Vinkonda Prarthana Samaj.
Secretary.—K. Shitapati Rao.
Mandir.—Services are held in a private house.
Institution.—A Night School for the Depressed Classes.
Vizagapatam. Estd. 12th July, 1906.
The Prarthana Samaj, Vizagapatam.
Secretary—Sj. B. Lakshminarayana, B.A., Vizagapatam.
Meetings—Divine Service once a week in Telngu.
Mandir—No separate Mandir. Meeting! are at present held in a spacious hall in the mansions of Maharani Lady Gajapatirao.
History—This Prarthana Samaj was established on 12th July 1906. It owes its existence to the eflorts of Babu
H. C. Sarkar, M.A., of Calcutta who. during one of his mission tours in the presidency, stopped here and induced some of the local men to meet together at least once a week for congregational worship. At present the Samaj has no regular constitution. No subscriptions are levied and there are no duly elected office-bearers. The average attendance at the weekly service is about'eight. The services are conducted by one of the elders in Telugu. The Samaj keenly feels'the want of a good Theistic Library.
It is hoped that a good future awaits the institution but it can hardly be said to have emerged out of the stage of infancy. The exact scope and object of the Theistic Movement are not as yet understood clearly even by the majority of the educated people of the locality.
Ahmedabad. Estd. 17th Dec. 1871.
The Ahmedabad Prarthana Samaj, Ahmedabad, (Gujarat).
Secretary :—Mr. Ramanbhai Mahipatram Nilkanth, B.A., L.L.B.
Asthudia Road, Ahmedabad.
Members: 221. None is anusthanic.
Meetings :—There is weekly divine service conducted ia Gujarati. Besides there are the Ladies Prayer Meeting and the Liberal Literature Class held once a month. Mandlr:—The Samaj has a fine Mandir Ct its own consecrated on 3rd May 1876. It has a spacious compound, with rooms for Missionaries in it.
Organs:—The ‘ Gnana Sudha’ a monthly Gujarati Magazine, annual subscription with postage Re. 1-3-0; edited by Mr. Riamanbhai Mahipatram Nilkanth, B.A., L.L.B., Ahmedabad.
Funds:--There is no rule for subscriptions. A member must pay something to signify his membership. But the amount is at his option. The Mission Fund amounts to Rs. 2,788-0-8. The total funds including the Mission Fund amount to Rs. 18,174-10-0.
Institutions:—(1). The Mahipatram Rupram Anath Ashram and orphanage.
(2) The Ahmedabad Prarthana samaj school for secular educution and instruction imparted principally through the vernacular
History:—This Samaj was founded on the 17th Dec. 1871. A public meeting was held on that day to offer prayers for the recovery of the then Prince of Wales ( His Majesty the late King-Edward) who was then dangerously ill. The Samaj was founded on the same occasion. Of course, this was but the immediate occaaion for giving shape to the growing desire to break away from idolatory and superstition and establish a pure and rational mode of worship. The Samaj was“launched into existence by those who were the pioneers of reform and liberal thought in all departments of public life. The late Rao Bahadur Sirdar Bholanath Sarabhai ( then a retired 1st class Subordinate Judge ) was the first president of the Samaj and the late Rao Sahib Mahipatram Rupram Nilkanth, C. I. E., was its first Secretary. The Samaj was strengthened by tho increase in the educated class that identified themselves with the movement. In less than five years a handsome Mandir was erected at a cost of abont Rs. 12,000. Mr. S. N. Tagore, I. C. S., a son of Maharshi Devendranath came to Ahmedabad about this time as District Jndge. He and Mr. R. B. Gopalrao Hari Deshmukh who was then Judge of the Court of Small Causes exerted their best to develop the Samaj.And in Mr. Bholanath Sarabhai the Samaj found a gifted poet of ‘Bliakti’. His ‘Prarthana Mala’ has always been the hymn book of the Samaj and the work occupies a prominent place in Gujarati literature. It is read and appreciated by a large class of men and women even outside the theistic church and its hymns are sung even in Hindu orthodox temples.
The theistic movement thus started made its impression on the cultured classes. But its progress was opposed by the reactionary movement which set in after some years. In extent the Samaj cannot claim a large following and some who'were enthusiastic members at one time have fallen off. But ,the Samaj has always remained an ideal centre of liberal thought and pnrity of worship and has worked as a leaven in raising the moral and spiritual tone of the Hindu Society in these parts. It has always'commanded the respect of thoughtful men. The reactionary wave above referred to is now ebbing out and at present greater sympathy towards the Samaj is visible everywhere.
Following the example of Ahmedabad several Samajes were established in the district and talnk towns of Gujarat- But they broke down some years after. The leading spirits of these infant Samajes were mostly public servants whose places were not filled when they were transferred, and there were no missionaries to guide the flock. Bat signs of a revival are now visible and if the services of permanent missionaries are secured in Gujarat the movement is sure to fructify.
The Ahmedabad Samaj, unlike the provincial Samajes, obtained a permanency from its very beginning. Its following was not inconsiderable and its leaders occupicd prominence in varions phases of civic life. The number of resident members has been large and the Samaj Mandir situpted on the finest Road adds a stability and celebrity of its own. The Congregation every Sunday is between 75 to 100,
The Anniversary is always an occasion for crowded congregations and is generally awaited with much eagerness in consequence of its impressive programme. Some ladies attend the service regularly every week and there is a Ladies Samaj held once every month.
Ahmednagar.— Estd. 11th Kartic 1796 (Saka).
The Ahmednagar Prarthana Samaj, Navipeth, Ahmednagar.
Secretary:--Mr. Shankarrao C/o Mr. Bagade.
Meetings:—Divine service every Sunday evening in Marathi.
Mandir:--The Samaj has got a Mandir of its own opened ia 1888 A D.
Institutions:—Two Night Schools (one for weavers, another for the lower castes).
Funds:—The permanent fund of the Samaj amounts to about Rs. 300.
Miscellaneous:— The principal i'«ems in the Anniversary proceedings are Nagar Sankirtan and Pritibhojan.