History (NTSE/Olympiad)  

4. Print Culture and The Modern World

Religious Reforms and Public Debates

Religious Reforms and Public Debates
Printed tracts and newspaper not only spread the new ideas, but they shaped the nature of the debate. A wider public could now participate in these public discussions and express their views. To reach a wider audience, the ideas were printed in the everyday, spoken language of ordinary people. Rammohan Roy published the Sambad Kaumudi from 1821 and the Hindu orthodoxy commissioned the Samachar Chandrika to oppose his opinions. From 1822, two Persian newspapers were published; Jam-i-Jahan, Nama and Shamsul Akhbar. In the same year, a Gujarati newspaper, the Bombay Samachar, made its appearance.
Print and the Muslims :
In north India, the Ulemas used cheap lithographic presses which published Persian and Urdu translations of holy scriptures and printed religious newspapers and tracts to counter Christian cultural invasions. The Deoband seminary founded in 1867, published many fatwas making Muslim readers aware of the code of conduct to be followed in their everyday lives and explained the meanings of Islamic doctrines. Urdu print helped them conduct these battles in public.
Print and the Hindus :
(i) The first printed edition of the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas came out from Calcutta in 1810.
(ii) The mid-nineteenth century, cheap lithographic editions flooded the north Indian markets.
(iii) From the 1880s, the Naval Kishore Press at Lucknow and the Shri Venkateshwar Press in Bombay published many religious texts in vernaculars
Religious texts and books started reaching a very wide circle of people, encouraging debates and controversies within and among different religions. Print did not only stimulate the publication of conflicting opinions amongst communities, but it also connected communities and people in different parts of India, creating pan-Indian identities.


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