Prarthana Samaj (Founded: 1867): Prarthana Samaj, or “Prayer Society” in Sanskrit, was a movement for religious and social reform in Bombay based on earlier reform movements. Prarthana Samaj was founded by Dr Atmaram Pandurang in 1867 when Keshab Chandra Sen visited Maharashtra. Another leader of Prarthana Samaj was R.G. Bhandarkar. It was spread to south India by Telugu reformer,Viresalingam.
In I870, Justice Mahadev Gobind Ranade joined this society and much of the work of this society was done by zeal and dedication of Ranade only. Under Ranade, it got all India character.
Notes on Prarthana Samaj:
The two main planks of the Samaj were worship and social reforms.
Ranade was a revivalist, who pointed that most of the prevailing evil customs ran counter to the practices observed in earlier times.
Ranade also launched a Purity Movement comprising anti-dancing and temperance agitation, admission of converts from other faiths and reduction in extravagant marriage expenses.
Hinduism the faith of Prarthana Samaj but it needed to be purified and reinterpreted in the light of the modern theistic philosophy.
His views regarding theism are set out in 39 articles which he drew up under the title “A Theist’s Confession of Faith“.
Two other champions of social reform with him were Dhondo Keshav Karve and Vishnu Shastri. Ranade and Karve launched the Widow Remarriage Movement and started Widows’ Home Association, to provide education to widows. The Widows’ Home aimed at making widows self supporting by giving them training as teachers, midwives or nurses. In no other part of India did the social reform movement work so successfully and create so profound an influence as in Maharashtra under the auspices of the Prarthana Samaj.