20th August 1828: The First Session of Ram Mohan Roy’s Brahmo Samaj is held in Kolkata


On 20th August 1828, the first session of Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s Brahmo Samaj was held in Kolkata.


Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a popular social and educational reformer in India who paved the way for progress in India under British rule. Roy is known for his efforts to abolish sati and child marriage. Because of his forward thinking, Roy is popularly known as the “Maker of Modern India” and also the “Father of Modern India”. Apart from this Roy was also an important figure in the Bengal Renaissance Movement, often being called the “Father of the Bengal Renaissance”. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, along with Dwarkanath Tagore founded the Brahmo Samaj, an important socio-religious reform movement in Bengal in 1828.


The Brahmo Samaj was essentially a monotheistic reform movement in the Hindu religion. Today, Brahmo Samaj is practiced as Adi Dharma after its decline in Bengal and after the departure of the Tattwabodhini Sabha from its hierarchy in 1859. In 1860, Hemendranath Tagore published the Brahmo Anustan (code of practice) which formally separated Brahmoism from Hinduism.


The Brahmo Samaj is credited with being one of the most important reform movements in India which led to the foundation of modern India. The Brahmo Samaj was founded in Kolkata on 20th August 1828 by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and other Bengalis, in response to the prevailing Brahmanism at the time, especially Kulin Brahmanism. Kulin Brahmins are the highest strata of upper caste Brahmins in the caste system. In the 19th century, the Kulin Brahmins considered themselves to be more knowledgeable as compared to other Brahmins with regards to knowledge of the religious scriptures.


The Brahmo Samaj saw the beginning of the Bengal Renaissance in the 19th century which eventually laid the groundwork for the entire religious, social and educational advance in the Hindu Community. The Trust Deed of the Brahmo Samaj was made in 1830, recognizing its beginning. The Brahmo Samaj was publicly inaugurated in January 1830 by the sanctification of the first house of prayer, known as the Adi Brahmo Samaj. The Brahmo Samaj gave birth to Brahmoism, which is regarded as a sect of Hinduism. The Brahmo Samaj is not recognized as a separate religion in India, despite its non-syncretic foundation and the presence of root Hebriac-Islamic creed and practice.


The Brahmo Samaj is essentially a community of people who worship the Brahman, which is referred to as “The unchanging reality amidst and beyond the world”, something which cannot be defined and is the highest reality.


The Brahmo Samaj was a reflection of the Bengal Renaissance and took active participation in social emancipation, which included the abolition of sati, the caste system, child marriage, dowry and the betterment of the status of women in society. Brahmosim as a tool to tackle the prevalent dowry system was addressed in noted Bengali writer Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s famous 1914 novella, Parineeta.


Due to certain differences in opinions of members, the Brahmo Samaj was split into different groups, but continued their work in social reform. The core of the Brahmo Samaj was to understand that all human beings were related at a human level and hence no discrimination should be practiced, be at the level of caste, religion or gender. The Bhahmo Samaj propagated the oneness of God, brotherhood, morality and charity and was against idol worship, sati, child marriage and other meaningless rituals.


It was through the Brahmo Samaj that many social evils prevalent at that time were done away with, such as; polygamy, untouchability, infanticide, purdah system and the discrimination against women. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the pioneer of this movement promoted education as he thought it was the best way for society to move forward. In order to modernize India, Roy established colleges like the Hindu College, Vedanta College and City College. Apart from that he also established many English medium schools in Kolkata and contributed towards the development of languages such as, Urdu, Sanskrit, Persian, Bengali and English.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy and the Brahmo Samaj brought a wave of change in 19th Century in India and made way for social emancipation, which remains an important milestone in the history of the country till this day.


Also on This Day:

1897: Ronals Ross discovered malaria parasites in anopheles mosquito while working in Presidency General Hospital, now SSKM Hospital in Kolkata.

1917: British Parliament declared the policy of gradual realization of responsible government of India.

1921: Moplah uprising started in Malabar region in Kerala.

1944: Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was born.

1979: Prime Minister Charan Singh resigned only 23 days after assumption of office of Prime Minister.

1995: In a major railway accident Prushottam Express and Kalindi Express collided.

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