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There was also an ideological shift in the enlightened section of Indian society. These people were focused on Rationalism, Universalism and Humanistic thought.

Raja Rammohun Roy stressed on universalism and humanism as guiding principles to follow any religion. He made demonstrability as the sole criteria to accept any truth.

Rationalism –

  • All the tradition and beliefs were sought to be evaluated on the basis of rationality and social utility. This led to Brahmo samaj rejecting the idea that Vedas can never be falsified.
  • Syed Ahmed Khan emphasized that religious tenets of Islam were not immutable. Swami Vivekanand held that religion should be subjected to same form of investigation as were the sciences.
  • There was a move to reconcile religious tenets with the needs of modern age.
  • Akshay Kumar Dutta gave medical principles to bolster the casue against child marriages.
  • There was a nationwide process of re­evaluation of socio-cultural and religious values.

Universalism —

  • There was a comparison between different religions and basic commonality of universalism was promoted. All religions were found to have some basic universal principles.
  • Keshub Chandra Sen said that “Our position is not that truths are to be found in all religions, but that all established religions of the world are true”.
  • This universalistic discourse was meant to promote secular ethos and unify various religious identities.
  • Religion strongly influenced socio-political outlook of Indians therefore there was a need for universalism which would unite all Indians.
  • However, universalism could not be promoted successfully and later 19th century saw the cracks in inter-religious unity to develop as a result of colonial policy of communalism.

Humanism —

  • Those values which favour the Human progress are the ones which should be promoted. Morality was linked to those values which remove disabilities in all round human welfare.
  • Religious scriptures were re interpreted in the new spirit of human welfare.
  • Dominance of Brahminical interpretation over religious and socio-cultural values was attacked.
  • Otherworldliness was discarded and replaced with making life better in the then present world.


Modern History