Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade established the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha and the Prarthana Samaj in 1867 in Bombay to bring about religious reforms. It sought to remove caste restrictions, abolish child marriage, the shaving of widows’ heads, the heavy cost of marriages and other social functions; encourage education of women and promote widow remarriage.

Like Bramho Samaj, it advocated the worship of one God. It condemned idolatry and the domination of the priestly castes in religious matters.

He introduced vernacular languages in the University curriculum which made higher education accessible to Indians. He attempted to reform the rigid traditions in the society without destroying the social atmosphere of India’s rich cultural heritage. He was also a founding member of the Indian National Congress.