The Hindu Renaissances

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Himanshu Bhatt

Medieval Renaissance

Lingayatism

This was started by the Shaiva saint Basava in Karnataka who advocated that all humans are equal. This movement is a based around Lord Shiva.

Varkari Panth

Many including Namdev, Dnyaneshwar, Eknath and Tukaram were a part of the Varkari movement. This movement was based around Vitthal, an incarnation of Vishnu.

The Naamsankirtan Sampradaya was a path within the Varkari Panth pioneered by Sant Namadev.

Dnyaneshwar wrote the Dnyaaneshwari, a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita which became very popular in Maharashrta as did Tukaram's Tukaram Gaathaa. The Varkari Panth survives today as the group Vishwa Varkri Parishad leads the movement.

Sant Bahinabai was taught spirituality by Sant Tukaram. "Dnyaneshwar Maharaj has built the foundation of the Varkari Temple. Namdeo Maharaj has constructed the outer structure. Eknath Maharaj has provided a pillar in the form of Bhagwat. Tukaram Maharaj is the pinnacle of the Varkari Temple. Sant Bahinabai considers herself as the flag flying high on the temple."

Nath Panth

Sant Eknath was a part of this movement. Wrote the Ekanathi Bhagawata, which became very popular in Maharashtra. Gorakshanath Panth was founded by Gorakshanath, Nath devotee.

According to the Shri Amrit Nath Ashram website, the twelve Natha Panthi are as follows:

  1. Satya natha
  2. Dharam natha
  3. Daria natha
  4. Ayi Panthia
  5. Vairaga kea
  6. Rama ke
  7. Kapilani
  8. Ganga nathi
  9. Mannathi Rawal ke
  10. Paava panth
  11. Paagala panth


Its subsects are the Adinath Sampradaya, Nandinatha Sampradaya and Navnath Sampradaya.

King Bhartrihari was a member of the Nath tradition.

Mahanubhava Panth

It began by the Gujarati king Chakradhara Swami in 1267. He is looked upon as a millennarian figure in the Pujavasara of Baideva.[1]

This sampradhaya belongs to Panchavtars - the five Avatars, namely Lord Krishna, Lord Dattatreya, Lord Chakrapani, Lord Govind Prabhu and Lord Chakradhar.[1]

Their motto of official salutation was "Jaya Jaya Shri Prabhu Govinda."[2]

While the Swami from Gujarat, he chose Maharashtra for the propagation of his doctrine Marathi as the language to be used for it.[3]

The works compiled by the founder Chakradhara Swami is the Lilacharita.[4] A few texts were lost during the Khalji raids in 1306 although a female disciple of Chakradhara Swami, Hiraisa rewrote one of them.[5] Also for Islamist militancy it is believed that Swami Chakradhara had camped in the so-called Jama Masjid of Nasik and that in the time it was a temple dedicated to Mahalaxmi.[6]

Both the men and women of this sect were shaved clean.[7]

His first woman disciple was Baisa.[8] Other sacred female disciples were Abaisa, Mahadaisa (Alias: Mahadamba, a widow), Sobhagem and Umaisa.[9] Abaisa was the mother of Nagadevacharya and composed the "Chaupadi" leela for the Swami.[10] Mahadaisa is mentioned not only the Lilacharita but also the Riddhipura Leela.[11], Mahanu-bhava Itihasa and Smriti Sthala.[12] When Chakradhara Swami was dying, he appointed her as the leader of the sect - his successor.[13]

It is said that the women outnumbered the men in this sect.[14] There were even woman monaistic heads and administrators.[15]

Another popular figures of this sect is Mahindrabhatt a disciple of the Swami. Navadevacharya was one of the favorite disciples of the Swami.[16] Nagabhata, another disciple was said to be the "Last Preceptor".[17]

Their religious leader is known as a "Baranjkar Mahant" and his/her seat exists in Badhpur, Berar.[18]

In 1901 they numbered 2,566 in Berar.[19]

Pushtimarg

It means path of grace. It was formed by Sri Vallabha Acharya (1479 - 1531), one of the 5 main acharyas of Hindu Dharma, who advocated Shuddha advaita (Pure Non-dualism).

Bhakti Movement

The 3 biggest Bhakti movements that had many backward-caste members among them were the Alwar (Vaishnava), Nayanar (Shaiva) of South India and the Ramananda of North India.

Modern Renaissance

See also: Hindu-inspired organizations

The Modern Hindu Renaissance (1800 AD - Present) witnessed the emergence of many social and religious vices in the Hindu society in India. Many leaders, saints, scholars, social and religious reformers came up on to the scene and tried to bring the society back into the tradition of Hindu Dharma. This was the period when social reform movements like Raja Ram Mohan Roy's Brahmo Samaj, Prarthana Samaj, Swami Dayanand Saraswati's Arya Samaj and other such movements became very strong. Mrs. Annie Besant (1847-1933), an Englishwoman, translated and popularized the Bhagwad Gita, and established the Hindu College in Benaras, now known as the Benaras Hindu University. Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886 AD), a famous sage of modern times, infused the true spirit of Hindu Dharma into his followers. Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) elucidated Hindu Dharma within and outside India and introduced the Vedanta philosophy to the West. Sri Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950) eloquently interpreted the basic concepts of the Hindu Dharma and expounded the yoga philosophy for the transformation of human consciousness. Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), one of the greatest mystical poets of the world, expounded the Upanishadic philosophy through his songs in Gitanjali and in many of his other works. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) extended non-violence, a Hindu cardinal virtue, to social, national and international affairs. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975), a philosopher, statesman, and the second President of India, interpreted the classical Hindu philosophy in the context of the modern world through his numerous scholarly works, such as Hindu View of Life.

Brahmo Samaj

The Brahma Samaj was a theistic organisation founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, an educated Bengali, at Calcutta in 1828. It was initially known as the "Brahmo Sabha". Two factors contributed to the formation of the Brahmo Samaj during the 19th century. Firstly the Hindu social system had begun to stagnate and placed too much emphasis on traditional rituals. Secondly, an English educated class of Indians began to emerge to fulfill the administrative and economic needs of British rule.

Fundamental Principles

The fundamental principles of the Brahmo Samaj are:

  1. There is only one God, who is the Creator and the Saviour of this world. He is spirit, infinite in power, wisdom, love, justice and holiness, omnipresent, eternal and blissful.
  2. The human soul is immortal and capable of infinite progress, and is responsible to God for its doings.
  3. Man's happiness in this and the next world consists in worshipping God in spirit and in truth.
  4. Loving God, holding communion with Him and carrying out His will in all the concerns of life, constitute true worship.
  5. No created object is to be worshipped as God, and God alone is to be considered as infallible.


To this, Raja Ram Mohan Roy added: "The true way of serving God is to do good to man." Since no one person is considered to be infallible, the Brahmos hold all the great religious leaders of the world in respect, and believe that truth is to be gleaned from all the scriptures of the world. To that extent, the Brahmo religion is truly eclectic. Universalist in nature, it is "dogmatically un-dogmatic". The Brahmo Samaj rejected idol worship and the worship of multiple gods and goddesses of the traditional Hindu beliefs. It sought to purge Hinduism of its social evils by advocating the teachings of Vedas and Upanishads. The Brahmo Samaj has played a significant role in the renaissance of India, and the roots of much of the modern thinking in India can be traced back to the Brahmo movement. After initially evolving in India, the Brahmo religion is now practised in many parts of the world.

Divisions in the Brahmo Samaj

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was much influenced by the Western thought, especially Christianity. He was one of the first Hindus to visit Europe, where he was much admired by the intellectuals. After the death of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Brahmo Samaj got divided into many sects. Debendranath Tagore (father of Rabindranath Tagore) took an active interest in the Brahmo Samaj and began to transform the Brahmo Samaj into a spiritual fraternity. He established the Adi Brahmo Samaj and formulated the "Brahmo-upasana" which was a set of readings from the Upanishads. Debendranath Tagore's successor was Keshab Chandra Sen. He sought to incorporate Christian ideals into the Brahmo Samaj movement. He began the compilation of a scripture including passages from the Holy Books of many religions - Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Muslim. He founded the Bharitiya Brahmo Samaj or the Naba Bidhan Samaj. Another split took place in the Brahmo Samaj in May 1878 when the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj was founded by Pandit Shivanath Shastri, owing to differences with Keshab Chandra Sen. Eventually these three were united to form the "Brahmo Sammilan Samaj" and a "mandir" was built in Bhowanipur, Calcutta, which celebrated its centenary in 1997.

Prominent Brahmo Samajis

Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Keshad Chandra Sen, Jagdish Chandra Bose, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, Satyajit Ray, Rabindranath Tagore, Debendranath Tagore and Amartya Sen.

Prarthana Samaj

Prarthana Samaj, founded by R.G.Bhandarkar and M.G.Ranade in Mumbai (then Bombay) in 1867, was an offshoot of the Brahmo Samaj.[1] Like Brahmo Samaj, it also preached worship of one god and tried to free religion from various evils like caste system and dominance of priests. The other persons who worked for promoting the principles of the Prarthana Samaj include Gopal Ganesh Agarkar and Kandukuri Veerasalingam.

Arya Samaj

Arya Samaj was founded in 1875 at Bombay by Swami Dayanand Saraswati to move the Hindu Dharma away from all the factitious beliefs and to go back to the teachings of Vedas. The goal of the Arya Samaj is Krinvanto Vishvam Aryam i.e. to Make This World Noble. Arya Samaj started the Suddhi Movement to reconvert the Christians and others into Hinduism.

Fundamental Principles of Arya Samaj

There are ten fundamental principles of Arya Samaj which include

  1. Believe in one Supreme God.
  2. God is personification of Existence, Intelligence and Bliss. He is Formless, Almighty; Just, Benevolent, Unborn, Endless and Infinite
  3. The Vedas are the scriptures of true knowledge and are the words of God.
  4. Embrace truth and forsake untruth
  5. Righteousness
  6. Benevolence
  7. Love and Justice
  8. To dispel avidya (nescience) and promote vidya (science), both spiritual and physical
  9. Promoting good of all
  10. Subordination and Liberty


The Arya Samaj organization is live and sound in all parts of the world. Arya Samaj has branches in countries around the world including United States, Canada, Guyana, Surinam, Trinidad, Mexico, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Malawi, Mauritius, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia.

Prominent Arya Samajis

Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Shradhanand, Acharya Ram Dev, Pandit Guru Dutt Vidyarthi and Lala Lajpat Rai.

Ayyavazhi

The Ayyavazhi sect was founded in the 19th century by Ayya Vaikundar, recognized as an avatar of Vishnu. It was a retaliation to societal traditions such as the caste system and how the backward-castes could not perform certain worship. It also fought conversion by the British/Christians. It began in Tamil Nadu and is popular in southern Tamil Nadu and southern Kerala.

Ramakrishna Mission

The Ramkrishna Mission was inaugurated by Swami Vivekananda(1863-1902) in 1897 to spread the message and teachings of his spiritual guru, the famous Bhakti saint Ramkrishna Paramhansa. One of the major aims for establishing the Ramkrishna Mission was the spread of the universal message of the Vedanta and the revival of Hinduism. In 1894 Swami Vivekananda attended the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago and became famous by his eloquent defense of Hinduism. In 1897 he established Mats or monasteries named after Ramakrishna for religious meditation. Vivekanda was very modern in his outlook and denounced untouchability, poverty and suppression of women. He condemned the caste system and undue emphasis on rituals and ceremonies. He welcomed the knowledge of science and said that it does not contradict religion. His teachings inspired courage, confidence and national pride among the Hindus. This mission even had influence among Sri Lankan Hindus who wanted to built unity to face threats against Hinduism. Today there are Kokuvil Ramakrishna M.V and Kondavil Ramakrishna Vidyalayam in Sri Lanka.

Brahma Kumari

The Brahma Kumari A.K.A. Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya (Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University) is an organization founded by Guru Lekhraj Kripalani, a Sindhi businessman known to the BKs as "Brahma Baba." He is said to have been possessed by God Shiva. Ever since then, he taught people what he was taught by Shiva. he moved to Mount Abu, where he established the head quarters for his newly formed organization. The BKs stress the inclusion of the women in priesthood and cut across.

This organization has 500,000 members worldwide.

Parisada Hindu Dharma

This is an Hindu organization amied at representing the Hindus of Indonesia. It was originally titled the "Parisada Hindu Dharma Bali." It is a reform movement started in 1960 by D.R. Ida Bagus Mantra and led by Gedong Bagus Oka.

Newer movements

In South Central Java there are recent converts to Hinduism.[20]

The four largest movements in Java are Susila Sudi Dharma (SUBUD), Paguyuban Ngasti Tunggal (PANGESTU), Paguyuban Sumarah, and Sapta Dharma.

Hindutva

The Hindutva movement was founded by Veer Savarkar and pioneered by by other freedom fighters of India in the era. These personalities included Lokmanya Tilak and Dr. K.B. Hedgewar. This movement sought at achieving a "Hindu Rashtra" or an official Hindu Nation which operates by Hindu values. Today strong supporters of the Hindutva ideology include figures such as Bal Thackeray the Shiv Sena leader and authors such as Koenraad Elst.

Other movements

Other organizations that developed were Hindu Sreyobhivardini Sabha, Arsha Mata Sabha, Veda Samaj, and Swadhyay Parivar.

Response to conversions

Northeastern India

In Asom, where the Bodo tribes were being fastly converted to Christianity, a bhagat by the name Kalicharan Mech formulated his own beliefs and protected the Adivasis of Asom by organizing them in the Brahma Dharma, which included vegetarianism and non-violence along with the preservation of their culture. He later became known as Gurudev Kalicharan Brahma or Guru Brahma. Today anyone can become a member of the Brahma Dharma, including Christians! Babu Sibcharan Ray, a Khasi tribe member of Meghalaya became a member of the Brahmo Samaj and made anti-Colonialist/anti-missionary writings. He had the Bhagavad Gita written in the Khasi language.

Eastern India

Jharkhand was racked with anti-Colonilaist movements! The tribals supported the Sepoy Rebellion, which the Hindu Zamindars (e.g. Mundas) liked because foriegners were on their land and because the missionaries would be financially hurt.

Kol Insurrection (1831-1832)

This movement was led by Buddhu Bhagat, a member of the Kol tribe. It was directly casued by the tax upon the Mundas by Muslims Thikadars (intermediaries.)[2]

Bhumij Revolt (1832-1833)

This movement was led by Ganga Narain of the Bhumij tribe.

Santhal Insurrection (1855)

Sapha Hors of the Santhal tribe adopted vegetarianism and some other pure traditions and resisted the colonialists and missionaries strongly!

Kherwar Movement (1874)

The Kherwar tribe was also Hindu nationalistic and resisted colonialists and the missionaries.

Birsa Munda Movement (1895-1900)

Birsa Munda is the most-known Adivasi to fight the British. He literally became "Bhagwan" and "Dharti Aba" (Father of the earth) to the Munda tribe from which He hailed from. People approached him as Singbonga, the sun-god.

He was against conversions by missionaries. He converted even Christians to his own sect.[3] He wanted not only political, but religious freedom as well![4] He and his clan, the Mundas were connected with Vaishnava traditions as they were inflfuenced by Sri Chaitanya.[5] Birsa was very close to the Panre brothers, who were Vaishnavites as well.

He was influenced by the Vaishnava tradition and the Arya Samaj[6]. He adopted vegetarianism. He was arrested for two years before being freed and yet creating a greater militancy!

He was looked upon as an incarnation of Khasra Kora who had destroyed the Asurs (British). Armed Munda under his leadership, in fact, timed an attack on the missionaries, landlords and Police on Christmas Eve, 1899.

Mahima Dharma Movement

This movement begun by Mukund Das is believed to have checked the conversions made by Christian missionaries.[21]

Tana Bhagat Movement (1914-1919)

Sant Tana or Sant Tantya, a Bhil is also known for resting the missionaries and colonialists. His uprising began in Chingari, Bihar. Sant Tana's followers became known as the Tana Bhagats. They are vegetarians and resisted conversions. As punishment for Adivasi resistance to British rule, "The Criminal Tribes Act" was passed by the British Government in 1871 arbitrarily stigmatizing groups such as the Adivasis (who were perceived as most hostile to British interests) as congenital criminals. Jatra Bhagat proclaimed that he and his followers would not work as labourers under a landlord or an Englishman or the British Government. Tana Bhagat brought social and religious reform in tribal communities, the Oraon in particular. Tribals actively participated in the freedom movement. They consider Mahatma Gandhi an ideal man and worship him as a deity. In the house of every Tana Bhagat the tricolour flag is permanently planted in memory of the freedom movement and of Gandhi. Their movement admirably fits into the Gandhian socioeconomic, political, non-violent movement. In the tribal context, theirs is a unique reformist movement aimed at enhancing tribal cultural heritage.

Southern India

The Ayyavazhi sect was founded in the 19th century by Ayya Vaikundar (1809-1851), recognized as an avatar of Vishnu. It was a retaliation to societal traditions such as the caste system and how the backward-castes could not perform certain worship. It also fought conversion by the British/Christians. It began in Tamil Nadu and is popular in southern Tamil Nadu and southern Kerala.

See also

References

  1. Ramaswamy, P. 203
  2. Datta, P. 1000 Encyclopaedia of Indian literature vol. 2
  3. Desai, P. 113 Social Life in Maharashtra Under the Peshwas
  4. Datta, P. 1000
  5. Ramaswamy, P. 203
  6. Institute for Rewriting Indian History, P. 39 Annual Report and General Meeting Invitation
  7. Desai, P. 114
  8. Ramaswamy, P. 212
  9. Ramaswamy, P. 212
  10. Āvaḷīkara, P. 73 The Marathi-Kannada Relationship
  11. Ramaswamy, P. 204
  12. Ramaswamy, P. 212
  13. Bose, P. 260 Faces of the Feminine in Ancient, Medieval, and Modern India
  14. Ramaswamy, P. 204 Walking Naked
  15. Ramaswamy, P. 210
  16. Desai, P. 114
  17. Hastings, P. 504 Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics Part 4
  18. Hastings, P. 504
  19. Hastings, P. 504
  20. Koentjaraningrat in Eliade 1987, Vol. 7, 559
  21. Bajpai, P. 65 Studies in History