Indian Renaissance Movement paved the foundation of national consciousness in the 19th century India. Analyse
Indian Renaissance movement was a cultural, social, intellectual and artistic movement in the Indian subcontinent during the period of the British Indian Empire, from the nineteenth century to the early twentieth century for bringing reforms in the prevalent socio-religious conditions. This period is generally considered as the dawn of a golden era in the history of India because of the presence of great men like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dayananda Saraswathi, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Vivekananda.
It is said that Indian Renaissance Movement paved the foundation of national consciousness. A national consciousness is a shared sense of national identity; a shared understanding that people group shares a common background. Indian Renaissance movement was pivotal in foundation of national consciousness; however there were many other factors which were responsible for national consciousness.
Indian Renaissance Movement paved the foundation of national consciousness
- Religious and Cultural Awakening in Indian Society: Indian Renaissance Movement brought about a renaissance in the realm of religion and philosophy which resulted in a widespread national awakening, manifesting itself in a patriotic feeling of pride in the great spiritual traditions of the country.
- Spiritual renaissance: Swami Vivekananda believed that knowledge resided within the individual himself and everyone is entitled to perfection .Education was the right of the underprivileged and the marginalized. By bringing it to the forefront, all Indians were knot with a single thread leading to unity of India as a nation, thus bringing national consciousness.
- Political awakening: Radical thinkers such as Henry Louis Vivian Derozio ignited the political awakening in India. His patriotic poems such as “My Native Land” exhorted the words “freedom from British rule”. Such acts of rational thinking and patriotism initiated the Political awakening
- Emphasis on Humanism: The central inspiration of the Indian renaissance movement was humanism. By bringing man to the centre stage, humanism spurred the creative energy in all spheres of social existence. The central figure of this cultural awakening was Raja Rammohan Roy, also known as the “father of the Indian Renaissance. An awakened society is primary factor for creation of national consciousness.
- Embodiment of confidence in masses through glorification of ancient India: Important feature of the movement was an inquiry into the past and its glorification to instill pride in masses about India’s history. Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s use of Hindu scriptures , or Narayana Guru’s advocacy of universalism all examples of instilling required confidence in masses that united them as children of glorious ancient India. This confidence provided impetus to national consciousness.
- Social quest for modernity: The origin of modernity in India is often attributed to the intellectual and cultural efflorescence associated with the renaissance. Swami Vivekananda put his weight behind the happy blending of western sciences and the Indian spiritual philosophy. This quest for modernity enriched the national consciousness with liberal ideas and thoughts.
- Emergence of Conscious Middle Class: The awakening of India resulting in the reconstruction of the nation in sociopolitical and cultural fields was the result of historical forces unleashed by colonialism. The first and foremost among these forces was the emergence of a new middle class. This new class was to become a foundation stone for the Indian national movement.
- Modern Western education and ideas: Modern Western education was used as a major instrument to spread modern ideas in the country. Raja Ram Mohan Roy was associated with the foundation of the Hindu College in Calcutta (which later came to be known as the Presidency College). These colleges led to the spread of modern ideas and western education contributing to national consciousness.
The national consciousness or Nationalism did not follow the Indian renaissance movement
- National movement kept the struggle on social issues outside its political agenda: The national movement took the precaution to keep the struggle on social issues outside its political agenda and to control it through measured interventions. Gandhiji’s role in the Vaikom Satyagraha, for instance, was that of a mediator and not a participant, even if his sympathy was with the satyagrahis.
- National Unification dominated the Social Unification: The political movement for national unification gained an upper hand and the social unification was relegated to the background. The rise and decline of the Indian Social Conference is a good example.
- Limited rural outreach: Widespread illiteracy in the rural areas and absence of modern communications systems, Indian renaissance movement had a limited urban outreach leaving the masses in darkness.
- Communalization: National consciousness is defined by unity of all Indians and is secular in nature. In contrast, the Indian renaissance movement was focused on religion and past, thus was defined by religion. This created a notion of two separate segments of people and increased communal consciousness.
- Caste movement gained momentum: The tendency of the reformers to portray the glorious past and on scriptural authority led to feuds between religions as also alienating high caste Hindus from lower caste Hindus.
Indian renaissance movement which preceded the political struggles, are considered as a necessary precursor for nationalism or national consciousness. With other factors combined together, national consciousness is conceptualized as a natural outcome of the renaissance.