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After the redelivery of the message of the Brahma Samaj, Devendra Nath entered into a course of unusual propagandistic activity, visiting different parts of the country and establishing new Samajes. He also succeeded in creating a small band of preachers, who Carried i the light to different stations in the moffusil. Thus things went on till the year 1857. But the anti-Vedic schools, who had previously succeeded in overthrowing the doctrine of Scriptural infallibility, had not become quite extinct. They went on discussing other points of doctrine, and wanted to judge everything by the daylight of reason. Devendra Nath had a tough struggle with this school of young rationalists.' Side by side with his propagandistic activity, he had to try his skill to the utmost, to keep in hand this section of his followers. Fatigued by these struggles, he retired to the hills in the beginning of 1857, and stayed there for more than 1 1/2 years, devoting his time to study, thought, and meditation. During his residence on the hills, he tried to grapple with the new situation, arisen from the proclamation of Natural Theism, and made a careful study of such philosophical writers as Kant, Fichte, Victor Cousin etc., along with his favourite Upanishads. After having settled to the satisfaction of his own mind the fundamental questions of faith, he returned to Calcutta in the year 1858, and found to his great' delight, that a young man, belonging to one of the aristocratic families of Calcutta, the son of a private friend of his, had joined the Brahma Samaj during his absence. This was Keshav Chunder Sen. The union of Devendra Nath and Keshav Chunder Sen produced striking results.

Under their combined influence, the Brahma Samaj entered into a new career of unusual activity. Young Keshav drew around himself a number of earnest spirits, mostly young men of his own age, with whom he established in 1859 a small society called the Sangat Sabha. The name “ Sangat ” was given to it by Devendranath in imitation of the Sikh Sangat. The Sangat Sabha in course of time became the seed-plot of New Brahmaism. Its young members met at the house of Keshav Chunder Sen, and spent hours and hours together in discussing questions of practical religion. The earnest deli­berations of the Sangat were published in book form called Brahma Dharma Anushtan or Practices of Brahmaism. The young members did not confine themselves to mere deliberations. Many of them came forward to act according to their convictions. Brahmans discarded their sacred thread. Many took up a vow never to encourage idolatrous practices. Some began publicly to advocate inter-marriages, others went on to give social emancipation to their ladies.
Side by side with the establishment of the Sangat, a new institution called the Brahma School was started, where weekly, lectures were delivered alternately by Devendranath in Bengali and by Keshav Chunder Sen in English. These Brahma school lectures attracted large numbers of students from the colleges, and the number of young members of the Brahma Samaj daily increased Keshav Chunder Sen did not confine himself to the Brahma school lectures, but began to publish at this time a number of characteristic tracts, imbued with the new spirit. The first number of these was called “Young Bengal, this is for you.”  These Young Bengal tracts created quite a ferment in Calcutta Native Society. Things at last culmi­nated in Mr. Sen’s resigning the post that he held in the Bengal Bank as a clerk, and devoting all his life and energy to the propagation of Brahmaism. This example was soon followed by some of his young friends,1 who also gave up their secular work, and took to the calling of missionaries.The spirit in which they entered upon their work was truly apostolic. They had literally nothing to depend upon. They took no thought for the morrow, and carried on their work in the face of great priva­tions, a noble course in which they were backed by their young wives.

As the number of these young missionaries went on increasing, Mr. Sen opened an educational insti­tution called the Calcutta College, where many of these young missionaries found employment as honorary teachers, and the college became a rendez­vous of their party. At about this also Mr. Sen started, with the pecuniary aid furnished by Deven­dranath Tagore, a fortnightly journal called the Indian Mirror, which soon became a powerful organ of the Brahma Samaj, and which in subsequent times was changed into a daily, and is now under the editorial management of Mr. Sen’s cousin Babu Narendranath Sen. Thus equipped, the younger party of the Sangat entered into a career of great spiritual activity. Devendranath on his part impos­ed full confidence in his young colleague, and sympa­thised with many of the aspirations of the younger party. In 1861, he celebrated the marriage of one of his daughters according to a Theistic ritual, framed for the occasion. This marriage gave great impetus to the reformatory proclivities of the youn­ger men. Devendranath went further, and 1'u 1862 appointed Keshav Chunder Sen1 as a minister of the Samaj. But his appointment as Minister gave little satisfaction to the older party of members who had joined the Samaj long before, and yet con­formed to orthodox Hindu practices at home. They secretly grumbled at heart at the elevation of a youngster over their heads, and from this time it may be said, a difference of feeling between the two parties was secretly generated, which had such im­portant consequences afterwards. For some time longer, things went on smoothly through the influence of the two leaders. The younger party threw them­selves heart and soul into the work of propagation. They went about to all parts of the country, preach­ing the new faith, establishing new Samajes, streng­thening sympathisers, gaining new converts.

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After the death of Ram Mohan Ray, the BrahmaSamaj languished for some years. Many of its old supporters, who had been drawn into it chiefly through the influence of the Raja, fell off, -and its work was carried on by the devotion of only one, Pandit Ramchandra Vidya Vagish, the first minister appointed by Ram Mohan Ray, and by the pecu­niary aid of Babu Dwarkanath Tagore, (the father of Maharsi Devendranath Tagore), who also had joined the Brahma Samaj through the influence of Ram Mohan Ray.

The Samaj was in this moribund condition till the year 1838, when young Devendranath, the eldest son of Dwarkanath, began to take interest in its proceedings. In that year his mind was accidentally awakend to religious truth, and he began an earnest inquiry into old Sanskrit Scriptures and also into the writings of Raja Ram Mohan Ray, with the help of Pandit Ramchandra Vaidya Vagish. Along with some of his cousins and other young friends, he started a society called the Tatwa Bodhini Sabha, or the Truth Teaching Society, and under its auspices began to publish the writings of Raja Ram Mohan Ray. HU religious convictions deepened with these exercises, and he formally and publicly joined the Brahma Samaj in the year 1853, on the 7th of Poush, and influenced 20 of his young friends to undergo a ceremony of initiation along with himself, as a formal act of union with the New Church. The advent of Devendra Nath brought new life into the movement. A monthly journal called the Tatwa Bodhmi Patriha was published that year under the able editorship of Babu Akshay Kumar Dutt, a pioneer of modern Bengali literature. The Patrika began to publish translations of the Vedas and the Upanishads and gave free vent to discussions about the new faith. Devendra Nath’s personal example and enthusiasm drew new workers into the field, and the number of members of theTatva Bodhini Sabha, which at this time formed the missionary body of the Samaj, as it were, began to daily multiply. A school called the Tatva Bodhini Pathshala was esta­blished for training young men in the principles of the New Faith to be its future preachers. This Path­shala was inaugurated with great eclat in the year 1844 and succeeded in drawing into its classes some able and distinguished Sanscrit Scholars. But from the year 1845, there was a new departure. A young Hindu lad, the son of one of the officers of the Tagores, became a convert to Christianity, giving rise to wide spread agitation in the Hindu society. Devendra Nath, as the master and patron of the lad’s father, was drawn into the controversy. The Patrika under Akshay Kumar Dutt also took up the anti-Christian agitation. During the course of the ensuing controversy, the Vedas were proclaimed from the pages of the Pairika as the basis of the faith of the Brahma Samaj, as a set-off against the Bible of the Christians. Thus it will be seen, that the; infallibility of the Vedas was a doctrine implicitly believed by the members of the Brahmo Samaj up to that time. It was a natural survival of Raja Ram Mohan Ray’s line of controversy, which always quoted the Vedas and the Upanishads as infallible guides of moral and spiritual conduct. But the declaration of the Vedas as the basis of faith of the Brahma Samaj, gave rise to internal dissensions amongst the members of the body itself, forcing Devendra Nath to reconsider the whole question of Scriptural infallibility within the succeeding four or five years. Four young men, the pupils of the Tatva Bodhini Pathshala, were sent to Benares to study the four Vedas, and Devendra Nath himself also went to the sacred City to bold conferences with the Vedic Pandits, and the conclusion to which he ultimately came, was to give up the in­fallibility of religious Scriptures, and to instal the faith of the Brahma Samaj, as pure and natural Theism. As the result of this change of conviction in him, he proceeded to compile a book called Brahma-Dharma, containing spiritual and moral texts from different Hindu Scriptures, illustrating the principles of Natural Theism, and this book he published as the religious guide of his followers. All these changes were formally announced during the anniversary festival of 1850. The faith of the Brahma Samaj, therefore, may be fitly described as announcing itself as Natural Theism from that year.

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The history of the Brahma Samaj commences with Raja Ram Mohan Ray. A short biographical notice is therefore necessary. The Raja was born in the year 1772 at Radhanagar, a village in the district of Burdwan at that time. His father, Ram Kanta Ray, was a devout Hindu of the Vaishnava sect, and his mother, too, was an eminently pious Hindu lady, who terminated her life by a characteristic vow, viz., to attach herself as a menial servant to the temple of Jagannathat Puri, during the two closing years of her life. The parents of Ram Mohan, who were rich and influential, spared no pains or expenses to give him a thoroughly good secular and religious in­struction. In his early boyhood, he was trained under the eyes of his parents at. home, and when a lad of twelve, he was sent to Patna to be trained in. Persian under a distinguished Moulvie. Whilst going through his Persian studies there, his eyes were opened to the errors of Hindu idolatry, and his mind was convinced about the superiority of ' Mono-theism as a creed. Upon his return home in his 16th year, a difference arose between himself and his father on the subject of idolatry. Legend says, that his father observed him secretly engaged in writing some treatise, which he found to be an earnest protest against the idolatry of all religions. At this, his father was highly incensed and expelled him from his home; and he nothing daunted, under­took a pedestrian journey to several parts of India, ultimately visiting Tibet to inquire into Buddhism. Ram Mohan returned to India after 4 years, and sealed down at Benares, with the consent of his father, till the latter’s death in 1803. After the death of his father, Ram Mohan Ray moved down to Moorshidabad, published his Persian book “Tuhfat-ul-Muwahiddin,” in which he held up Mono-theism as a superior creed. Soon after, he accepted service under the British Government, and held several offices, till he rose to the highest office, then available to Indians, as Dewan of a Revenue Collector. He was thus employed till the year 1814, but his friends and relatives gave him no peace. In the meantime, his monotheistic convictions found vent in public discussions, even when serving under Government- He was harassed with law-suits, instituted by his dear mother, under the instigation of his relatives. These domestic and other troubles, arising from his heterodox proclivities, compelled him to retire from Government service in 1814, and to settle down in Calcutta to carry on a lifelong struggle for the dissemination of those truths, which he held so dear and for which he had suffered so much. After his settlement in Calcutta, he founded a society called “Atmiya Sabha,” or the Society of Friends, for the discussion of religious truths, including translations of many Sanskrit monotheistic treatises. The Atmiya Sabha at times got up public discussions on religious and social questions, such as the abolition of the Sati, which roused up wide spread opposition against the reformer, so much so, that his very life, was at times threatened. Ram Mohan Ray did not confine his discussion to Hindus, but carried them to friends oF Christianity also, and roused against himself a host of enemies from amongst the Christian missionaries of the times. He published a book called “The Precepts of Jesus,” and issued a number of appeals to the Christian public, in which he held up Mono­theism against the current Trinitarian doctrines of Christianity. As a result of these discussions, one Mr. Adam, a Baptist missionary, became a convert to the faith of Ram Mohan Ray, giving rise to wide­spread scandal amongst the European population of Bengal. Mr. Adam was expelled in consequence from the Baptist Mission, and Ram Mohan Ray, organis­ed a Unitarian Mission to find employment for Mr. Adam. Unitarian services were kept up by the latter
with the occasional intermission from  1823- 1828. But by that time, the first supporters of Mr. Adam’s Unitarian Services began to fall off, and Ram Mohan Ray, at the earnest request of some of his friends, organised a purely Theistic Service in a hired house in the Northern part of Calcutta on the 22nd August 1828. This was the formal beginning of the Brahma Samaj Movement. For two years, Ram Mohan Ray held his Service in this hired house, but efforts were made in the meantime to raise funds and to construct a Theistic Chapel in the central part of the town. The Chapel was built in due course of time, and was formally consecrated on the 23rd January 1830 in the presence of one European and a large concourse of Indian gentlemen. The formal opening of the Brahma Samaj attended with the suppression of the Sati by Lord William Bentick in the preceding December, in which Ram Mohan Ray had a large hand, threw the Native community of Calcutta into a whirlpool of agitation. A rival association called “The Dharma Sabha” was set up against the Brahma*Sabha, of which almost all the leading Hindu citizens of Calcutta became members. In the drawing-rooms of wealthy citizens, in the streets, on the bathing ghats, in the bazaar, every­where, the question between the two associations was fought by earnest combatants. As the champions of the Dharma Sabha martialled strong on the one side, the aristocratic friends of Ram Mohan Ray also gathered around him and formed a strong phalanx for carrying on the contest. The Reformers made the “Koumudi,” the first Bengali newspaper in the real sense, the vehicle of their New Message; and in opposition to it, the Dharma Sabha people start­ed the “Chandrika,” which week after week filled its pages with vilification of the Brahma Sabha people. Ram Mohan Ray left India in the midst of these dissensions in August 1830, for a voyage to England, which country he reached in April 1831., He died there on the 27th September 1833. During his residence in England, he republished some of his religious works, and tried to disseminate the principles, for which he had fought through life.

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The All-India Theistic Conference of 1911 held in Calcutta resolved on having a separate Brahma Census and directed the Standing Committee to take the necessary steps. Letters were issued in June 1912 soliciting help and co-operation from the Secretaries of all known Brahma Samajes and other Brahma gentlemen likely to be able to give assistance. Secretaries of many Samajes and several other friends very promptly replied to these letters and gave ready help in enumerating the Brahma residents of their respective centers. At the same time it has to be confessed that others from whom better things were expected, showed a deplorable indifference, causing much difficulty in taking a census of stations repre­sented by them. While in spite of repeated reminders, no returns have been received from a few stations. Thus the present census can by no means be called complete. The returns of some of the stations are not complete. This is notably the case with Calcutta, where quite a large number of families (about 100) notwithstanding repeated requests, could not be pre­vailed upon to return the forms. But though not complete, the present census will serve a very useful purpose. For the first time in the history of the Brahma Samaj we have a vast mass of useful infor­mation about our scattered community. We now not only know the exact number of Brahma families most of our important centers but we also know the names of our brethren individually, the extent and position of their families. We know definitely the extent to which education has been diffused in our community. We also know the strength of our com­munity in the more important of the ordinary professions. These valuable materials will be preserved for future reference and we hope and earnestly recom­mend that such periodical census may be taken at intervals in future.

The figures for each of the stations enumerated are shown in the annexed schedule. From this it will be seen that Calcutta (1,310) with the two Suburbs Bhavanipur (312) and Howra (94) records 1,716 Brahmas, which would have been considerably in­creased, if the returns from all families were received. Bombay comes next with a total of 349, and Dacca with 231 returns the third largest total. Of the other provincial headquarters, Madras returns 85, Lahore 177, Lucknow 71, and Shillong 58. Of other places Manga­lore with its total 214 and Giridhi 206 deserve special mention. The Khasi Hills return a total of 250 for all the congregations in the district. Similarly the total of Contai(126) include all the Brahmas of the  Subdivision.

As regards the educational position of the Brahma Samaj, it is clear from the report before us that there is practically no illiteracy in our community; while 1,953 students of a total population of 6,722 testify to a keen desire for education. The returns show a total of 489 graduates, including 97 graduates of European Universities and 34 lady graduates. Classified according to professions, there are 375 Government servants and pensioners, 373 teachers, 193 medical practitioners, 190 merchants, 124 zamindars, 131 lawyers, 65 ministers of religion, 21 journalists, 16 engineers and 9 contractors in our community. We are sorry that the results are not as complete as we would have liked them to be. But we hope that with growing communal sense, and more perfectly developed organization, similar efforts in future will yield more satisfactory results.

The following table shows the Brahma Census as compared with the Government Census.

Table 1  (For PDF click here)


General Secretary,

All India theistic Conference

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America.—Unitarianism or the modern gospel of freedom, sympathy and large-heareted fellowship seems to have found a still warmer home in the breezy, liberty-loving, unconventional land of America than the prestige-bound Old Country.” Channing, Parker and Emerson are the three names enough to send a thrill of new life into a heart of very stone. In 1794, Dr. Priestly went to America and his influence was felt there- About the beginningof the 10th centnry there was a great commotion among the Ministers of the Congregational Church in America at the spread of Unitarian sentiments among that body. The conflict raged till 1815 when soon many Unitarian Churches were formed. “The preaching of Dr. Channing was most remarkable in its power and influence. He was listened to by thousands and his sermons were printed and circulated by tens of thonsands. His works have been printed and reprinted in almost every European language.”*

In 1825, Drs. Channing and Gannet formed the American Unitarian Association, on the day pre­vious to that on which the B. & F. Unitarian Asso­ciation was started in London. The American Unitarian Year Book for 1911 gives a list of 503 Churches and 540 Ministers. American Unitarianism shows comparatively a greater vitality both in extent and in intent in as much as the movements in England such as the “Domestic Missions,”  “Postal Mission”, The Triennial Conference, &c., and the Unitarian Mission in Japan take their rise from an impetus from America; while lastly the International Council of Liberal Religious Thinkers and Workers which has been meeting since 1901 after every two years in America and the different countries of Europe, is essentially an American idea so suc­cessfully being realized by the zealous Secretary Rev. Charles Wendte of Boston.

Universalism—Like the Arya Samaj to the Brahma Samaj in India, Universalism is a sister-movement to Unitarianism in America, baaed upon the doc­trine of Universal salvation or that all mankind is doomed to be saved as opposed to the calviniatic doc­trine of the elect. The first Universalist sermon was preached in America on September 30th, 1770, by John Murray, who emigrated from England. In 1793, a creed was drawn up by the Rev. Abiel Sargent of New Jersey and was adopted by several Universalist Churches. Its language is unambiguous Unitarianism. The most rapid and general spread of Unitarian view among Universalists was due to the Rev. Hossa Ballon who avowed himself a Unitarian in 1795.

In 1870 the great Murray Centenary Convention met at Gloucester, where John Murray had this first parish in America. It was the last gathering of the Universalists that the world has yet seen. The Mur­ray Fund was reported as having reached in cash and good pledges the total of 135,000 dollars. The income is used in the aid of Theological education, the distri­bution of literature, Church extension and Missionary cause. In 1882, Rev. T. B. Thayer made a stirring address before the Massachusetts Convention on Foreign Missions Dr. Perin’s spirited canvass collect­ed a fund of 60,000 dollars for the Japan Mission and in the spring of 1890, Dr. Perin landed in Japan as the first Missionary. There are now five ordained native Japanese Ministers. A new Church edifice was erected in Tokiyo in 1903, and the Blacbmer Girls’ Home was also opened in that year. The Statistical recapitulation on page 80 of the Universalist Register is as follows :—Parishes 922; families 54,609; Churches 843: Sunday Sohools 845; Church Property 10,741,030; Young Peoples’ Organizations 238.

Africa—Free Protestant Unitarian Church, Hent Street, Cape Town, (1869-73). Minister, Rev. Ramsden Balmforth. The Church at Grant Reinet had no Minister in 1806.

Australia—South Australia—Rev. John Reid, M. A., Queen Street, Norwood, Adelaide: Victoria— Rev. R. H. Lambley, M, A., 49 Denham Street, Haw­thorn, Melbourne: New South Wales—Rev. George T. Watters, Yelverton, Ridge Street, North Sydney.