Wednesday, 7 August 2013



Sivanath Sastri says that the Indian Association (1876) a political organization and the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj (1878) were like twins – the same ideals and the same  architects being on both sides. The majority of the founding members of the Indian Association were the same persons who, two years later, founded the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj were already politically influenced when they started this  new Samaj. Hence,, nationalism and democracy were prominent features in the origin and development of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, in fact of the entire Brahmo Movement from Rammohun, only with a small break in Keshab’s time.
Rammohun Roy in his Town Hall dinner given in 1820 mainly to the Spaniards in Calcutta delivered.
An after-dinner speech publicly on “Religious and Political Freedom” thus for the first time integrating politics with religion.
Mahatshi Debendranath Tagore became the first Secretary (the most important executive post in any organization) of the first all-India political body, the British Indian Association.’
Keshab Chandra never attached himself to any political organization. During his period (1866-1877), patriotism was not a strong feature of the Brahmo Movement as in other phases of the Movement it was. In this period, Rammohun Roy the Father of the Movement was completely thrown into the shadow.
The spirit of nationalism and democracy was strong in the formation of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj in1878 and has persisted ever since then. Ananda Mohan Bose became the President of the Samaj as well as of the Indian National Congress. Dwarakanath Ganguli  was the Asst. Secretary of the Indian Association as well as of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj and was the first complier of ‘national’ songs. From 1878 till the Swadeshi Movement of Bengal (1905-10), there were many in the Sadharan Brahmo  Samaj who have been both religious men and patriots. Even among the young revolutionaries in the first decase of the present century, many belonged to the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.
 A democratic Constitution of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj of international significance was framed in the same year, based on the principle of universal adult franchise for both men and women. At that time (1878) women were not entitled to vote in England, America, France, Germany or anywhere else. This Constitution of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj is thus, also, a great milestone in  the international history of womens emancipation movement, because it gave equal right to the woman to vote with the man for the first time.
In Maharshi’s days women were not admitted into the Mandir. In Keshab’s time they were allowed to hear the Divine Services and lectures but from behind a screen. Thus far and no farther.
The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj boldly and courageously broke all the social shackles that bound down the women. They came to the Mandir without any ‘purdah,’ mixed with men freely, formed associations amongst themselves without barring out men, introduced co-education and were admitted into the realm of higher education.
Women began to sing openly in and outside their homes, taking part along with men in the Samaj choir and in public meetings. They began to walk in the streets boldly and openly.
The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj produced women teachers, professors, principals of colleges, nurses, midwives, doctors and what not,-a thing unthinkable in Bengal of those days, Brahmos of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj opened Widows’s Homes with facilities for vocational training for the first time in India. It produced juvenile littérateurs.
The spirit of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj produced women delegates to the Indian National Congress. It went even much more ahead. On October 27, 1907, when the dead body of the famous patriot under trial Brahmabadhab Upadhyaya, was lain on the funeral pyre in the cremation ground, Hemangini Das (wife of Dr. Sundari Mohan Das of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj), while standing at the foot of the pyre, suddenly got inspired and delivered extempore a fiery patriotic speech before a huge crowd who had followed the dead body. Repeated loud cries of ‘Bande Mataram’ rose from thousands of throats. The Times of London of October 28 said: “A Bengali, Mrs. Dass, delivered an oration. She said that Pandit Upadhay had taught a lesson in patriotisim, and had shown them how to die when their usefulness was threatened by an alien bureaucracy.” Monorajan Guha, a socialist leader and worker in the village reconstruction centre, ‘Sikshaniketan’ at Nabakalagram  (Burdwan) , in his book Brahma-bandhah Upadhyaya described this “oration” as a ‘flash of fire’ and said that it was an ‘amazing, un-precedented, historic event.’ This was possible only due to the spirit of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, the emancipator of women. Such another courageous Brahmo was jyotirmoyee Ganguli, the daughter of Dwara-kanath Ganguli.
The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj infused a new life and a new spirit into the shackled and cramped women of Bengal. It opened before them a new wide vista of life,-spiritual, moral, intellectual, literary, economic and political. It paved the way for future Matangini Hajras.
With the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj came the complete freedom for women. The spirit of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj was only intensified and more widely spread by Mahatma Gandhi over the length and breath of the Nation.
In fact, the entire Brahmo Movement is a Youth Movement. The birth of the first Youth organization-Students’ Association’-was in the hands of Surendranath Banerji in 1876. Ananda Mohan Bose of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj was his closest associate in this new venture.
In 1879, the ‘Students’ Weekly Service under the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj was formed by Ananda Mohan Bose and Sivanath Sastri, Surendranath associated with them.
The next Youth organization in the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj was the Brahmo Yuba Samiti which was born in 1917 with the blessings of SivanathSastri and Satish Chandra Chakravarty. The leaders of the Movement were Sukumar Roy, Subinay Roy, Jivanmoy Ray, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, Jatis Chandra Sen, Kalidas Nag, Nirmal Kumar Siddhanta, Ajit Kumar Chakravarti, Prafulla Chandra Ganguli, Santa Devi, Sita Debi and others.
The Youth ovements in the Brahmo Samaj had always been in close cooperation with and under the guidance of the elders. This spirit of mutual cooperation is very unlike the modern tendency of pushing out the old and the experienced by the new modernist Youth- a fascist policy of creating division between the brawn and the  brain imported from the West and not inherent in the traditional culture of India, nor in the culture of the Brahmo Samaj Movement.
The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj achieved many other brilliant successes. It has done many philanthropic works without begging for aids from an alien Government. In 1885 it gave relief to over one hundred villages in and outside Bengal before any other national organization came in to the field. In 1943-44, with the help of contributions from all India Samajes and outside help, it fed daily over 6000 hungry people at free gruel kitchens for months together in Calcutta and eight villages. The Samaj opened cheap grain shops and charitable dispensaries for them, distributed clothes and blankets, and provided them with work. It organized night squads with volunteers to feed the footpath dwellers with milk and biscuits or bread. Free milk kitchens were opened.
The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj did pioneer work in harijan upliftment over large parts of India before Mahatma Gandhi. The Prarthana Samaj of Bombay also gave signal service to the harijans through Mahatma V.R. Shinde. The spirit of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj introduced new trends in juvenile literature and journalism. India’s first labour journal Bharat Sramjeebee was born. Dasee edited by Ramananda Chatterjee on social service alone, came out and enjoyed a large circulation. Prabasi (Bengali) and Modern Review (English) set new standards of journalism introduced certain innovations which were followed by other journals and became the leading journals of India, founded and edited by Rammananda Chatterjee of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj who had his first training in journalism in the Indian Messenger.
In the work of social reform and fight against superstition and casteism, many members of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj bravely faced disinheritance, various kinds of tortures or were driven out of their homes. Yet they remained firm and never yielded. They were never cowed down either by the orthodox society or by an alien bureaucracy.
In education also, the contributions of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj were remarkable and creative.
In short, the story of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj is brilliant, fascinating and instructive and forms the most important chapter in the entire history of the Brahmo Samaj Movement. It was in this phase of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj that the total Brahmo Movement reached its highest peak. The history of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj played a leading role in shaping the national movement of the nineteenth century . India culminating in the Swadeshi Movement of Bengal of 1905 to 1910 which was the First Resistance Movement on a national scale against the British Government. The leaders of the Swadeshi Movement of Bengal were mostly either members of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj or sympathizers. The We would do well to hold up the glorious history of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj and national integration in the nineteenth century India before the nation and the world. Such a record may also serve as a source of inspiration to the New Youth of the Brahmo Samaj.

Even today, if the Brahmo Samaj Movement lives at all anywhere, it lives chiefly in the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. So, we should boldly and unfalteringly go forward in a proper and useful way with a view to bring forth a new Creative Youth for the guidance of the country and the world.

- The Indian Messenger

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