Social Reformers in India and their Contribution

A list of Social Reformers in India and their Contribution are given below

Sree Sankara (AD 788-820)


Sree Sankara popularly known as Sankaracharya was born at Kalady in Kerala. His interpretation of Vedas and Hindu spirituality based on 'adwaida' gave a new orientation to the diminishing Hindu religion. Then he travelled all over India by foot and lit the lamp of awakening in society. He founded religious centres called 'mut' at different parts of India. This great saint breathed his last at the age of 32.


Kabir (1440-1518)


Philosopher, religious critic and a devotional poet, born in 1440. Weaving was his livelihood. Kabir propagated his ideals gained from social experience through his lyrics. He spread the virtues of Hindu-Muslim religions. He was renowned by the name Mystic Poet. Beejak, Aadigrandham, Kabir vachanavali etc. were some of his great works. He died in 1518.


Guru Nanak (1469-1539)


Founder of Sikhism. Born at Rai Bhoi di Talvandi near Lahore in a merchant family. He worked as a store keeper before getting spiritual insight. He spent a wandering life for 20 years as a saint. Then settled at Karatarpur in Punjab and became first Guru of Sikhism. Both Hindu and Muslim ideologies influenced Sikhism. Guru Nanak died in 1539.


Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833)


Father of Indian awakening. Blended modern education and rich Indian concepts for social reforms. He was born in a conservative Hindu family of Bengal. He advised people to unite against caste system, child marriage and sati. He started Brahmo Samaj in 1828. Reformation of Hindu society was the aim of the Samaj.


Eswarachandra Vidyasagar (1820-1891)


Social reformer, sanskrit scholar and writer. Born on September 26, 1820 in Beersimha, Bengal. He worked for the social development of the people mainly by supporting widow marriage and prohibiting polygamy. He found a widow for his son to get married. He led a simple and ideal life. Vidyasagar died on July 20, 1891.


Dayananda Saraswathi (1824-1883)


Social reformer and religious leader. He was born at Morve in Gujarat. He founded Arya Samaj for the Hindu reformation in 1875. ‘Back to Vedas' was his slogan. He succeeded in mobilising Hindu mainstream people against injustice prevailing in the religion. His ideologies influenced Gandhiji a lot. Dayananda Saraswathi also participated in the first war of independence.


Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836-1886)


Spiritual leader and teacher of Swami Vivekananda. Born on February 17, 1836 in Kumar Pukkoor village in Bengal. His spiritual thoughts and fond devotion to God made him an ascetic at an early age. Through his love, devotion and simplicity in life, Ramakrishna led a number of people to a spiritual life. He died on August 16, 1886.


Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)


Great Indian monk and social reformer. Born on January 12, 1863 near Calcutta. He received English education and became a disciple of Sree Ramakrishna. He addressed World Religious Conference of 1893 at Chicago. Vivekananda founded Sree Ramakrishna Mission in 1897. He stood against social injustice and casteism of Hindu religion.


Chattambi Swamikal (1853-1924)


An ascetic, Chattambi Swamikal was born on August 25, 1853 at Kannammoola, Thiruvananthapuram. He was a scholar in Tamil grammar and logic, yoga and hadayoga. He severely criticised the bad customs and superstitions existed in Hindu religion and led the people to a new life of truth and ethics. A temple and an ashram were erected at Panmana, the samadhi place of Chattambi Swamikal. He died on May 3, 1924.


Sree Narayana Guru (1856-1928)


Social reformer of Kerala, born at Chempazhanthi near Thiruvananthapuram on August 28, 1855. He opened a temple, barring caste for the deprived of Hindu Society in 1888 at Aruvipuram. Advised backward castes to educate themselves and get uplifted. He started a chain of reforms in Kerala that led the state to become a model of social changes.


Mannath Padmanabhan (1878-1970)


Advocate, social reformer and staunch leader of Nair caste, Mannath Padmanabhan was the founder of Nair Service Society (NSS). He was born on January 2nd 1878 at Perunna near to Changanassery in Kerala. He started many educational institutions, hospitals and industrial firms. Mannam was one of the leaders of the Liberation Movement during 1959 against the Communist ministry. In 1966 he was honoured with ‘Padmabhushan’. He died on February 25 1970.


Ayyankali (1863-1941)


Eminent leader of the Dalits arid founder of Pulaya Mahajanasabha. Born in 1863 in Venganoor, Thiruvananthapuram. He was a member of the Praja Sabha for 20 years. He led Dalits to achieve the right to enter temples and schools and to walk through public roads. In a large meeting of the Dalits held at Venganoor in 1932, Gandhiji appreciated the dedicated service of Ayyankali for the uplift of the Dalits. He died in 1941.


Sri Aurobindo Ghosh (1872-1950)


Philosopher and revolutionary, Aurobindo was born in Calcutta in 1872. He was a staunch supporter of India's freedom struggle. He propounded the theory of direct political action against the British rule, rather than moderate reformism. Later he established an ashram at Pondicherry and spent the rest of his life there as an ascetic. He died in 1950.


Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (1893-1956)


Known as the Architect of Indian Constitution. Born on April 14. 1891 at Ambavade village in Maharashtra. He was the emancipator of the untouchables and crusader for social justice. Ambedkar was the chairman of the drafting committee of Indian constitution. Served as the first Minister for Law in independent India. Died on December 6, 1956.


Acharya Vinoba Bhave (1895-1982)


Social worker and founder of Bhoodan Movement. Born on September 11, 1895 at Gagode in Maharashtra. Before completing college education, he joined Gandhiji's Sabarmati Ashram. Gandhiji deputed Vinoba to establish Sathyagraha Ashram at Wardha. He also participated in the Vaikkom Sathyagraha. Vinoba died in 1982.


Mother Teresa (1910-1997)


Saviour of the poor and orphans of Calcutta. She was born in Yugoslavia and came to India as a young nun in 1931. She founded the Order of Missionaries of Charity in 1948. Mother became synonym of charity and love. She received Nobel Prize for Peace in 1979. She left the world on September 5, 1997. She was beatified in 2003.