Monday, 21 May 2018

WHAT WE BELIEVE - THE BRAHMO SAMAJ: Its Religious Principles

We believe that this universe has sprung from, is sustained and governed by the will of Supreme and Self-existent Being, infinite in power, wisdom, love, justice and holiness. His providence is ever active, special as well as universal. By reason of His infinitude and uniqueness, He is beyond our knowledge and faith. We cannot conceive or comprehend Him except partially through His manifestations in nature and in man; but by means of our reason and instincts, our faith and intuition we can, sufficiently know Him to believe in Him and to worship Him.

We believe that man is the son of God; and as such is fit to know Him and love Him, which is man’s highest destiny; and to serve him which is His highest privilege.

We believe that worship, or conscious moral and spiritual intercourse with the Father, consisting of an attitude of love, gratitude, trust and reverence is a most sacred and solemn duty on man’s part and the way to salvation.

By salvation we mean that state of perfect union of the son with the Father, where there is no extinction or annihilation of His separate entity as a child, not absorption into the Supreme Being, but perfect harmony between his will and the will of the Father through love and self-surrender. It is both negative and positive. Negatively it means liberation from sin and misery, and positively a state of felicity and consequent upon a conscious life in God.

We believe that the way to this salvation is through love, which teaches the soul to seek the will of the Father as the highest good. It does not snatch the soul away from temptations, nor violently uproots the desires, but places it above them and beyond them by making them matters of indifference to its purpose or aim.

We believe that man is destined for eternal existence; of which life on earth is but a preparatory stage; that he is morally accountable for his conduct ; and there is no escape in the future from the consequences of his acts in the present. The punishment of sin is sure and inevitable, and forgiveness of God means permission to attain spiritual restoration.

We do not believe in any material heaven or hell. There may be worlds and spheres, where human souls find themselves placed during the several stages of their progress and development after death; heaven and hell with us are not places but states. By heaven we mean the joy, consequent upon knowing and loving the Father, and upon being allowed to hold unclouded intercourse with Him - this being the highest reward of virtue; and by hell we mean that miserable state where the soul is made unworthy of intercourse with God, and finds delight in unrighteousness - which also is the worst punishment of the sin.

We believe that not only outward morality, but also the purity of the inward nature, producing singleness of mind and holiness of intention, is one of the first conditions of spiritual intercourse with God, and that the attainment of this holiness should be a matter of earnest prayer.
By sin we understand the conscious and wilful commission or indulgence of a deed, thought or desire which leads the soul away from the divine will, and also the conscious and wilful omission of any deed, thought or desire which leads us towards the divine will.

By divine will we understand that universal, eternal and constant action of the Divine Spirit, which is manifested in different ways and proportions through our reason, conscience, affections and will. When it breathes through the reason it is wisdom, enabling us to perceive the true; when flowing through conscience it is virtue, giving us a sense and knowledge of the right; when operating through the affections it is love, leading us to seek the good of others; and when influencing the will it is courage, giving us firmness to stand upon duty. The conditions of this divine will are love and self-surrender. Man’s highest excellence can only be attained through submission to this ever-active law of righteousness; and departure from it is his degradation and misery.

We believe that sincere repentance and earnest prayer are the means of reconciliation with the Father. Repentance is the awakening of love, faith is the maturity thereof and regeneration is the result. By regeneration we mean the ultimate establishment of harmony of man’s will with the law of righteousness in his nature and the suppression of his sinful will.

By prayer we understand that loving, trustful and expectant attitude which the soul naturally assumes towards God, when it feels itself weak and fainting in its struggles after spiritual progress.
We do not look upon the world as a delusion nor as a place of bondage nor as the heritage of fallen humanity and consequently an abode of sin and suffering; but we believe that the world is a nursery for the soul, beautifully adapted for its growth and development, and for the exercise and culture of its moral and spiritual powers during the early stage of its existence; and that all the spiritual and moralities that the bind man to his family and to his kind, are sacred and divinely ordained.

We believe that true piety does not consist in outward ceremonies and asceticism; but in the strict purity of inward conduct, in the sanctification of the relations of life, and in the combination and harmony of faith and work, of communion and prayer, and of love and philanthropy.

We believe that religion is progressive; that all the religions of the world represent more or less imperfect attempts to spell out the common religious instincts and spiritual aspirations of mankind; that they have not been made but have grown out of the spiritual life of man, assuming different forms owing to differences of intellectual, moral, social and political condition. So there are truths in all and we cheerfully accept them.

We regard the whole human race as a family, of which God is the Father, the world the abode, the great men the elder brothers, the scriptures of all nations, the depositories of spiritual treasure and the triumph of truth, love and justice the ultimate goal.

- Sivanath Sastri

Thursday, 17 May 2018

THE CITY COLLEGE SCHOOL – A Beginning of the Education Mission of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj


After the foundation of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj in May, 1878. Another important step was taken by some eminent members of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj by opening a higher class English Institution called the City School. These members were Anandamohun Bose, Sivanath Sastri Umeshchandra Dutta, Krishnakumar Mitra, Rajaninath Ray, Durgamohan Das, Dwarakanath Ganguli and Kalisankar Sukul. Rastraguru Surendranath Banerjee also took important part for this purpose.

The School was opened after a special Divine Service on January 6, 1879 even before establishing the Prayer Hall (Mandir) of Sadharan Braho Samaj. Its prospectus had been issued in the name of Anandamohun Bose, who supplied the initial expenses, Surendranath Banerjee, who though not a member of the Samaj, yet kindly undertook to be one of the first teachers, and Pandit Sivanath Sastri, who was the first Headmaster of this school. The names of the above-mentioned first two persons, who were at that time the organised leaders of Bengal, drew into the school a large number of students (300 three hundred in the first year) and it was a success from a pecuniary point of view almost from the day of its foundation. The young Brahmo teachers who joined the institution also entered upon their duty with great earnestness, making it altogether attractive to those who came to it. It also secured the confidence of parents and guardians who became anxious to place their children and wards under the moral superintendence of the new teachers. Thus this institution was a success from the very beginning.

During this year (1879) the enthusiasm of the members of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj found an outlet in other channels of philanthropic and propagandist activity. On the 27th of April they opened a new institution called the Students’ Weekly Service. The meetings of the Service used to be held on Sunday mornings in the City School Hall. At that time when there were no other institutions Intended specially for the moral and spiritual education of the student community of Calcutta, the Students’ Service was the only one working in that line and its influence on the minds of the rising generation was great.

Along with the Students’ Weekly Service some young members of the Samaj started in the City School a Society called “The Young Man’s Theistic Society”, which used to meet once a month and hold discussion on important theological and ethical questions.

Remarkable success had attended this school since its foundation in 1879. The authorities of the school, amongst whom Anandamohun Bose and Umeshchandra Dutta were the leading figures tried their best to make it a model Institution by adding a college department to it on the 17th of January, 1881 and the City College was opened and the first Principal was Umeshchandra Dutta who was the second Headmaster of city College school after Pandit Sivanath Sastri. Pandit Sivanath Sastri engaged himself in the works of the Samaj and Umeshchandra Dutta took up responsibility of the administration of the City School and City College.  All classes of the school and of the college were held during daytime.

The City College became one the largest and most efficient institutions ever affiliated to the University of Calcutta. Anandamohun Bose became the Life President of its council. It was his earnest desire to make the city school and the City College the nucleus and centre of a vigorous educational mission with a band of devoted and self-sacrificing workers like the Professors of the Fergusson College of Poona, educated and patriotic young men who would work for the promotion of education on a more subsistence allowance.
Later, the school and the college were left to a body of Trustees by Anandamohun Bose, with a constitution that was exemplary and in which the staff of teachers and the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj Committee were both represented. This Constitution was further developed and registered in 1905, thus giving it a legal and permanent status, according to which the appointment of the Managing Council lies entirely in the hands of the Executive Committee of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, under the sanction of the Trustees. Of course, the idea of a fair representation of the teaching staff in Governing Body had not been overlooked. This Board of Trustee was known as City College Institution. In course of time this City College institution became a registered body and came to be known as Brahmo Samaj Education Society. Now the City School, City College, City College of Commerce and Business Administration, Umesh Chandra College, Anandamohun College, Rammohun College, Prafulla Chandra College Herambachandra College and Sivanath Sastri College are the educational institutions managed by the Brahmo Samaj Education Society. It is a registered Society-Registered under Act xxi (Registration of Societies Act) of 1860.

Anandamohun Bose established City School and City College at Mymensingh and hoped that other branch institutions might be opened.

The City School was first started at 13, Surya Sen (formerely Mirzapur) Street in the house which was Bharat Ashram. This original house was demolished and a new building in which we are holding our classes was built up. The foundation stone of this original building was laid on September 15, 1883 by Mr. Justice Romesh Chunder Mitter and the new building was opened in 1884 by the Governor General of India, Lord Ripon. All distinguished persons of Calcutta including Lt. Governor of Bengal, Sir R. Tomson were present at this grand opening ceremony. Foundation Stone of the backward portion of this building was laid on June 30, 1960 and was opened on August 20, 1961, by Dr. Devendra Mohun Bose.

The objects of this school and of the other eight colleges already referred to are to promote the cause of education in its highest and widest sense; to make that education – comprehending the training of the mind, heart and body and founded on a theistic basis – conduce to the good of man and the glory of God.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

SADHARAN BRAHMO SAMAJ : ITS NATIONAL IMPORTANCE (by Jogananda Das)

NATIONALISM AND DEMOCRACY

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.
WOMENS’ EMANCIPATION
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 litt√©rateurs.
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.
YOUTH MOVEMENT
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.
CONCLUSION
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

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Problem of World Peace



The problem of world peace has two main features, the problem of fear and the problem of freedom. The main cause of the world’s unrest is fear; - how should we go about banishing fear and what will we substitute for it?
There are two weapons that banish fear; Brotherhood and Freedom. We banish fear by believing in and practicing brotherhood, by having confidence in the good or higher part that we must appeal. This higher part of man will ever respond to our thoughts and actions of love and brotherhood if our thoughts and our appeal are sincere and genuine.
The idea of sharing of our benefits and our freedom is only bringing to be dimly sensed by the peoples of the world; and so we have the first attempt to share our knowledge and our resources on an international scale in the United Nations and its agencies that are helping the backward countries.
We are beginning to see that our progress, our security and our peace are bound up with world-scrutiny, world-peace and world-progress. We are beginning to see the idea of One world, and this is beginning to be accepted by most of the peoples of the world. This idea of one world, of world-unity, is the idea of the future. The time is ripe for world-unity, and when the time is ripe for a world-idea, it is as impossible to stop it as it is to stop the tide. We see its beginning and we see it gathering momentum from year to year, even from week to week. The future belongs to the idea of Unity and Brotherhood, the essence of which is sympathy, understanding and thoughts of kindness for others. When we produce in our hearts and minds purity, peace and love, then we are practicing brotherhood, and we discover a new and friendly world, a world without fear, a world of peace, of sharing, and of love.

- C. H. Hunter, The Indian Messenger

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

ANANDAMOHAN BOSE


Anandamohan Bose (23 September 1847 – 20 August 1906) was one of the most important Indian social thinkers and political leaders during the British Raj. He co-founded the Indian National Association, one of the earliest Indian political organizations, and later became a senior leader of the Indian National Congress. In 1847, he became the first Indian Wrangler (a student who has completed the third year of the Mathematical Tripos with first-class honours) of the Cambridge University. Simultaneously he was called to the Bar in 1874. He was also a prominent religious leader of the Brahmo movement and – with Sivanath Sastri – a leading light of the Adi Dharm.       
Anandamohan was born at Jaysiddhi village in Mymensingh district of the undivided Bengal province in British India (in Itna Upazila of Kishoreganj district of present day Bangladesh). His father was Padmalochan Bose and his mother was Umakishori Devi. He completed his school education from the Mymensingh Zilla school and stood ninth in the Entrance Examination. He passed the F.A. and B.A. examinations from the Presidency College, Calcutta and secured first position in both the examinations. In 1870, he received the Premchand Roychand studentship, and went to England for higher education.
Anandamohan was an ardent supporter of the Brahmo movement from his student days. He was officially converted to Brahmo religion along with his wife Swarnaprabha Devi (sister of Jagadish Chandra Bose) by Keshab Chandra Sen in 1869. Later in 1878, when there was a rift in the Brahmo Samaj on several issues, the young members of Bharatborshiyo Brahmo Samaj differed with Keshab Chandra Sen regarding matters of child marriage, administration of the organization and various other matters. Anandamohan led the dissident group. As a result – on 15 May 1878 – he, along with Sivanath Sastri, Umesh Chandra Datta and others founded Sadharan Brahmo  Samaj. The adjective ‘Sadharan’ was important, since it signified that it was an organization where all the members will enjoy the equal democratic rights. Anandamohan was elected the first president of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. He is credited to have built a democratic structure advancing its movement.
Anandamohan made several significant contributions as a social reformer and educator. He called upon all to chalk out social programme to eradicate illiteracy from the society. In 1876 he established the Banga Mahila Vidyalaya in Calcutta the aim of which was the promotion of female education. Later he amalgamated this Vidyalaya with the Bethune School in order to achieve better results in the field of female education. In 1879, he founded City College in Calcutta in keeping with his movement for spread of higher education among the Indians. His bright academic career and deep interest in education convinced the British government to appoint him as a member of the Indian Education Commission (HUNTER COMISSION) of 1882.
Anandamohan founded the Students’ Association with an objective of promoting the spirit of nationalism among the students and along with Surendranath Banerjee and Sivanath Sastri organized regular lectures. It was he who for the first time felt that – under the colonial setting –students constituted the most conscious section of the community and so they must play a constructive role in social and political developments of the country. Therefore he established the Calcutta Students Association in 1875 and himself became the first president.
 Like all patriotic souls in British India, Anandamohan was interested in politics from his student days. While in England, he founded the “Indian Society” along with a few other Indians. He was also associated with the “Indian League” founded by Sisir Kumar Ghosh. He protested against the discriminatory colonial acts like Vernacular Press Act and the reduction of the maximum age for Indian Civil Service Examination. He presided in the protest meeting against Partition of Bengal held at the Federation Hall in 1905, where his address was read out by Rabindranath Tagore due to his ill health.
On the political plane, Bose made another pioneering contribution by setting up a political association called the Indian Association in 1876. Its objective was to organize constitutional agitations against the colonial regime. The Indian Association convened a national conference in 1883. It may be described as the precursor of the Indian National Congress of which Anandamohan was one of the founding leaders. He was also elected as the president of the Congress at its Madras (now Chennai) Session of 1898.
Anandamohan Bose was successively nominated as a member of the Bengal Legislative Council, a member of the Calcutta University Senate and a Fellow of the University. It was due to his persistent and sincere efforts that the Calcutta University Act of Incorporation was amended in order to convert it from merely an examining body to and examining and teaching institution. Under the India Act 1892 the Calcutta University also secured the power to elect a member to the Bengal Legislative Council.
As a patriot, as a scholar, as a political organizer and as an educationist, Anandamohan Bose has a few peers in the history of India.
-  By Dr. Sandipan Sen (Associate Professor of English, Ananda Mohan College)
- Published in The Indian Messenger , June 2012 Issue

Quote of Rammohun Roy


Religious leaders have made an idea of miracles for attributing origin of a particular religion to themselves and increasing the belief of common people in them. – Raja Rammohan Roy