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Modern History / Movements and Revolts

Caste Movements in India during British Rule


    The caste movements in India during British rule were not against the British. These movements were against Brahmins. These were lead by Dalits and the people of middle order castes.



    Activities taken during Caste Revolts

    The activities that were taken by caste revolts were

    • Forcible temple entry.

    • Brahminical dominance was criticized. They claimed that Brahmins were reciting the mantras without knowing the meaning. Rituals were created by Brahmins for livelihood.

    • Burning of Dharma Shastras (Scriptures).

    • Wedding without Brahmins. Even Dalit priests were used for performing marriages.

    Organizations started during Caste Revolts

    • Satyashodhak Samaj (1873) - It was an anti-Brahminical movement that was started in Maharashtra. The founder was Jyotirao Govindrao Phule, who is popularly known as Jyotiba Phule.

      He wrote a book, Gulamgiri and started a journal, Deenabandhu.

    • The organizations that were started by Mahatma Gandhi during caste revolts were "All India Untouchability League" and "Harijan Sevak Sangh" in Delhi in 1932. He started a journal, Harijan in 1933.

    • Vitthal Ramji Shinde started "Depressed Classes Mission Society of India".

    Mahar Movement in Maharashtra

    • Mahar Movement in Maharashtra was started in 1894. Mahar is the name of a Dalit community. The founder of this movement was Gopal Baba Walangkar. In 1920, it was led by B.R. Ambedkar.

    • Organizations that were started by Ambedkar -

      • 1924 - Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha (Depressed Classes Institute)

      • 1927 - Samaj Samata Sangh

      • 1942 - Akhil Bhartiya Dalit Varg Sabha (All India Scheduled Castes Federation)

      • 1945 - People's Education Society

    • Ambedkar also started two political parties, Independent Labour Party (1936) and Republican Party of India (1956).

    • Journals started by Ambedkar are Mooknayak, Bahishkrit Bharat and Janata.

    • Books that were written by Ambedkar are (i) Annihilation of Caste, (ii) Pakistan or the Partition of India, (iii) The Buddha and His Dhamma and (iv) What Congress and Gandhi have done to Untouchables.


    Justice Movement in Tamil Nadu

    • Justice movement was led by intermediary caste people. In 1917, a political party was started known as "South Indian Liberal Federation", more popularly known as Justice Party. It was an anti-Brahminical party.

    • It was founded by T.M. Nair, C.N. Mudaliar and Theagaraya Chetty.

    • E.V. Ramasamy Naicker, more popularly known as "Periyar", who was earlier in Congress Party, joined Justice Party in 1924 by considering Congress as Brahminical Party.

    • In 1925, he initiated a movement called "Self Respect Movement". It was a temple entry programme against the resistance from Brahmins. It was a Dalit movement against Brahmins.

    • In 1938, he became president of Justice Party. In 1944, he renamed it as "Dravidar Kazhagam (DK)".

    • Journals started by Periyar are Kudi Arasu and Viduthalai.

    • C.N. Annadurai came out of DK and started DMK. M.G.Ramachandran came out of DMK and started AIADMK.

    Ezhava Movement in Kerala

    • It is also called Aravippuram Movement. It was led by Nanu Asan, more popularly known as Narayan Guru.

    • In 1903, Narayan Guru started an organization named as "Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam". Slogan of the movement was "One Caste, One Religion and One God for All".

    • Communists (like Ayyappan) took this slogan to "No Caste, No Religion and No God".

    • Congress leaders supported Ezhava Movement. In 1924-1925, Congress leaders started "Vaikom Satyagraha" in support of Ezhava movement.

      It was a temple entry programme for Ezhavas by Congress leaders like T.K. Madhavan, K. Kelappan and C.F. Andrews, a Britisher who followed Gandhi (Deenabandhu title was given by Gandhi to C.F. Andrews).

    Nair Movement in Kerala

    • Nair is an intermediary caste. Namboodiri Brahmins used to exploit them. This movement was against the Brahminical dominance

    • Leaders of the Nair movement -

      • C.V. Raman Pillai, who wrote book "Marthanda Varma"

      • Chandu Menon, who wrote a novel "Indulekha"

      • Mannathu Padmanabha Pillai, who started an organization "Nair Service Society"

      • Ramakrishna Pillai (a Communist ), who started communist journal "Swadeshabhimani"