|The Brahmo Samaj took shape on 6th Bhadra, 20th August 1828. It was founded by Raja Rammohun Roy.
There are two accounts of the origin of the Brahmo Samaj. One is that seeing the failure of his Unitarian Mission in Calcutta, Mr. William Adam himself suggested a substitute.
The other story is that one day while Rammohun and his friends were returning from the services of Mr. Adam, Tarachand Chakravarti and Chandra Sekhar Deb complained the necessity of attending an Unitarian place of worship, in the absence of one entirely suited to their views and principles. Rammohun took this to heart and called a meeting of his friends and it was decided to open an unsecterian place of worship for the One True God. Many rich friends came forward to meet the expenses and a house belonging to Feranghee Kamal Bose was rented to accomodate the first theistic congregation.
Raja Rammohun Roy added "The true way of serving God is to do good to man". Since no one person is considered to be infallible, the Brahmos hold all the great religious leaders of the world in respect, and believe that truth is to be gleaned from all the scriptures of the world. True Universalism is based on the "Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man" more than anything else. Brahmo Samaj as Rammohun Roy conceived it was a congregtaion or an order rather than a sect or community. There was no process of initiation, no membersrship, and no subscription. His emphasis was alwys on the unity of the fundamentals. He viewed the Brahmo Samaj not as the religious organisation of a particular sect but as a place of universal worship where members of all religions could gather for the worship of "The One Eternal Being" without having to discard their own distinctive creeds. The organisation was thus intended to break th barriers between races and creeds and to help in the process of realisation of Rammohun's ideal view of viewing mankind as "one great family." For India the body was meant to serve as a model of unification which would rid the country of secterian jealousies and communal rivalries laying thereby the foundation of a proper spiritual, social and political integration
The second pillar of the Brahmo Samaj was undoubtedly Debendranath Tagore.. He was associated with the presence of Rammohun as a child, but was
formally initiated in the by Ram Chandra Vidyabagish on 21st December 1843. Debendranath wrote the book Brahmo Dharma in 1848 which has helped to lay down the tenets of the Brahmo Religion. Under him the rituals and ceremonials of the new church were formulated. A notable change that took place was the abandonment of the belief in the infallibility of the Vedas. He transformed the Brahmo Samaj into a spiritual fraternity. He formulated the Brahmo-upadesa which were a set of collections from the Upanishads. Spiritually he laid more stress on Bhakti or devotion.
The next phase is dominated by the dynamic personality of Keshub Chandra Sen. He imparted a new vigour to the Samaj and rendered great apostolic zeal. Keshub gave concreteness to the otherwise abstract monotheism of the Samaj by introducing into the church the Pilgrimage to saints, the Homa ceremony, the Baptismal ceremony, the Lord's supper, the Flag ceremony, the Arati, the vow of Poverty, the Savitri Vrata, the Nightingale Vrata, and other innovations. He also introduced extempore prayers and speeches from the pulpit rather than fixed stereotyped liturgy. Under him the Brahmo Samaj was the Church Universal. In his visit to England he carried the message of Brahmo Samaj to the West. He started the Indian Reform Association in 1870 and the Indian Marriage Act of 1872 was propagated validating inter caste marriages.
The next pillar of the Brahmo Samaj is Pt. Sivnath Shastri. He was a constitutionalist at heart. He was involved in the formation of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. He established the Sadhan Ashram as a centre of spiritual activity and a home for the training of mission workers. He was a leader in whom towering intellectual gifts were united with absolute sincerity of purpose, great seif sacrifice and an unwavering loyalty to the exalted ideals of the Brahmo Samaj. As a missionary he carried the message of the Brahmo Samaj to the furthest corners of India. An ardent educationist he was involved in the establishment of Brahmo Balika Sikhshalaya, City School, City College and School in Calcutta and the Rammohun Roy seminary in Patna. He was one of the founders of the Indian Association.
Rabindranath Tagore brought a new vigour into the Adi Brahmo Samaj which had somehow been overshadowed by the dynamic Brahmo Samaj of India. His chief contribution is through his literary works and the numerous Rabindrasangeets and Brahmasangeets which form a quintessantial part of any Brahmo divine service. Rabindranath's argument was Brahmoism and reformed Hinduism were similar. He pointed out that status quo Hinduism filled with defects and abuses must be altered in a way that it reflects the "inner Hinduism" that is true Hinduism. Tagore condemned all forms of factionalism, sectarianism, communalism, and Brahmo nationalism. He aimed to integrate a smaller unit into a larger unit of Hindu society, while at the same time advocating that Hindu society integrate itself into the larger unit of Asian civilizations.
Besides the leaders mentioned above there numerous others who contributed to the growth of the Brahmo Samaj and the Brahmo movement throughout the length and breadth of India. They came from different parts of the country united in a common cause. www.thebrahmosamaj.org plans to mention these unsung heroes at a later date.