Socio-Religious Movements in 19th-20th Centuries

Socio-Religious Movements in 19th-20th Centuries

The “Socio-Religious Movement” are significant movements with the purpose of regenerating the inactive spirit of India. The aim was to awaken India from the dazed condition due to British rule.

The notion of the “Socio-Religious Movement” in India refers to the series of movements and social reforms for awakening the young generation and inactive commoners of India. The impact of British rule had completely broken the socio-economic and religious backbone of Indian civilians. The spread of liberal ideas and Western education ignited the reform movements resulting in a nationwide “Socio-Religious Movement”.

Marking the beginning of the Socio-Religious Movement

Around the timeframe of the nineteenth to twentieth century, in British India, various “Socio-Religious Movement” was on the rise that transformed the Indian societies. These socio-religious movements socially, and spiritually reformed Indians and developed a sense of nationalism. However, around the 19’th to 20’th century, there were certain conditions that gave rise to the “Socio-Religious Movement” in India. Although the Indian culture was greatly appreciated by the netizens of India at that time, however, they were ready to reject any prejudice or negativity from it. The chief reason concerning the emergence of the “Socio-Religious Movement” and reforms at that time is due to the spread of education and this resulted in demanding societal and educational changes through reform and movements. It is through the soil of these reforms and movements Indian Nationalism bloomed in the heart of every Indian. The purpose of the “Socio-Religious Movement” in the 19’th and 20’th centuries was to rediscover and purify Indian civilization that would be appropriately similar to the European ideals of empiricism, rationalism, individualism, and monotheism. The “Socio-Religious Movement” in the nineteenth to the twentieth century has helped in developing an era of motivation and spiritual enlightenment concerning indigenization with Welfarism, an open mind, egalitarianism, and liberalism. 

The freedom struggle or the struggle for independence in India was thoroughly benefitted by this socio-religious awakening. The humanistic social reforms were introduced by these “Socio-Religious Movements” by putting an end to the moral and material decadence of India. The emergence of these important and highly essential “Socio-Religious Movements” in India helped in revolutionising Indian society to the core and ignited the very spirit of Indian civilians. Thus, as a result, these religious and social reform movements arose among the different communities of Indian commoners. Societal prejudices like superstition, bigotry, religious control of the priestly class was questioned and brought down in every step of these movements. These “Socio-Religious Movements” worked for the abolition of untouchability, casteism, literacy and societal inequalities, and child marriage. The very spirit of revolting against injustice was accelerated by these “Socio-Religious Movements”.

The Impacts of Socio-Religious Movements

In light of the emergence of social and spiritual movements that have started in the nineteenth century within nearly every community of India, it has greatly influenced Indian society. At this time frame, some exceptional and great socio-religious reformers like Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Shree Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda, Annie Besant, HP Blavatsky, Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, Dayananda Saraswati emerged for addressing the societal changes. The chief aim of these great social reformers was to achieve socio-religious objectives like spiritual awakening, offering equal rights and emancipation of women, removal of rigidities concerning casteism. The “Socio-Religious Movements’ ‘ concentrated on condemning untouchability and spreading the ideals of brotherhood and equality that has greatly attracted the socially deprived class from the national mainstream. In addition, the “Socio-Religious Movements” accelerated the establishment of many significant socio-religious reformist groups. For example, the Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission, Theosophical Society, Aligarh Movement, SatyashodhakSamaj have led major “Socio-Religious Movements” in the 19’th and 20’th centuries. 

Dadoba Pandurang as one of the important social reformists established Paramhansa Sabha around the year 1840, which was deemed as the first “Socio-Religious Movement” group that developed in the nineteenth century in Maharashtra. The prime purpose of this social organisation was to eradicate all the caste distinctions throughout the nation. In view of the “Socio-Religious Movements” that took place in the 19th and 20th centuries, some of the major socio-religious movements were fought for limiting child labour, women’s suffrage, inequalities, and prison reformations. The key characteristics of these “Socio-Religious Movement” were interpreted as these reform movements were spirited with high morale that stood for the removal of decadent costumes and superstitions, societal democratisation, ensuring rational development, and spreading spirituality and enlightenment. This modern yet spiritual outlook led to the absolute national awakening of Indian civilians. The core contributions of these “Socio-Religious Movements” resulted in the evolution of the 19’th to 20’th century India to a modern and spiritual India. These socio-religious reforms not only assisted in unifying the Indian people but also helped in fostering feelings of patriotism, spirituality, self-reliance, and self-respect among the netizens of India.


In consideration of the “Socio-Religious Movements” that emerged in the 19th and 20th centuries in India, it has been observed that these reform movements have deeply criticised the prejudices like untouchability and caste systems. Moreover, these socio-religious reforms deeply benefited society and worked for the upgrading of education in light of western education and liberalism.