The History of Brahmo Samaj commences with Raja Rammohun Roy who was born on 22nd. May 1772. Whilst going thru his studies, his eyes were opened to the errors of Hindu idolatry and his mind was convinced about the superiority of Monotheism as a creed. In 1815, he founded a society called “Atmiya Sabha” or the “society of Friends” for discussion of religious truth and translation of many Sanskrit monotheistic treatises. Atmiya Sabha at times staged public discussion on religious and social question such as abolition of Suttee which roused wide-spread opposition against the Reformer.
Rammohun Roy organized a purely theistic service in the northern part of Calcutta on 20th. August 1828 this is considered the formal beginning of Brahmo Samaj movement. Theistic Chapel was formally consecrated on 23rd January 1830. The formal opening of Brahmo Samaj was attended with the suppression of the Suttee by Lord Bentick in preceding December in which Rammohun Roy had a large role.
After the departure of Rammohun Roy for England (1830) and his premature death there (1833) Brahmo Samaj gradually reached a moribund condition though its name, theology and social ideas continued to live and prosper among certain group of people. The munificence of Rammohun’s friend
Dwarkanath Tagore and single minded devotion of Pandit Ram Chandra Vidyavagis enabled it to tide over the period of crisis and new life was infused into Brahmo movement. Devendranath Tagore’s initiation into Brahmoism on 21st. December 1843 (Bengali 7 Poush, 1765) a memorable day in the cultural history of Bengalis still celebrated annually at Santiniketan. A monthly journal called “Tattwa Bodhini Patrika” was published with Devendranath Tagore at its head that year and began to publish translation of Vedas and Upanishad. It soon grew into a common platform for the intellectual and cultural elite of mid-nineteenth century Bengal. Devendranath Tagore started a course of propagandistic activity visiting different parts of the country and establishing new Samaj. He also succeeded in creating a band of preachers who carried light to different moffusil area.
Brahmo Samaj of India
The Brahmo movement gained momentum when dynamic Keshab Chandra Sen joined in 1857. Under the combined influence of both Devendranath Tagore and Keshab Chandra Sen, Brahmo Samaj entered into a new career of unusual activity. Keshab Chandra Sen established Indian Reform Association. A number of radical and far-reaching social reforms like female education and total eradication of class distinction started taking place. Since the foundation of Brahmo Samaj of India, a number of reformed marriages began to multiply which led to the enactment of Indian Marriage Act, initially drafted as Brahmo Marriage Act which validates inter-caste marriage in March 1872. In the beginning of 1878 Brahmo community was surprised to know that the eldest daughter of Keshab Chandra Sen who had till then not completed the age required by Law, was going to marry young Maharaja of Cooch-Behar who himself was till then a minor. The surprise was soon converted into active opposition and earnest protest poured in from many Samaj and individual Brahmos.
Sadharan Brahmo Samaj
A second schism took place in the samaj in May 1878 when a band of Keshab Chandra Sen’s follower led by distinguished personalities like Shibchandra Deb, Ananda Mohan Bose, Sivanath Shastri, and Umesh Chandra Datta started Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. Trust Deed of Samaj was executed in July. In 1880 Sadharan Brahmo Samaj also formulated Rules and Constitution on which future work of Samaj would be based. They started a weekly English journal called Brahmo Public Opinion which later merged with Indian Messenger in 1883 and is doing valuable work till now. A fortnightly Bengali journal called Tattwa-Kaumudi was also brought into existence.
In all fields of social reform including abolition of Caste System and the Dowry System, Emancipation of women and improving the Education system, Brahmo Samaj reflected the ideologies of Bengal Renaissance. In reality Brahmo Samaj does not discriminate between caste, creed or religion and is an assembly of all sorts and description of people without distinction. Mantle of enduring this ideology has descended on Sadharan Brahmo Samaj which continues to serve the society in various fields.
Below is given a chronology of the history of the Brahmo Samaj movement. While not all important events could be placed in this list, care has been taken to list the events that had a profound effect on the Brahmo Samaj movement.
|Acknowledgement : David Kopf – The Brahmo Samaj and the Shaping of the Modern Indian Mind|