CULTURAL ENCOUNTER AND
                   SOCIAL CHANGES
GENERAL SURVEY
Regeneration of Indian Society The 19th century saw India make a late
entry into the modern age from medieval times. The activities of missionaries
and the policies of British government resulted in the growth of socio-
religious reform movements to safeguard Indian religions from the Christian
onslaught and to put an end to the social evils eating into the vitals of Indian
culture and civilization. These movements were generally linked with
religious beliefs and practices. The ideas and activities of Raja Ram Mohan
Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidya Sagar, Vivekananda, Swami Dayanand
Saraswati, Veeresalingam Panthulu and many other reformers were directed
at the regeneration of Indian society.
Problems Plaguing India Caste intolerance was a common malady raging
all over the country. Illiteracy was prevalent everywhere. Amongst the
educated also, the majority were conservative in outlook. Women’s status
was at the lowest ebb; female infanticide and polygamy were common
practices. To liberate the masses from ignorance, few liberal men undertook
the mammoth task of reforming the Indian society. They were mainly
western educated intellectuals belonging to upper and middle classes in the
initial stages of reform movement. On the religious front, however, few
leaders, like Dayanand, opposed tooth and nail the influence of western
culture.
Reformation and Revivalism Almost all the leaders gave importance to
education in their efforts to reform the society. Abolition of sati, widow
remarriage, property rights for women and similar reforms were taken up
with zeal. There were a few organisations like the Arya Samaj and the
Theosophical Society which gave        prime importance to revivalism than to