The socio-religious reform movements which began in the nineteenth century also instilled the feeling of nationalism among Indians. The introduction of Western education made the educated Indians realize the need to reform society. As a result, socio-religious reform movements started in India.
The abolition of sati and the Widow Remarriage Act was important legislation passed during this period. Efforts were also made by the educated and enlightened Indians to reduce caste inequalities and to end the dowry system, purdah system, female infanticide, and child marriages. Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a great social and religious reformer. He advocated female education and it was largely due to his efforts that the practice of sati was declared illegal. Jyotirao Phule challenged the caste system and advocated the education of lower caste girls. The reformers criticized untouchability and the caste system. They urged people of every caste and class to work together to achieve the independence of the nation.
Many reformers such as Swami Dayanand and Swami Vivekananda proclaimed the superiority of the Indian culture and protested against the domination of the British in India. Swami Dayanand Saraswati raised the slogan ‘India for the Indians’. These reform movements highlighted the importance of women by encouraging them to participate in the national movement.
Rediscovery of India’s Past
Many Indian and European scholars discovered the ancient glory of Indian history which filled the hearts of the Indians with the feeling of nationalism. Some of these discoveries were Many Indian Sanskrit texts were translated into English and other languages which established great technological and cultural advancement made by India in the past.
Sir William Jones founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal to encourage Oriental studies. He translated the plays of Kalidasa and the Manu Smriti. Sir Charles Wilkinson was the first European to translate the Bhagavad Gita into English in 1785. James Prince deciphered the edicts of the ancient Indian emperor Ashoka. He along with Alexander Cunningham rediscovered the greatness of the Mauryas, imperial Guptas, Chalukyas, and Pallavas. This instilled a feeling of pride among the Indians.
People now became aware of the political achievements under the Mauryas and the Guptas, thus promoting the feeling of nationalism. The excavations at Harappa and Mohenjodaro took place under the supervision of the Indian Archaeological Survey (with Sir John Marshall as its President). This revealed the existence of ancient civilization in India in about 2300 BC. The restoration of India’s glorious past helped in restoring self-confidence and self-respect among Indians. It also busted the western propaganda that the Indians were never able to rule themselves.
Influence of Western Education
The introduction of Western education filled the hearts of the Indians with the ideas of liberty, equality, and justice. The educated Indians also became acquainted with the concept of self-rule and democracy. They started to demand independence from the British rule to establish a democratic rule in India.
Role of the Press
Many newspapers and magazines started in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Some of them were Amrit Bazar Patrika, The Bengali, The Tribune, The Pioneer, and The Hindu. It was through the press that the message of liberty, freedom, equality, home rule, and independence spread among the people. The newspapers criticized the unjust policies of the British and exposed the true nature of British rule in India. It encouraged various communities and groups to organize political movements in the country.
Development of Transport and Communication System
The development of the means of transport such as the railways facilitated the growth of nationalism in India. The railways helped the people to travel to different parts of the country and fostered the spirit of unity among them. The development of the post and telegraph also unified the people across all the regions in the country.
Also, Read Formation of the Indian National Congress