The Brahmo Samaj Movement's inflexions occurred in Maharashtra. Maharashtra's reformers desired a similar organisation to the Brahmo Samaj. In 1867, Keshab Chandra Sen, Atmaram Pandurang, and RG Bhandarkar founded Prarthana Bombay, which included MG Ranade as a member. The Prarthana Samaj's adherents did not regard themselves as members of a new sect operating independently and alongside the larger Hindu body, but as members of a movement within it.
The Prarthana Samajists were practical people and devout followers of Maharashtra's Vaishnava tradition, which was popularised by various saints such as Tukaram and Ramdas. They were interested in inter-caste and inter-religious dining and marriage.
What are the principles of Prarthana Samaj?
The Prathana Samaj adhered to the Sadharan Barahmo Sabha's principles and incorporated the thoughts of ancient Marathi saints and poets into its services. Theists were the Prathana Samajists. They observed Hindu ceremonies without understanding their religious significance. They believed that God is the universe's creator. It is indestructible, spiritual, and joyful. Whoever worships him finds happiness. Because all men are his children, they should act brotherly toward one another.
They were aware of the widespread belief that the Maharashtrians were devout devotees of certain deities. They did not go against popular sentiment. They stated that whatever they worshipped was the worship of the one true God.
They permitted but did not profess image worship. Social reforms were a priority for the Prathana Samajists. They began the task of education by establishing a Night School for workers, labourers, and their children. At pilgrimages for needy people and children, the Prathana Samajists founded social organisations such as asylums and orphanages.
To combat the inhuman practice of untouchability, they founded the Depressed Classes Mission and made every effort to eradicate the problem. To advance women's status, the Prarthana Samajists discouraged child marriages and emphasised the importance of female education and widow remarriage.
Samaj possessed a regional flavour. Although it derived its theism from Hinduism, it did not consider the Veda divine. It also rejected the doctrines of transmigration and God's incarnation. It did not disassociate itself from Hindu elements, both religious and social, and adhered closely to traditional models.
The members observed Hindu rituals solely as rituals or routines devoid of religious significance.
Justice MG Ranade
Due to the Prarthana Samaj's influence, several educated individuals rose to prominence as journalists, dramatists, novelists, social workers, and founders and organisers of various types of institutions. Many of them were not even Samaj members, but they work in the Samaj's line. Justic Ranade was one of the Prathana Samaj's founders and a prominent member.
He was an educator, a reformer, a nationalist, an economist, and a historian. He desired to improve women's status and thus founded the Widow Marriage Association in 1861.
Ranade recognised that while Indian society required rigorous religious reform, it could not be accomplished without the active support of the populace. As a result, Ranade formed a coalition of like-minded leaders and established several educational institutions. In 1870, Ranade assisted GK Gokhale in establishing the Sarvajanik Sabha in Poona.
Who is Pandita Ramabai?
Pandita Ramabai was one of modern India's noble women. She was widely regarded as an asset to the Prathana Samaj both within and outside Maharashtra. She married a Bengali and became a young widow. Her marriage outside of caste and her criticism of popular Hinduism earned her the wrath of Hindu society's orthodox members.
She founded the Arya Mahila Samaj in Pune in order to emancipate women. Ramabai travelled to England and America with the assistance of Christian missionaries.
When she returned to Pune in 1889, she converted to Christianity and founded the Sharada Sadan.