi movement in early 20th century to bring back Hinduism to people converted to Islam and Christianity, set up schools and missionary organisations, and extended its activities outside India. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India in his book, The Discovery of India credits Arya Samaj in introducing proselytization in Hinduism.[16]

Ramakrishna Movement

Main articles: Neo-Vedanta, Swami Vivekananda, and Ramakrishna Mission

Swami Vivekananda was a central personality in the development of another stream of Hinduism in late 19th century and the early 20th century that reconciled the devotional (bhakti-märga) path of his guru Sri Ramakrishna (of the Puri dashanami sampradäya) with the gnana märga (path of knowledge). His ideals and sayings have inspired numerous Indians as well as non-Indians, Hindus as well as non-Hindus. Among the prominent figures whose ideals were very much influenced by them were Rabindranath Tagore, Gandhi, Subhas Bose, Satyendranath Bose, Megh Nad Saha, Sister Nivedita, and Sri Aurobindo.[17][18]

See also


  1. ^ a b Bose 1884.
  2. ^ a b Beckerlegge 2006, p. 435.
  3. ^ Jones 1990.
  4. ^ a b Killingley 2019, pp. 36–53.
  5. ^ Michaels 2004.
  6. ^ The Future of the environment : the social dimensions of conservation and ecological alternatives. Pitt, David C. London: Routledge. 1988. ISBN 0-415-00455-1. OCLC 17648742.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. ^ Dalit: The Downtrodden of India. Himansu Charan Sadangi. Isha books. 2008.
  8. ^ Farquhar 1915.
  9. ^ Nazir, Parwez (2011). "Raja Ram Mohan Roy: Social Reform and Empowerment of Women". Journal of Exclusion Studies. 1 (2): 1. doi:10.5958/j.2231-4547.1.2.013. ISSN 2231-4547.
  10. ^ Rammohun Roy, Raja, 1772?-1833. (1996). Sati, a writeup of Raja Ram Mohan Roy about burning of widows alive. B.R. Pub. Corp. ISBN 8170188989. OCLC 38110572.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Hatcher, Brian A. (1 January 2008), "Debendranath Tagore and the Tattvabodhinī Sabhā", Bourgeouis Hinduism, or Faith of the Modern Vedantists, Oxford University Press, pp. 33–48, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195326086.003.0003, ISBN 9780195326086
  12. ^ Śāstrī, Śibanātha, 1847-1919. (1948). Men I have seen; personal reminiscences of seven great Bengalis. Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. OCLC 11057931.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Seminar on Perspectives of the Bengal Renaissance (1976 : Rajshahi University) (1977). Reflections on the Bengal renaissance : [papers read at a seminar, "Perspectives of the Bengal Renaissance"]. Institute of Bangladesh Studies, Rajshahi University. OCLC 557887410.((cite book)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ "Rabindranath Tagore: His Life and Thought", The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore, Routledge, 24 February 2016, pp. 1–17, doi:10.4324/9781315554709-1, ISBN 9781315554709
  15. ^ Hastings J. and Selbi J. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics Kessinger 2003 part 3. p. 57. ISBN 0-7661-3671-X
  16. ^ Thursby, G. R. (1975). Hindu-Muslim relations in British India : a study of controversy, conflict, and communal movements in northern India 1923–1928. Leiden: Brill. p. 3. ISBN 9789004043800. arya samaj.
  17. ^ De Michelis, Elizabeth. (2004). A history of modern yoga : Patañjali and Western esotericism. London: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-6512-9. OCLC 51942410.
  18. ^ Retrieved 16 January 2020. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)


  • Bose, Ram Chandra (1884). Brahmoism; or, History of reformed Hinduism from its origin in 1830. Funk & Wagnalls. OCLC 1032604831.
  • Beckerlegge, Gwilym (2006). "Neo-Hinduism". In Clarke, Peter B. (ed.). Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements. London; New York: Routledge. pp. 435–436. ISBN 9-78-0-415-26707-6.
  • Dense, Christian D. Von (1999), Philosophers and Religious Leaders, Greenwood Publishing Group
  • Farquhar, John Nicol (1915). Modern religious movements in India. Robarts — University of Toronto. New York: Macmillan.
  • Jones, Constance A.; Ryan, James D. (2007). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Encyclopedia of World Religions. J. Gordon Melton, Series Editor. New York: Facts On File. ISBN 978-0-8160-5458-9. Archived from the original on 2 April 2020.
  • Jones, Kenneth W. (1990). "Socio-Religious Reform Movements in British India". The New Cambridge History of India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 36–53. ISBN 0-521-24986-4.
  • Killingley, Dermot (2019). "Rammohun Roy and the Bengal Renaissance". The Oxford History of Hinduism: Modern Hinduism. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 36–53. doi:10.1093/oso/9780198790839.003.0003. ISBN 9780198790839.
  • Michaels, Axel (2004), Hinduism. Past and present, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press
  • Mukerji, Mādhava Bithika (1983), Neo-Vedanta and Modernity, Ashutosh Prakashan Sansthan
  • Renard, Philip (2010), Non-Dualisme. De directe bevrijdingsweg, Cothen: Uitgeverij Juwelenschip
  • J. Zavos, Defending Hindu Tradition: Sanatana Dharma as a Symbol of Orthodoxy in Colonial India, Religion (Academic Press), Volume 31, Number 2, April 2001, pp. 109–123.
  • Ghanshyam Shah, Social Movements in India: A Review of the Literature, New Delhi, Sage India, 2nd ed. (2004) ISBN 0-7619-9833-0