Brahmo Samaj - India's National religion is the official website for all Brahmo religionists.
"I am not Hindu, nor a Mussalman, nor a Christian."
(text of the solemn declaration all Brahmos were required to attest by our law)
The Brahmo Samaj is the social order (Samaj = "community") of the Brahmo religion. Though few may commit to the purity, metaphysical rigour and intellectual discipline of the Brahmo Religion, the number following its principles (ie. the Samaj) are legion.

Brahmo Samaj: First convened in 1828 by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in Calcutta the Brahmo Samaj central belief is in one God who is omnipresent and omniscient. The Brahmo religion is now in many parts of the world. The Brahmo Samaj has played a significant role in the renaissance of India and the roots of much of the modern thinking in India can be traced back to the Brahmo Samaj movement. Hemendranath Tagore codified the Brahmo Samaj doctrine finally in 1881.

Who founded the Brahmo Samaj. The controversy explained.

Who founded the Brahmo Samaj ?

The Brahmo Samaj was founded at Lahore in 1861 by Pandit Navin Chandra Roy to propagate the Brahmo religion. Nobin Chunder Roy had been deputed by MahaAcharya Hemendranath Thakur to spread the new Adi Dharma message of casteless Vedic Aryanism in Upper India and rescue Christian converts to the fold of the national religion.

Who founded the Brahmo religion ?

The Brahmo religion was founded in 1849 at Calcutta by Debendranath Tagore with the publication of “Brahmo Dharma“. This work established Brahmoism as a separate religion apart from all others.

Excuse me, but I thought Raja Ram Mohan Roy is the Brahmo Samaj founder ?

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.

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

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 Bramho Samaj when the antiBrahmo Keshub Chunder Sen and a few of his sympathisers were expelled from it by MahaAcharya.

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

The Calcutta Bramho 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.

But didn't Keshub Sen found the Brahmo Samaj of India in 1866 ?

After his expulsion fromn Brahmoism in 1865, Mr. Sen joined a group of other apostates which for a short period styled themselves as the Brahmo Samaj of India. The MahaAcharya got initiated legal proceedings and the name of the organisation was altered to the "New Dispensation", which as Ram Chandra Bose ("Brahmoism", 1868) commented has "never since been considered Brahmoism except by Mr Sen and his six followers who call themselves "India"."

I'm quite confused. Who then founded the Brahmo Samaj ?

If you are reading this to prepare for a competitive exam the "correct" answer for you is Raja Ram Mohan Roy. The "True answer" however is Dwarkanath Tagore (grandfather of the MahaAcharya).

The Prime ('Adi') Principles of the Brahmo Religion are :-

  • On God: There is always Infinite (limitless, undefinable, unperceivable, indivisible) Singularity - immanent and transcendant Singular Author and Preserver of Existence - He who is manifest everywhere and in everything, in the fire and in the water, in the smallest plant to the mightiest oak.
  • On Being: Being is created from Singularity. Being is renewed to Singularity. Being exists to be one (again) with Loving Singularity.
  • On Intelligent Existence: Righteous (worshipful, intelligent, moral) actions alone rule (regulate[preserve]) Existence against Chaos (loss [decay, return, pervading emptiness]). Knowledge (Intelligence[reason, sentience, intuition]) of pure Conscience (light within) is the One (Supreme) ruler (authority[law, dharma]) of Existence with no symbol (creation [scripture, book, object]) or intermediary (being[teacher, messiah, ruler]).
  • On Love: Respect all creations and beings but never venerate (worship) them for only Singularity can be loved (adored, worshipped).
Although simple to express, these True Brahmo Samaj religious principles are profound and harmonise the entire knowledge of humanity.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy's tomb in Bristol, Rabindranath Tagore at the Delhi Brahmo Samaj, Beliefs, History, Social Welfare, Wedding, Famous Brahmos, Prayers, Bibliography, Relevance of the Brahmo Samaj today, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Rabindranath Tagore

Some prime "consequences" of Brahmo Samaj principles are :-

  • Brahmo Samaj embraces righteousness as the only way of life.
  • Brahmo Samaj embraces truth, knowledge, reason, free will and virtuous intuition (observation) as guides.
  • Brahmo Samaj embraces secular principles but oppose sectarianism and imposition of religious belief into governance (especially propagation of religious belief by government).
  • Brahmo Samaj embraces the co-existence of Brahmo principles with governance, but oppose all governance in conflict with Brahmo principles.
  • Brahmo Samaj rejects narrow theism (epecially polytheism), idolatry, ascetism and symbolism.
  • Brahmo Samaj rejects the need for formal rituals, priests or places (church, temple, mosque) for worship.
  • Brahmo Samaj rejects dogma and superstition.
  • Brahmo Samaj rejects scripture as authority.
  • Brahmos reject revelations, prophets, gurus, messiahs, or avatars as authority.
  • Brahmo Samaj rejects bigotry and irrational distinctions like caste, creed, colour, race, religion which divide beings.
  • Brahmo Samaj rejects all forms of totalitarianism.
  • Brahmos examine the prevalent notion of "sin".
  • Brahmos examine the prevalent notions of "heaven" or "hell".
  • Brahmos examine the prevalent notion of "salvation".

A brief History of the Brahmo Samaj.

From 20.August (Bhadra) 1828 C.E., Rammohun Roy and other Brahman scholars assembled weekly at Feringhi Kamal Bose's upper Chitpore Road (Kolkata) residence, India to debate monotheist Vedantic questions as the ;Brahma Sabha ( Bramho Shôbha "Brahma Assembly"). We celebrate this day as the BhadraOtsav.

On 8.January.1830 a deed of Trust (banian) for the Adi Brahmo Samaj land and premises at Chitpur Road (Kolkatta, India) was executed, settling its use for public meeting and worship of the Eternal Being, which meeting formally commenced on 11th Magh (or 23 January) 1830 which day we celebrate as  MaghOtsav.

Till the death of Raja Rammohun Roy in 1833 the activity of the Brahma Sabha was confined to recitations from Vedas in Sanskrit followed by Bengali translations and sermons on these passages. Thereafter the stewardship of Sabha was loyally discharged by Pt. Ram Chandra Vidyabagish, but the congregation was leaderless, corruption crept in with the attendance falling away.

Debendranath, the eldest son of Prince Dwarkanauth Tagore, was deeply affected by the death of his grandmother and questioned the nature of life. In 1839, with tutelage from Pt.Vidyabagish he commenced his own active Tattwabodhini (Truthseekers) Sabha to spread his new experiences and knowledge. This was a tumultuous time for Bengal with confluence of Hindu, Muslim and Christian faiths coming together with great intensity and public clamour.

On 7th Pous 1765 Shaka (1843), and after his father interred Rammohun's mortal remains decently near Bristol, Debendranath Tagore formally absorbed the Brahmo Sabha philosophy of Rammohun Roy into the Tattwabodhini Sabha which was then named Calcutta Brahma Samaj and new covenant issued to bind practice of the rejuvenated new progressive congregation. This then is the day on which the "Brahmo Samaj was conceived and the Pous Mela at the Tagore estates at Santiniketan (abode of peace) commence on this day.

In 1848 Debendranath dictated in a few hours our "Brahmo Dharma" (Code of the Brahmo Religion) which (like the Deed of Banian) was published in 1850. After deep study, the basis of Vedantic infallibility was rejected. This is the year often considered as the foundation of the Brahmo religion.

With the advent of railways the preachers of the Brahmo Samaj could travel afar, and the message of Debendranath's new Brahmo Religion soon spread to the rest of British India from Kolkatta. Outside Bengal Presidency the prominent centres of Brahmo Samaj activity included Punjab, Sind, and the Bombay and Madras Presidencies. There are many active Brahmo Samajes throughout India and also abroad in Bangladesh, USA, UK etc.

Social & Religious reform of Brahmo Samaj

Notable in pioneering social reform in Modern India, the Brahmo Samaj has given birth to many legendary champions of reform in all fields of human endeavour. (The resources of this website are available to honour their memory and chronicle their work).

Focus of the Brahmo Samaj today includes:-

  • Denunciation of polytheism,
  • Rejection of the caste system and its abolition,
  • Rejection of the dowry system and its abolition,
  • Emancipation of women,
  • Widow remarriage,
  • Reform of educational system,
  • Opposition to sati (the practice of burning widows alive),
  • Spread of knowledge by universal access to information,
  • Legal reform especially in fields of personal and secular law,
  • Simplicity and purity in public and private affairs
  • Opposing corrupting influences like intoxicants, devadasi system etc.

Legal Status of the Brahmo Religion.

In 1901 (Bhagwan Koer & Ors v J.C.Bose & Ors, 31 Cal 11, 30 ELR IA 249) the Privy Council (Britain's highest judicial authority) upholds the finding of the High Court of the Punjab that the vast majority of Brahmo religionists are not Hindus and have their own religion unlike Sikhs ("who are Hindu and nothing but Hindus"). Debendranath Tagore was held to be the founder of the Brahmo religion. The Court distinguished Brahmo "religionists" from "followers" of the Brahmo Samaj who continue to retain their Hinduism.

In 1949 the Government of India passes the "Hindu Marriages Validity Act". Despite discussion in Parliament Brahmos are not brought within the scope of this Law. In 1955 the Government of India passes the "Hindu Code" (a comprehensive set of laws for Hindus). Again despite discussion in Parliament, Brahmo religionists are not brought within the scope of these laws which, however, now become applicable to Hindus who are also followers of the Brahmo Samaj . In 2002, Bangladesh enacted a law recognising Brahmo religionists and Brahmo marriages to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists. On 05.May.2004 the Supreme Court of India by order of the Chief Justice dismissed the Government of West Bengal's 30 year litigation to get Brahmos classified as Hindus. The matter had previously been heard by an 11 Judge Constitution Bench of the Court (the second largest bench in the Court's history).

Evolution of the Brahmo Samaj purpose

Bipin Chandra Pal has summarised the evolution of the purpose of Brahmo Samaj. It is considered by many philosophers & thinkers that Raja Rammohun Roy had given us a philosophy of universal religion. But philosophy was not religion. It is only when philosophy becomes organised in ethical exercises and disciplines and spiritual sacraments that it becomes a religion. Debendranath gave us a national religion, on the foundations of Rammohun’s philosophy of universal religion."

Google links

The editors of the website have recovered with due process the following additional websites for Brahmoism
Website for Brahmo religionists.
Website for Adi Brahmo religionists.
Website for Sadharan Brahmo religionists.
An emergency meeting of editorial board was convened to authorise the nominees to take requisite action against websites (including legal measures) to protect all copyright and intellectual property of Brahmo Samaj and Brahmo religion.

This website is not a commercial website, but solely for authentic dissemination of unbiased information on Brahmoism. We neither solicit nor accept money from the public or organisation or State, either directly or indirectly. It is further clarified that Brahmos are not required to make donations on religious occasions. Payment of annual subscription fee (approx. Rs.100 which is the minimum amount specified by law in India) to a Samaj is optional and does not affect one's religious status as Brahmo. Donations solicited for idolatry etc. are anti-Brahmo.

Brahmo Principles

Brahmoism, newest of India's 9 official religions, is based on the foundation of Rammohun Roy's reformed Hindu spiritualism (contained in the 1830 Banian deed) and scientifically invigorated by inclusion of root Hebraic - Islamic creed and practice.

The religion was first codified by Maharshi Debendranath Tagore with the publication in 1850 of his Brahmo Dharma written in 1848 as 2 parts. This work forms the core of Brahmo spiritual faith and denotes Brahmo rejection of the authority of Vedas and the doctrinal shift away from from Rammohun Roy's Vedantic Unitary God.

The religious principles within Brahmo Dharma now stand evolved as the "Prime (Adi) Principles" which result in "Consequential Principles" akin to Judaic "Articles of Faith" regulating the Brahmo way of life.

Trust Deed

In addition to being a legal document, the (Banian) Trust Deed of 1830 settles some basic principles for Brahmo Samajes -

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 for 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

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

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

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

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

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 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.