SOCIAL REFORMERS, CASTE AND CONVERSION

Authors

  • Dr. B. VENKAT RAO

Abstract

In this paper, the attempt is to demonstrate how central the question of caste and conversion is in the agenda of national-level social reformers and their movements. A number of different threads feed into the negative mindset on the question of conversion. Many reformers, liberal humanists, modernists and nationalists acknowledge the fact that caste discrimination and the practice of untouchablility are the root cause for the conversion. Yet they have not explored how this problem actually played out in recent Indian history.  What follows is a review of the major schools of arguments on the issue of conversion. We have focused particularly on the arguments of the Social Reformers. It is popularly believed that these three schools of thought constitute, and in fact cover, the principal discussion on the issue of conversion.  In subsequent paper we hope to show that there is a critical lacuna in this body of work. . Therefore, the paper begins with an analysis of how the major social reformers such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dayananda Saraswati, and Vivekananda treated the question of conversion and caste.  The discussion of these figures also covers the role of two organizations that have been influential and whose voice has been authoritative in the mainstream understanding of the conversion question: the Brahmo Samaj and Arya Samaj.

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Published

2021-10-08