History of Movements

History of movemnets - 1

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE BRAHMA SAMAJ IN INDIA.
The history of the Brahma Samaj commences with Raja Ram Mohan Ray. A short biographical notice is therefore necessary. The Raja was born in the year 1772 at Radhanagar, a village in the district of Burdwan at that time. His father, Ram Kanta Ray, was a devout Hindu of the Vaishnava sect, and his mother, too, was an eminently pious Hindu lady, who terminated her life by a characteristic vow, viz., to attach herself as a menial servant to the temple of Jagannathat Puri, during the two closing years of her life. The parents of Ram Mohan, who were rich and influential, spared no pains or expenses to give him a thoroughly good secular and religious in­struction. In his early boyhood, he was trained under the eyes of his parents at. home, and when a lad of twelve, he was sent to Patna to be trained in. Persian under a distinguished Moulvie. Whilst going through his Persian studies there, his eyes were opened to the errors of Hindu idolatry, and his mind was convinced about the superiority of ' Mono-theism as a creed. Upon his return home in his 16th year, a difference arose between himself and his father on the subject of idolatry. Legend says, that his father observed him secretly engaged in writing some treatise, which he found to be an earnest protest against the idolatry of all religions. At this, his father was highly incensed and expelled him from his home; and he nothing daunted, under­took a pedestrian journey to several parts of India, ultimately visiting Tibet to inquire into Buddhism. Ram Mohan returned to India after 4 years, and sealed down at Benares, with the consent of his father, till the latter’s death in 1803. After the death of his father, Ram Mohan Ray moved down to Moorshidabad, published his Persian book “Tuhfat-ul-Muwahiddin,” in which he held up Mono-theism as a superior creed. Soon after, he accepted service under the British Government, and held several offices, till he rose to the highest office, then available to Indians, as Dewan of a Revenue Collector. He was thus employed till the year 1814, but his friends and relatives gave him no peace. In the meantime, his monotheistic convictions found vent in public discussions, even when serving under Government- He was harassed with law-suits, instituted by his dear mother, under the instigation of his relatives. These domestic and other troubles, arising from his heterodox proclivities, compelled him to retire from Government service in 1814, and to settle down in Calcutta to carry on a lifelong struggle for the dissemination of those truths, which he held so dear and for which he had suffered so much. After his settlement in Calcutta, he founded a society called “Atmiya Sabha,” or the Society of Friends, for the discussion of religious truths, including translations of many Sanskrit monotheistic treatises. The Atmiya Sabha at times got up public discussions on religious and social questions, such as the abolition of the Sati, which roused up wide spread opposition against the reformer, so much so, that his very life, was at times threatened. Ram Mohan Ray did not confine his discussion to Hindus, but carried them to friends oF Christianity also, and roused against himself a host of enemies from amongst the Christian missionaries of the times. He published a book called “The Precepts of Jesus,” and issued a number of appeals to the Christian public, in which he held up Mono­theism against the current Trinitarian doctrines of Christianity. As a result of these discussions, one Mr. Adam, a Baptist missionary, became a convert to the faith of Ram Mohan Ray, giving rise to wide­spread scandal amongst the European population of Bengal. Mr. Adam was expelled in consequence from the Baptist Mission, and Ram Mohan Ray, organis­ed a Unitarian Mission to find employment for Mr. Adam. Unitarian services were kept up by the latter
with the occasional intermission from  1823- 1828. But by that time, the first supporters of Mr. Adam’s Unitarian Services began to fall off, and Ram Mohan Ray, at the earnest request of some of his friends, organised a purely Theistic Service in a hired house in the Northern part of Calcutta on the 22nd August 1828. This was the formal beginning of the Brahma Samaj Movement. For two years, Ram Mohan Ray held his Service in this hired house, but efforts were made in the meantime to raise funds and to construct a Theistic Chapel in the central part of the town. The Chapel was built in due course of time, and was formally consecrated on the 23rd January 1830 in the presence of one European and a large concourse of Indian gentlemen. The formal opening of the Brahma Samaj attended with the suppression of the Sati by Lord William Bentick in the preceding December, in which Ram Mohan Ray had a large hand, threw the Native community of Calcutta into a whirlpool of agitation. A rival association called “The Dharma Sabha” was set up against the Brahma*Sabha, of which almost all the leading Hindu citizens of Calcutta became members. In the drawing-rooms of wealthy citizens, in the streets, on the bathing ghats, in the bazaar, every­where, the question between the two associations was fought by earnest combatants. As the champions of the Dharma Sabha martialled strong on the one side, the aristocratic friends of Ram Mohan Ray also gathered around him and formed a strong phalanx for carrying on the contest. The Reformers made the “Koumudi,” the first Bengali newspaper in the real sense, the vehicle of their New Message; and in opposition to it, the Dharma Sabha people start­ed the “Chandrika,” which week after week filled its pages with vilification of the Brahma Sabha people. Ram Mohan Ray left India in the midst of these dissensions in August 1830, for a voyage to England, which country he reached in April 1831., He died there on the 27th September 1833. During his residence in England, he republished some of his religious works, and tried to disseminate the principles, for which he had fought through life.

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