Hindu reform movements

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Several contemporary groups, collectively termed Hindu reform movements or Hindu revivalism, strive to introduce regeneration and reform to Hinduism, both in a religious or spiritual and in a societal sense. The movements started appearing during the Bengali renaissance.


  • "The Hindu revivalist movement perceives itself as the cultural chapter ofIndia's decolonization. This means that it tries to free the Indians from the colonial condition at the mental and cultural level, to complete the process of political and economic decolonization. The need for "reviving" Hinduism springs from the fact that the said hostile ideologies (mostly Islam) have managed to eliminate Hinduism physically in certain geographic parts and social segments of India, and also (mostly the Western ideology) to neutralize the Hindu spirit among many nominal Hindus."
  • It is undeniable that Hindu revivalism has been the biggest mobilizing force in modern Indian history, at least in terms of the crowds it got walking or cheering.... More recently, the Ayodhya campaign became the largest-ever mass movement in India. Though impressive, this show of numerical strength has yielded very little result...
    • Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p.602
  • The only component of the current [of Hindu revivalism] which could be called 'fundamentalist', i.e. seeking to revive Scripture as normative for today's society and attacking those co-religionists who have allegedly deviated from scriptural purity, is the Arya Samaj ... still standing out as a progressive movement. In the case of Hinduism, it so happens that many of the traditional inequalities, injustices and unwholesome customs of Hindu society are not attested in Vedic scripture, and even less so in the Arya Samaj's own understanding of it. This made it possible to present a programme of social equality as a return to the Vedas.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p.14-15
  • In the Arya Samaj, girls get the complete Vedic initiation, as apparently they used to in the Vedic age itself.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p.14-15
  • It is only when we move to modem times that we find the first traces of sarva-dharma-samabhâva surfacing in India in the form of the Brahmo Samaj. Raja Ram Mohun Roy, the founder of this cult, was a votary of Islamic monotheism, and later on became infatuated with Jesus Christ. He confused the monism of the Upanishads with the monotheism of Biblical creeds, and gave birth to a lot of confusion. But, by and large, he stayed a Hindu who had some very hard words to say about the doings of Islam and Christian missionaries in India. Even Keshub Chunder Sen cannot be called a votary of sarva-dharma-samabhâva, strictly speaking. The man fancied himself as the prophet of a New Dispensation (Nababidhâna) which had not only equated all religions but also gone beyond them. He ended by becoming a bag of nauseating nonsense. In any case, the Brahmo Samaj remained confined to a miniscule minority in Bengal. One of its splinters, the Adi Brahmo Samaj, returned to Hinduism for all practical purposes. That is more than obvious in the works of Rabindranath Tagore, particularly his poetry which is saturated with Vedic imagery and Vaishnavite devotion. The trail blazed by Keshub Chander Sen, however, did not go in vain. It was followed by the first disciples of Sri Ramakrishna who took over the Mission after the death of its founder, Swami Vivekananda. Most of these desciples of Sri Ramakrishna, particularly those two who compiled his Gospel and Biography had come from the flock of Keshub. It took them no time to swallow the 'synthesis' and its 'transcendance' offered by their earlier guru. The only difference was that they replaced Keshub by Sri Ramakrishna as being the last and the best who had seen the equal truth of all religions including Christianity and Islam, and 'synthesised' them in his own avatarhood.
    • S.R.Goel, Preface, in Goel, Sita Ram (ed.) (1998). Freedom of expression: Secular theocracy versus liberal democracy.
  • I have said many times in my talks that Ramakrishna Mission is the real crest jewel of Hinduism.... But if the other religious minorities are allowed to run their educational institutions, why are Hindus being discriminated against? My view is that there should be no reverse discrimination on the basis of religion. It should be uniform.
    • Karan Singh quoted from Ram Swarup, (1986). Ramakrishna Mission: In search of a new identity.

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