History of movemnets - 16

The domestic and social life of the members of the samaj is slowly and steadily conforming to the princi­ples of their faith. The domestic rites are mostly performed according to the Theistic ideals; early marriage has been abolished. Recently there have been a few notable inter-caste and inter-race marriages in the Samaj which are being much appreciated even by the sympathisers of the Samaj. The Pritibhojans or the Communal Dinners during the anniversary celebrations are being more and more largely attended by members and by a few sympathisers, ladies of the Samaj freely taking part in them.

Since the last six years some leading members of the Samaj have inaugurated quite a new movement under the name “The Depressed Classes Mission Society of India” for the radical social and spiritual betterment of the millions of the so-called “untouchable” populations of India. The Mis­sion is not organically connected with any local Samaj and though it is conducted on the most uncompromisingly liberal principles of the social and religious reform in India, earnest minded men and women not belonging to any Samaj are openly and enthusiastically coming forward to render both pecuniary help and personal service to the Mission in its several centres; while on the other hand in the several sessions of the All-India Theistic Conference the work of the Mission was heartily recognised as Theistic and warmly commended to the sympathy and support of the Brahma world.  In five places viz., in Thugaon in Berar, Bombay, Poona, Satara and Kolhapur, Theistic Con­gregations are organized by the members of the De­pressed Classes themselves under the auspices of this Mission and weekly services are regularly held.*  

Ahmadabad. —In the hall of the Gujarath Train­ing College a unique public meeting was held on the 17th of December 1871 to offer prayers for the re­covery of the then Prince of Wales ( the late King Edward ) at the invitation of some local theists. The form of prayers adopted on that occasion so pleased all present, that the reformers took advantage of the moment and founded the Ahmadabad Prarthana Samaj on that very day. Rao Bahadur Sirdar Bholanath Sarabhai was the first president and Rao Saheb Mahipatram Rupram, C. I. E., the first Se­cretary. Mr. S. N. Tagore I. C. S. and Rao Bahadur Gopal Hari Deshmukh the then Judge of the Small Causes Court exerted their best to develop the Samaj. But the main spiritual impetus and strength of the Samaj was derived from the devotional spirit of the worthy president Bholanath Sarabhai Diwatia. His Prayer book Prarthana Mala has found its place in the homes and hearts of the Gujarati people and hymns from it are sung even in the orthodox Hindu temples. Influential men of the city such as a mill manager Mr. Ranchodlal Chotalal were attract­ed by the sweetness of the president and in a short period of 5 years the present beautiful Mandir was built and (* See pages 152, 139, 150, 145 of the Directory for detailed descriptions of these congregations.) opened on the 3rd May 1876 at a cost of Rs. 12,000 of which Shet Bechardas Umbadas, C. S. I. of Ahmadabad contributed Rs. 4,000. The next few years seem to be the most active period and we read in the Secretary’s report for 1879 :—“The Samajists directed their attention to issuing vernacular tracts and a serial called Dharma Tatva was started in 1877. Babu Satyendranath Tagore delivered excel­lent sermons in Gujarati and the Samaj published them. The president visited the Kaira Samaj and the Secretary nine others in the districts viz. Nariad, Petlad, Sojitra, Baroda, Broach, Ankleshwar and Surat. Great sympathy was shown by the conduc­tors and members of the Samajes and he addressed very crowded meetings in each place.” But all this activity seems to have led to no permanent results; for a few years afterwards the Ahmadabad Samaj was left alone and till now is the only Samaj in Gujarat. The reason of this failure might be that the movement in all probability was conducted by men of official position which fact has been in many other places and other parts, a great drawback to permanent progress. In the early reports of the energetic Secretary we see again great stress laid upon the work more or less of a con­troversial nature. Customs and practices of the ortho­dox Hindus seem to have been treated rather roughly from the pulpit. We find in the report for 1887,  “The fiction about the intercalary month called Adhika Mas of which so much is made by all the interested Brahmans and which happened to fallwithin this year was taken up for a series of  discourses; the Ekadasi, the Ramnavami and other holidays on which people observe fasts and vigils were also made subjects of lecures delivered on those days in the Mandir.”

History of movemnets - 14

Theism in Western india.
The keen student of Brahmaism, Miss S. D. Collet, with her remarkable insight, observes most truly in her Brahma Year Book for 1880:—“The Theistic Charch in Western India occupies a position of its own. Although in thoroughly fraternal relations with the Eastern Samajes, it is of indigenous growth and of independent standing. It has never detached itself so far from the Hindu element of Brahmaism as many of the Bengali Samajes, and both in religious observances and social customs, it clings far more closely to the old models. It is more learned and less emotional in its tone, and far more cautions and less radical in its policy than the chief Samajes of Bengal. Bat it is doing good work in its own way and it has enlarged its operations considerably within the last few years.”

The Samaj movement in Western India has been conducted by three different peoples the Marathas, the Gujarathis and the Sindhis in their respective languages. The three head quarters are Bombay, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. Of' these Bombay has most ot all kept up ths tradition and attitude as des­cribed by Miss Collet, above.

Bombay —Though the progressive movement in the Western Capital of India dates so far back 1840, from ihe day of the Param-Haunce Sabbait was deepened, strengthened and spiritualized under Brahma inflnences from Bengal from the early sixties, and the first divine service of a new Society under the name Prarthana Samaj was held on the 3lst of March 1867 under the auspices of the leader and founder Dr. Atmaram Pandurang zealously assisted by his friends Narayan Mahadev Paramanand, Bhaskar Hari Bhagwat, Bal Mangesh Wagle, Wasu- dev Babaji Nowrange and others. The movement was afterwards joined by such men of high

intellig­ence and character as the late Mr. M. G. Ranade and Mr. S. P. Pandit, and Dr. (now) Sir R. G. Bhandarkar and Sir N. G. Chandavarkar. Baba P. C. Muzumdar resided aud worked for six months as a Brahma Missionary in Bombay and very largely moulded the religious and social life of the congregation at Girgaum. He worked for the betterment of women, young men and also among the outsiders of the Samaj. The present varioos institutions viz.,  the Arya Mahila Samaj, the Night Schools for working people, the Subodh Patrica, organ of the Samaj, may be easily traced to his endeavours. Slowly samajes were started in the rooffussil, in Poona by Mr. W. A. Modak, Mr. Chitnis and others; in Satara by Mr. S. Y4 Javere; in Ahmednagar by Rao B. Lalsankar and also in Ratnagiri aud Pandbarpur in which two Iasi places do Samaj is now existent, la Pandharpur there is now an Orpnange and a Foundling Asylum managed by the Bombay Prarthana Samaj. The first Missionary appointed by the Bombay Samaj was the late Mr. Sadashiiv Pandurang Kelkar who worked from 1882 to 1894. Mr. Shivram Narayan Gokhale was then appointed by the Poona Samaj in 1898 and is still working there. Messrs. V. R. Shinde B. A. and V. A. Sukhtankar Ph. D. also were missionaries of the Bombay Samaj from 1903-1910 and 1908-1910 respectively. Sermons and lectures delivered by Mr. M. G. Ranade, Mr. W. A. Modak, Sir R. G. Bhandarkar and Mr. V. R. Shinde have been collected and published separately in book form and are slowly catching the attention of the public among whom quite a new taste for this literature, new in Maharashtra, is being steadily cultiva­ted by a few young publicists of the Bombay Samaj. New prayer meetings are started in Kolha­pur and Malvan. In Poona a spacions new Mandir was built mainly by the efforts of Sir R. G. Bhandarkar and opened on the 11th of April 1909. Though the movement may not be said to have made any remarkable numerical progress, it is steadily holding its own under the recognised lead of Sir R. G. Bhandarkar in Poona, and Sir N. G. Chandavarkar in Bombay. Both these worthies are guiding most of the progressive social and educational activi­ties of Maharashtra. The younger generation is not unmindful to the healthy influences of the Samaj both in thought and life. The Brahma Postal Mission distributes small tracts on liberal religion either free or at a very cheap rate and is largely helped by the British and Foreign Unitarian Association of London by sending Unitarian tracts and books.

History of movemnets - 13

Established, 3 April 1864.
Reorganized, 23rd December 1884.

In the year 1864, Babu Keshav Chandra Sen paid a short visit to Madras, when he delivered some im­pressive lectures on Theism, to our educated countrymen. An active interest in the cause of Theism was thereby awakened and soon after his departure, a Society, under the name of Veda Samaj, was started on the 3rd of April 1864, by a number of educated men of considerable social influence and respectability. Out of this band of sympathisers, two gentlemen stand out prominently for their last­ing work; one was Rajagopala Charlu, a pleader of the High Court of Madras, and the other was Subryulu Chetty, B A., B. L., of Salem. These two worked hard for the propagation of the Theistic faith in this presidency by delivering lectures, issuing tracts and editing a paper called tativabodhini, in Tamil and in Telugu.

After thus serving the Samaj for four years they both passed away in 1808. .The Samaj so brilliant under their leadership now showed signs of decline. Then Sreedharalu, a young man from Cadalur District,who had been to Calcutta in 1863 to learn all about the Brahraa Samaj from its patriarch, iMaharshi Devendranath Tagore, and whohad been a silent but unnoticed worker, came to the front. IHe was earnest, devout and zealous for the cause of Brahmaism. He translated the standard work, Brahma Dharma, into Tamil and Telugu; published a Tamil translation of Babu K. C. Sen’s “Model form of Divine worship”; revived Tatwabodhini which had ceased to be issued after the death of his predecessors. He was the life of the Samaj until 1874. In January 1874, when he was on a visit to -some of his relatives at Pondicherry, he went out to see a Jain temple at Chidambarum, with a view to ascertain whether it would be suitable as a model for the Brahma Hall, which he wished to erect at "Madras. But on his way, he met with an accident which ended fatally. His last words were, “My funeral should be simple, with only Brahma prayers. I die a devoted Brahma.” Thus passed away the third and perhaps the greatest leader of the Theistic movement in Madras.

The movement declined once again, till 1878, when by the advent of some missionaries from Bengal, it gained new life and gathered new force “ But unfortunately there came a split also, some siding with the Sadharan Brdhma Samaj, others, being in favaur of New Dispensation movement.


This State of affairs continued until 1884, when a reconciliation was brought about and a new con­stitution given under the name of “the Southern India Brahmo Samaj” on 23rd December 1888. Butchia Pantalu, the then secretary of the Samaj, went on a tour to Calcutta, Bombay and other parts of India, for the purpose of collecting funds for the Brahma Mandir. His attempts, having proved fruitful, the Samaj succeeded in purchasing a good building at Annapillay Street,—the present Upasana Mandir. The building was consecrated on the 1st of January 1885, the consecration service being con­ducted by Pandit Siva Nath Sastri M. A. of Calcutta The trust deed was drawn up and registered on 26th January 1885.

The Samaj has since then seen- various vicissi­tudes and has been slowly doing its work of propo- gatingthe Theistic faith in Southern India. It has now got 45 members on its roll out of whom six are anusthanic.

V- Padam Raj Naidu, B. A.


History of movemnets - 12

The following books were written and published in Urdu by Bhai Prakash Dev during the last 6 years of his stay in the Punjab.
1.    Brahma Dharma Ke Vyakhyan… 2 parts.
2.    Life of Budha in 3 parts.
3.    Sangit Mala...Revised and published twice on behalf of the P. B. Samaj.    
4.    Grihast Dharma.    
5.    Brahma Dharma Shiksha.
6.    Atheism and Materialism refuted...Trans­lated by Lala Ram
       Narain Gupta B A., ll. b.

7.    Mashrahi and Maghrabi Dhasam Bhao.
8.    A great problem for India.
9.    Dhyam Ka Rup and Sarup.
10.  Svadesh Pnem.
11.  Causes of the downfall of India.
12.  Epoch making Ram Mohan Ray.
13.  God is living being.
14.  Time and Reform.
15.  Brahma Dharma a Religion of Love.
16.  Para-kal Tatva.
17.  Ruhani Guldasta.         
18. Method of Divine Service. (Reprinted)

Places Visited    

Simla,Kasauli, Guj'ranwala, Amritsar, Rawal
Pindi, Ferozepoor, Gujrat, Bhera, Qasur, Multan Phillour, Delhi Bhawalpur Baluchistan Quetta
Chinon, Peshinswan, Sindh, Kurachee, and Hyderabad.

Lucknow, Sligarh, and Allahabad, Calcutta,
Bankipur, Muzzapur, Beshenpoor Cuttack Burdwan, Maurbhunj, Orissa.
Bombay, Baroda, Bharoch and Ahmedabad.

At almost all the above places he conducted divine services, delivered public lectures and held conversational meetings.
Through the efforts of Bhai Prakash Dev a Brahmm Samaj was established at Rawalpindi with tbe help of Lala Ruchi Ram Sahni, late Bhai , Balmukand and Pundit Harichand Sudan. Efforts are being made to build a Mandir for which a piece of landJias been Ijpu^ht for two thousand Rs. out of which fourteen hundred have already been collected Rupees five thousand more will be required for the building of the Mandir and the Missionary Quarters.
Lala Raghunath Sahai, B. A