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Manav Dharam Sabha – Paramahansa Mandli – Prarthna Samaj

Manav Dharam Sabha

The Manav Dharma Sabha was a major socio-cultural reform established by Mehtaji Durgaram Manchharam on 22nd June, 1844. It proved to be a road-map for all other reforms in Surat and especially in the state of Gujarat. Since the second decade of the seventeenth century, Surat was under British Governance and witnessed a row of tensions especially after the start of western education and missionaries in the state.

The small educated class in Gujarat became an iconic figure and the group as a whole started to condemn the trend of contemporary society in Gujarat.

Prominent members of the group were Dadoba Panderung Tarkhad, Dinmani Shankar, Dalpatram Bhagubai and Damodar Das. Durgaram and his friends rejected “the existence of ghosts, their exorcism by means of incantations, the evils of early marriage and the bar against remarriage of high caste Hindu widows”.

Paramahansa Mandli

The Paramahansa Mandali was a highly influential and significant Hindu socio religious organization that made a huge impact in the socio-religious scenario of Maharashtra during the nineteenth century. The organisation was founded by Dadoba Panderung and propelled one of the most powerful socio-religious movements in Western India. The ideology of the Mandali was closely linked with that of Manav Dharma Sabha, as many of its leaders were connected with Manav Dharma Sabha in their early life. Dadoba Panderung himself was one of the prominent leaders of Manav Dharma Sabha and he and his followers brought with them the ideas of the Sabha to the Paramahansa Mandali.

Dadoba Panderung and some his friends established the Paramahansa Mandali in 1849 and it initially worked as a secret socio-radical society. The basic philosophies of the society were that God alone should be worshipped; that real religion is based on love and moral conduct; that spiritual religion is one; that every individual should have freedom of thought; the daily words should be consistent with reason; mankind is one caste; and that the right kind of knowledge should be given to all.

The Paramahansa Mandali urged all its members to abandon the caste restrictions and also asked them to take food and drink prepared by a member of the lower castes. The Mandali used to meet at set times in the homes of various members and sympathisers.

The Paramahansa Mandali collapsed instantly once the identity of the members was made public. However, the Mandali did become successful to make an impact on the contemporary society and its ideas motivated others to establish new organization to propel the socio-religious movements in the western parts of India.

Prarthna Samaj

Prarthana Samaj is a Hindu reform society established in Bombay in the 1860s. In purpose it is similar to, but not affiliated with, the more widespread Brahmo Samaj and had its greatest sphere of influence in and around India’s Mahārāshtra state. The aim of the society is the promulgation of theistic worship and social reform, and its early goals were opposition to the castesystem, the introduction of widow remarriage, the encouragement of female education, and the abolition of child marriage.

The Prarthana Samaj differed from its Calcutta counterpart by its greater reluctance to break with orthodox Hindu tradition, and the Prarthana never required members to give up caste, idol worship, or the traditional religious sacraments.

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