History of movemnets - 3

After the redelivery of the message of the Brahma Samaj, Devendra Nath entered into a course of unusual propagandistic activity, visiting different parts of the country and establishing new Samajes. He also succeeded in creating a small band of preachers, who Carried i the light to different stations in the moffusil. Thus things went on till the year 1857. But the anti-Vedic schools, who had previously succeeded in overthrowing the doctrine of Scriptural infallibility, had not become quite extinct. They went on discussing other points of doctrine, and wanted to judge everything by the daylight of reason. Devendra Nath had a tough struggle with this school of young rationalists.' Side by side with his propagandistic activity, he had to try his skill to the utmost, to keep in hand this section of his followers. Fatigued by these struggles, he retired to the hills in the beginning of 1857, and stayed there for more than 1 1/2 years, devoting his time to study, thought, and meditation. During his residence on the hills, he tried to grapple with the new situation, arisen from the proclamation of Natural Theism, and made a careful study of such philosophical writers as Kant, Fichte, Victor Cousin etc., along with his favourite Upanishads. After having settled to the satisfaction of his own mind the fundamental questions of faith, he returned to Calcutta in the year 1858, and found to his great' delight, that a young man, belonging to one of the aristocratic families of Calcutta, the son of a private friend of his, had joined the Brahma Samaj during his absence. This was Keshav Chunder Sen. The union of Devendra Nath and Keshav Chunder Sen produced striking results.

Under their combined influence, the Brahma Samaj entered into a new career of unusual activity. Young Keshav drew around himself a number of earnest spirits, mostly young men of his own age, with whom he established in 1859 a small society called the Sangat Sabha. The name “ Sangat ” was given to it by Devendranath in imitation of the Sikh Sangat. The Sangat Sabha in course of time became the seed-plot of New Brahmaism. Its young members met at the house of Keshav Chunder Sen, and spent hours and hours together in discussing questions of practical religion. The earnest deli­berations of the Sangat were published in book form called Brahma Dharma Anushtan or Practices of Brahmaism. The young members did not confine themselves to mere deliberations. Many of them came forward to act according to their convictions. Brahmans discarded their sacred thread. Many took up a vow never to encourage idolatrous practices. Some began publicly to advocate inter-marriages, others went on to give social emancipation to their ladies.
Side by side with the establishment of the Sangat, a new institution called the Brahma School was started, where weekly, lectures were delivered alternately by Devendranath in Bengali and by Keshav Chunder Sen in English. These Brahma school lectures attracted large numbers of students from the colleges, and the number of young members of the Brahma Samaj daily increased Keshav Chunder Sen did not confine himself to the Brahma school lectures, but began to publish at this time a number of characteristic tracts, imbued with the new spirit. The first number of these was called “Young Bengal, this is for you.”  These Young Bengal tracts created quite a ferment in Calcutta Native Society. Things at last culmi­nated in Mr. Sen’s resigning the post that he held in the Bengal Bank as a clerk, and devoting all his life and energy to the propagation of Brahmaism. This example was soon followed by some of his young friends,1 who also gave up their secular work, and took to the calling of missionaries.The spirit in which they entered upon their work was truly apostolic. They had literally nothing to depend upon. They took no thought for the morrow, and carried on their work in the face of great priva­tions, a noble course in which they were backed by their young wives.

As the number of these young missionaries went on increasing, Mr. Sen opened an educational insti­tution called the Calcutta College, where many of these young missionaries found employment as honorary teachers, and the college became a rendez­vous of their party. At about this also Mr. Sen started, with the pecuniary aid furnished by Deven­dranath Tagore, a fortnightly journal called the Indian Mirror, which soon became a powerful organ of the Brahma Samaj, and which in subsequent times was changed into a daily, and is now under the editorial management of Mr. Sen’s cousin Babu Narendranath Sen. Thus equipped, the younger party of the Sangat entered into a career of great spiritual activity. Devendranath on his part impos­ed full confidence in his young colleague, and sympa­thised with many of the aspirations of the younger party. In 1861, he celebrated the marriage of one of his daughters according to a Theistic ritual, framed for the occasion. This marriage gave great impetus to the reformatory proclivities of the youn­ger men. Devendranath went further, and 1'u 1862 appointed Keshav Chunder Sen1 as a minister of the Samaj. But his appointment as Minister gave little satisfaction to the older party of members who had joined the Samaj long before, and yet con­formed to orthodox Hindu practices at home. They secretly grumbled at heart at the elevation of a youngster over their heads, and from this time it may be said, a difference of feeling between the two parties was secretly generated, which had such im­portant consequences afterwards. For some time longer, things went on smoothly through the influence of the two leaders. The younger party threw them­selves heart and soul into the work of propagation. They went about to all parts of the country, preach­ing the new faith, establishing new Samajes, streng­thening sympathisers, gaining new converts.