Brahmo Samaj- Founder, Objectives, Principle, Divisions, and Impact on Bengal

By Ritesh|Updated : July 25th, 2022

Brahmo Samaj was a monotheistic section of Hinduism founded by Raja Ram Mohun Roy in 1828. Brahmo Samaj Movement is one of the significant reform movements in India that aims to bring a renaissance to Bengal by fighting against the prevailing evil practices in the society, particularly the practice of Sati and the caste system, and emphasising the educational, religious, and social reform.

Brahmo Samaj was the first intellectual movement to eradicate bad practices of society successfully. Brahmo Samaj UPSC is an essential topic for the IAS Exam under the Indian History section. Below you will learn about its foundation, objectives, features, division, and who founded it.

Table of Content

What is Brahmo Samaj?

Brahmo Samaj is one of the most powerful socio-religious movements in India. It was launched in Bengal in 1828. Brahmo Samaj played an important role in stamping out the dowry and caste systems, aiming to encourage women's empowerment. With its success in achieving its objectives, it became a pioneer contributor to Bengal Renaissance.

Brahmo Samaj Overview

The brief idea of Brahmo Samaj is as under-

Highlights

Details

Founder of Brahmo Samaj

Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Place of Origin

Calcutta, Bengal

Date of Origin

20 August 1828

Theology of Brahmo Samaj

Monotheism

Divisions of Brahmo Samaj

Adi Brahmo Samaj and Sadharan Brahmo Samaj

Brahmo Samaj Founder

Raja Ram Mohan Roy founded the Brahmo Sabha (later named Brahmo Samaj) in 1828. He was an Indian reformer known as the Father of modern India.

He founded the Atmiya Sabha and the Unitarian Community. His main goal was to fight the social evils and spread educational and social reforms in the country. Roy became the trendsetter in the Indian press and Bengali prose and contributed to education in India. Apart from his contribution to Brahmo Samaj, his major contributions to society that gave him the title of Father of modern India. These are-

  • In 1817- In collaboration with David Hare, Raja Ram Mohan Roy established the Hindu College at Calcutta, India.
  • From 1822-1826 - Raja Ram Mohan Roy started the Vedanta College and Anglo-Hindu School that insisted on the teachings of monotheistic doctrines. He wanted to incorporate the doctrine of monotheism with a western and modern curriculum.
  • In 1830 - He provided the venue to Rev. Alexander Duff to establish Scottish Church College (known as General Assembly's Institution at that time).
  • He founded three popular journals- The Persian weekly, Mirat-ul-Akbar, The Bengali weekly, Samvad Kaumudi (1821), and The Brahmanical Magazine (1821).

He got the title of Raja from Akbar II (titular Mughal Emperor of Delhi). He was also referred to as a luminous star in the sky of Indian History by Tagore.

The concept of Brahmo Samaj was not restricted to Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Brahmo Samaj was later joined by other famous reformers and these were-.

Brahmo Samaj and Debendranath Tagore

Debendranath Tagore (Father of Rabindranath Tagore) was a leader of Tattvabodhini Sabha, established in 1839. He joined Brahmo Samaj in 1842 and gave a defined structure to the Brahmo Samaj by the informal union of the two. With his contribution to the Brahma Samaj, the introduction of new strengths caused its growth. Later, many independent thinkers supported the Brahmo Samaj, like Ashwini Kumar Datta, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Derozians, and other Rammohan followers.

Tagore made its contribution by fighting against the Christian missionaries, abolishing polygamy, working for women's education, and widow remarriage.

Brahmo Samaj and Keshab Chandra Sen

Along with Debendranath Tagore, Keshab Chandra Sen joined Brahmo Samaj in 1858. With his introduction to the Brahmo Samaj, there was a burst of vitality, and Brahmo Samaj spread out of Bengal in Punjab, Madras, United Provinces, Bombay, and other cities (this was known as the Adi Brahmo Samaj).

Because of this, people of the society opposed the child marriage of a 13-year-old girl with a minor Hindu Maharaja of Cooch-Behar, which resulted in their separation in the late 1870s. Along with this, Keshab Chandra Sen was also accused of authoritarianism. Later in 1878, the Adi Brahmo Samaj was changed to Sadharan Brahmo Samaj (founded by Umeshchandra Dutta, Sib Chandra Deb, and Ananda Mohan Bose). To instill the Brahmo briefs, Dayal Singh College was established in Lahore in 1910 by Dayal Singh Trust.

Objectives of Brahmo Samaj

The major objectives of Brahmo Samaj are as follows-

  • Opposition to idolatry.
  • Abolishing practice of sati.
  • Stopping child marriage and polygamy.
  • We are raising voices against the degraded states of widows.
  • Propagation of western and modern thoughts in society.
  • It aims at purifying the concept of Hinduism and preaching monotheism.
  • Focusing on mediation, prayers, and reading of the scriptures.

Principles of Brahmo Samaj

Brahmo Samaj focused on reforming the Hindu Society by fighting against the religious and social evils that were a part of one's daily life. The principles of Brahmo Samaj are-

  • Totalitarianism- Totalitarianism was one of the major evils in society, which is why Brahmo Samaj was completely against all forms of Totalitarianism. It fought against the irrational practice of discrimination against people based on colour, caste, religion, creed, and race since this practice separated people into the lower and upper classes.
  • God- The Hindus at that time believed in rebirth, avatars, idol-worship, reincarnation, and polytheism. It worked against the existing idea of an Infinite Singularity and considered the idea as undefinable, limitless, imperceivable, and indivisible.
  • Superstition- Superstitions and dogmas prevailed in society, and Brahmo Samaj condemned them. Also, the women were forced to burn alive because of the superstitions of Sati. This practice of Sati became the primary reason for the foundation of Brahmo Samaj. This also created a wave of opposition against the inconsiderableness of priests, Unscientific rituals, and places of worship.
  • Scripture- There was a belief that the prophets, scriptures, and mediators existed between the human soul and Brahmans. But, Brahmo Samaj doesn't believe in the idea of a mediator and also condemns the doctrine of Karma and rebirth, depending on personal preference.
  • Knowledge- It believes that one of the major reasons for the existence of social and religious beliefs is illiteracy. So, it embraces the truth, free will, and knowledge. Brahmo Samaj also opposes the idea of forcing religious beliefs and sectarianism.
  • Liberation- People believed in the concept of Mukthi, but Brahmo Samaj doesn't follow such thinking but believes that the soul is immortal and poised to become a part of Brahman. The concept of heaven and hell was also not supported by the Brahmo Samaj.
  • Love- According to the Brahmo Samaj, all the creations must be respected and treated equally, but it doesn't want its followers to worship anyone.

Divisions of Brahmo Samaj

Brahmo Samaj was divided into two, and these were-

  • Adi Brahmo Samaj- This category of Brahmo Samaj was developed from "Brahmoism" and became the first movement organised in British India. This worked against the wrong idea of the caste system that differentiated the people based on their caste. It started educating secular India to eradicate the old norms of the society. The Adi Brahmo Samaj was started by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Prasanna Coomar Tagore, and Debendranath Tagore.
  • Sadharan Brahmo Samaj- The Brahmo Samaj has Schism in its context, which led to the formation of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. The existence of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj came into being in a public meeting at the Town Hall, Calcutta. The head of the affairs for Sadharan Brahmo Samaj was Anand Mohan. This religious movement of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj was headed by Ananda Mohan Bose, Sib Nath Shastri, and Umesh Chandra Dutta.

Significance of Brahmo Samaj

Brahmo Samaj created a revolution against the prevailing evils in Indian society. The significance of Brahmo Samaj is as under

  • Brahmo Samaj successfully denounced the practice of idol worship and polytheistic religion.
  • It contributed to social change by fighting against many superstitions and dogmas.
  • It repudiated the beliefs in divine incarnation.
  • It made a remarkable impact on the caste system.
  • Brahmo Samaj spread the awareness that morality and a rational mind are more important and hold the ultimate power than any book.
  • Because of Brahmo Samaj, society started to raise its voice against child marriage.

Though Brahmo Samaj had changed a lot of norms prevailing in the society, it could not explain the transformation theories of the soul and the concept of Karma. Also, a few people disagreed with the Doctrine of God in Conscience. Because of the conflict of thoughts, this samaj broke in 1878.

Brahmo Samaj UPSC

Brahmo Samaj UPSC stands a significant role in the IAS Exam under the Indian History syllabus of UPSC. Many questions have been asked from Brahmo Samaj in UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains exam. So, it is essential to study the topic in detail.

To ensure that you understand Brahmo Samaj and the related topics, you can download the History Books for UPSC and other NCERT Books for UPSC. Also, you can check your preparation with UPSC Previous Year Question Papers.

Download Brahmo Samaj UPSC Notes PDF

Brahmo Samaj UPSC Questions

Brahmo Samaj is an important socio-religious reform in the Indian HistoryHistory and a lot of questions in the UPSC Exam, and a few of them are-

Question- In collaboration with David Hare and Alexander Duff, who of the following established Hindu colleges at Calcutta? [UPSC 2009]

  1. Henry Louis Vivian Derozio
  2. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
  3. Keshab Chandra Sen
  4. Raja Rammohan Roy

Answer- D

Question - Brahmo Samaj was founded by [UPSC 1989]

  1. Raja Ram Mohan Roy
  2. David Hare
  3. Derozio
  4. Alexander

Answer - A

Question - Select correct options based on statements

  1. Ram Moghan Roy believed in monotheism and Karma.
  2. Brahmo Samaj was founded by Ram Mohan Roy.

Options:

  1. 1 is correct
  2. 2 is correct
  3. Both are correct
  4. Neither is correct

Answer- C

Question for UPSC Mains Exam - The second half of the nineteenth century witnessed a strong wave of reformation in the spheres of religion and society in India. What part was played in this directly or indirectly by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Keshab Chandra Sen, and Just M. G. Rande?

Other Important UPSC Notes
Attorney General of IndiaSimon Commission
Wahabi MovementPESA ACT 1996
Ujjawala SchemeNational Investigation Agency
Ganga River SystemCentral Information Commission
International OrganizationsLokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013
Women EmpowermentRepresentation of Peoples Act 1951

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FAQs for Brahmo Samaj

  • Brahmo Samaj was founded on 20 August 1828 to educate people against the persisting social and religious evil practices in the society in Kolkata.

  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy started the Brahmo Samaj. He is known as the Father of the Indian Renaissance who brought a lot of social reforms, especially the practice of Sati and the caste system.

  • Brahmo Samaj has the following features-

    • It condemned idol worship, polytheism, and the belief in incarnations. 
    • Unity of Religion.
    • The emergence of enlightenment and rationalism
    • Abolishing the Sati pratha and focused on widow remarriage.
    • Worked against the illiteracy of women and child marriage. 
    • Demanded the right of inheritance and property for women.
  • Brahmo Samaj was one of India's major social reform legacies that stood against the practice of social orthodoxies, especially the sati and dowry system. It also led the way for women's empowerment. It also contributed to the educational upliftment in Bengal.

  • Prathana Samaj differed from Brahmo Samaj as it didn't take a radical approach to reformist programs. Instead, it followed a cautious approach.

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