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Modern History / Socio-religious Reform Movements

History of Brahmo Samaj in India


    History of Brahmo Samaj in India dates back to 1815 when Raja Ram Mohan Roy started a philosophical discussion organization called "Atmiya Sabha" which acted as the basis for formation of Brahmo Samaj in 1828. He is considered as the father of reform movement in India.



    Ram Mohan Roy and His Work

    • Journals that were started by Raja Ram Mohan Roy are

      (i) Sambad Kaumudi (in Bengali) in 1821 which was the first paper in India to be started by an Indian.

      (ii) Mirat-ul-Akhbar in 1822 which was the first Persian Journal in India. Ram Mohan Roy was the first person to start a Persian Journal.

    • The books written by Ram Mohan Roy are "Tuhfat ul Muwahhidin" (in Persian), "The Precepts of Jesus" and "The Guide to Peace and Happiness". He also translated Upanishads into Bengali and English.
    • Contribution to Western Education

      • It was he, who founded Vedanta College in 1825 at Calcutta.

      • With his assistance, Christian missionaries started two colleges,

        (i) Hindu college was founded by Dutch Missionary, David Hare in1817 at Calcutta which at present is called "Presidency College".

        (ii) General Assembly's Institution, presently called Scottish Church College, founded by Scottish missionary Alexander Duff.

    Split of Brahmo Samaj

    • In 1839, an organization called Tattvabodhini Sabha was founded by Debendranath Tagore (who is the father of Rabindranath Tagore). Tattvabodhini Sabha was later merged into Brahmo Samaj.

    • In 1866, there was first split of Brahmo Samaj into two groups, (i) Adi Brahmo Samaj headed by Debendranath Tagore and (ii) Bharatiya Brahmo Samaj or Brahmo Samaj of India headed by Keshab Chandra Sen. Adi Brahmo Samaj got disappeared after some time.

    • Keshab Chandra Sen, who was a great orator, was radical in ideology. He wrote articles for the journal, "Indian Mirror", which was started by Debendranath Tagore and Manmohan Ghosh in 1861.

      Keshab Chandra Sen was much influenced by Christianity. He says "One god for entire humanity". He wanted Brahmo Samaj to be for all religions.

    • In 1867, K.C. Sen visited Bombay and gave a lecture. An organization called "Prarthana Samaj" was founded by Atmaram Pandurang after getting influenced by the lecture of Keshab Chandra Sen.

    • In Madras, an organization was started which was called Veda Samaj or Brahmo Samaj of South India. The founder of Veda Samaj was K. Sridharalu Naidu.

    • Because of K.C. Sen's effort, Civil Marriage Act, 1872 or Brahmo Marriage Act or Native Marriage Act was passed. This law recognizes Brahmo rites (without Mantras) but not Vedic rites. According to Brahmo Marriage Act, the minimum age should be 18 for male and 14 for female who want to marry in Brahmo manner. It did not abolish child marriages.

    • But Keshab Chandra Sen conducted his daughter's (minor) marriage in accordance with Vedic rites to prince (also a minor) of Kooch Bihar in 1878. This led to split in Brahmo Samaj of India in 1878.

      The leaders came out of Bharatiya Brahmo Samaj and founded a new Brahmo Samaj in India known as Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. Most prominent person in this group was Sivanath Sastri (he can be considered as the father of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj).