Nature and Character
The socio-religious ferment that characterised this period was religious in
character. Secularisation was not yet a viable stance, although a few
anticipated it. The leaders couched their appeals in religious language and
were heard as spiritual persons.
By and large, they stayed away from politics. Only a few had opposed British
rule and preached for its overthrow.
The economic ideas of the reform leaders represented the traditional outlook.
They never possessed radical economic ideas, for the time was not ripe to
breed such ideas.
A lot of difference can be observed in the approach and methods of the
leaders in carrying out the reform movement. Roy broke away from the
mainstream of traditional Hindu society. Ranade followed the path of gradual
reform within Hindu society, Dayanand displayed an attitude of intransigence
and rigidity towards foreign influences.
Achievements of Renaissance
One should give credit to the 19th century reformers for initiating social and
religious awakening in India.
It was due to their work that great self-respect, self-confidence and pride
were fostered among Indians.
The problems of women were highlighted by almost all the reform leaders.
Though the result was not spectacular, the road was laid in the proper form.
During the first two decades of the 20th century, much attention was paid to
the problem of depressed classes in society.
Limitations of Renaissance
At the same time, the religious reform movement was concentrated upon and
benefited only a microscopic minority of the Indian population.
Further, it started tending to look backward, appeal to past greatness and to