History of the brahmo samaj by sivanath sastri, M. A


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As Vol. I

PUBLISHED BY IR. CITICILTTIERJI, 2ichji, Cornwallis Street, Calcutta. 1911

Price Rs. 3.






Appendix A 118

Appendix B 123

Appendix C 123

Appendix D 124

Appendix E 124

Appendix F 126

Appendix G 127

Appendix H 131

Appendix I 142


I commenced writing this book during my residence in England in the year 1888, at the urgent request of the late Miss S. D. Collet, the well-known historian of the Brahmo Samaj. Under some peculiar circumstances, which need not be related here, she insisted upon my taking up this work and placed all her records at my disposal. After having gone through the first portion of the work I had to leave that country. Upon my return home I laid it aside, owing to my numerous engagements in other ways, only resuming it from time to time, till there came a consideration which influenced me almost to give it up altogether. I was deterred by the thought that having been one of those who had a leading hand in the organisation of a schismatic Brahmo movement, I was not the proper person to write a history of the Brahmo Samaj, and that it should be left to outside observers. I remained in this state of hesitancy for years, when there came another impulse from another direction. The dying request of my esteemed friend, Mr. A. M. Bose, conveyed in the words—" please do not fail to reilbrd our version of the story,"—finally impelled me to resume the narrative. After his departure from this world, I devoted much time to self-examination and prayer before finally making up my mind to resume it with the thought that,—'fact is fact, and history is history, let me record the facts and leave the readers to form their judgments.' I have tried my best to do so, as the reader will observe. In all cases of conflict of opinion I have tried, as far as possible, to state facts in the language of the parties concerned. I have laid bare, to the best of my knowledge, the state of things as they existed during different periods; and shall indeed be glad if my readers find the book really useful towards giving them a succinct and correct account of the progress and development of the Theistic Church of Modern India.

In compiling this history I have used every available source of information; such, for instance, as Mr. G. S. Leonard's "History of the Brahmo Samaj", Rev. Bhai T. N. Sanyal's History of the Brahmo Samaj in Bengali, Miss S. D. Collet's Brahmo Year Books, her short " History of the Brahmo Samaj," and her life of Rajah Ram mohun Roy, Rev. Bhai P. C. Mozoomdar's " Life of Keshub Chunder Sen," Rev. Bhai Gour Govinda Upadhyaya's Bengali life of Minister Keshub Chunder Sen, Banka Behari Kar's " Life of Bijay Krishna Goswami," Maharshi Devendra Nath Tagore's Autobiography and Mr. Sen's lectures and sermons; for the rest I have depended upon other sources of information and also upon my own memory.

My thanks are specially due to Babus Ramananda Chatterjee, Editor of the Modern Review, and Prithwis Chandra Ray, Editor of the Indian World, for the valuable aid they have rendered in seeing the book through the press, But for the help kindly given by them, the present volume would have been marked by many more defects than what are to be found in it.

My thanks are also due to the Rajah Saheb of Pithapuram for having generously come forward to bear the printing expenses of this volume; otherwise its publication might have been still further delayed.

The state of my health permitting, I hope to be able to conclude this history in two more volumes during the course of the next two years.



March, 1911,



State of Bengal at the time of the foundation of the Brahmo Samaj 1-13 Parentage, birth, childhood and early education of Ram Mohun Roy 15-17 The composition of his first book protesting against idolatry; expulsion from home and journey to Tibet 17-15 R. M. Roy returns from Tibet and settles down at Benares studying Sanskrit; his father's death; his acceptance of Government Service; his stay at Rangpur till 1814, when he retires from office and commences reformatory work 18-23 Foundation of the Atmiya Sabha; translation of the Upanishads; the publication of the Precepts o Jesus; conversion of Mr. Adam; controversy with Serampore Missionaries ; foundation of the Brahmo Samaj 23-43 R, M. Roy's other works, such as the Suttee agitation, the spread of English education, the creation of Bengali literature and the fight for the liberty of the Press 46-62 x It M. Roy's visit to England; work there; visit to France, and Royal reception; return to England; visit to 13ristol and death 62-65 The points of contention between R. M. Roy and his adversaries 66-76 R, M. Roy's Hymns „. 77


Babu Dwarakanath Tagore and Pandit Ram Chandra Vidyavagish were the two persons who prominently upheld the Church after it M. Roy's death ... 8o-82 The conversion of Devendranath; foundation of the Tattwabodhini Sabha; the starting of the Tattwabodhini Pathsala; the public initia- tion of Devendranatli ... PO 82-89 The starting of Tattwabodhini Patrika under Akshay Kumar Datta; the first preachers of Brahmo Samaj appointed by D. N. Tagore; the interesting history of Lala Hazarilal, the chief of these preachers; Pathsala or Theo- logical School transferred to Bansberia 91-95 The first mode of initiation introduced by D. N. Tagore ... 96-97 Anti-Christian' agitation in the Samaj; as its consequence the question of Vedic infallibility crops up for discussion; D. N. Tagore gives xi up the doctrine of the infallibility of the Vedas ... 97-107 The first great revival of 185o; Natural Theism formally and publicly proclaimed; many Samajes founded between 1850 and 1856 107-110 As the first effect of the proclamation of Natural Theism the young men under Akshay Kumar Datta, the Editor of the Patriha, run to rationalistic excesses, which shock D. N. Tagore and he retires to the Hills in 1856 Ito-I12 Keshub Chunder Sen joins the Brahmo Samaj in 1857, during D. N. Tagore's absence; the latter accords to him warm welcome after his return; they two begin to act together.; the Samaj enters upon a new career of spiritual activity; its second great revival ". 118-122 With a rapid speed came the Brahma School for delivery of lectures to young men, the Sangat Sabha, with its wonderful influence over the lives of its members, the Indian Mirror, the first fortnightly English journal of the Samaj and Mr. Sen's remarkable tracts called Young Bengal, This is for You" ... -- 124-135 Mr. Sen's missionary zeal; he resigns his post in the Bengal Bank in 1861 and devotes himself to mission work, his example being followed by others 137-138 Mr. Sen ordained as Minister by D. N. Tagore xii in 1862; but his elevation displeases the older members, who begin to complain ... 138-140 The Calcutta College founded by K. C. Sen on March 1st, x86a; it becomes a meeting ground for the younger party, whose zeal for progress at the time was almost unbounded; they proceed to celebrate an inter-marriage privately; Mr. Sen is restored to his paternal house, whence he had been temporarily banished by his relatives after his ordination; the namkaran ceremony of Karunakumar, his eldest son, is held there ... 140-143 The foundation of the Society of Theistic Friends; the starting of the Banzabodhini Patrika 143-144 Mr. Sen delivers his lecture on "Brahma Samaj Vindicated" in reply to a Christian critic; B. K. Goswami formally ordained as a Missionary; men of the younger party installed in the offices of the Samaj, a step resented at by the older party, some of whom secede from the Samaj services at about this time ... 145-146 The great zeal and missionary activity of the younger party; Mr. Sen's visit to Madras and Bombay; B. K. Goswami's visit to Bag- achara ... 147-151 The younger party publicly break caste, and begin to celebrate inter-marriages, which bring in difference with the older men and with D. N. Tagore as their leader, inspite of which he appoints two men of the younger party as assistant ministers, which further exasperates the older members. Faced by the conflict, the younger men begin to try to organise a Representative Assembly for the control of the Church, which, however, fails to secure the full sympathy of D. N. Tagore 151-154 The weekly service of the Samaj is temporarily transferred to D. N. Tagore's house, owing to the damage done to the Samaj building by the cyclone of 1864; when quite unexpectedly the old dismissed assistant ministers were re-instated in their office by D. N. Tagore, before the arrival of the new assistant ministers, whereupon the younger men secede from the Samaj service; their hostile attitude gives offence to D. N. Tagore and K. C. Sen and others are dismissed from the offices of the Samaj ... 154-156 Deprived of power in the Samaj itself the younger party take to propagatory work and to organising the Representative Assem- bly ... ... 156-162 After a struggle Mr. Sen takes hold of the Indian Mirror and starts a Mission Office of his own ... 163-166 The first Brakmika Samaj or Ladies' Weekly xiv Set.Vice founded; Mr. Sen leads some ladies to the house of Dr. Robson, a Christian Missionary, which evokes ,public criticism, but some of his friends want to go further x66-167 On 23rd July, 1865, Mr. Sen delivers a lecture on Struggles for Religious Independence and Progress in the Brahmo Samaj; on the same day his party send a representation to D. N. Tagore, asking for permission to hold Weekly Services of their own in the Samaj chapel, but the permission is denied; baffled here the progressive party take to mission work; Mr. Sen visits Eastern Bengal and composes his remarkable booklet called "True Faith" 167.171 Mr.' Sen delivers his lectures on "Jesus Christ, Asia and Europe" and on "Great Men" which further widen the breach between the two parties and schism is formally and publicly proclaimed on itth November, 1866 .:. 174-180 The condition of the Brahmo Samaj at the parting of ways ... 181 The subsequent history of the Adi Brahmo Samaj; its exact position. ... 182-190 Personal Traits of Maharshi D. N. Tagore 191-22o


The schism brings solidarity to Mr, Sen's party and work; the unrestrained development of their pro-Christian proclivities; their ideal Christ; how they begin to celebrate the Christmas, in which Miss Carpenter takes part 204-208 The Female Emancipationists make their appearance; how they evoke opposition and ridicule 206 Fresh propagandist activity; the apostolic self-devotion of the first missionaries; commencement of extensive mission operations in Eastern Bengal and in the North-Western Provinces .— 210-214 Mr. Sen faced by a new spiritual difficulty; Maharshi D. N. Tagore comes to his rescue; the introduction of the custom of daily Divine service in Mr. Sen's hduse; it leads to new devotional developments, ending in the introduction of Vaishnava Sankirtan 215-218 Second meeting of the Brahmo Samaj of India; they vote an Address to Maharshi and appoint committee to confer on the validity of Brahmo marriages —. 218-2/g The first whole-day festival with rapturous sankirtan held on 24th November, 1867; Maharshi joins it; how that festival inaugu- rates a new revival 221 In the beginning of 1868, Mr. Sen lays the foundation of his Mandir; the first street procession with a new characteristic sankirtan; how it xvi evokes wide-spread agitation and press criticism; how the day concludes with a whole-day festival and Mr. Serfs lecture on Regenerating Faith, which Lord Lawrence, the Governor- General, attends... ... 222-224 Mission operations renewed with redoubled energy; Mr. Sen starts on a mission-tour to the North-Western Provinces; he leaves his family at Monghyr and visits Bombay; a whole-day festival held at Monghyr on his return, which is followed by a new and unprecedented revival; extraordinary reverence begins to be shown to Mr. Sen; Rajnarain Bose raises his voice against it, but it continues, tilt at last Bijay K. Goswami and Jadunath Chakraverty publicly bring the charge of man-worship against their friends ... 225-23r The agitation subsides after publication of a tract by Thakurdas Sen, in which Mr. Sen declares his want of sympathy with such manifestations of extraordinary reverence; B. K. Goswami returns to Mr. Sen's party but Jadunath Chakraverty does not; Mr. Sen proceeds to consecrate his new Mandir and initiates 2r young men, as a sort of reply to his adversaries ... 232-236 In the beginning of 187o, Mr. Sen visits England and does important work there; he xvii is warmly welcomed back by his friends and even by Maharshi D. N. Tagore; there is for some time a talk about probable co-operation between the two leaders; but an unhappy incident widens the gulf ... —. 236-241 Mr. Sen's unbounded activity after his return from England; the foundation of the Indian Reform Association with its five departments of work -- 241.244 Mr. Sen commences an agitation for marriage reform in the Brahmo Samaj, and also for the passing of a law legalizing the reformed marriages; the history of that agitation 244-251 Mr. Sen gives himself to other new activities; such as the foundation of the Bharat Ashram, the Adult Female School, the 'revived Brahmo School, the revived Sangat Sabha, the revived Society of Theistic Friends; the establishment of the Missionary Conference, the opening of a new institution called the Brahmo Niketan, the conversion of the Indian Mirror into a daily paper; and the publica- tion of a Theistic Annual ... ... 251-255 The first note of discord sounded by a party of Female Emancipationists; Mr. Sen's points of difference with them; how they founded a rival institution in opposition to Mr. Sen's Adult Female School ... ... 256-259 xviii The rise of the constitutionalists; the Samadarshi party; the Five Lamps party; the history of evolution of these parties; how thereby the Church became divided into two conflicting parties, the sacerdotalists and the secularists, as Miss Collet described them to be; how from 1874 the constitutionalists take up the question of placing the BharatbarshzYce Brahmo Mandir into the hands of trustees,. but are opposed by Mr. Sen; how failing in that matter they take to the attempt to organise a Representative Assembly for constitutional control over the affairs of the Church; how Mr. Sen limits the scope of their operations; how before any lasting results are achieved the Church is involved in the Kuch Behar marriage controversy ... 260-267 Great changes are noticed in Mr. Sen's preaching and practice almost from 1871; he becomes more and more self-assertive and decreasingly less and less appreciative of the difficulties of others; he lays great stress on adesk or Divine command, and accuses those, who fail to agree with him, of infidelity; he begins to preach and practise asceticism; begins cooking his own food; classifies his immediate followers into four orders of devotees; purchases a garden within easy xix distance of Calcutta, where he practices as- cetecism ... 269-273 Whilst Mr. Sen was thus engaged some young Brahmos in Calcutta formed a Secret League; one of its vows bound them to discourage the marriage of boys below twenty-one, and of girls below sixteen ... 273 During the autumn of 1877, Mr. Sen purchases a rich mansion on the Circular Road of Calcutta and furnishes it in a rich style for the reception of the Kuch Behar party, who wanted to see his daughter previous to her engage- ment ... ... 274 The Kuch Behar marriage controversy commences and passes through its many phases; till there comes the second schism and the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj is founded 274-293 Contributions of Keshub Chunder Sen to Brahmoism during the preceding two periods of its history ... ... 294.305

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