The Brahma Samaj -- By: C. W. Park
BSac 40:159 (July 1883) p. 401
The Brahma Samaj
It is now about half a century since the religious public of England and America was made aware of a new movement in the religious life of India. A reformation of the current Hinduism was in progress. A man, in praise of whose character and talents too much could hardly be said, was directing it. Large results were looked for; but they did not come, and the interest in the movement declined as rapidly as it had risen. But some fifteen or sixteen years ago this interest suddenly revived. Hopes of an indigenous reform in India again rose high. The new society was once more talked of. Its leader had visited England. He had been patronized by church dignitaries. Important consequences were once more awaited. Missionary work in India was known to be slow, some said hopeless. The Indian mind responded sluggishly to the influences of external thought. The efforts of foreign philanthropists were long in bearing fruit. Here was a revolution free from the incubus of a foreign origin. It embraced not the lowest and most despised portions of the native community, as Christian influences in the hands of the missionaries had done, but the highest, the most intelligent, and the most influential minds. It was a movement, too, which though not all we would gladly have it, was yet in the right direction. Hearts that
BSac 40:159 (July 1883) p. 402
were weary of waiting to see India turn to the gospel hailed with enthusiasm this new indication of awakening religious fervor, and looked eagerly to see the adherents of the Brahma Samaj take the one step forward which would bring them safe within the pale of the Christian church. They looked in vain.
And yet, no one can doubt that the Brahma Samaj presents one of the most interesting phenomena of modern religious history in India. If we regard it, apart from the character of the individuals who have been prominent in it, simply as a movement in which men in general have participated, it is one of no small interest. If we contemplate it in connection with the history of two or three leaders who have moulded its character and shaped its destiny thus far, its study becomes still more attractive. And if we look upon it as a reaction of some highly intelligent minds against the ancient beliefs and superstitions and customs of Hindustan its history becomes both instructive and fascinating.
The history of the Brahma Samaj is best studied in the lives of its most prominent members.
About the year 1774 there was born, in the town of Burdwan, some fifty or sixty miles northwest from Calcutta, of high and wealthy Brahman ancestry, a person called Ram Mahan Rai. All Hindus are by nature religious. Ram Mahan Rai was so in a pre-eminent degree. Mor...
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