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Modern History / Socio-religious Reform Movements

History of Brahmo Samaj


    History of Brahmo Samaj dates back to 1815 when Raja Ram Mohan Roy started an a philosophical discussion organization called "Atmiya Sabha" which acted as a 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 and (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 that were written by him 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

      • In 1825, he started Vedanta College in Calcutta.

      • With his assistance, Christian missionaries started two colleges, (i) Hindu college (1817) founded by Dutch Missionary, David Hare at Calcutta which at present is called "Presidency College" and (ii) General Assembly's Institution, presently called Scottish Church College, founded by Scottish missionary Alexander Duff.

    Split of Brahmo Samaj

    • In 1839, Debendranath Tagore ( he is father of Rabindranath Tagore ) started an organization "Tattvabodhini Sabha". He merged Tattvabodhini Sabha into Brahmo Samaj.

    • In 1866, there was first split in Brahmo Samaj into two groups, (i) Adi Brahmo Samaj headed by Debendranath Tagore and (ii) Bharatiya Brahmo Samaj or Nava Vidhan 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 started a paper "Indian Mirror". It was the first English daily in India. He 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, after his lecture, an organization called "Prarthana Samaj" was started. It was started by Atmaram Pandurang after getting influenced by Keshab Chandra Sen.

    • In Madras, an organization was started which was called Veda Samaj or Brahmo Samaj of South India. The founder of this organization was 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 wants 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 second split in Brahmo Samaj in 1878.

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