History of movemnets - 34

Perhaps the most highly organized form of liberal Religious Church life in Europe may be found among the Unitarians in England, Scotland and Ireland. But as the prescribed limits of this booklet have already been exceeded and as literature under the various heads of this subject is most efficiently being made available both for the masses and the classes by the British and Foreign Unitarian Association of London, ( Essex Hall, Essex Street, Strand ), and the American Unitarian Association, Boston, it is only possible and necessary to give here a very brief sketch.

“Perhaps nothing more practically fostered the growth of liberal religious thought than the establish­ment in London of the Strangers’ Church. It was formed in 1550 under a charter from Edward VI allowing Germans and other strangers to worship according to their own customs. This charter was a herald of religious liberty...............Many connected churches were established by bands of foreign religious refugees, not only in London but at Canterbury Col­chester, Southampton, Norwich &c. In these churches discussion on heretical subjects came up, and the under-current of dissent from orthodoxy was strengthened. ”After a few martyrs not much known to history, in the reign of James I, John Biddle first foanded a Unitarian Congregation during the Crom­wellian period, and had to perish in prison, after the death of Cromwell, on 22nd September 1662. Milton, Locke, Newton and other great men were quieter Unit­arians who have left reoords of their final judgment in favour of Unitarianism. Prior to Lindsey founding Essex-Street Chapel, London, in 1774, the Rev. John Cooper of Cheltenham opened a Uni­tarian meethouse On Sunday, 17th April 1774, Theophilus Lindsey held his first service as a Uni­tarian Minister in a hall in Essex Street, the site of which is now occupied by the B. & F. Unitarian Association. In 1771, Lindsey petitioned Parliament for relief from subscription by the Clergy to the Thirtynine Articles, and resigned his position on the final refusal of the Parliament in 1773. He died in 1808, having lived to see great changes in the public attitude to his work. Dr. Joseph Pristley, the dis­coverer, scientist and scholar, to whom English Uni­tarianism owes much for his theological writings, was among the friends and sympathisers of Lindsey. He suffered much for the cause and died in America in 1804.

In the list of Unitarian Ministers given in the Unitarian Pocket Book for 1912, are 385 names. The three Colleges in which the Ministers are qualified are the Manchester College (founded 1786), the Unitarian Home Missionary College, Manchester, (founded 1854), Presbyterian College, Carmarthen The British and Foreign Unitarian Association constituted in 1825 in London arose out of the three Societies, (1) The Unitarian Society for promoting Christian Knowledge (Estd. 1791), (2) The Unitarian Fund (Estd. 1806), (3) The Association for protecting the civil rights of the Unitarians formed in 1819. The National Triennial Conference was formed in 1881 with a view to bring together Ministers and Laymen of the denomination for common deliberations and has been meeting after every three years.

But with all this the Unitarian body is a very small one, and is often pointed out by its unsympathetic critics as not suited to the masses at large. In this respect, Dr. Brooke Hereford observed in a lecture in America:— “In England, too, Unitarians have laboured under difficulties, unknown here, from the tremendous social prestige and attraction of the great “Established ” Episcopal Church. As the last half century has also seen a great revival of religious earnestness as the Episcopal body it gradually drew away from us many of the great country families which had held by the “Old Dissent” as a sort of tradition and who would never leave it as long as it was under any of the old persecuting disabilities. If they have lost somewhat among the wealthy and cultivated classes, they have gained far more among the people; and now almost everywhere in England one of their strongest element is the thoughtful, in­telligent artisan-life which haB gathered to them during the past forty years.” Regarding the “Dom­estic Missions” which closely correspond to the Depressed (Masses Missione condacted by the Brahmas in India, and which were inaugurated in England by the visit of Dr. Tuckerman from America in 1835, Dr. Hereford says “Dr. Tuckerman's preaching and the story of his own Ministry-at-large in Boston interested our English Churches very deeply. He awoke our people in the large city churches to a new concern for the sad, ignorant perishing masses aronnd them. Within two or three years of his visit similar ministries-at-large—“Domestic Missions" they are called in England, were started in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol, and several other places. They were to be pure agencies for helping and doing good, without a thought of any sectarian gain. It was about as noble a kind of sectarian self-abnegation as has ever been. But perhaps on that very aocount its benefit reacted all the more upon the doors. It put into onr strongest city churches a new interest in doing good, and with that came new life, more interest in religion, every way.”

History of movemnets - 33

France—About the year 1875 it was estimated that there were about 20,00,000 of Protestants in France. The great majority of these belong to what is called the French Reformed Protestant Church nearly equally divided between what are called the Orthodox and the Liberals. There does not seem to have been any continuous Unitarian Movement. Stephen Dolet, born at Orleans in 1309, was burnt alive at Paris for his Unitarian opinions in 1346, The Methodist Movement in France has had the effect of making more orthodox the orthodox party and the translation of Dr. Channing’s works in French has tended to liberalize and make more Unitarian the opposite party. The writings of Theo. Parker, Renan and the rationalists of Germany have widened this breach. M. Guizol and his party called a general synod of the Reformed Church of France in 1872 but it failed to bring the great parties to any common basis of belief. The English and the American Unitarians have long been in friendly relations and much fellowship with the Liberals.

Any how we fail as yet to discover any continuous and organized attempt at Church life as distinct from the ancient and medieval established churches of Catholicism and Protestantism in France. Perhaps the specific French temper of mind may have been responsible for this lack of systematic attempt at somesort of a separate Liberal Religions Church in that country. We must therefore satisfy ourselves by quoting a few observations from the learned address delivered before the International Liberal Religious Council at London in 1901 by Rev. Ernest Fontanes of Paris:—

“The increasing attention given to social questions has produced among the younger orthodox Clergy an expansion of view which neither past ecclesiastical conflicts nor critical efforts succeeded in achieving. Just as missionaries whom contact with non-civilized races has convinced of the necessity of stripping the Gospel of its dry dogmatic husk, discovering its powerlessness to feed the spiritual life, so those who are desirous of reaching the multitudes who wander like sheep without a shepherd, and to whom too long a stone has been offered instead of bread, have been led inevitably to relegate to the museum of antiquities many formulas and practices and to concentrate their efforts and their propaganda upon the inner moral nature of men. Then again the number of lapsed clergy goes on increasing and the motives of these lapses are highly praiseworthy”

“We cannot report any conversion of the intellectual glasses to Protestantism, nor even to Theism, but it is quite evident that the positivist systems with their exclusively determinist philosophy have lost their prestige and there audacity."

"The abstract Psychology of Eclecticism stands condemn­ed! but on the other hand no one imagines that a man can be entirely accounted for in a chemical retort….. MM. Renonvier and Pillon, starting out from an agnosticism more or less vague, have ended by establishing in the name of the moral consciousness personal Theism. It cannot be exactly said that they have created a fallowing, but their neuroticism has rallied to them the sympathies of all those who are con­cerned, to uphold the dignity of human personality. It is allowable also to expect from, the Peoples' Universities, our equivalent to the University Extension Movement in England, an expansion of thought and initiation into the moral pro­blems which prepare the ground for the germination and fructification of the spiritual life and its aspirations.”

History of movemnets - 26

The Executive Officers.
The Hon’ble Justice Sir Narayan G. Chandavarkar
Shet Damoderdas G. Sukhadwala, J. P. —
Mr. P. B. Gothoskar, B. A. — Treasurer.
„ V. R. Shinde B. A. — General Secretary.
„ V. S. Sohoni—Assistant General Secretary.
Mrs. Laxmibai Ranaday—Secretary, Ladies'
Mr. L. B. Nayak B. A.—Captain General of the
Rupee Fund.
Shet Damoderdas G. Sukhadwala, J. P.
Mr. Hari Sitaram Dixit, B. A., LL. B.
Mr. Yithal Ramji Shinde, B. A.

SCOPE OF WORK.   ( For PDF Click here)

In all there are at present 15 Centres with 25 Schools, 5 boarding  houses, 5 Theistic Congregations, 7 Other Institution, 55 Teachers, 1,100 pupils and 5 Missionaries

The extent of work and sphere of influence of this  Mission may be classied in to sections as follow:-  

Table 1   (For PDF Click here)

Nature of the Mission Work.

Speaking at the Prize Distribution of the Society on the 21st of March 1911, His Excellency Sir George Clarke, Governor of Bombay, observed “It is an Indian Society working for Indians, and we may feel sure that it is helping indirectly to mould opinion, and thus to produce effects which cannot be calculated in figures or embodied in reports. As I have said it has a doable mission to accomplish—to educate public opinion and to arouse sympathy for the wrongs of the Depressed Classes on the one hand, and to promote the education of these classes on the other,” Sir R. G. Bhandarkar, Ph. D. LL. D., remarks in the visitors’ book—“The whole institution is typical of the times in which reasonableness is invading the domain of  prejudice and superstition”.
V. R. S.

The Arya Samaj is the second great theistic move­ment in India. It was started in 1875 by Swami Dayanand Sarswati (1824-1883), a Brabmin monk of a very powerful personality and great Sanskrit learning. He was the Luther of morden India. He held trenchant controversies with renowned orthodox Pandits and ruthlessly refused the authority of all the Hindu scriptures, except the orginal four Vedas, on which he exclusively based all his teachings about the one spiritual Godhead. He insisted on one particular school of Vedic interpretation, viz. of Yaska (about 500 B. C.) as the true one, and fearlessly exposed the later corruptions of Hinduism. Although the Aryas by which name the followers of Dayanand call them­selves, still a here to the infallibility of the Vedas, they so ....  ingeniously interprete the texts as to bring them into complete harmony with modern thought, which is virtually a more dominating element in their faith than the texts. In condemning idolatry, maintain­ing the purity of the doctrine of the Godhead and pro­moting social reform in all its aspects, the Aryas are as strong and sincere as the Brahmas. Nay, inspite of their exclusive regard for the Vedas, the enthusiasm of the Aryas many times glows almost to the white heat of the Universal Religion, as is manifest in the words of one of their exponents, Lalla Rala Ram.

“The Christianity as embodied in Ihe high ideals of the Christ but not the Christianity of the Church dogmas, it (Arya Samaj) claims as its own; the Islam not of fire and sword but of peace and good will to true believers, and of the submission to the will of God, it recognises as its own truth; the personal purity, the resignation and the ethical loftiness of Buddhism are indeed its inherited treasure. The Arya Samaj accordingly preaches the Dharma of Universal Brotherhood and Fatherhood of God”

Even in their peculiar attitude to the Vedas, the Aryas do a great service, viz. of drawing the national attention to a fresh and thorough going study of the long neglected ancient scriptures. During the short period of 25 years, they have made a marvellous pro­gress in thought, organization and propagation. They make converts evenfrom Christianity and Islam.
Dr. Kalyandas J. Desai, B. A., L. M. & S. Vice-President of the Arya Samaj of Bombay sends the following facts :—

The Arya Samajes of the different provinces are under the Government of their separate Pratinidhi Sabhas whose account I send in a tabular form on the next page. Many Samajes have their own independent preachers. There are many honorary preachers and Sanyasis doing work not under the control of the Pratinidhi Sabhas.

Yours sincerely,
Arya Samaj Mandir,     
Girgaum, Bombay.

Table 2   (For PDF Click here)


Gurukuls or Boarding Schools    ....    ...    ...       11
College                                    ... ...    ...     ...    1
Boys’ Schools                          ... ...    ...   ....    116
Girls’ Schools                           ...    ....    ...    80
Widow’s Homes                        ...    ...    ...     4
Orphanages                             ...    ....    ....    10

History of movemnets - 23


 (Established on the 18th of October 1906 and registered under Act XXI of 1860 as a charitable society.)

Origin—The Prarthana Samaj, or the Theistic Church of Bombay has been contributing for the last 30 years its own humble share to the elevation of the so-called low castes by opening night schools &c., for them. Especially, during the last four or five years, the attention of some of its workers was drawn more keenly than ever towards the several interesting movements of self-improve­ment conducted by such members of the Depressed Communities themselves as had tasted the fruits of the present educational system in India or had come into contact with the Christian Missionaries or the Anglo-Indian masters. They were the Somawanshiya Samaj started by Mr. S. J. Kambale of Poona, the Mohapa Low Caste Association by Mr. Kisan Faga of Nagpur, and the Somawanshiya Hitachintak Man- dali, by Mr. Shripatrao Thorat and Mr. Pandoba Dangle of Ahmednagar. Having closely observed these movements among the Depressed Classes, Mr. V. R. Shinde of the Bombay Prarthana Samaj wrote inDecember 1905 a pamphlet on the Elevation of the Depressed Classes. At the end of it he said:—

“Thus I have tried to review briefly from what little I know, the results of both philanthropy and self-help in this great work of the elevation of the Depressed Classes. If each of these will operate in conscious or unconscious isolation from the other, as it has been the case so long, both will per­haps ceaso to work out of more exhaustion. It is for the Social Reform Association and the Prarthana Samaj of Bombay to devise means to bring both these new forces into a happy and new co-operation.”

The same writer after further study ofthe subject the appalling number and the abject condition of these classes—proved for the first time from the India Cen­sus Reports in a pamphlet published in August 1906 that the depressed population was more than one- fourth of the total Hindu population and that more than one-sixth of the total population in India was considered “an-touchable.”! He then pleaded in that pamphlet:—

“ What is wanted therefore is not merely a machinery of education however grand, but a real Mission, t. e., an organi­sation in which the personal element presides over and ener­gizes the mechanism; and secondly (which is still more essen­tial) a mission which is not exotic but indigenous or in other words a mission which is bent upon working an evolution In the religion, traditions and social life of these people and not a revolution as the Christian Missions are doing . . . . . The City of Bombay in my humble opinion is the fittest centre for such work ... .The Prarthana Samaj ofBombay is the only liberal religious body in this province, that can, if it will, undertake the noble Mission and carry it to its ultimate consumation, viz. restoring, at least each of these depressed souls as are capable, to their rightful though long withheld place in a renovated Hindu society.”

In October 1906, Shet Damoderdas G. Sukhadwalla. Vice-President of the Bombay Prarthana Samaj, generously came forward with one thonsand rupees as an initial contribution towards the funds of such a Mission; and on the 18th of the same month, the Hon’ble Mr. (now Sir) Jnstice Chandavarkar, President of the Bombay Prarthana Samaj, inaugurated the Depressed Classes Mission, by opening its first school at Parel, in the presence of a representative gathering of ladies and gentlemen. Before giving the first lesson to the children assembled, Sir N.G. Chandavarkar in his inaugural speech charged the workers in the memorable words "Let us not approach these people in a spirit of patronization. Let us always remember that in elevating the depressed we are but elevating ovrselves!” The following members of the Prarthana Samaj formed the First Committee of the Mission. The Hon’ble Sir Narayan G. Chandavarkar, President.

Shet Damoderdas G. Sukhadwala, J. P.,
Vice President.
Mr. N. B. Pandit, B. A., Hon. Treasurer.
Mr. S. R. Lad, Hon. Superintendent.
Mr. V. R. Shinde, B. A., Hon. Secretary.

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Some of the works undertaken at the special suggestions of this Conference were the following—

1. At the Benares Conference in 1905 Mr. V. R. Shinde was requested to cotnpilc this Theistic Directory of all the Brahma and Frarthana Samajes in India.
2. At the Surat Conference, 1907, Mr. A. C. Muzumdar was requested to undertake Famine Relief Work in the United Provinces which he carried out with remarkable energy in 1908 and of which he submitted his report to the Conference at Madras in December 1908.
3. In several sessions the question of the amendment of the Civil Marriage Act III of 1872 was discussed and resolutions passed to memorialize the Govern­ment to eliminate the denial clause. This led to a wider movement in the country which finally develop­ed into the famous Bill by the Hon’ble Mr. Bhupendranath Basu in the Supreme Legislative Council of India which however in spite of the wide spread agitation and excitement did not pass.THE KHAS1 HILLS MISSION.
The Khasi Hills Mission, which was established in 1889, was the first attempt on the part of the Brahma Samaj to disseminate its principles amongst an ignorant and backward people, and bring them with­in its fold. The Khasi Hills district is situated in the northern-most corner of India and has derived its name from the people inhabiting it. The latest Ethnological and Linguistic researches have led the specialists on the subject to the discovery and conclusion, that the Khasis are a soion of the Mon-Annm of the Mongolian race. Nearly forty years ago they were in a primitive stage of civilization, be­ing scantily clad, and having no literature or written language of their own. They have made considerable progress, in various ways, since the advent of the Bri­tish Government, and under the influence of the foreign missionary bodies. Twenty-three years ago, several Bengali Brahmas, belonging to some Govern­ment office or other in Shillings, the head quarters of the district, published a leaflet on the principles of Brahmanism in the Khasi language, which fell into the hands of several inhabitants of Shella, a village situated on the Southern border of the hills. And so they applied to the Sadharan Brahma Samaj for a missionary, who could teach them more of Brahmanism and be their guide in religion Sometime after.

Babu Nilmani Chakravarti 
was sent there by the Samaj, as their representative, to ascertain whether the place was congenial for opening a small mission. He started with the intention of staying there for a short time, but the longer he stayed, the better he realized the necessity of making a perma­nent stay. During these years, his activities have been extending further and further in different direc­tions; and he has now got one Bengali and four native assistants, to help him in his work. There are at present twelve Brahma Samajes, scattered over an area of fifty miles in length, not, to mention others, which were destroyed by the earthquake of 1897, and could not have yet been reopened for want of funds. It was with great difficulty that Babu Nilmani Chakravarti acquired knowledge of the Khasi language. The Khasis had no characters or writing symbols of their own. The representatives of the Welsh Calvinistic Mission had adopted the Roman characters in reducing the Khasi language to writing, and published a translation of a portion of the New Testament, and a few other pamphlets. Babu Nil­mani Chakravtarti had to pick up the language trom conversations, carried on with the people, the few books available at the time being very defective. "With a view to give the people an idea of the system of our worship, that obtains in the Brahma Samaj, he managed to publish his first pamphlet in the lan­guage, within a few weeks after his arrival, with the help of a Khasi gentleman. This was followed by a booklet on Brahmanism, and subsequently several other tracts and pamphlets were published.

When Brahma Samajes were first established at different places, Babu Nilmani Chakravarti had to struggle hard, to prepare the people for the hard task of managing their affairs themselves. As they were rough recruits, and some of them simple illiterate men lacking in the very rudiments of manners, it took him a pretty long time to teach them how to conduct divine services and preach sermons. But there are, at present nearly at each of the mission centres, some person or other, who can discharge the duties of a lay minister tolerably well. The Khasis had at first a strong prejudice against the hymns, on account of their Bengali tunes, and also owing to the indigenous music being in a very crude state. Babu Nilmani Chakravarti had to try hard with patience: and thus, by and by, the hymns began to grow in popularity amongst the people. In the meetings, they are always sung together by the whole congregation. Side by side with the Brahma Samaj, he established women’s meetings at several centres, which are con­ducted by the women themselves. Although attempts were made to train them up in the same way, as the men had been, they could not make much progress for want of a lady worker amongst them. Now that Babu Umeschandra Chaudhari has joined the mission, it is expected, that Mrs. Chaudhari will re­move the long felt want. At the head quarters of the mission, at Cheerapoonji, the children have also their own meetings.