Veda Samaj And Prarthana Samaj

Formed along the lines of the Brahmo Samaj, the Veda Samaj of Madras and the Prathana Samaj of Bombay were founded in 1864 and 1866 respectively. An educated middle class had arisen there too and it sought the reform of society and religion. The real force behind the Veda Samaj was K Sridharalu Naidu and behind Prathana Samaj, M.G Ranade and R Bhandarkar.The Prathana Samaj emphasized more on social reforms.

Prathana Samaj

The Brahmo ideas spread in Maharashtra where the Paramhansa Sabha was founded in 1849.In 1867 the Prathana Samaj was established by Keshab Chandra Sen in Bombay. Its followers never looked upon themselves as adherents of a new religion or of a new sect outside and alongside of the general Hindu body but simply as a movement within it. They emphasized on the worship of one God, social reform and upon works rather than faith. Their approach was not confrontation with Hindu orthodoxy but they relied on education and persuasion. The prominent leaders of the Samaj were Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade, R.G Bhandarkar and N.G Chandavarkar.

In the field of social reform the focus was on four objects

  • Disapproval of caste system
  • Raising the age of Marriage for both men and women
  • Widow remarriage
  • Women education

Caste system was under attack. It was seen as a divisive factor weakening the bonds of humanity and deterring the growth of caste consciousness in India. It was viewed as a contributory factor in causing social stagnation and retardation of progress. Denouncing the Brahmin dominance Chandavarkar advocated the upliftment of the lower castes and depressed castes. Religious reform was taken to be the precondition of progress and enduring social change. Chandavarkar held that the material life and religious life were the two interrelated aspects of the same existence and a healthy social growth was not possible if it was not counter balanced by an enlightened religion. These reformers believed in an organic connection between religion and social life and advocated the renovation in the entire society