SADHARAN BRAHMO SAMAJ


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The Brahmo Samaj

"The Brahmo Samaj, represents a body of men who are struggling, in India, to establish the worship of the Supreme Being in spirit as opposed to the prevailing idolatry of the land. The movement [1] was started on the 20th of August, 1828, by Raja Ram Mohun Roy and his friends by opening a place [2] of public worship on the Chitpore Road in Calcutta, and was duly and publicly inaugurated in January, 1830 [3], by the consecration of the first house of prayer [4], now known as the Adi Brahmo Samaj [5] with the following manifesto, which forms a part of the trust-deed of the new faith:."


The Adi Brahmo Samaj Trust Deed Principles

"The said messuage or building, land, tenements, hereditaments and premises with their appurtenances to be used, occupied, enjoyed, applied and appropriated as and for a place of public meeting of all sorts and descriptions of people without distinction, as shall behave and conduct themselves in an orderly, sober, religious and devout manner, for

the worship and adoration of the One Eternal Unsearchable and Immutable Being, who is the Author and Preserver of the Universe, but not under or by any other name, designation or title peculiarly used for and applied to any particular being or beings by any man or set of men whatsoever, and

that no graven image, statue, or sculpture, carving, painting, picture, portrait or the likeness of anything shall be admitted within the said messuage, building, land, tenements and hereditaments and premises ; and

that no sacrifice, offering or oblation of any kind or thing, shall ever be permitted therein; and

that no animal or living creature shall, withinor on the said messuage, premises, be deprived of life either for religious purposes or for food, and

that no eating or drinking (except such as shall be necessary by any accident for the preservation of life) feasting or rioting be permitted therein or thereon, and

that in conducting the said worship and adoration, no objects, animate or inanimate, that has been or is, or shall hereafter become or be recognized as an object of worship by any man or set of men, shall be reviled or slightingly and contemptuously spoken of, or alluded to, either in preaching, praying or in the hymns or other modes of worship, that may be delivered or used in the said messuage or building ; and

that no sermon, preaching, discourse, prayer or hymn delivered, made or used in such worship but such as have a tendency to the promotion , of charity, morality, piety, benevolence, virtue and the strengthening of the bonds of union between men of all religious persuasions and creeds."

These intrinsic Primary ('Adi') Principles for Brahmo Assembly and Worship are reiterated by the next Deed of Trust of 1880 executed by Babu Sib Chunder Deb for the present Sadharan Brahmo Samaj premises situated at 211 Cornwallis Street, Calcutta.

(The Official Statement of circumstances whereby the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj was established by Trust Deed, out from Babu Keshab Chunder's apostate "Brahmo Samaj of India" Church in 1878 is reproduced below )

The Statement of 5 reasons

(Translated from Bengali)

We owe to the general Brahmo Public a statement of the reasons that have led us to form a separate and independent organization. We beg to inform them by this declaration that up to this time there is no regularly constituted body in the Brahmo Samaj to represent the views of the general Brahmo Community, and as a result of this sad want, the Church [6] is a prey to manifold and serious evils. It seems never to have formed a part of the aim and object of the Adi-Brahmo Samaj to organize and represent the general Brahmo Church [7]; whilst the constitution of the Somaj founded more than 12 years ago under the name of Brahmo Samaj of India is not at all favourable to the attainment of that object. It does not appear that during this pretty long period the Secretary [8] has ever acted under the instructions of, or in consultation with, an executive committee; nor does it seem that any code of rules has ever been framed for the regulation and management of the society, even so much so, that the very question who are its members and who are not, has often been quite a puzzle on occasions of reference.

During this long period, every important work connected with the society, such as the collection and disbursement of funds the appointment or removal of missionaries, etc., has been done exclusively at the option and by the authority of the Secretary. What could be a stronger illustration of this arbitrary way of proceeding than the fact that no trust-deed has yet been drawn up of the public building erected so long as nine years ago, by public subscription, as the house of worship of the Brahmo Samaj of India, and this in spite of repeated efforts made by members of the Samaj in private, as well as in public meetings, to have a trust-deed drawn up and trustees appointed ? But all these efforts to have the Brahmo Samaj property removed from uncontrolled individual authority and placed under the legal possession of the general Brahmo community have hitherto failed, owing to the aversion or indifference of the office-bearers. Whilst there was this unconstitutional and arbitrary way of proceeding on the one hand, many erroneous and superstitious doctrines [9] were also being silently introduced into the Church on the other.

For fear of causing a division, we had so long [10] passed over those breaches of constitutional conduct and the preaching of those corrupt doctrines. We have often seen the views and opinions of a few individuals given out and accepted as the opinions of the whole Church we have often heard many un-Brahmic doctrines preached in the name of the Brahmo Samaj of India, and as a consequence of the acceptance of these erroneous doctrines, we have also seen several members prostrating themselves at the feet of an individual, and many others leaving the Samaj in disgust and horror at such proceedings. We have often felt the whole Church, and ourselves with it, lowered in the estimation of the public on account of the foolish conduct of some individual members. But yet we have long, and in patience, suffered all this, in our anxiety to avoid an open rupture. But now, unfortunately, there have risen special causes to make independent action necessary on our part to preserve the purity and conserve the best interests of our Church

First : The present Secretary of the Brahmo Samaj of India, by marrying his daughter who is aged only thirteen and [a] half, to a boy who is fifteen and [a] half, by allowing certain idolatrous rites to be observed in connection with that marriage, and also by allowing the essential elements of a real Brahmo marriage to be subordinated to, and made secondary to those idolatrous rites, has made himself open to the serious charge of having countenanced early-marriage and idolatry, and has thereby violated two principal doctrines of the Somaj.

Secondly : Before proceeding to Kuch Behar, many members of the Brahmo Samaj of India entreated him to give up the intended alliance, but he turned a deaf ear to all their representations. Many waited on him as friends, but he denied them any access to the real facts. Many wrote humble and earnest letters, but he did not even condescend to reply to them. For instance, to all the queries personally put to him by Babu Bijay Krishna Goswami, the well-known missionary of the Brahmo Samaj of India, and member of the Missionary Conference, he replied by maintaining strict silence ; and in answer to the letter which Babu Bijay Krishna wrote after the marriage was announced as settled he was rudely given to understand that, after that, he forfeited his claims to the discipleship of bhakti. On the first announcement of the intended match, four letters were sent to Babu K. C. Sen from Calcutta, earnestly entreating him not to proceed with the match. The first was signed by 23 anusthanic Brahmos [11] of Calcutta (Brahmos by practice) ; the second by about 30 Brahmo students of the city ; the third (was) signed by about 20 Brahmica ladies, and the fourth by Babu Haragopal Sircar and three other known members of the Brahmo community. There was a separate letter signed by almost all the anusthanic Brahmos of Dacca. Besides these, letters from not less than 50 Mofussil Somajes were sent in and published, condemning the proposed marriage, in due time. But all these letters, remonstrances and expressions of opinion were ignored, and proved of no avail. Babu Keshub Chunder Sen declared it sinful even to look into the contents of the letter sent by Babu Shib Chunder Deb and others, contemptuously returned the letter of the Brahmo students, pleading want of leisure to go through it ; and the ladies' letter was deemed beneath notice ; and as for the other communications, they were also mostly doomed to the same fate. Thus fully conscious of our strong dislike our deep dissatisfaction and heartfelt sorrow, he went away to celebrate the match.

Thirdly : After his return, two letters of requisition, signed by many members of the Brahmo Samaj of India, were sent in, the one urging the necessity of calling a special meeting of the congregation of the Brahmo Mandir, and the other that of the Brahmo Samaj of India. Both these prayers were rejected, and the letters themselves were returned. But just after this, Babus Keshub Chunder Sen and Protap Chunder Mozoomdar called these two meetings in their own names. In the meeting of the Brahmo Mandir, Babu Keshub Chunder Sen was formally deposed from the office of the minister by a large majority, and yet he did not scruple to assert his claims on the pulpit with the aid of the Police; and as for the meeting of the Brahmo Somaj of India, it was on a sudden postponed sine die, without any particular reasons being assigned.

Fourthly: Upon this, the before-mentioned members of the Brahmo Samaj of India sent in another requisition, requesting that a meeting should be called within a week. It is indeed curious that when the Secretary and the Assistant Secretary called the meeting in their own names, three days' notice was deemed quite sufficient, but when the requisitionists were concerned, they thought six months' time, at the least, necessary for convening a meeting, and refused on that ground to accede to their prayers. Not despairing, however, the requisitionists sent in a third letter, insisting upon calling a meeting upon three weeks' notice. This request also was not complied with by the Assistant Secretary, Upon the strange excusej as we subsequently learnt, that a larger number of members had sent a letter asking the Secretary not to accede to our wishes. The third letter of the requisitionist was sent on the 26th April, and in that letter it was distinctly stated that upon the reception of that letter, should the officebearers decide to call a meeting, then the notice of the same should appear not later than a week, and should they on the other hand choose to treat it like the preceding two letters they would be so good as to inform the requisitionists of their purpose in three days. For a fortnight did the requisitionists wait daily expecting a notice or a reply. But nothing like either was forthcoming, till the notice of the Town Hall meeting to found a separate organization had appeared in the papers.

Fifthly : Nothing perhaps can better illustrate the utterly unconstitutional character and the degradation of the Brahmo Samaj of India, than the fact that notwithstanding that hundreds of Brahmos and Brahmicas and a very large number of Mofussil Samajes had protested against the marriage from the beginning notwithstanding that a large number of the members in a public meeting had declared their deep sorrow and condemnation, and withdrawn their confidence from the present Secretary notwithstanding that a vast majority of the worshippers of the Mandir in their congregational meeting publicly deposed him from their pulpit ; yet did not the Assistant Secretary scruple to describe a letter of defence, written by him as an apology for the Secretary, as a document proceeding from the Brahmo Samaj of India, and its decisions as the decisions of that Samaj. This is what he says in the letter written by him in reply to the third letter of the requisitionists.

    "You have brought two principal charges against the Secretary. The answers to them have appeared in full from the Brahmo Samaj of India in my name. In that letter I have expressed my regret on his behalf for everything that occurred without his knowledge or sanction ; consequently when the matter has been formally decided in the name of the Brahmo Samaj of India, I have nothing more to add."

We are then to accept the apology put forth by a single individual as a formal decision arrived at by the Brahmo Samaj of India. Could there have been a proceeding more unconstitutional, more unreasonable and more illogical than this ? We feel reluctant to notice in detail the unfair and unworthy treatment that the office-bearers and their organs have accorded to those who felt themselves unable to approve of this marriage, and felt if to be their duty to stand up in vindication of what they conceived to be the true principles and the recognized teachings of their Church. They have not hesitated to invent stories against them with a view to lower them in public estimation ; they have not scrupled to impeach their personal characters in their papers, and yet have denied them the right of self-defence by shutting their columns against them ; nor have they shrunk from ascribing the foulest motives to them for their conduct. These are not matters for utterance before this assembly. Our wonder and regret is that those who have devoted many years of their life to preaching the words of truth, men who have often taught lessons of charity, forbearance, and meekness,and who have been looked upon as patterns of Brahmic life, could yet be guilty of conduct like this.

For the reasons mentioned above, we are strongly convinced that as long as the present office-bearers are in office there is no hope of the welfare of the Brahmo Samaj of India, no cessation of the apprehension of her future peril. We could have called a meeting of the Brahmo Samaj of India in the name of some of us, and could have deposed the present Secretary and the Assistant Secretary, but the quarrel would not cease there. They are not the persons to give up power easily. Worsted by constitutional means, they do not scruple, as experience has shown, to ignore such decisions, and still retain their office. Under such circumstances, we deem it the better course to work separately and independently for our spiritual advancement and the good of our Church, rather than involve ourselves into ceaseless quarrel about the name of an institution, or allow the Brahmo Samaj to continue to be a scene of agitation and perpetual discord. Any course that promises better results and greater good to our Church is the one we should adopt.

The foregoing reasons have thus influenced us in forming a separate and independent organization. We need not enter in this place into a detailed description of our doctrines and principles, but we may shortly state that we believe

ORIGINAL DOCTRINE & PRINCIPLES OF SADHARAN BRAHMO SAMAJ

  • that faith in a Supreme Being and in Existence after Death is natural to man ;
  • that we regard the relation between God and men to be direct and immediate ;
  • that we do not believe in the infallibility of any man or any scripture ;
  • whatever book contains truths calculated to ennoble the soul or elevate the character is a Brahmo's scripture, and whoever teaches such truths is his teacher and guide.
  • We regard the fourfold culture of man's intellect, conscience, affections, and devotion as equally important and equally necessary for his salvation.
  • We consider love of God and doing the will of God as equally imperative in the routine of a Brahmo's life.
  • We regard the culture of faith at the sacrifice of reason, or the culture of reason at the sacrifice of faith as equally defective, and as fruitful sources of evil in the religious world.
  • We regard the worship of the one True God [12] as the highest of a Brahmo's duties and as the best of means to improve the soul and the neglect of it as a way to spiritual death.
  • We look upon the enjoyment of uncontrolled authority by a single individual in any religious community as a calamity, and far from looking upon freedom of thought as reprehensible, we consider it to be desirable, and regard it as a safe-guard against corruption and degeneracy.
  • We regard the belief in an individual being a way to salvation, or a link between God and Man, as a belief unworthy of a Theist [13], and those who hold such belief as unworthy of the Brahmo name.
  • We consider it to be blasphemy and an insult to the Majesty of Heaven to claim Divine inspiration for any act opposed to the dictates of reason, truth, and morality.

From this day we intend devoting ourselves to the propagation of Brahmoism and to the furtherance of the interests of our Church, apart from some of those with whom we have so long acted, but relying for aid and support on Him in whose hands are the destinies of man who supports every noble purpose, and has all along invisibly regulated the course of our Church who, in His inscrutable ways, has given strength when our Church languished from very feebleness, has vouchsafed life when her very vitality seemed ebbing away, and who has led her out from the darkness and superstition that eclipsed her face. May He enable us to discharge this sacred mission may He once more fill all the members of our Church with new life and resuscitated energy may He cause the day of hope to dawn upon the darkness of despair may He lead us out of the regions of discord and disunion into those of peace and tranquillity may He bless our cause and lead the millions of our countrymen into truth and salvation.

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Official document of the movement, compiled primarily from fair use extracts of works published by Sadharan Brahmo Samaj Community or other reliable encyclopedic and historical sources, as reviewed and selected by Council of editors for this website. Responsibility for the statements published here are with the "registered owner" of the domain name and do not constitute the views or opinions of any organisation. The website is hosted free of charge using resources of Google for efficiency. All original text on this website is in Public Domain and licenced under GFDL by the website owners without liability. All trademarks and copyrights are those of their owners).


Brahmo Religion

Brahmoism, newest of India's 9 official religions, is based on the foundation of Rammohun Roy's reformed Hindu spiritualism (contained in the 1830 Banian deed) and scientifically invigorated by inclusion of root Hebraic - Islamic creed and practice.

The religion was first codified by Maharshi Debendranath Tagore with the publication in 1850 of his Brahmo Dharma written in 1848 as 2 parts. This work forms the core of Brahmo spiritual faith and denotes Brahmo rejection of the authority of Vedas and the doctrinal shift away from from Rammohun Roy's Vedantic Unitary God.

The religious principles within Brahmo Dharma now stand evolved as the "Prime (Adi) Principles" which result in "Consequential Principles" akin to Judaic "Articles of Faith" regulating the Brahmo way of life.


Disclaimer

The "website" is always under refinement and also contains matter sourced from public domain (including internet accessible encyclopedias under GFDL or LGPL), works with expired copyright in public domain, and fair use extracts from works with copyright asserted. Original research occasionally published on the website is usually under GFDL or LGPL unless specifically indicated.

Material on the website is archived so that Brahmos (".. Testing, questing, never resting, With open mind and open heart ..") globally can understand, preach and propagate their faith in every forum and to any person confidently.

Considerable effort is taken by the editorial board to avoid and/or minimise bias in selection of matter archived on or linked to from this computer resource. The website is not a medium to publicise the activities or festival schedule of the Brahmo Samajes. The sole determinant for selection of articles for the website being substantial compliance to the applicable principles of our 1830 Trust deed of Brahmo Sabha and the Brahmo Dharma. All material on the website is selected, and subject to retention and IPR status review, by the editorial board consisting of eminent Brahmos, legal experts and scholars located in India and abroad.

Kindly contact us to rectify the inevitable errors we may commit. Anonymous or frivolous comments are not entertained. Serious content disputes, if any, are published and discussed on the associated Yahoo group.

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FOOTNOTES

0. Sadharan Brahmo Samaj = General Community of Worshippers of the One God.
1. The movement was originally known as the Brahma Sabha (or Assembly of Brahman).
2. The rented portion of Feringhee Kamal Bose's residence.
3. 11 Magh, or 23 January 1830 CE.
4. A new premises at Chitpore (Jorasankoe) arranged by Dwarkanath Tagore.
5. The appellation Brahmo Samaj (or Community of Brahman) was introduced in 1843 by Maharshi Devendra.Nath.Thakur for the Calcutta Brahmo Samaj. The Frst Brahmo Schism of 1866 engendered the 2 modern branches of Brahmoism viz. "Adi Brahmo Samaj" and "Sadharan Brahmo Samaj" (previously the general body of erstwhile Brahmo Samaj of India) .