History of movemnets - 14

Theism in Western india.
The keen student of Brahmaism, Miss S. D. Collet, with her remarkable insight, observes most truly in her Brahma Year Book for 1880:—“The Theistic Charch in Western India occupies a position of its own. Although in thoroughly fraternal relations with the Eastern Samajes, it is of indigenous growth and of independent standing. It has never detached itself so far from the Hindu element of Brahmaism as many of the Bengali Samajes, and both in religious observances and social customs, it clings far more closely to the old models. It is more learned and less emotional in its tone, and far more cautions and less radical in its policy than the chief Samajes of Bengal. Bat it is doing good work in its own way and it has enlarged its operations considerably within the last few years.”

The Samaj movement in Western India has been conducted by three different peoples the Marathas, the Gujarathis and the Sindhis in their respective languages. The three head quarters are Bombay, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. Of' these Bombay has most ot all kept up ths tradition and attitude as des­cribed by Miss Collet, above.

Bombay —Though the progressive movement in the Western Capital of India dates so far back 1840, from ihe day of the Param-Haunce Sabbait was deepened, strengthened and spiritualized under Brahma inflnences from Bengal from the early sixties, and the first divine service of a new Society under the name Prarthana Samaj was held on the 3lst of March 1867 under the auspices of the leader and founder Dr. Atmaram Pandurang zealously assisted by his friends Narayan Mahadev Paramanand, Bhaskar Hari Bhagwat, Bal Mangesh Wagle, Wasu- dev Babaji Nowrange and others. The movement was afterwards joined by such men of high

intellig­ence and character as the late Mr. M. G. Ranade and Mr. S. P. Pandit, and Dr. (now) Sir R. G. Bhandarkar and Sir N. G. Chandavarkar. Baba P. C. Muzumdar resided aud worked for six months as a Brahma Missionary in Bombay and very largely moulded the religious and social life of the congregation at Girgaum. He worked for the betterment of women, young men and also among the outsiders of the Samaj. The present varioos institutions viz.,  the Arya Mahila Samaj, the Night Schools for working people, the Subodh Patrica, organ of the Samaj, may be easily traced to his endeavours. Slowly samajes were started in the rooffussil, in Poona by Mr. W. A. Modak, Mr. Chitnis and others; in Satara by Mr. S. Y4 Javere; in Ahmednagar by Rao B. Lalsankar and also in Ratnagiri aud Pandbarpur in which two Iasi places do Samaj is now existent, la Pandharpur there is now an Orpnange and a Foundling Asylum managed by the Bombay Prarthana Samaj. The first Missionary appointed by the Bombay Samaj was the late Mr. Sadashiiv Pandurang Kelkar who worked from 1882 to 1894. Mr. Shivram Narayan Gokhale was then appointed by the Poona Samaj in 1898 and is still working there. Messrs. V. R. Shinde B. A. and V. A. Sukhtankar Ph. D. also were missionaries of the Bombay Samaj from 1903-1910 and 1908-1910 respectively. Sermons and lectures delivered by Mr. M. G. Ranade, Mr. W. A. Modak, Sir R. G. Bhandarkar and Mr. V. R. Shinde have been collected and published separately in book form and are slowly catching the attention of the public among whom quite a new taste for this literature, new in Maharashtra, is being steadily cultiva­ted by a few young publicists of the Bombay Samaj. New prayer meetings are started in Kolha­pur and Malvan. In Poona a spacions new Mandir was built mainly by the efforts of Sir R. G. Bhandarkar and opened on the 11th of April 1909. Though the movement may not be said to have made any remarkable numerical progress, it is steadily holding its own under the recognised lead of Sir R. G. Bhandarkar in Poona, and Sir N. G. Chandavarkar in Bombay. Both these worthies are guiding most of the progressive social and educational activi­ties of Maharashtra. The younger generation is not unmindful to the healthy influences of the Samaj both in thought and life. The Brahma Postal Mission distributes small tracts on liberal religion either free or at a very cheap rate and is largely helped by the British and Foreign Unitarian Association of London by sending Unitarian tracts and books.