Directory of Samajes - Bombay - 2

(8.) The Brahma Postal Mission:—At the initiative of Mr. V. R. Shinde and with the generous help of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association of London, this work was first started in Poona by Mr. V. A. Sukthankar on the 23nd of January 1902. From June 1904, the centre of the work was transferred to Bombay and is since being con­ducted by Mr. V. R. Shinde. The objects are (1) to spread knowledge of the faith and principles of the Brahma and Prarthana Samajes in India by postal correspondence and free distribution of literature, &e.; (2) to form centres for collecting and giving information about the Liberal Religious Movement, in the world. With these objects this Mission has till the end of the year 1911 either distributed freely or sold at a cheap rate 3,438 Brahma books and 12,702 pamphlets and 633 Unitarian books and 4,897 Pamphlets, the latter being a gift to the Mission from the British and Foreign Unitarian Association of London. Besides this help the B. & F. Association also used to pay the expenses of postage and a small grant till the end of the year 1909. Mr. Shinde organised two lecturing tours under this Mission into some districts of Bombay the expenses of which also were paid by the above Unitarian Association.

History :—Although the Western Presidency will never be slow in acknowledging its deep debt of gratitude to Bengal, especially to the three great leaders, Ram Mohan Rai, Maharshi Devendranath Thakur, and Keshub Chandra Sen, for their spreading the gospel of Brahmaism in India, yet it might be claimed in its behalf with some justice and propriety that both the rise and growth of Thesim in Western India are ofe a more indigenous character than those in the sister pro­vinces, viz., Madras and Punjab.* Asearlyas 1840 an associa­tion called Parama-hansa Sabha was started consisting of the several men of learning and position of the day. The object of this assooiation was to abolish caste distinctions and promote monotheism in the country. But somehow this Society had to carry on its work in secret for about 20 years until it was finally dissolved in I860- It had its branches in Poona, Ahmednagar and elsewhere. Six years after this some of the members of this association desirous to establish a new society on more spiritual and permanent basis met on the 30th of December 1866 at the residence of Dr. Atmaram Pandurang Tarkhad, when the following gentlemen were
resent:—Dr. A.P. Tarkhad, Messrs. Santaram Narayan Bondse (pleader), Mahadev Narayan Shirgaonkar, Moroba Vithoba Sanjgiri, Bal Mangesh Wagle, Bhaskar Hari Bhagwat, Narayen Mahadev Paramanand, Sarvottam Sakharam Mankar, TukaramTatya Padwal, Vishwanath Govind Cholkar, and Wasudev Babaji Nowrange. Meanwhile a Theistic Society had already been started at Madras under the name Veda Samaj, the rules of which were largely utilized by the organizers of this new Society in Bombay. Although Babu Keshub Chandra Sen had visited this city once or twice no direct relations with Calcutta had yet been established. The first divine service of this new society was held on Sunday the 31st of March 1867 which has since been obsered as the foundation day of the Prarthana Samaj of Bombay. A Bengali Sanyasi by name Anandashram Swami, who was

*    The substance of the following information is taken from the first seventeen years’ report of the Prarthana Samaj compiled by the late Mr. S. P. Kelkar.

particularly interested in tbe inauguration of this Samaj oflered the last prayer in this service in Hindi.

The object of the Samaj as then formulated was:-- God is only one and 'without form. To worship him in spirit is one’s duty. Idolatry is a false mode of worship ; it is in­sulting to God and derogatory and degrading to man. It is therefore the object of this Samaj to put a stop to this evil and to promote the right mode of worship among the people and to direct all the religious duties of life* in accordance with this reformed faith.
The declarations of faith were :—
“I firmly believe that God is one, without a second."
“The only one God is the creator of all and I do not believe in Idolatry. ” Besides a member had to take the following oath.
“I shall daily contemplate on God. I shall endeavour to practise good and abstain from evil deeds. In case I do some wrong through defect of nature I shall pray to God that I may repent for it. O God ! Grant me strength to keep this oath.”
In 1873 the above object and faith was minutely recon­sidered and was restated as follows :—
The faith —(1) God is the creator of this Universe. He is the only true God : there is no other God besides Him. He is eternal, spiritual, infinite, the store of all good, all joy, without part, without form, one without a second, the ruler of all, all-pervading, omniscient, almighty, merciful, all holy and saviour of sinners.(2) His worship alone leads to happiness in this world and the next.
(3)Love and reverence for Him, an exclusive faith in Him, praying and singing to Himspiritually with these feelings and doing the things pleasing to Him constitute His true worship.