History of movemnets - 2

After the death of Ram Mohan Ray, the BrahmaSamaj languished for some years. Many of its old supporters, who had been drawn into it chiefly through the influence of the Raja, fell off, -and its work was carried on by the devotion of only one, Pandit Ramchandra Vidya Vagish, the first minister appointed by Ram Mohan Ray, and by the pecu­niary aid of Babu Dwarkanath Tagore, (the father of Maharsi Devendranath Tagore), who also had joined the Brahma Samaj through the influence of Ram Mohan Ray.

The Samaj was in this moribund condition till the year 1838, when young Devendranath, the eldest son of Dwarkanath, began to take interest in its proceedings. In that year his mind was accidentally awakend to religious truth, and he began an earnest inquiry into old Sanskrit Scriptures and also into the writings of Raja Ram Mohan Ray, with the help of Pandit Ramchandra Vaidya Vagish. Along with some of his cousins and other young friends, he started a society called the Tatwa Bodhini Sabha, or the Truth Teaching Society, and under its auspices began to publish the writings of Raja Ram Mohan Ray. HU religious convictions deepened with these exercises, and he formally and publicly joined the Brahma Samaj in the year 1853, on the 7th of Poush, and influenced 20 of his young friends to undergo a ceremony of initiation along with himself, as a formal act of union with the New Church. The advent of Devendra Nath brought new life into the movement. A monthly journal called the Tatwa Bodhmi Patriha was published that year under the able editorship of Babu Akshay Kumar Dutt, a pioneer of modern Bengali literature. The Patrika began to publish translations of the Vedas and the Upanishads and gave free vent to discussions about the new faith. Devendra Nath’s personal example and enthusiasm drew new workers into the field, and the number of members of theTatva Bodhini Sabha, which at this time formed the missionary body of the Samaj, as it were, began to daily multiply. A school called the Tatva Bodhini Pathshala was esta­blished for training young men in the principles of the New Faith to be its future preachers. This Path­shala was inaugurated with great eclat in the year 1844 and succeeded in drawing into its classes some able and distinguished Sanscrit Scholars. But from the year 1845, there was a new departure. A young Hindu lad, the son of one of the officers of the Tagores, became a convert to Christianity, giving rise to wide spread agitation in the Hindu society. Devendra Nath, as the master and patron of the lad’s father, was drawn into the controversy. The Patrika under Akshay Kumar Dutt also took up the anti-Christian agitation. During the course of the ensuing controversy, the Vedas were proclaimed from the pages of the Pairika as the basis of the faith of the Brahma Samaj, as a set-off against the Bible of the Christians. Thus it will be seen, that the; infallibility of the Vedas was a doctrine implicitly believed by the members of the Brahmo Samaj up to that time. It was a natural survival of Raja Ram Mohan Ray’s line of controversy, which always quoted the Vedas and the Upanishads as infallible guides of moral and spiritual conduct. But the declaration of the Vedas as the basis of faith of the Brahma Samaj, gave rise to internal dissensions amongst the members of the body itself, forcing Devendra Nath to reconsider the whole question of Scriptural infallibility within the succeeding four or five years. Four young men, the pupils of the Tatva Bodhini Pathshala, were sent to Benares to study the four Vedas, and Devendra Nath himself also went to the sacred City to bold conferences with the Vedic Pandits, and the conclusion to which he ultimately came, was to give up the in­fallibility of religious Scriptures, and to instal the faith of the Brahma Samaj, as pure and natural Theism. As the result of this change of conviction in him, he proceeded to compile a book called Brahma-Dharma, containing spiritual and moral texts from different Hindu Scriptures, illustrating the principles of Natural Theism, and this book he published as the religious guide of his followers. All these changes were formally announced during the anniversary festival of 1850. The faith of the Brahma Samaj, therefore, may be fitly described as announcing itself as Natural Theism from that year.