Bengal Renaissance is the socio-reform movement that took place in the 19th and early 20th century. While India was under the British raj, some scholars and other prominent personalities from Bengal came forward to question the unnecessary and the unjustified traditional values that were going on in India for centuries. In the nineteenth century, Bengal saw a major questioning in forms to abolish the redundant practices while other movements were carried out in India against the British Raj. The Bengal Renaissance is considered similar to the European Renaissance that took place in the 16th century with the only difference that the European Renaissance was against colonization. Bengal Renaissance is known to be the building bridge between the medieval and the modern period of the Indian history.  Enlisted here are five icons that were a synonym to the Bengal Renaissance.

1. Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Raja Ram Mohan Roy
From Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was an educationalist and a socio-reformist that questioned and pushed out the redundant practices even under the British rue. The idea of bringing a transformation and letting India think rationally, Raja Ram Mohan Roy established the Brahmo Samaj along with Dwarkanath Tagore. Also known as the progenitor of Indian Renaissance, Ram Mohan Roy has been known for his steps taken that lead to the abolition of Sati. Also he is known for introducing the word ‘Hinduism’ in the English language. He gave his life fighting for the rights of the Hindus and to keep Hinduism intact. He has been one of the earliest personas of the renaissance period.

2. Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore
From Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Tagore family has played an important role during the Bengal Renaissance. Rabindranath Tagore has contributed to the movement in form of art and literature. The family was known for the magazine publications and other reforms that were brought out through an elaborated work of art, culture and education. Rabindranath Tagore tried to fuse the concepts of the traditions of the east and the ideologies of the west for letting India march from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. It is said that the Bengal renaissance saw its decline with the death of this genius scholar.

3. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee

Bankim Chandra Chatterjee
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The poet, writer and the journalist, Bankim Chandra Chaterjee was another genius that contributed to the Bengal Renaissance. The reformist was known to write novels and write ups that are still studied as a part of the well written literature. Bankim Chandra Chaterjee carried out a movement to encourage the Bangla speaking people through his Baṅgadarśan. He preached humanism in the most prominent ways and effected an entire era by his writings. Bankim Chandra Chaterjee is best known for giving the lyrics for the song ‘Vande Matram’ thatbecame the hymn of the freedom movement for India.

4. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
From Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar has been wellknown during the mid-nineteenth century for his voices that he raised for the social welfare of females. As a part of the Bengal renaissance, the works of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar have been notably worthwhile. Vidyasagar was the name given to him by the people for he was believed to encompass an ocean of knowledge within himself. Ishwar handra Vidyasagar stood for the rights of education for girls and also for widow remarriage. He served for the female welfare and fought for equality till his last breath.

5. Swami Vivekanand

Swami Vivekanand
Photo by Manjappabg, CC BY-SA 3.0

Swami Vivekanand is one of the most prominent personalities of the renaissance in Bengal. The Hindu abbot was responsible for spreading the philosophies of the Vedas and also the concepts of Yoga in the western world. Swami Vivekanand is also closely related Ramakrishna Paramhans, who was another key personality in the Bengal Renaissance. Swami Vivekanand is best known his Chicago speech that he began with “Sisters and brothers of America.” and introduced Hinduism as a global religion.

There were other scholars and reformists that have contributed in taking the medieval India forward and letting it see the sunshine of modernism. These personalities have influenced even after the renaissance ended and their works are still read and appreciated.