History of movemnets - 10

The Theistic movement was first started in the Punjab probably in 1863 when Babu Navin Chandra Rai and some other Bengali Brahmas organised a regular weekly prayer meeting in Raja Lai Singh’s Tosha Khana. The first Punjabi to join the church was Lala Sardha Ram who is still spared to us. Babu Sashi Bushan Bose of the Sindh Punjab Railway was the first Secretary. In 1866 Mahatma Keshav Chundra Sen visited the Punjab and delivered 3 lectures which attracted large audiences. A few years later Maharshi Devendra Nath Tagore came to the Punjab and visited Delhi, Amritsar, Kangra, Dalhousie, Lahore and Murree among other minor places. This visit like that of the Minister Keshav Chandra Sen greatly strengthened the Theistic Movement in the Panjab. In 1870 Babu R. C. Singha became the Secretary of the Samaj and he assisted by Babu N. C. Roy succeeded in erecting the present Brahma Mandir in April 1872. Mahatma Keshav Chundra Sen paid his second visit to the Punjab sometime after his, return from England and infused a new spirit in the Samaj and his lectures and discourses attracted a large number of educated young men to the Samaj. It was probably at this time that Pandit S. N. Agnihotri joined the Brahma Samaj.

He advanced the cause of Brahma Samaj by means of his lectures and writings. After someyears he gave up his lucrative post in the Education Department to devote his time and energies entirely to the work of the Samaj. After some years Pandit S. -N. Agnihotri seceded from the Samaj and established his own Samaj known as the Dev Samaj which was carried for some time on much the same lines as the Brahma Samaj but gradually he drifted away more and more from its doctrines and ideals. In the meantime Babu N. C. Ray had left the Punjab. The work of the Samaj greatly suffered but occasion­al visits of Rev. P- C. Muzumdar, Pundit Shiva Nitth Shastri, Babu Amrita Lai Bose, and some other missionaries from Bengal gave an impetus to the cause. Local members like Babu A. C. Muzumdar, Lala Kashi Ram, Lala Ruchi Ram, Bhai Chatar Singh and Lala Harhbagwan worked hard to strength­en the cause of Theism in the Punjab. Weekly divine services were held in the Mandir; Sangat meet­ings were carried on; lectures on social, moral and religious subjects were delivered, and Temperance and Purity Societies were started. A Brahma Ashram was opened and conducted for 6 or 7 years.

In 1898 the authorities of the Sadhan Ashrm de­cided to open the Punjab Mission with Lahore as its head quarters. So the late Bhai Sewa Nand Sunder Singh was deputed to the Punjab permanently in 1898.

He had joined the Sadhan Ashram in 1892 as a candidate worker and had been trained at Arra and Bankipur for mission work under Bhai Prakash Dev who had also joined the Sadhan Ashram the very same year as a worker. Bhai Sunder Sing assisted by Pandit Giridhar Rai Vishwasi and Raghunath Sahai, B. A. restarted the Brahma Pracharak an Urdu fortnightly from the 1st of January 1899. He started a Sadhak Mandli for the benefit of the Brahmas at Lahore. This Mandli worked satisfactorily for several years and proved very beneficial to some of its devoted members. Bhai Sundar Sing occasionally conducted weekly divine service at the Lahore Mandir. He officiated at domestic ceremonies, visit­ed different families, and disseminated the literature; of the Brahma Samaj. During his stay in the Punjab he visited Bhera, Gujarat, Amritsar, Gujranwala Rawalpindi, Quetta, Karachi, Hyderabad Sindh and other places. His services for the sick especially were highly appreciated. His untimely death at Calcutta on the nth of February 1901 was a severe shock to the Sadhan Ashram and specially to its Punjab Mission then quite in its infancy. In 1900 Bhai Prakash Dev’s services were permanently transferred to the Punjab Mission.