Cultural Change

Cultural Change

Question

“Though some social reform movement did have common theme yet they had important differences”. Discuss the statement in about 250-300 words.

Answer

(i) The varied social reform movements did have common themes yet there were also significant differences. For some the concerns were confined to the problems that the upper caste, middle class women and men faced. For others the injustices suffered by the discriminated castes were central questions.

For some social evils had emerged because of a decline of the true spirit of Hinduism. For others caste and gender oppression was intrinsic of the religion.

(ii) Likewise Muslim social reformers actively debated the meaning of polygamy and purdah. For example, a resolution against the evils of polygamy was proposed by Jahanara Shah Nawas at the India Muslim Ladies Conference. She argued:

... the kind of polygamy which is practiced by certain sections of the Muslims is against the true spirit of the Quran... and it is the duty of the educated women to experience their influence among the relations to put an end to this practice.

(iii) The resolution condemning polygamy caused considerable debate in the Muslim press. Tahsib-e-Niswan, the leading journal for women in the Punjab, came out in favour of the resolve, but others disapproved.

(iv) Debates within communities were common during this period. For instance, sati was opposed by the Brahmo Samaj. Orthodox members of the Hindu community in Bengal formed an organisation called Dharma Sabha and petitioned the British arguing that reformers had no right to interpret sacred texts.

(v) Yet another view increasingly voiced by Dalits was a complete rejection of the Hindu fold. For instance, using the tools of modern education. Muktabai, a 13 year old student in Phule’s school writes in 1852:

Let that religion

Where only one person is privileged

And the rest are deprived

Perish from this earth

And let it never enter our minds To be proud of such a religion...

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