Saturday, December 20, 2008



    I was reading the recent mails to Brahmo Conference group. .This group has many experts of the Brahmo Samaj who may explain some points (as I understand) to me for a paper I am writing.

    a) Ram Mohan Roy and Dwarkanath Tagore funded Atmiya Sabha in 1815 to fight against sati.

    b) Ram Mohan Roy,  Dwarkanath Tagore, William Adams  founded Calcutta Unitarian Society in 1823.

    c) After doctrinal differences with Unitarians who refused them use of Unitarin Church premises, the three founded Brahma Sabha in 1828 and acquired their own premises in 1830 at Chitpur Road which is now known as Adi Brahmo Samaj.

    d) Ram Mohan Roy's son was Dwarkanath Tagore

    e) Dwarkanath Tagore's son was Debendranath Tagore

    f) Debendranath Tagore's son was Hemendranath Tagore

    g) Hemendranath Tagore's son was Kshitindranath Tagore

    h) Kshitindranath Tagore's grandson is Amrita Moyee Mukherjee present head of Adi Brahmo Samaj.

    My question is which Tagore will succeed to Adi Brahmo Samaj head.


    The historical points are essentially true, but there is no dynastic succession in the Adi Brahmo Samaj. There is no "head" of Adi Brahmo Samaj and membership / leadership is not limited to "Tagores" or their descendants.

    Your question is academic; Adi Brahmo Samaj by itself is no longer directly active except to extent of providing intellectual, theological and spiritual leadership to associated movements like Adi Dharma and even more radical indigenous peoples movements.


Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj

--- In, Holger Lüttich wrote:
What is the difference between Brahmo Samaj and Arya Samaj?
Did R. Mohan Roy agree with Sw. Dayanand?
The Arya Samaj has been developing a typical religious practise,
celebration of the sankaars etc. What's the PRACTISE of Brahmos in


Arya Samaj propounds the Vedas as "divine authority" and advocates
going "Back to the Vedas"

Brahmo Samaj denies that the Vedas are "divine authority" and
advocates going "Forward from the Vedas"

One Samaj is "backward"/retrograde the other is "forward"/(infinitely)

Ram Mohan Roy passed away (1833) when Dayanand (b.1824) was only 9
years old. Dayanand was, however, greatly influenced by successor Adi
Brahmo Samaj leaders such as Debendranath Tagore, Hemendranath Tagore
and Nobin Chunder Roy. During the 1880's the Adi Dharm and Arya Samaj
worked closely together in Punjab and in founding the Indian National
Congress party. Dayanand, however, had major doctrinal differences
with Keshab's Brahmo Samaj of India and its Vaishno-Christian (Christ
= Krishna) confection.

<a href="">Arya
Samaj and Brahmo Samaj</a>

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Re: Hitler controversy (memetics)

From: jagannath chatterjee
Date: Tue, Sep 16, 2008 at 9:44 AM
Subject: Re: [brahmoconferenceorg] Re: Hitler controversy

Dear Peter

There are no factions within the Brahmo Samaj for the reason that all of True Brahmoism is united by memetic ties. After expelling the quisling elements in 1866, Brahmoism embarked on a decade of radical evolution under Hemendranath Tagore, who was then at the peak of his spiritual powers. Memetics, or the sharing of ancestral memories via the bloodline, is at the core of modern Brahmoism, as it has been the core of Hinduism's caste system. In about 1862 the Brahmo seer Hemendranath, then in his late teens, was studying medical science, and conducted an experiment where lower life cellular forms were taught a problem. These life forms were then fed to the next generation of life forms who could solve the problem without being exposed to it. Thus proving that information /memory is capable of transmission from generation to generation. From this flows a core Adi Dharm postulation "All life exists to be consumed".

True Brahmoism today is memetics in action. False Brahmos are excluded, although Keshub Chunder Sen's family tried desperately to capture Debendranath Tagore's memes by getting one of his grand-daughters married to Tagore's grandson (and for which Rabindranath Tagore disentitled his sister).

Jagannath Chatterjee

>Re: [brahmoconferenceorg] Re: Fwd: Hitler controversy
>Dear Saurav and all,
>I don't know if it would ever be possible for a non-Brahmo to sort out the factions within the Samaj, or understand why some people do not believe that there are factions at all.  In my personal life I do not participate in gossip and backbiting as I feel that those activities truly rot the soul.  So if anyone on the Brahmo lists tries to get me to take sides based on differences I couldn't possibly fathom, or on >assessments of the characters of others I do not know, know that I could not do that.
>I have made my point about not being able to abide Hitler-sympathizers.  As I'm not sure why one of Hitler's comments was included in an attachment to a post to, I'm going to give the sender the benefit of the doubt.  If that or something similar happens again I'll know it was not by chance and I will remove myself from the offending group.

Hitler controversy

From: Saurav Brahmo
Date: Mon, Sep 15, 2008 at 9:10 AM
Subject: [brahmoconferenceorg] Re: Hitler controversy

Dear Peter

As you would have figured out by now there are 2 kinds of Brahmos- "True Brahmos" and "False Brahmos"

This Yahoo group is for "True Brahmos"- of the Adi-ite tradition. We believe that that there is only "One God"

The other Yahoo group (from where the "great thoughts" of Hitler are being circulated) are "False Brahmos of the Keshub-ite variety. They believe that there is only "One TRUE God" and their devilish doctrines revolve around Masonic dogma like the "Fatherhood of God" and "Brotherhood of Man"

By 1866 the False Brahmos (and their leaders) were finally expelled from Brahmoism by Maharshi Hemendranath Tagore but regrettably they still continue to preach their pernicious devilish message in the name of Brahmoism. Even today on that other false Yahoo group we find great love and affection for Hitler and his "great thoughts". What greater proof of this can there be than message number 666 (Satan's number) of
that group.

and it's statement "But don't we sometimes need to sup with the devil if need be & give the devil it's due when it is justified ?"

You may be assured that True Brahmos would never support (or express admiration for) engineers of genocide, and concepts such as "unter-menschen" are specifically prohibited in our religion.

In Truth

Founder of Brahmo Samaj

From: Rahul Dev Sharma
Subject: [brahmoconferenceorg] Founder of Brahmo Samaj (Blog Post)

Here is some interesting information from a Brahmo Samaj Blog on the internet at

Brahmo Samaj, a primer.

Posted by brahmosamaj on August 12, 2008

Q: What is the Brahmo Samaj ?

A: The Brahmo Samaj is the social order (Samaj = "community") of the Brahmo religion.

Q: Who founded the Brahmo Samaj ?

A: The Brahmo Samaj was founded at Lahore in 1861 by Navin Chandra Roy to propagate the Brahmo religion.

Q: Who founded the Brahmo religion ?

A: The Brahmo religion was founded in 1849 at Calcutta by Debendranath Tagore with the publication of "Brahmo Dharma".

Q: Excuse me, but I thought Raja Ram Mohan Roy founded the Brahmo Samaj ?

A: Not really. Ram Mohan Roy started the Brahma Sabha (Association of Brahmins) along with Dwarkanath Tagore in 1828. The objectives of this association were to publicize the true Vedanta which had been corrupted by Buddhist and Brahmanical influences. The Sabha met every Wednesday at Kamal Basu's house in Chitpur and later moved to their own premises at Chitpur Road in 1830 (purchased by the munificence Dwarkanath Tagore) . After the death of Ram Mohan Roy in 1833, the Sabha became moribund

Q: But, were these Chitpur premises of 1830 not the Adi Brahmo Samaj ?

A: It is correct that the present Adi Brahmo Samaj premises are situated at the same 1830 location. However, the Adi Brahmo Samaj is only the name given by the common people to the Calcutta Brahmo Samaj when Keshub Chunder Sen and a few of his sympathisers were expelled from it.

Q:  So,  if the Calcutta Brahmo Samaj is the same as Adi Brahmo Samaj, when was it founded ?

A:  The Calcutta Brahmo Samaj was so named in 1863, when after a cyclone the Chitpur Road premises were affected and Brahma Sabha (previously amalgamated with Tattwabodhini Sabha)  was shifted to the Jorasako Thakur bari.

Re: Questions about Brahmoism

From: Rahul Dev Sharma <rahul.dv..@..>
Subject: Re: [brahmoconferenceorg] Questions about Brahmoism

Dear Suhrud

Answers to some of your (very intelligent) questions. The difficult ones will take sometime.

1)  Brahmoism is a religion. The philosophy behind Brahmoism is "Brahmo Dharma". Any person who believes that there is only one infinite "God" can "follow" Brahmoism by subscribing to membership of a "Brahmo Samaj" while retaining their own religion.

2) Brahmoism was never a "proselytizing religion". Like all the great Asian religions, we sit on the seashore (or a Himalayan mountain or the Internet) and wait for truthseekers to seek us out. "Conversion" is discretionary (there are no fixed rituals for conversion in any case) and more in the nature of "acceptance" of Brahmoism. In the early days of Brahmoism a few people were admitted as members who
caused immense trouble to our religion and gave it a bad name, after their expulsion in 1866 True Brahmoism has had no apostasy in its ranks.

4) Brahmoism is the religion. Brahmo Samaj is the larger community which "follows" Brahmoism while possibly retaining their old religions. It is incorrect that Brahmoism is hereditary, there is a debate about genetics and memetics which has not been properly understood by one faction here. Genetics and Memetics simply reinforce the shared collective identity for Brahmoism (as in all religions).

5) Brahmos believe that "truth" is contained everywhere. However, we also believe that no revelation, prophet or holy book is infallible or to be considered as authority. Brahmoism lays great stress on the powers of an enlightened conscience to know & distinguish True from False and to act appropriately.

5.1) We neither accept nor reject these books. We accept as fact these these books exist and consider it likely that these books are human creation (as much as "God" is a human creation).

5.2)  Yes. Brahmoism rejects apostles, prophets or incarnations as concepts contrary to the principles of Brahmoism. By our Trust principles we are forbidden to disparage other religions or particpate in communal anger. This has led to a concept of the Brahmo "lie" where
although a Brahmo shall not lie he is not bound to tell the truth either. (eg.Q: Do you know where the nearest liqour shop is ? A:Yes. Q: Can you show me the way there? A:Yes (but I wont))

6) There are no prescribed Brahmo rituals. All that is required is for Brahmos to worship and adore the Supreme Spirit regularly (and at least once a week). Some do this by meditation, some by good works. True Brahmo religionists compose their mind daily on the 9 principles of Adi Dharm and reinforce their connection to God

8) There are no Schisms in Brahmoism. In 1865 and 1866 some apostates were expelled for spreading unacceptable Christian doctrines in the garb of Brahmoism. From 1878-1882 many of them were readmitted back into Adi Dharm with the formation of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.

9) Brahmoism stands on the foundations of the work of Ram Mohan Roy and Dwarkanath Tagore - this stage of the religion was known as "Brahma Sabha". The superstructure was thereafter erected by Debendranath Tagore, Akshoy Kr. Dutta, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Ajudyanath Pakrashi and many others. In 1862 the Brahmo Samaj organisation was founded by Pt Nabin Ch. Rai at Lahore. Thereafter, the final shape to Brahmoism's philosophy was given by Hemendranath Tagore. Sen was never a Brahmo, he was born a Hindu and died a Christian, being many things on the path between.

10) No Brahmo would seek to convince anyone to convert to Brahmoism. Usually people who reach Brahmoism do so by their own path.


Questions about Brahmoism

From: suhrud_s <suhrud...@yah...>
Subject: [brahmoconferenceorg] Questions about Brahmoism


I have recently been permitted into the Brahmo Conference Group.

Thank you.

Going through the recent messages, I understand this group has among its members, many learned individuals, and I appreciate the opportunity to be included in this group.

I have put forward some questions about Brahmoism and I would appreciate any answers you might be able to give me. These questions are as those of a layman from a different faith. Perhaps these questions and answers could help other newbies like me.

1. Is Brahmoism a religion or a philosophy? Can one adopt Brahmoism whilst retaining one's current faith.

2. Related question - Is Brahmoism a proselytizing religion? Can someone "convert" to Brahmoism? Likewise, is there a concept of apostasy?

3. What is the concept of God in Brahmoism? How different is the Brahmo concept of God from the monotheistic Judaic or Islamic concept of Yahweh or Allah. How different is it from the Hindu concept of God in the form of Shiva or Vishnu? [It is perfectly possible to worship Vishnu or Shiva without worshipping an idol made in his assumed likeness.]

4. How different is Brahmoism from the Brahmo Samaj? Also, I read somewhere that Brahmoism can only be acquired through heredity, while the Brahmo Samaj is open to all and sundry. Is that correct?

5. Do Brahmos disbelieve in the divinity of all revelations, prophets and holy books?

5.1 Do they reject the Quran, the Gospels, the Torah, the Vedas and the Guru Granth Sahib as merely human creation?

5.2 Do Brahmos reject Rama, Krishna, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gautama Buddha, Zoroaster, Guru Nanak and Baha'ullah as prophets or incarnations of God?

[If the answer to 5.1 or 5.2 is yes (i.e. reject prophets and books), then is Brahmoism not exposing itself to communal anger from other faiths?]

6. Do Brahmos have any rituals? Are there any prescribed methods of worship or prayer in Brahmoism? As in other religions, adherents pray standing up, prostrating, kneeling down, chanting hymns around a sacrificial fire, or simply contemplating about God?

7. What is the approximate number of adherents of Brahmoism in the world today? Where do they meet? Is there a central authority, like a church? Where is it?

8. There have been some schisms in Brahmoism. Which is the one that is most relevant to the original teachings?

9. I often read that Brahmoism was an attempt at reformation of the Hindu religion in the 1800's by intellectuals like Roy and Sen? Is it just a reformation or a new religion in its own right?

10. How would a Brahmo convince a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim or a Buddhist to accept Brahmoism?

My apologies if I might sound irreverent in my questions. I am only trying to understand the Brahmo faith.

Thank you
Suhrud Bapat

Sadharan Brahmo Samaj (Founding principles)

From: Saurav Brahmo <saurav@m...>
Subject: Re: [brahmoconferenceorg] Re: Basic Tenets Of Brahmo Dharma

Dear Rahul and Biswajit.

Actually there is less difference between the Sadharan Samaj and Adi Samaj than is being depicted. The issue is that the Sadharan Samaj has strayed far and wide from their original goals of the first decade(1877-1885).  If we hark back to the founding principles of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj we hardly find anything objectionable to us.

Founding principles of Sadharan Samaj
  • that faith in a Supreme Being and in Existence after Death is natural to man ;
  • that we regard the relation between God and men to be direct and immediate ;
  • that we do not believe in the infallibility of any man or any scripture ;
  • whatever book contains truths calculated to ennoble the soul or elevate the character is a Brahmo's scripture, and whoever teaches such truths is his teacher and guide.
  • We regard the fourfold culture of man's intellect, conscience, affections, and devotion as equally important and equally necessary for his salvation.
  • We consider love of God and doing the will of God as equally imperative in the routine of a Brahmo's life.
  • We regard the culture of faith at the sacrifice of reason, or the culture of reason at the sacrifice of faith as equally defective, and as fruitful sources of evil in the religious world.
  • We regard the worship of one God as the highest of a Brahmo's duties and as the best of means to improve the soul and the neglect of it as a way to spiritual death.
  • We look upon the enjoyment of uncontrolled authority by a single individual in any religious community as a calamity, and far from looking upon freedom of thought as reprehensible, we consider it to be desirable, and regard it as a safe-guard against corruption and degeneracy.
  • We regard the belief in an individual being a way to salvation, or a link between God and Man, as a belief unworthy of a Theist, and those who hold such belief as unworthy of the Brahmo name.
  • We consider it to be blasphemy and an insult to the Majesty of Heaven to claim Divine inspiration for any act opposed to the dictates of reason, truth, and morality.

In Truth

Re: Basic Tenets Of Brahmo Dharma

Subject: Re: [brahmoconferenceorg] Re: Basic Tenets Of Brahmo Dharma


At the risk of incurring the not inconsiderable displeasure of JC & Co. who have eloquently listed out many differences between the 2 Brahmo Samajes, I would also like to list out the points on which we agree.

1.ONE GOD. ie. a Singular Author and Preserver of Existence

2. Brahmos reject scripture as authority.

3. Brahmos reject prophets, gurus, messiahs, or avatars.

4. Brahmos denounce idol worship and polytheism

5. Brahmos are against distinctions like caste

Beyond this it would be very difficult to generate consensus between Adi'ism and Sadharn'ism.


Re: Basic Tenets Of Brahmo Dharma

Subject: [brahmoconferenceorg] Re: Basic Tenets Of Brahmo Dharma

Dear All;

Just some updates to Mr Dutta's message below from the Indian Messenger. Brahmo Dharma has been revised considerably from Maharshi Debendranath's time and the Indian Messenger (and its  Samaj faction) are still to get the "True" message. The heart of Brahmo Dharma shall always be the Adi Brahmo Trust Principles of 1830 and not what a
Sadharan Samaj mouthpiece proclaims to be Brahmo Dharma..

Point wise clarification:-

1) Modern ("True") Brahmoism no longer uses the term "Supreme Being". The preferred term now is "Singularity". With some better knowledge of cosmology we no longer equate Singularity with "He" but as "It" and do not attribute petty human characteristics such as all "knowing / powerful / perfect" etc to It.

2) Caste per se is not interdicted. It is an essential part of
Brahmoism. DISTINCTION is interdicted hence Caste SYSTEMS are interdicted, or to be more precise - Distinctions based on caste systems are not acknowledged. IDOLATION is interdicted - this is the core of Brahmoism; spurious Samajes like Sammilan Samaj where Rammohun's bust is installed for worship are forcefully denounced.

3) Point 3 is of Adi Brahmo Samaj is also retained by Sadharan Samaj.

4) Point 4 is rejected by Adi Brahmos. Fixed Institutions and
organisation sap the vitality and spirit of the religion.

5) Poiint 5, No scripture is authority. Truth is infinite and
incapable of being set down

6) Point 6 corresponds in its essence to Adi Brahmo articles rejecting revelations, prophets, gurus, messiahs, or avatars etc. as authority.

7) Point 7 is contradicted and nonsense. True Brahmos reject the need for formal rituals, priests or places (church, temple, mosque etc) for worship.


Basic Tenets Of Brahmo Dharma

Subject: [brahmoconferenceorg] Basic Tenets Of Brahmo Dharma


Basic Tenets of Brahmo Dharma

1) The faith that the Supreme Being(God Almighty) alone was in the beginning , nothing else existed . He created all this universe . He is eternal , infinite , all merciful , independent , formless , one without a second , all pervading , ruling all over , all containing , all knowing , all powerful , the permanent , the perfect , the one beyond any comparison . In his worship alone lies our welfare in this world & in the world to come . To love him & to do what he loves is his worship .

2) A Brahmo will never worship any created object as representing that Supreme Being(idolatry in any form is discarded) & never believes in caste division(caste system is interdicted) .

3) A Brahmo , unless incapacitated by illness or other calamity , shall daily compose his soul , in love & trust , in the Supreme Being , & he should strive for the performance of good deeds & for keeping away from evil . If by chance , he commits any evil , he should truly repent for it , & desist from the path of evil .

4) He should contribute something every year for the furtherance of the work of the Brahmo Samaj .

5) Neither the Vedas , nor any other scripture of any religion are considered infallible by Brahmo Dharma . It welcomes truth from all sources .

6) Brahmo Dharma does not recognize any priestly class or any guru or prophet as mediator between God & man or as God's representative .

7) Brahmo Dharma has its own prayer hall & its own simple rituals for social & family occasions .

- From "The Indian Messenger" , May 7 & 21 , 2008

N.B. – The Indian Messenger is the official mouthpiece of The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj .

Biswajit Dutta

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rammohun Roy

Ram Mohan Roy, also written as Rammohun Roy, or Raja Ram Mohun Roy, (August 14, 1774 – September 27, 1833) was a founder in 1828 (with Dwarkanath Tagore and other Bengali Brahmins) of the Brahma Sabha which engendered the Brahmo Samaj, an influential Indian socio-religious reform movement. His remarkable influence was apparent in the fields of politics, public administration and education as well as religion. He is best known for his efforts to abolish the practice of sati, the corrupted Hindu funeral practice in which the widow were compelled to sacrificed herself on her husband's funeral pyre. It was he who first introduced the word "Hinduism" (or "Hindooism") into the English language in 1816. For his diverse contributions to society, Raja Ram Mohan Roy is regarded as one of the most important figures in the Bengal Renaissance and is hailed as "the father of modern India".

Early life and education (1774 - 1796)

Roy was born in Radhanagore, Bengal, in 1774[1]. His family background displayed an interesting religious diversity. His father Ramkanta was a Vaishnavite, while his mother Tarinidevi was from a Shivaite family. This in itself was unusual for Vaishanavites did not marry Shaivites at the time.

"Thus one parent prepared him for the occupation of a scholar, the sastrin, the other secured for him all the worldly advantage needed to launch a career in the laukik or worldly sphere of public administration. Torn between these two parental ideals from early childhood, Rammohun vacillated the rest of his life, moving from one to the other and back.[2]

Rammohun's early education was controversial. The common version is

Rammohun started his formal education in he village pathshala where he learned Bengali and some Sankrit and Persian. Later he is said to have studied Persian and Arabic in a madrasa in Patna and after that he was sent to Benares (Kashi) for learning the intricacies of Sanskrit and Hindu scripture, including the Vedas and Upanishads. The dates of his sojourn in both these places is uncertain. However, we will go by the commonly held belief that he was sent to Patna when he was nine years old and two years later to Benares."[3]

The period in which the Raja was born and grew up was, perhaps, the darkest age in modern Indian history. An old society and polity had crumbled down, and a new one had not yet been built in its place. Devastation reigned in the land. All vital limbs of society were paralysed; religious institutions and schools, village and home, agriculture, industry and trade, law and administration, all were in a chaotic condition. An all-round reconstitution and renovation were necessary for the continued existence of social life and order. But what was to be the principle for organisation? For there were three bodies of culture, three bodies of civilisations, which were in conflict, - the Hindu, the Moslem, and the Christian or Occidental; and the question was, - how to find a rapport, of concord, of unity, amongst these heterogeneous, hostile and warring forces. The origin of Modern India lay there. The Raja by his finding of this point of concord and convergence became the Father and Patriarch of Modern India, an India with a composite nationality and a synthetic civilisation; and by the lines of convergence he laid down, as well by the type of personality he developed in and through his own experiences, he pointed the way to the solution of the larger problem of international culture and civilisation in human history, and became a precursor, an archetype, of coming Humanity.[4] Brajendra Nath Seal

His faithful contemporary biographer writes,

"Rammohun with his new found madrasa knowledge of Arabic also tasted the fruit forbidden to Brahmins of Quran and was converted to its strict monotheism. Rammohun's mother Tarini Devi was scandalised and packed her son off to Benares (to study Sanskit and Vedas) before he could take the irrevocable step. In Benares, Rammohun's rebellion continued and he persisted in interpreting the Upanishads through the Holy Quran's monotheist strictures especially against idolatry. Benares, the spiritual seat of traditional Hinduism, was awash with temples to the billion gods of Hindu pantheon, and Rammohun would not complete his formal Vedantic education there. He instead travelled widely (not much is known of where he went, but he is said to have extensively studied Buddhism at this time) to eventually return to his family around 1794 when a search party sent by his father tracked him down to Benares in the company of some Buddhists with similar notions. Between 1794 and 1795 Rammohun stayed with his family attending the family zamindari holdings. There was considerable friction in the family between Rammohun and his father, who died in about 1803 leaving some property to be divided amongst his sons.

Christian and Company period (1795 - 1828)

During these overlapping periods, Rammohun acted as a political agitator and agent, representing Christian missionaries whilst employed by the East India Company and simultaneously pursuing his vocation as a Pandit. To understand fully this complex period in his life leading up to his eventual Brahmoism is not easy without reference to his peers,

"In 1792 the British Baptist shoemaker William Carey published his influential missionary tract "An Enquiry of the obligations of Christians to use means for the conversion of heathens".

In 1793 William Carey lands in India to settle here. His objective is to translate, publish and distribute the Bible into Indic languages and convert the Hindus thereby. Astutely he realizes that the "mobile" (i.e. service class) Brahmins and Pundits are best situated to help him in this endeavour, and he begins cultivating them. He learns the Buddhist and Jain religious works that expose chinks in the armor of Hinduism's doctrine.

In 1795 Carey makes contact with a Sanskrit scholar - the Tantric Hariharananda Vidyabagish - who later introduces him to Rammohun Roy who wished to learn English. Roy is already a colourful character in his own right.

Between 1796 and 1797 the trio of Carey, Vidyaagish and Roy fabricate a spurious religious work known as the "Maha Nirvana Tantra" (or "Book of the Great Liberation") and palm it off as an ancient religious text to "the One True God" actually the Holy Spirit of Christianity masquerading as Brahma. (The explanation later given by Rammohun to his family concerning his whereabouts during this period is that he went to "Tibet" –then as far away as "Timbuktoo"). For the next 2 decades this amazing document is regularly and conveniently added to. Its "judicious" translations are used in the law courts of the English Settlement in Bengal as Hindu Law for adjudicating upon property disputes of the zamindari. However a few British Magistrates and Collectors begin to suspect its "convenient" forgeries and its usage (as well as the reliance on Pundits as sources of Hindu Law) is quickly deprecated. Hariharananda has a brief falling out with Carey and separates from the group to go about his mendicancy but maintains lifelong personal and familial ties to Rammohun. (The Maha Nirvana Tantra's significance for Brahmoism lies in the wealth that accumulates to Rammohun Roy and Dwarkanath Tagore by its "judicious" application, and not due to any religious wisdom within – although it does contain an entire chapter devoted to "the One True God" and his worship).

In 1797, Rammohun reached Calcutta to become a "banian" (ie. moneylender) mainly to impoverished Englishmen of the Company living beyond their means. Rammohun also continues his vocation as Pundit in the English courts and starts to make a living for himself. He begins learning the rudiments of Greek and Latin.

In 1799, Carey is joined by missionary Joshua Marshman and the printer William Ward at the Danish settlement of Serampore, after the news of his great triumphs in India reach back home.

From 1803 till 1815, Rammohun served the English Company's "Writing Service" commencing as private clerk "munshi" to Thomas Woodforde, Registrar of the Appellate Court at Murshidabad (whose distant nephew - also a Magistrate - later made a rich living off the spurious Maha Nirvana Tantra under the pseudonym Arthur Avalon). Roy resigned from Woodforde's service shortly due to allegations of corruption. Later he secured employment with John Digby a Company collecor and Rammohun spent many years at Rangpur and elsewhere with Digby, where he renewed his contacts with Hariharananda. William Carey by this time is well settled at Serampore and the old trio renew their profitable association. William Carey is also aligned now with the English Company, then headquartered at Fort William, and his religious and political ambitions were increasingly intertwined. At the turn of the 19th century the Muslims, although considerably vanquished after the battles of Plassey and Buxar, still posed a formidable political threat to the Company. Rammohun was now chosen by Carey to be the agitator among them. He thus embarked on a remarkable new career described by the contemporary biographer as,

"Rammohun's remaining life is a melange of his denunciation of various religious beliefs, if now Islam, then Hinduism and finally Christianity in his career as political agent for diverse vested interests.

Under Carey's secret tutelage in the next 2 decades, Rammohun launched his spirited attack against the bastions of Hinduism of Bengal, namely his own Kulin Brahmin priestly clan (then in control of the many temples of Bengal) and their priestly excesses. The social and theological issues Carey chose for Rammohun were calculated to weaken the hold of the dominant Kulin class (especially their younger disinherited sons forced into service – who constituted the mobile gentry or "bhadralok" of Bengal) from the Mughal zamindari system and align them to their new overlords of Company. The Kulin excesses targeted include - sati (the concremation of widows), polygamy, idolatory, child marriage, dowry. All causes equally dear to Carey's ideals.

In the final analysis of Rammohun's life in this extraordinary period, we find that Rammohun's religious reform is but a tool to implement his powerful social reform agenda which lays the foundation for modern India.

Here is what Roy's contemporary biographer records for this period,

"In 1805 Rammohun published Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhidin (A Gift to Monotheists) - an essay written in Persian with an introduction in Arabic in which he rationalised unity of God. Although a critique of the deception and universal falsehood prevalent in all organised religions, it was a paen to "rational ego" and Rammohun's own hitherto unrecognised divine gift of intellectual power and acquired knowledge. Being published in Persian, it particularly antagonised sections of the Muslim community and for the next decade Rammohun travelled to serve with John Digby of the East India Company as munshi and then as Diwan. His English and knowledge of England's Baptist Christianity increased tremendously. He also cultivated friendship in a Jain community to better understand their approach to Hinduism - rejecting priesthood (which for long in Bengal demanded bloody ritual sacrifices) and God itself, In 1815 after amassing large wealth, enough to leave the Company, Rammohun resettled in Calcutta and started an Atmiya Sabha - as a philosophical discussion circle to debate monotheistic Hindu Vedantism and like subjects. Rammohun's mother, however, had not forgiven him and ironically from 1817 a series of lawsuits were filed accusing Rammohun of apostasy with the object of severing him from the family zamindari. Rammohun countered denouncing his family's practice of sati where widows were burned on their husband's pyres so that they laid no claim to property via the British courts. 1817 was also the year when Rammohun was alienated from Hindu zamindars in an incident concerning the Hindu (later Presidency) College involving David Hare. Hindu public outrage in 1819 also followed Rammohun's triumph in a public debate over idolatry with Subramanya Shastri, a Tamil Brahmin. The victory, however, also exposed chinks in Rammohun's command over Brahmanical scripture and Vedanta whose study he had somewhat neglected. The trusted younger brother of Hariharanda, a Brahmin of great intellect Ram Chunder Vidyabagish was brought in to repair the breech and would be increasingly identified as Rammohun's alter-ego in matters theological for the rest of Rammohun's life especially in matters of Bengali concern and language. By now it was suspected (but never established) that Carey and Marshman were behind Rammohun's English works, a charge repeatedly made by the Hindu zamindars. From time to time Dwarkanath Tagore a young Hindu Zamindar had been attending Sabha meetings and he privately persuaded Rammohun (financially reduced by lawsuits and in constant danger from Hindu assassins) to disband the Atmiya Sabha in 1819 and instead be political agent for him." From 1819, Rammohun's battery now increasingly turns against Carey and the Serampore missionaries. With Dwarkanath's munificence he launches a series of attacks against Baptist "Trinitarian" Christianity and is now considerably assisted in his theological debates by the Unitarian faction of Christianity." [5]

Middle "Brahmo" period (1820 - 1830)

This was Rammohun's most controversial period. Sivanath Sastri commenting on his published works alone writes:-

"The period between 1820 and 1830 was also eventful from a literary point of view, as will be manifest from the following list of his publications during that period

Second Appeal to the Christian Public, Brahmanical Magazine^ Parts I, II and III, with Bengali translation and a new Bengali newspaper called Sambad Kaumudi in 1821;
An Urdu paper called "Mirat-ul-Akkbar" a tract entitled Brief Remarks on Ancient Female Rights and a book in Bengali called Answers to Four Questions in 1822;
Third and final appeal to the Christian public, a memorial to the King of England on the subject of the liberty of the press, Ramdoss papers relating to Christian controversy, Brahmanical Magazine, No. IV, letter to Lord Arnherst on the subject of English education, a tract called "Humble Suggestions" and a book in Bengali called "Pathyapradan or Medicine for the Sick," all in 1823 ;
A letter to Rev. H. Ware on the " Prospects of Christianity in India" and an "Appeal for famine-smitten natives in Southern India " in 1824 ;
A tract on the different modes of worship, in 1825 ;
A Bengali tract on the qualifications of a God loving householder, a tract in Bengali on a controversy with a Kayastha, and a Grammar of the Bengali language in English, in 1826;
A Sanskrit tract on " Divine worship by Gayatri " with an English translation of the same, the edition of a Sanskrit treatise against caste, and the previously noticed tract called " Answer of a Hindu to the question &c.," in 1827 ;
A form of Divine worship and a collection of hymns composed by him and his friends, in 1828 ;
"Religious Instructions founded on Sacred Authorities" in English and Sanskrit, a Bengali tract called "Anusthan," and a petition against Suttee, in 1829 ;
A Bengali tract, a grammar of the Bengali language in Bengali, the Trust Deed of the Brahmo Samaj, an address to Lord William Bentinck, congratulating him for the abolition of Suttee, an abstract 'in English of the arguments regarding the burning of widows, and a tract in English on the disposal of ancestral property by Hindus, in 1830.

It is indeed a matter for wonder how, in the midst of so much active work and such furious contests, Ram Mohan Roy could make time to write such masterly treatises on such a variety of subjects !"[6]

The struggle against Suttee

Rammohun is best known abroad for his agitation against suttee, the practice of burning a widow alive on her husband's pyre. Seeing his brother's widow cruelly forced to commit suttee in 1812, and unable to stop it then, Roy set his mind to abolish the practice.

"Suffice it to say that as many as 309 widows were burnt alive with their husbands within the jurisdiction of Calcutta in the year 1828, the year in which the Brahma Sabha was established. It was but natural that the misery and degradation of womanhood should have strongly appealed to the sympathetic heart of Ram Mohun Roy. His earnest pleadings on their behalf form an important feature of his writings. The women of India have found no greater defender of their rights than the founder of Brahmoism. He defended the legal rights of females, advocated their right to education and enlightenment, and, above all, devoted all the energies of his noble soul to save them from a cruel death."[7]

Life in England (1831- 1833)

In 1831 Ram Mohan Roy travelled to the United Kingdom as an ambassador of the Mughal Empire to ensure that the Lord Bentick's regulation banning the practice of Sati was not overturned. He also visited France.

He died at Stapleton then a village to the north east of Bristol (now a suburb) on the 27th September 1833 of meningitis and is buried in Arnos Vale Cemetery in southern Bristol.


Religious Reform of Rammohun

He believed in one Supreme Being - "Author and Preserver of Existence".
He denounced idolatry and vowed to erase it from India.
He denounced rituals, which he deemed meaningless and giving rise to superstitions.

Social Reforms of Rammohun

Crusaded against social evils like sati, polygamy and child marriage etc.
Demanded property inheritance rights for women.
In 1828, he set up the Brahma Sabha a movement of reformist Benali Brahmins to fight against social evils.


Roy believed education to be an implement for social reform.
In 1817, in collaboration with David Hare, he set up the Hindu College at Calcutta.
In 1830, he helped Alexander Duff in establishing the General Assembly's Institution, by providing him the venue vacated by Brahma Sabha and getting the first batch of students.
He supported induction of western learning into Indian education.
He also set up the Vedanta College, offering courses as a synthesis of Western and Indian learning.


Roy published journals in English, Hindi, Persian and Bengali.
His most popular journal was the Samvad Kaumudi. It covered topics like freedom of press, induction of Indians into high ranks of service, and separation of the executive and judiciary.
When the English Company muzzled the press, Rammohun composed 2 memorials against this in 1829 and 1830 respectively.


"To great natural talents, he united through mastery of many languages and distinguished himself as one of the greatest scholars of his day. His unwearied labour to promote the social, moral and physical condition of the people of India, his earnest endeavours to suppress idolatry and the rite of sati and his constant zealous advocacy of whatever tended to advance the glory of God and the welfare of man live in the grateful remembrance of his countrymen."


1. Tombstone affixed by his descendants and also the diary of Dwarkanath Tagore 1839
2.  page 8, Raja Rammohun Roy - The Renaissance Man, H.D.Sharma, 2002
3.  ibid:2002, H.D.Sharma
4.  Brajendra Nath Seal Address delivered on the occasion of the death anniversary of Raja Rammohun Roy, held at Bangalore on 27th September 1924.
5.  Nabble - Origins of Brahmoism - Part 2
6. Sivanath Sastri, History of the Brahmo Samaj, 1911, 1st ed. pg. 44-46
7.  Sivanath Sastri, History of the Brahmo Samaj, 1911, 1st ed. pg. 47

Sir Albion Raj Kumar Banerji, I.C.S.

Sir Albion Raj Kumar Banerji, I.C.S.

Autograph of Sir AR Banerji ICS
During the early eighties, I was working as the manager of one of the branches of a nationalized bank in India, beside the Banerji Road in Eranakulam. Despite my work of almost five years in that address, little did I know about "Banerji" except that he was a Diwan of Cochin.

Very little information is obtained from the books published in Kerala or India about this distinguished ruler and civil servant who had some of the most important assignments in British India as a member of the elite Indian Civil Service.

It does not speak well of us as Indians or Keralites that we know very little of our people and heritage and that after sixty years of independence a lot more work needs to be done on events and personalities of yore.

Sir Albion Raj Kumar Banerji (1871-1950) was the son of Sasipada Banerji who was a doyen of the Brahmo Samaj (The Society of God) founded by Raja Rammohun Roy in AD 1828 and a great social reformer in his own right. Sasipada Banerji along with his wife Rajkumari had visited England in AD 1871 at the invitation of Mary Carpenter, the renowned English educational and social reformer. Mrs. Rajkumari was the first Indian lady to visit England for which the couple was excommunicated from the community of conservative Bengali Brahmins. A son was born to them on the 10th of October 1871 while in England and they named him Albion Rajkumar Banerji.

Mrs. Rajkumari , mother of Sir AR Banerji ICS, the first Indian lady to visit England IN 1871

After his studies in England, Albion joined the Indian Civil Service, the elite group of civil servants in India. It is interesting to recall that 500 such officers ran the British Indian Empire stretching from Baluchistan to Burma. The ICS officers comprised the administrative backbone of British rule and its officers – both English and native – were largely incorruptible, known for their intellectual integrity and unwavering impartiality. So just was their tenure in remote, rural districts that even today, several decades later, their names are invoked with reverence, even by those who never knew them.

Mr.Banerji had a most distinguished career and was the Diwan, the role equivalent to that of the Prime Minister, in two princely states, viz. Cochin and Mysore. Between AD 1907 and 1914, he was the Diwan of Cochin under Maharajah Rama Varma XV, (Ozhinja Valiya Thampuran meaning the one who abdicated the crown) who reigned from AD 1895 to 1914 and brought much prosperity to the State.

In AD 1911, during the Delhi Durbar of the King Emperor George V and Queen Mary, Sir Albion Raj Kumar Banerji was honoured by awarding the title, the Companion of the Indian Empire, CIE.

The Cochin State Manual written by Sri.C.Achyutha Menon I Edition 1911 is an authoritative work on the erstwhile Princely State of Cochin. In the preface to the book, Mr.Menon writes as follows:
"The Manual owes its being to the present Diwan of Cochin, Mr.A.R.Banerji, I.C.S. Not only did the idea originate with him, but the work itself was started under his orders and carried out under his supervision. Although the book is thus an official publication, I am solely responsible for the correctness of the facts and comments contained in it"

In the book, Southern India by Playne Wright Somerset originally published in London by Foreign and Colonial Compiling and Pub. Co, 1914-1915, the following could be found:

"R. Banerji CIE, of the ICS was appointed Diwan in May 1907 and no previous holder of the office has succeeded to the same extent in gaining the confidence of a Rajah, in promoting the welfare of the State and in securing the affection of the people. There is universal feeling of the deepest regret throughout the State that this very able official is now retiring, and he will be remembered in Cochin for many years to come as one who has laboured for the moral intellectual and temporal good of the whole community.

The country was hampered by heavy debts and by many difficult problems when Mr.Banerji took up reins of office, but he has the satisfaction of knowing that the revenue of the State has greatly increased during the tenure of his Diwanship; that the various departments are in smooth working order; and that those frowning rocks of complex problems and the crippling effects of a depleted treasury have been safely passed. His successor is J.W.Bhore of the ICS who has been Under Secretary in the revenue department of the Madras Government."

After a great stint in Cochin, Sir Banerji served as Diwan of Mysore from AD 1922 to 1927. Owing to historical reasons, the Diwans of Mysore were an integral part of the administration of Mysore from 1881 to 1946. Sir Banerji was responsible for the constitutional reforms inaugurated in Mysore in 1922 under the great maharajah
Sri Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV who was one of the most celebrated rulers among the Indian States. Paul Brunton, the philosopher and mystic traveler , who has many wonderful books to his credit had stayed with the Maharajah and has paid eloquent tributes to the philosopher-king as a role model for rulers over the world."

After his assignment in Mysore, the British Government sent him to the troubled State of Kashmir as the Foreign and Political Minister.

He has authored a few books of which the following are very informative and the copies of which are extremely rare.

1. An Indian Pathfinder, Being the memoirs of Sevabrata Sasipada Banerji 1840 -1924 Foreword by the Most Hon. the Marques of Zetland- Oxford - Kemp Hall Press
2. "The Indian Tangle" Foreword by the Rt. Hon. Earl Winterton, PC, MP, Hutchinson & Co, London.
I have procured from England these rare books with the author's signature, which of course cost me, a small fortune, and about which I intend to write separately.

Palakkad, South India
20th May 2008.
1. It is very interesting to go through the reasons that led to the Maharajah Rama Varma XV of Cochin abdicating the crown on the 7th of December 1914. He used to have independent views on the administration and about his duties which often adversely affected the relationship with the Madras government.

For example, the British Resident took exception to the Maharajah addressing the Viceroy as "My Esteemed Friend" in one of his letters sent in AD 1913.The Resident reminded the Maharajah that the Viceroy should be addressed as "My Lord". This led to much unpleasantness in the letters exchanged between the Madras Government and the Maharajah. This was only the spill over of a continued dislike of the Maharajah by the Madras Government.

However, in his message to the people of Cochin on 8th December 1913, the Maharajah had expressed his desire to abdicate the crown because of personal reasons but stressed that he shall continue till certain reforms were put in place. The formation of an Advisory Council, the introduction of a Tenancy Bill to protect the farmers and constituting the Village Panchayats were some of the reforms he wanted and initiated for which the contributions of Sir Banerji were no less important.

2. The infamous "Smartha Vicharam" (Trial of the Nampoothiri woman suspected of immorality) of Kuriyedathu Thaathri, was held in 1905 during the reign of this Maharajah. Though Banerji joined the services of the Maharajah only in 1907, it might have been quite interesting for him to study this practice prevalent among the Nampoothiris of Kerala especially since he happened to be the son of Sasipada Banerji who worked tirelessly for the emancipation of the womenfolk of Bengal.

Brahmoism: Religion for revolution

Free Binayak Sen Campaign
Resist the Silent Emergency

Dr P Zachariah
Former professor of Physiology,
CMC, Vellore


It is not often that a guru-sishya relationship develops and endures in today's academics. It is even rarer when the guru eventually learns from the shishya. But that is what happened to me regarding Binayak Sen at the Christian Medical College, Vellore (CMC).

I was a young and eager faculty member in my early thirties when Binayak came to the CMC in 1965. Perhaps because of his Bengali and Brahmo Samaj background, Binayak also had some thing of a Shantiniketan flavour about him. And the fully residential life in CMC allowed us to interact over the next nine years as he stayed on to do his doctorate in child health.

But Binayak was no bookworm. He was determined to enjoy student life: on the stage, off the stage, in student union and hostel meetings, in social service projects, playing the fool in picnics and outings and, above all, in endless friendly and fervent arguments. He was conspicuous with a Leftist, analytical perspective, he wanted to go into the why of everything.

Such theorising and argumentation of medical student days usually evaporate like dew in the heat of professional and social pressures in later life. But with Binayak, all these were put to practice in the cooperative hospital of the iron-ore miners he helped establish.

For almost a decade he worked with the miner volunteers on equal terms and nearly equal income. With many others among the CMC faculty and alumni, I considered him a true follower of Ida Scudder, the founder of CMC. And we remained in touch.
As the years passed in the Chhattisgarh region, infested with tuberculosis and malaria, the handsome lively Binayak of student days took on the celebrated look of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.

He was now looked on with awe at alumni reunions to which his adoring and prosperous fellow alumni invited him as chief guest. And he never failed to chastise them for their perceived shortfall in passion for the marginalised. But one time I saw Binayak really deflated was when his mentor Shankar Guha Niyogi was murdered and the labour movement there lost its Gandhian moorings. He felt he had to move on.

But what he moved on to was an even lower level of human need: the dispossession and denial of rights of tribals. Their needs filled his heart again. And his own perceptions moved on from community health and public health to health as a human right. He became physician, public health expert, social activist, eco warrior, political campaigner, all rolled into one. The two days I spent with him at Raipur in the thick of all this remain memorable.

As a student, he always asked why. By the time he had finished in CMC and JNU, he had already come to the conclusion that, more than infections and diseases, social factors determined health.

But he continued to keep asking why? And that led him increasingly into the political determinants of health, the denial of human rights, the forced ejection from homes and the way of life of peoples.

I got into teaching medicine in Vellore in the hope of inspiring young people, like Binayak, for service. Binayak outgrew that and taught me, that all the altruism cannot achieve health where human rights are ignored.

And I hope that when he is eventually released, he will devote his remaining years to inspiring a new generation of health professionals to explore the link between health and human rights. As Jonathan Mann did when he moved to a Chair in Harvard. And may that release be soon.

Binayak is already 58 and not in the best of health. His remaining days are too precious to India to be spent in Raipur Central Jail.

Trust Deed of Adi Brahmo Samaj 1830

The editors of our Adi Dharm Brahmo Conference Organisation
group webpage have stressed the observance of Trust Deed of
1830 principles for our cyber meetings. For easy reference these
important principles are being copied in simplified format to the
group's webpage and in this message.

The complete Trust Deed text is available at the official Brahmo
Samaj website at the following link:-

A write up on Trust Deed is available at:-


The Brahmo Samaj is held in Trust as

a place of public meeting of all sorts and descriptions of people without distinction as shall behave and conduct themselves in an orderly sober religious and devout manner,

2) the worship and adoration of the Eternal Unsearchable and Immutable Being who is the Author and Preserver of the Universe, but not under or by any other name designation or title peculiarly used for and applied, to any particular being or beings by any man or set of men whatsoever, AND,

a)  that no graven image statue or sculpture, carving, painting, picture, portrait or the likeness of anything shall be admitted within the said messages building, land, tenements, hereditaments and premise, AND,

b) that no sacrifice, offering, oblation of any kind or thing shall ever be permitted therein, and that no animal or living creature shall within or on the said message building, land, tenements, hereditaments and premises be deprived of life either for religious purposes or for food, AND,

c) that no eating or drinking (except such as shall be necessary by any accident for the preservation of life) feasting or rioting be permitted therein, or thereon, AND,

d) that in conducting the said worship and adoration, no object, animate or inanimate, that has been, or is, or shall hereafter become or be recognized as an object of worship by any man or set of men shall be reviled or slightingly or contemptuously spoken of or alluded to, either in preaching, prayer or in the hymns or other mode of worship that may be delivered or used in the said message or building, AND,

e) that no sermon, preaching, discourse, prayer or hymn be delivered, made or used in such worship but such as have a tendency to the promotion of the contemplation of the Author and Preserver of the Universe, to the promotion of charity, morality, piety, benevolence, virtue and the strengthening the bonds of union between men of all religious persuasions and creeds, AND ALSO,

f) that a person of good repute and well known for his knowledge, piety and morality be employed by the said Trustees or the survivors or survivors of them or the heirs of such survivor or their or his assigns as a resident superintendent and for the purpose of superintending the worship so to be performed as in hereinbefore stated and expressed, and, that such worship be performed daily or least as often as once in seven days.