Extra Questions- Women, Caste and Reform


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Very Short Answer Type

1. Which two castes were considered as the upper- castes?

Brahmans and Kshatriyas

2. Who founded the reform association called Brahmo Samaj?

Raja Rammohun Roy

3. Who founded Arya Samaj and when?

Swami Dayanand Saraswati in 1875.

4. Which Institute set up for girls during the 19th century provided education as equal to the one provided to boys?

Hindu Mahila Vidyalaya, 1875

5. Who wrote the book Stripurushtulna?

Tarabai Shinde

Short Answer Type

1. Explain the caste division in society during the British era.

In most regions, people were divided along lines of caste. Brahmans and Kshatriyas considered themselves as “upper castes”. Others, such as traders and moneylenders (often referred to as Vaishyas) were placed after them. Then came peasants, and artisans such as weavers and potters (referred to as Shudras). At the lowest rung were those who laboured to keep cities and villages clean or worked at jobs that upper castes considered “polluting”, that is, it could lead to the loss of caste status. The upper castes also treated many of these groups at the bottom as “untouchable”.

2. What was the mindset of the people who were called reformers?

The reformers felt that changes were necessary for society and unjust practices needed to be done away with. They thought that the best way to ensure such changes was by persuading people to give up old practices and adopt a
a new way of life.

3. What activities were prohibited for the lower-castes or untouchables?

They were not allowed to enter temples, draw water from the wells used by the upper castes, or bathe in ponds where upper castes bathed. They have seen as inferior human beings.

4. What was the position of women at the end of the 19th century?

By the end of the nineteenth century, women themselves were actively working for reform. They wrote books, edited magazines, founded schools and training centres, and set up women’s associations. From the early twentieth century, they formed political pressure groups to push through laws for female suffrage (the right to vote) and better health care and education for women. Some of them joined various kinds of nationalist and socialist movements from the 1920s.

5. What was the aim of Non- Brahmanical movements?

The Non-Brahmanical movements tried to change those habits and practices which provoked the contempt of
dominant castes. They tried to create a sense of self-esteem among the subordinate castes.

Long Answer Type

1. Write the name and explain any 5 reform organisation or associations formed during the 19th century.

The five reform Organisation during the 19th century are as follows:

  • The Brahmo Samaj
    The Brahmo Samaj, formed in 1830 by Raja Rammohun Roy, prohibited all forms of idolatry and sacrifice, believed in the Upanishads and forbade its members from criticising other religious practices. It critically drew upon the ideals of religions – especially of Hinduism and Christianity – looking at their negative and positive dimensions.
  • The Prarthana Samaj
    Established in 1867 at Bombay, the Prarthana Samaj sought to remove caste restrictions, abolish child marriage, encourage the education of women, and end the ban on widow remarriage. Its religious meetings drew upon Hindu, Buddhist and Christian texts.
  • The Aligarh Movement
    The Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College, founded by Sayyid Ahmed Khan in 1875 at Aligarh, later became the Aligarh Muslim University. The institution offered modern education, including Western science, to Muslims. The Aligarh Movement, as it was known, had an enormous impact in the area of educational reform.
  • The Singh Sabha Movement
    Reform organisations of the Sikhs, the first Singh Sabhas were formed at Amritsar in 1873 and at Lahore in
    1879. The Sabhas sought to rid Sikhism of superstitions, caste distinctions and practices seen by them as non-Sikh. They promoted education among the Sikhs, often combining modern instruction with Sikh teachings.
  • The Veda Samaj
    Established in Madras (Chennai) in 1864, the Veda Samaj was inspired by the Brahmo Samaj. It worked to abolish caste distinctions and promote widow remarriage and women’s education. Its members believed in one God. They condemned the superstitions and rituals of orthodox Hinduism.

2. Write a short note on Swami Vivekanand and his mission?

Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), whose original name was Narendra Nath Dutta, combined the simple teachings of Sri Ramakrishna with his well-founded modern outlook and spread them all over the world. After hearing him in the World Parliament of Religions at Chicago in 1893, the New York Herald reported, “We feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation”. Indeed, Swami Vivekananda was the first Indian in modern times, who re-established the spiritual pre-eminence of the Vedanta philosophy on a global scale. But his mission was not simply to talk of religion. He was extremely pained at the poverty and the misery of his countrymen. He firmly believed that any reform could become successful only by uplifting the condition of the masses. Therefore, his clarion call to the people of India was to rise above the narrow confines of their ‘religion of the kitchen’ and come together in the service of the nation. By sending out this call he made a signal contribution to the nascent nationalism of India.

Swami Vivekanand sense of nationalism was, however, not narrow in its conception. He was convinced that many
of the problems facing mankind could only be overcome if the nations of the world come together on an equal footing. Therefore, his exhortation to the youth was to unite on the basis of a common spiritual heritage. In this exhortation, he became truly ‘the symbol of a new spirit and a source of strength for the future’.

He started a mission named after Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda’s guru, the Ramakrishna Mission stressed the ideal of salvation through social service and selfless action.

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