ADI BRAHMO SAMAJ
THE FIRST THEISTIC CHURCH OF THE ADI BRAHMO SAMAJ WAS OPENED TO THE PUBLIC ON JANUARY 23, 1830. AS A NEW SECT, THE BRAHMO SAMAJ – ESTABLISHED TWO YEARS EARLIER IN 1828 BY RAMMOHUN ROY – OPPOSED CONSERVATIVE HINDU DOGMAS AND ATTRACTED PEOPLE FROM EDUCATED FAMILIES
The worshippers who assembled every week in the church were originally known as the Brahma Sabha and later came to be called the Calcutta Brahmo Samaj. It retained its name till 1866, the year there developed a schism, after which it was changed to Adi or Original Brahmo Samaj.
Once Rammohun departed for England, the congregation melted away and only Dwarkanath Tagore and Ram Chandra Vidyabagish kept up the spirit of the movement. Dwarkanath instructed his Dewan to manage the aﬀairs of the church and provided the money for the upkeep. When Debendranath Tagore joined the Samaj in 1843, he introduced the much-needed dynamism to the sect. Then Keshub Chandra Sen joined the Samaj in 1857.
With Keshub’s devotional fervour, the Samaj entered upon a new career of spiritual activity and practical usefulness. It sponsored the Band of Hope temperance society, encouraged the education of women, and campaigned for the remarriage of widows and for legislation to prevent child marriages.
However, in 1864, serious diﬀerences regarding rituals and the attitude of the Brahmos to social problems of the day arose between Debendranath and Keshub in the aftermath of the wedding of latterʼs daughter to the Maharaja of Cooch Behar. When Keshub arranged for his daughter to marry the Prince, both parties were well under age. He was thus violating his own reformist principles, and many of his followers rebelled. Inevitably, this deﬁance split the Brahmo Samaj into two groups, the old conservatives rallying round Debendranath and the young reformists standing by Keshub.
After the schism, the Adi Brahmo Samaj quietly retreated to its position of Hindu monotheism and Debendranath never gave any statements or replied to any of the accusations that rose from time to time. The Adi Brahmo Samaj church still survives in north Kolkata.