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 religious aspect mostly emphasizes Vedanta tradition and mystical interpretations of Hinduism ("Neo-Vedanta"), and the societal aspect was an important element in the Indian independence movement, aiming at a "Hindu" character of the society of the eventual Republic of India.
From the 18th century onward India was being colonialised by the British. In contrast to the Muslim domination, this colonialisation had a huge impact on Indian society, where social and religious leaders tried to assimilate western culture and modernise Hindu culture. During the 19th century, Hinduism developed a large number of new religious movements, partly inspired by the European Romanticism, nationalism, and esotericism (Theosophy) popular at the time. Conversely and contemporaneously, India had a similar effect on European culture with Orientalism, "Hindu style" architecture, reception of Buddhism in the West and similar.
In social work, Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave, Baba Amte and Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar have been most important. Sunderlal Bahuguna created the chipko movement for the preservation of forestlands according to the Hindu ecological ideas.
One of the foremost movements in breaking the caste system and educating the downtrodden was the Lingayat movement spearheaded by Basavanna in the 12th century in Anubhava Mantapa in Kalyani of Karnataka. The less accessible Vedas were rejected and parallel Vachanas were compiled.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or VHP, was founded in 1964 by the second sarsanghachalak (chief) of the Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh, Shri Madhav Golwalkar, with the core objective of consolidating and strengthening Hindu society and also to eradicate the caste system among Hindus, which they claim had "crept in during medieval times" and to unite Hindus. The VHP has openly advocated appointing Dalits (lowest strata in Hindu society) as priests in temples and also runs several medical camps, hospitals, schools and hostels in remote regions of India, primarily inhabited by Dalits and tribals.
In recent years the VHP has emerged as one of the most active Hindu missionary organisations and has organised several mass conversion programs of Christians and Muslims who, they claim, were Hindus once upon a time back to Hinduism.
The Brahmo Samaj is a social and religious movement founded in Kolkata in 1828 by Raja Ram Mohan Roy. The Brahmo Samaj movement thereafter resulted in the Brahmo religion in 1850 founded by Debendranath Tagore — better known as the father of Rabindranath Tagore.
The Arya Samaj is a monotheistic Hindu reform movement founded in India by Swami Dayananda in 1875 at Bombay. He was a sannyasin (ascetic) who believed in the infallible authority of the Vedas. Members of the Arya Samaj believe in one God and reject the worship of idols. Dayanand's interpretation of the Vedas was both unique and radical; for example he taught that the Vedas unambiguously advocate monotheism. He stressed that the Vedas do not contain any mention of idol worship, because they teach that God is a non material, formless and metaphysical spirit and, further, emphasise the doctrine of karma and reincarnation, the ideals of brahmacharya (chastity) and sanyasa (renunciation). Dayananda claimed that the Veda is the only true scripture because God reveals His true word at the outset of creation (otherwise He would be imperfect by having deprived many human generations of true knowledge until the inception of today's various religions) and that, most definitely, there is no place in it of a discriminatory or hereditary caste system.
It aimed to be a universal structure based on the authority of the Vedas. Dayananda stated that he wanted 'to make the whole world Aryan', i.e. he wanted to develop missionary Hinduism based on the universality of the Vedas. To this end, the Arya Samaj started Shuddhi movement in early 20th century to bring back Hinduism to people converted to Islam and Christianity, set up schools and missionary organisations, and extended its activities outside India.Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India in his book, The Discovery of India credits Arya Samaj in introducing proselytization in Hinduism
The Samaj has branches around the world and has a significant number of adherents among people of Indian ancestry in Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, the Caribbean, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Swami Vivekananda was a central personality in the development of neo-Hinduism (also called Neo-Vedanta) in late 19th century and the early 20th century. His ideals and sayings have inspired numerous Indians as well as non-Indians, Hindus as well as non-Hindus. Among the prominent figures whose ideals were very much influenced by them were Rabindranath Tagore, Gandhi, Subhas Bose, Satyendranath Bose, Megh Nad Saha, and Sister Nivedita.
In Indonesia several movements favour a return to Hinduism in Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi. Balinese Hinduism, known as Agama Hindu Dharma, has witnessed great resurgence in recent years. Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar (founder of Ananda Marga) initiated a new renaissance in the Indian world of sangeet.
The Hindu traditions also influenced western religiosity. Early in the 19th century the first translations of Hindu texts appeared in the west, and inspired western philosophers such as Arthur Schopenhauer. Helena Blavatsky moved to India in 1879, and her Theosophical Society, founded in New York in 1875, evolved into a peculiar mixture of Western occultism and Hindu mysticism over the last years of her life.
Biblia Impex India is a New Delhi-based book distribution company that specializes in books on Indology, Hinduism and Buddhism founded by the influential Indian historian Sita Ram Goel in 1963. It is currently managed by Goel's son Pradeep Kumar Goel.In addition to its own publications, Biblia Impex acts as a distributor for Aditya Prakashan, Adyar Library and Research Centre, the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, the Central University of Tibetan Studies, Sampurnanand Sanskrit University and the Samvad India Foundation.
Aditya Prakashan publishes many works on Indian culture and art, Hindu and Buddhist literature and philosophy and is notable, in particular, for works related to Hindu reform movements, including works by K. D. Sethna, Hindu nationalism, including works by Dharampal and K.R. Malkani, and literature on the controversial "Out of India" theory. Marxist fundamentalist historian Irfan Habib characterises it as the publishing house of the Sangh Parivar, the RSS family of Hindu nationalist organisations, though the claim seems partisan and unfounded especially as the RSS has never owned up any of the works of the publication.Sita Ram Goel also owned the Voice of India publishing house which specializes in more extreme Hindu nationalist topics. Following Goel's death, Voice of India came under the management of Aditya Prakashan.Brahmoism
Brahmoism is a religious movement from the late 19th century Bengal originating the Bengali Renaissance, the nascent Indian independence movement and the wider Hindu reform movements of the period. Adherents, known as Brahmos (singular Brahmo), are mainly of Indian or Bangladeshi origin or nationality. The Brahmo Samaj, literally the "Divine Society", was founded as a movement by Ram Mohan Roy. Placing great importance on the use of reason, he aimed to reform Hindu religious and social practices, being influenced by the monotheistic religions and modern science.Gayatri Mantra
The Gāyatrī Mantra, also known as the Sāvitar Mantra, is a highly revered mantra from the Rig Veda (Mandala 3.62.10), dedicated to Savitr, the sun deity. Gāyatrī is the name of the Vedic meter in which the verse is composed. Its recitation is traditionally preceded by oṃ and the formula bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ, known as the mahāvyāhṛti, or "great (mystical) utterance". Vishvamitra is said to have created the Gayatri mantra.
The Gayatri mantra is cited widely in Vedic and post-Vedic texts, such as the mantra listings of the Śrauta liturgy, and classical Hindu texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, Harivamsa, and Manusmṛti. It is also praised by the Buddha in the Pāli Canon.
The mantra is an important part of the upanayana ceremony for young males in Hinduism, and has long been recited by dvija men as part of their daily rituals. Modern Hindu reform movements spread the practice of the mantra to include women and all castes and its use is now very widespread.Gurunath
Gurunath is a commonly used term when praising what is considered by devotees the ultimate source of compassion, love and truth - irrespective of sectarian divides whether they may be devotees of Shiva, the Lord of Transformation in the Hindu pantheon (Shaivaite) or of Vishnu, the Lord of Preservation and Sustenance in the Hindu pantheon (Vaishnav) or any other devotee (bhakta) of a Hindu God or Goddess.
The first part of the refrain "Bolo Sri Sat Gurunath Maharaj ki" is chanted by the leader of the kirtan, bhajan, devotional chanting of religious scriptures or highly devotional compositions made by individuals respectively, or devotional discourse. Then the congregation responds in unison with "Jai!". This refrain, which is normally chanted at the end of a bhajan or kirtan, may be translated from Sanskrit as "Say/Chant/Proclaim ("Bolo") the name of the Spiritual Mentor who is the essence of Truth ("Sri Sat Guru") who is Lord ("Nath") and King ("Maharaj")..."Yes!""Hinduism in Russia
Hinduism has been spread in Russia primarily due to the work of missionaries from the religious organization International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and by itinerant Swamis from India and small communities of Indian immigrants. While ISKCON and Brahma Kumaris appear to have a relatively strong following in Russia, the other organizations in the list have a marginal presence in this country. There is an active Tantra Sangha operating in Russia. According to a 2010 religious census, there are 140,000 Hindus in Russia, which account for 0.1% population of Russia.Historical Vedic religion
The historical Vedic religion (also known as Vedism, Brahmanism, Vedic Brahmanism, and ancient Hinduism) refers to the religious ideas and practices among Indo-Aryan-speaking peoples of ancient India after about 1500 BCE. These ideas and practices are found in the Vedic texts, and they were one of the major influences that shaped contemporary Hinduism. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, in the Hindu tradition and particularly in India, the Vedic religion is considered to be a part of Hinduism.According to Heinrich von Stietencron, in the 19th century western publications, the Vedic religion was believed to be different from and unrelated to Hinduism. The Hindu religion was thought to be linked to the Hindu epics and the Puranas through sects based on Purohita, Tantras and Bhakti. In the 20th century, a better understanding of the Vedic religion, its shared heritage and theology with contemporary Hinduism, has led scholars to gradually encompass Brahmanism and the Vedic religion into "Hinduism". The Hindu reform movements and the Neo-Vedanta emphasized the Vedic heritage and "ancient Hinduism", and this term has been co-opted by some Hindus. Vedic religion is now generally accepted to be a predecessor of Hinduism, but they are not the same because the textual evidence suggests significant differences between the two.The Vedic religion is described in the Vedas and associated voluminous Vedic literature preserved into the modern times by the different priestly schools. The Vedic religion texts are cerebral, orderly and intellectual, but it is unclear if the theory in diverse Vedic texts actually reflect the folk practices, iconography and other practical aspects of the Vedic religion. The evidence suggests that the Vedic religion evolved in "two superficially contradictory directions", state Jamison and Witzel. One part evolved into ever more "elaborate, expensive, and specialized system of rituals", while another part questioned all of it and emphasized "abstraction and internalization of the principles underlying ritual and cosmic speculation" within oneself. Both of these traditions impacted Indic religions such as Buddhism and Jainism, and in particular Hinduism. The complex Vedic rituals of Śrauta continue to be practiced in Kerala and coastal Andhra.Some scholars consider the Vedic religion to have been a composite of the religions of the Indo-Aryans, "a syncretic mixture of old Central Asian, new Indo-European elements", which borrowed "distinctive religious beliefs and practices" from the Bactria–Margiana culture, and the remnants of the Harappan culture of the Indus Valley.Kakshivat
Kakshivat son of Dirghatamas was an ancient vedic sage(rishi). He was called praja(Stong). He had his daughter Ghosha as student, who like her father, composed Vedic verses. His descendants are also called Kakshivatas .Kanchipurna
One of the early non-Brahmin gurus of RamanujaKhandana Bhava–Bandhana
Khandana Bhava–Bandhana, or Sri Ramakrishna Aratrik, or Sri Ramakrishna Arati, ("Breaker of this world’s chain"), is a Bengali song composed by Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda. The song, dedicated to the 19th-century mystic Ramakrishna, was composed in 1898. It is a prayer song, based on Raga Mishra Kalyana, Tala Ferta (Choutal, Tintal, Ektal) used in Indian classical music.Vivekananda's message through the poem was to free one self from the bondages of the world, and to make those who have freed themselves spread their knowledge of freedom widely until the whole humanity is filled with tremendous passion for freedom (from bondage and suffering).N. G. Chandavarkar
Sir Narayan Ganesh Chandavarkar (Konkani: नारायण गणेश चन्दावरकर)(2 December 1855 – 14 May 1923) was an early Indian National Congress politician and Hindu reformer. He was regarded by some as the "leading Hindu reformer of western India"Neo-Vedanta
Neo-Vedanta, also called Hindu modernism, neo-Hinduism, Global Hinduism and Hindu Universalism, are terms to characterize interpretations of Hinduism that developed in the 19th century. Some scholars argue that these modern interpretations incorporate western ideas into traditional Indian religions, especially Advaita Vedanta, which is asserted as central or fundamental to Hindu culture.The term "Neo-Vedanta" was coined by Paul Hacker, in a pejorative way, to distinguish modern developments from "traditional" Advaita Vedanta. Other scholars have described a Greater Advaita Vedānta, which developed since the mediaeval period. What is important to note here is that many of these traditions, which were influential among Neo-Vedantins, did not derive from vedantic lineages, i.e., the "Advaita Vedanta" of Shankara. As the scholar J. Madaio points out "...it is possible to speak of sanskritic and vernacular advaitic texts (which are either explicitly non-dualistic or permit a non-dualistic reading) and 'Advaita Vedanta' texts which originate within sampradayas that claim an Advaita Vedantic lineage. This, then, avoids the obfuscating tendency to subsume advaitic but non-vedantic works under a 'Vedanta' or 'Advaita Vedanta' umbrella." Drawing on this broad pool of sources, after Muslim rule in India was replaced by British rule, Hindu religious and political leaders and thinkers responded to western colonialism and orientalism, contributing to the Indian freedom struggle and the modern national and religious identity of Hindus in the Republic of India. This societal aspect is covered under the term of Hindu reform movements.
Among the main proponents of such modern interpretations of Hinduism were Vivekananda, Aurobindo and Radhakrishnan, who to some extent also contributed to the emergence of Neo-Hindu movements in the West.
Neo-Vedanta has been influential in the perception of Hinduism, both in the west and in the higher educated classes in India. It has received appraisal for its "solution of synthesis", but has also been criticised for its Universalism. The terms "Neo-Hindu" or "Neo-Vedanta" themselves have also been criticised for its polemical usage, the prefix "Neo-" then intended to imply that these modern interpretations of Hinduism are "inauthentic" or in other ways problematic.Nova Religio
Nova Religio, The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions is a peer-reviewed academic journal of religious studies that focuses on New Religious Movements. The journal is published by University of California Press. First published in 1997 as a biannual, the journal changed to a quarterly format in 2005.Outline of Hinduism
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Hinduism:
Hinduism – predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Its followers are called Hindus, who refer to it as Sanātana Dharma (a Sanskrit phrase meaning "the eternal law that sustains/upholds/surely preserves"), amongst many other expressions. Hinduism has no single founder, and is formed of diverse traditions, including a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of "daily morality" based on the notion of karma, dharma, and societal norms. Among its direct roots is the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India and, as such, Hinduism is often called the "oldest living religion" or the "oldest living major religion" in the world.Ramakrishna Math
Ramakrishna Math is a religious monastic order, considered part of the Hindu reform movements. It was set up by sanyasin disciples of Ramakrishna pramhansa headed by Swami Vivekananda at Baranagar Math in Baranagar, a place near Calcutta (now Kolkata), in 1886. India. The headquarters of Ramakrishna Math and its twin organisation, Ramakrishna Mission is at Belur Math (in West Bengal, India).
Although Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are legally and financially separate, they are closely inter-related in several other ways and are to be regarded as twin organizations. All branch centres of Ramakrishna Math come under the administrative control of the Board of Trustees, whereas all branch centres of Ramakrishna Mission come under the administrative control of the Governing Body of Ramakrishna Mission.As of 2016, the Math and Mission have 182 centres all over the world:
136 in India
13 in USA
13 in Bangladesh
2 in Russia,and one each in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and United Kingdom. Besides, there are 33 sub-centres attached to some of these centres.
Besides these branch centres, there are about one thousand unaffiliated centres (popularly called ‘private centres’) all over the world started by the devotees and followers of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.Ramakrishna Sarada Math
Ramakrishna Sarada Math is a religious monastic order, considered part of the Hindu reform movements. It was established in the year 1929 at Bagbazar, KolkataReform movement
A reform movement is a type of social movement that aims to bring a social or political system closer to the community's ideal. A reform movement is distinguished from more radical social movements such as revolutionary movements which reject those old ideals in the ideas are often grounded in liberalism, although they may be rooted in socialist (specifically, social democratic) or religious concepts. Some rely on personal transformation; others rely on small collectives, such as Mahatma Gandhi's spinning wheel and the self-sustaining village economy, as a mode of social change. Reactionary movements, which can arise against any of these, attempt to put things back the way they were before any successes the new reform movement(s) enjoyed, or to prevent any such successes.Sant (religion)
In Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, a sant is a human being revered for his or her knowledge of "self, truth, reality" and as a "truth-exemplar". In Sikhism it is used to describe a being who has attained spiritual enlightenment and divine knowledge and power through the union with the monotheistic God.Swami Shraddhanand
Swami Shraddhanand (22 February 1856 – 23 December 1926), also known as Mahatma Munshi Ram Vij, was an Indian educationist and an Arya Samaj missionary who propagated the teachings of Dayananda Saraswati. This included the establishment of educational institutions, like the Gurukul Kangri University, and played a key role on the Sangathan (consolidation and organization) and the Shuddhi (re-conversion), a Hindu reform movement in the 1920s.Swami Vipulananda
Swami Vipulananda (Tamil: சுவாமி விபுலாநந்தர்) (1892 – July 20, 1947), also known as Vipulananda Adigal, was a Sri Lankan Tamil Hindu social reformer, literary critic, author, poet, teacher and ascetic from the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. Vipulanada was an early pioneer associated with the Indian-based Ramakrishna Mission in Sri Lanka. Along with other reformers, Vipulanada was instrumental in the revival of the Hindu religion and native traditions in Sri Lanka after a long period of dormancy and decline during the previous 500 years of colonial rule by various European powers.
Hindu reform movements
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