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Full text of "The Brahmo samaj & Arya samaj in their bearing upon Christianity; a study in Indian theism"

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LIBRARY I 

UNIVERSITY OP I 
CALIFORNIA^ 



D& BLAta 



Wo. 



P i u^ 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 



The 

Brahmo Samaj &" Arya Samaj 

in their bearing upon Christianity 

^ Study in Indian Theism 

By 
Frank Lillingston, M.A. 

Assistant Curate of Heavitree, Exeter 

Formerly Scholar of Pembroke College, and Lecturer in Hebrew 

and O.T. History at Selwyn College, Cambridge 



London 
Macmillan and Co., Limited 

New York : The Macmillan Company 
-I901 



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GLASGOW : PRINTED AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS BY 
ROBERT MACLEHOSE AND CO. 






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PREFACE 

"Forgive them wheie they fail in truth, 
And in Thy wisdom make me wise." 

The purpose of this small book is two-fold. First ; 
I have attempted to give a short historical sketch of 
the development in the past of monotheistic thought 
in India. Secondly ; I have sought to compare, or 
to contrast, this monotheism, at its various stages, 
with the monotheism of Christianity. To do this 
involves enquiry into the most profound religious 
questions, enquiry which it is quite beyond the scope 
of this work to pursue in detail, and yet it is hoped 
that the short summaries of Christian doctrine given 
below may be suggestive of lines of thought, which 
the marginal references to authorities may enable the 
reader to verify, develop, and, perhaps, make his 
own. The work is dedicated to Christian Mission- 
aries ; may it be to them fresh proof that they, in 
their arduous and noble work, have the support of 
the sympathy in thought and prayer of the Church 
at home. 



viii PREFACE 

Should these pages come before the notice of 
members of those Societies, whose doctrines I have 
attempted to delineate and to criticise, I would ask 
them to see in the words of our great English Poet, 
which stand at the beginning of this Preface, the 
Spirit in which it has been my earnest effort to write 
this essay ; may they in their counter-criticism effect 
the purpose which is our common aim, the removal of 
error and the exaltation of Truth. 

The interchange of thought between England and 
India is in these days so rapid that we in both 
countries have to face the same questions. It is my 
hope therefore that this little book may serve the 
purpose of an index, — it cannot claim to be more, — 
to Christian lines of thought for those in this country 
who feel the need to give a reason for the hope that 
is in them. 

My acknowledgments are due to the many friends 
who have assisted me in my task by the generous 
loan of books, and by friendly criticism. 

FRANK LILLINGSTON. 

Heavitree, 

May 13, 1901. 



LIST OF WORKS ON INDIAN THEISM REFERRED 
TO BELOW* 



Wilson, H. H. Essays and Lectures on the Religion of the 

Hindus. Vols. I. and II. (i 86 1). 
Williams, Sir M. Monier. Hinduism. S.P.C.K. Non-Christian 

Religious Systems. 
Williams, Sir M. Monier. Indian Wisdom. 
Williams, Sir M. Monier. Religious Thought and Life in 

India. 
Williams, Sir M. Monier, in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic 

Society., Jan. — April, 1881. 
Williams, Sir M. Monier. Modern India. 
Hopkins, Prof. E. W. The Religions of India. Arnold, 1896. 
Barth, Prof. A. The Religions of India. Triibner and Co., 

1891. 
Davids, Prof. Rhys. Hibbert Lecture., 1881. 
Ellinwood. Oriental Religions and Christianity. 
Lyall, Sir A. C. Asiatic Studies., 1882. (First Series.) 
Lyall, Sir A. C. Asiatic Studies., 1889. (Second Series.) 
Robson. Hinduism^ its relations to Christianity. 
Carpenter, Mary. Last days in England of Ram.mohun Roy. 
Rammohun Roy. Second Appeal and Final Appeal. 
Collet, Miss S. D. Brahmo Year Books, 1876-82. 
Brahmo Tract Society, Calcutta. Keshab Chander Sen in 

England. Vols. I. and II. 



X LIST OF WORKS ON INDIAN THEISM 

Mozoomdar Pertab Chunder. Faith and Progress of the 
Brahmo Somaj. Calcutta, 1882. 

Slater, T. E. Keshab Chander Sen^ the Brahmo Samaj. 
Madras, 1884. 

Bhattacharjee, J. N. Hindu Castes and Sects. Calcutta, 1896. 

Williams,' T. Exposure of Day ananda Sarasvati. Delhi, 1889. 

Miiller, Prof. Max. The Vedanta Philosophy. 

Miiller, Prof. Max. Biographical Essays^— Day ananda Saras- 
vati (cit. Oman). 

Miiller, Prof. Max. Sacred Books of the East. Vol I. The 
Upa?iishads. 

Westcott, Bp., in Cambridge Companion to the Bible, 1893. 

Encyclopsedia Britannica (9th Edition). Brahmo Somaj. 

Encyclopaedia Britannica (9th Edition). Hindustani Literature. 

Encyclopaedia Britannica (9th Edition). Vedanta. 

Encyclopaedia Britannica (9th Edition). Brahmanism. 

Cambridge Mission to Delhi. Annual Reports for i8g8-g. 

Cambridge Mission to Delhi. Occasional Paper No. zj. 

Longridge, J. The Oxford Mission to Calcutta. 1900. 

Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Digest of Records, 
iyoi-i8g2. 

Oman, Prof. J. Campbell. Indian Life : Religious and Social 

Clark, Dr. Martyn. The Principles and Teaching of the Arya 

Samaj. Lahore, 1886-7. 
Christian Literature Society for India. The Brahma Samajes. 
Christian Literature Society for India. Defectiveness of 

Brahmoism. 



CONTENTS 



Introduction — 

The claim of the Brahmo Samaj of India to be 
Christian, and the need of a careful examination 
of this claim, i 

The doctrinal position of the writer, and grounds for 
the adoption of deductive methods of reasoning 
throughout this Essay, 3 

Theism in India previous to the Birth of 
Rammohun Roy— 

I. Monotheism in the Rig Veda : 

This monotheism is indefinite and is not guarded by 

the use of exact terminology, - - - - 11 

I I . Monotheism in the Upanishads : 

The transition from concrete to abstract objects of 

thought, -------- 17 

There is as yet no clear conception of Personality, 
and therefore no barrier between monotheistic 
and pantheistic forms of belief, - - - - 21 

III. Buddhism; Saivaism; and Vaishnavism : 
Buddhism being a philosophy rather than a religion 

has not, directly at least, encouraged mono- 
theistic belief, 25 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Saivaism is essentially monotheistic, but it is unable 
to bring its creed into harmony with human 
life, 28 

The attempts made to reform Vaishnavism witness 
to the human craving for a monotheistic creed ; 
amongst Vaishnavite reformers : 

(i) Ramanuja, in the 12th century, recognized in 
God a two-fold form : in the one form He is 
independent of, in the other He is one with, the 
world ; the latter teaching leads us back to 
pantheism, 30 

(2) Ananda-Tirtha, in the 13th century, taught belief 

in a Supreme Spirit, Who is not the Spirit of 
Life ; hence, where a living God is worshipped, 
dualism or pantheism results, - - - - 31 

(3) Vallabha, in the 15th century, taught pure non- 

dualism ; the only barrier that he raised 
against pantheism was the doctrine of the 
relative position of God and man, as Maker 
and made ; this barrier was insufficient to 
prevent the identification of human nature with 
divine, -------- 33 

(4) Caitanya, at the close of the 1 5th century, effaced 

all moral distinctions from the conception of the 
Divine Being, and proclaimed the union of good 
and evil in God, - - - - - - 34 

(5) Kabir, in the 15th century, influenced by Moham- 

medanism, proclaimed the Unity of the Divine 
Nature, but made no final distinction between 
God and Man, and therefore failed to remove 
the basis of idolatrous worship, - - - - 36 

(6) Nanak, in the 15th century, founded the Sikh 

religion ; its strength was due to the exaltation 
of its earthly leader, unity on earth taking the 
place of unity in the Universe, - - - - 39 



CONTENTS 



The Rise of the Brahmo Samaj— 

Sketch of the life and early surroundings of Ram- 

mohun Roy, 44 

The Trust-deed of the first Meeting-house of the 

Brahmo Samaj, - - - - - - 51 

The weakness inherent in its liberality, - - - 52 

Rammohun Roy's liberality of thought is traceable 
to the circumstances of his life, and is akin to 
his shallow conception of the nature of sin, - 53 

The Brahmo Samaj by inculcating the duty of 
brotherly intercourse went far to purify the 
system of caste, 56 

In his treatment of the Scriptures Rammohun Roy 
discarded the key to their interpretation that is 
preserved in the historic church, - - - 58 

Rammohun Roy's attacks upon Christian doctrines 

were due to his failure to understand them, - 61 

Review of the Brahmo Samaj up to the date of its 
Founder's death, with an estimate of its success 
and failure, .--.-_. 63 

The Brahmo Samaj i 833- 1858— 

Debendra Nath Tagore gave the Society its con- 
stitution, 66 

The limitations of Debendra Nath's mind, which are 
traceable to his environment, have left their 
stamp upon the fundamental doctrines of the 
re-organized Society, 68 

The principles of the Society at this stage of its 
existence are open to objection ; and the re- 
action in favour of a more emotional religion 
witnessed to their insufficiency to satisfy the 
needs of men, - - 69 



xiv CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Keshab Chunder Sen brought new life into the 
Brahmo Samaj in 1858, but finding himself 
fettered by its conservatism he seceded from it 
in 1866, - - - 71 

Our estimate of the Adi Brahmo Samaj will corre- 
spond to the place that we assign to emotion- 
alism in religion, --.-.. 74 

The Brahmo Samaj of India— 

The five funda7nental articles of the Creed of the 
Brahmo Samaj of India stated and exainined : 

(i.) God is the First Cause ; He created the Uni- 
verse out of nothing. There is in this article an 
advance from Deism to Theism, - - - "Tj 

(2.) " The spirit of man has direct communion with 
God ; where this communion exists, man can 
recognize God's working in the material world ; 
the sphere of revelation is the spiritual, not the 
material." This faith becomes purely subjective 
because without the aid of the material world 
{i.e. the voice of the facts of history) we are 
unable to differentiate between the subjective 
and the objective, the human and the Divine 
impulse, - . - - 79 

(3.) The denial of the doctrine of the Divine Incar- 
nation is due to the subjective character of the 
Brahmo Creed, and to the influence of the 
Hindu conception of material things as the fruit 
of Illusion, - - 85 

(4.) The claim of the Brahmo Samaj of India to 
teach a universal religion will satisfy only those 
who think that it rests upon a sufficiently 
comprehensive basis ; its exclusive subjectivity 
vitiates its claim, 87 



CONTENTS 



(5.) In opposition to the teaching of the Brahmo 
Samaj of India the solidarity of the human race 
proves {a) the inability of an individual man to 
gain forgiveness of sins by repentance or suffer- 
ing, and {b) the possibility of such forgiveness 
being gained through the ' vicarious ' suffering of 
one, Who gathers all humanity into Himself, - 91 

Historical sketch of the Brahmo Samaj of India : 

A period of weakness succeeded the secession of 
Keshab from the Adi Brahmo Samaj, yet he 
succeeded by spiritual exertions in re-uniting 
and inspiring his followers to fresh efforts, - 95 

Keshab's inconsistency with regard to his daughter's 
marriage with the Maharajah of Kuch Behar 
destroyed his authority and the unity of the 
Samaj, -------- 96 

Keshab and his coadjutor, Pertab Mozoomdar, 
attempted to regain their authority with the 
populace by increased emotionalism, and by 
conforming their teaching to that of Hinduism, - 98 

The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj — 

The formation of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj in 

opposition to the Brahmo Samaj of India, - 102 

The Sadharan Samaj openly repudiates Christ, and 

denies the need of the Divine Incarnation, - 104 

Argument is wasted until agreement on premises has 
been attained ; the premises on which the 
Christian faith rests are in accordance with the 
experience of life, which shews us the value of 
human mediation between a man and the 
immaterial forces of good and evil that surround 
him, 106 



xvi CONTENTS 

PAGE 

The Arya Samaj— 

The Arya Samaj founds its teaching upon a false 
estimate of the religious and literary character 
of the Vedic scriptures, io8 

Its members still perform the ancient sacrifices, but 

without a real belief in their efficacy, - - no 

When national prejudices are allayed it is probable 
that the Arya Samaj will admit that its present 
position is untenable, - - - - - 1 12 

Conclusion, 114 



'O A6yo<; aap^ kyevero. 



INTRODUCTORY. 

" Let India accept Christ," were the words of 
Keshab Chunder Sen, one of the leaders of the 
Brahmo Samaj of India, when he preached to a 
large congregation at Calcutta in 1879. To 
Christian ears no words could be more welcome ; 
the blood of Christian martyrs, the seed of the 
Church, seems at first sight to have taken root 
in the soil of India, when Christ is preached not 
only by foreigners, but by many of her own sons. 
The impulse of Christians is to welcome these 
Reformers of the Faiths of India as fellow- workers 
in the service of Christ, and to look for far greater 
results from their preaching than can ever come 
from the stammering lips of Europeans. But before 
we turn from India to concentrate our forces upon 
the work to be done in other lands, we need the 
assurance that the torch has been really kindled 
in India ; we cannot be satisfied with a flicker 
of light that perchance is only borrowed ; before 
the Holy Catholic Church can regard the Brahmo- 



2 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

Samaj, the Arya-Samaj, or any other Samaj as 
its fellow-labourer and successor in this work, it 
must satisfy itself that the essential truths of the 
Historic Faith will be handed down to generations 
to come. The need of such careful inquiry into 
the nature of these claimants to the title of 
Christian has been impressed upon us by the 
experience of the years that have elapsed since 
the words of Keshab Chunder Sen, quoted above, 
were uttered. The Oxford University Mission in 
Calcutta owes its origin to the approximation of 
the teaching of the Brahmo-Samaj to Christianity ; ^ 
but its members are said to have found that the 
aim of Keshab Chunder Sen was something quite 
different from discipleship of Christ.^ We welcome 
indeed the fresh light which contact with Indian 
wisdom throws upon our faith, bringing out its 
beauty with fresh brilliancy, and, as we believe, 
making it the more acceptable to Indian minds, 
but we still " hold fast that which is true," account- 
ing ourselves the best judges of the value and 
truth of that which has been our possession for 
countless generations, and not listening to the 
childish impatience which bids us cast away the 
truths which it has not yet learnt to understand ; 
we believe that the time will come when the Church 

^ The Oxford Mission to Calcutta^ pp. i and 2. 

2 Guardian^ June 27, 1900, p. 934. Speech by Canon Gore. 



INTRODUCTION 3 

of India, rich in the possession of the best fruits 
of Eastern and Western thought, will thank God 
for preserving to her an Historic Faith which 
takes account of things subjective and things 
objective, spiritual and material, of thought and 
action, a Faith which satisfies men of every type 
of character because it answers to the fulness of 
Life. 

In the present essay both the Brahmo and Arya 
Samaj are examined from the standpoint of one 
who has accepted the teaching of the Catholic 
Church with regard to the Blessed Trinity, as ex- 
pressed in the so-called Creed of Athanasius, as 
true. That is to say, he believes in the Unity 
of the Nature of God and in the Tri-personality 
within the one Nature. Jesus Christ is to him 
at once true man and true God ; His relationship 
to God is unique : ^ it is not the same as that of 
any other man to the Father. 

Such a standpoint is not popular in these days, 
when it is recognised that free unbiassed enquiry 
is essential to the discovery of truth, and yet it 
is by no means indefensible. For, supposing we 
assume that the teaching of the Catholic Church 
is, so far as it goes, absolute truth, a not impossible 
assumption, it will follow that to be able rightly 

^ See Lightfoot on meaning o( fiovoy&rjs. Clem. Rot7i. to Corinthians, 
Large Ed., p. 87. Cit. Kashdall, Doctrine and Development, pp. 77 sq. 



4 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

to appreciate other creeds, they must be viewed 
from the Christian standpoint ; upon this assump- 
tion every enquirer who is not a Christian is in 
partial darkness, and his judgment is so biassed 
that he cannot hope to form any sound judgment 
upon the subject of his enquiry.^ Yet this assump- 
tion is one that will be made only by those who 
have not learnt, and refuse to learn, to apply the 
methods of historical criticism and inductive reason- 
ing to Christianity as to any other religion. We 
have no intention of adopting such an attitude. 
To us belief in the absolute truth of Christianity 
is not an assumption, but may be arrived at as 
the result of a process of inductive reasoning, under 
certain moral conditions. We hold that so far as 
the truth of the Creed of the Christian Church 
is called in question, it is right that every fact 
upon which that Creed is based should be laid 
open to the enquirer that he may be able, by 
the accumulation of evidence under his own eyes, 
to judge whether it, when summed up, does or 
does not shape itself into a conclusion identical 
with the Christian Creed. And yet further, we 
are prepared to add to the evidences before us 
any fresh ones that may be produced in the course 
of time, as for instance such fresh light as has 
been given to us through the recognition of the 

^Thus Tertullian, de pmscript : 3, ' Nemo sapiens est, nisi fidelis.' 



INTRODUCTION 5 

principle of evolution. We believe it to be quite 
possible that such new evidence may demand the 
insertion of new, supplementary but not contra- 
dictory, clauses within the creed in order to give 
expression to a more enlightened faith ; and we 
also think it possible that fresh evidence may 
make it expedient for us to alter the wording of 
our creed, in order that its language may keep 
pace with the growth in meaning of the truths 
it conveys, instead of leading to the stagnation 
of thought.^ In the case, however, of the enquiry 
now before us into the teaching of the Brahmo 
and Arya Samaj and their bearing on Christianity, 
we deliberately follow the deductive rather than 
the inductive method for these reasons. The 
Christian Creed is already accepted by us on 
grounds of inductive reasoning so far as its facts 
as facts are concerned : ^ we need not, therefore, 
repeat this process unless anything of the nature 
of fresh evidence be laid before us : now in the 
present case those who have criticised the Brahmo 
and Arya Samaj from a purely historical stand- 
point give us to understand that the principles 

^Westcott, Gospel of Life^ p. 281, "We cannot believe what was 
believed in another age by repeating the formulas which were then 
current." We think the term 'Hades' would, in the English trans- 
lation of the Nicene creed, be preferable to ' Hell.' 

2 Though we grant that these facts can be fully apprehended only 
through the exercise of the spiritual faculty. Westcott, Ibid., p. 81. 



6 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

Upon which these societies rest are in no sense 
new,^ they are the same principles that have in 
the past been examined in their relation to Christi- 
anity, and, on grounds that satisfy us, have been 
rejected : a fresh investigation, in accordance with 
the rules of induction, of the respective claims of 
Indian Theism (so far as it is pure Theism) and 
Catholic Trinitarianism might be of interest on 
account of the introduction of new terminology 
which it would involve, but beyond this we think 
it would be of little value, for the arguments 
adduced would be only those of former times. We 
maintain that more will be gained by the inversion 
of the process, and the examination of the principles 
of the two Samaj, and of their relationship to 
Christianity, by methods of deduction from the 
accepted belief of the Christian Church. We shall 
not, it is true, be placing ourselves in the thrilling 
and dramatic position of those who are still at 
liberty to choose between the acceptance of two 
opposing faiths : ours is a more prosaic attitude ; 
to us it seems that inductive reasoning has had 

^ M. Williams, Indian Theistic Reformers (Royal Asiatic Society), 
p. I. Hopkins, p. 515, 'modern Deism not the result of new in- 
fluences.' Barth, p. 220, 291. 

On the other hand see Indian 'J'heistic Refo7'mers, p. 11, 'A new 
phase of the Hindu religion differing essentially from every other.' 
The combinations of Eastern and Western thought, new to India in the 
19th century, had affected Europe in the 3rd century, the burden of 
re-sifting evidence therefore rests with Hindus, not with Christians. 



INTRODUCTION 7 

its scope, it has done its work, we accept its con- 
clusions, and now proceed to use these as the test 
of the value of others which have no independent 
evidence in their favour. That historical evidence 
which was formerly regarded as the foundation upon 
which our present structure was to be reared now 
appears in a new light as illustrative of our creed 
and as a subsidiary proof of its truth. It is true 
that the value of such an enquiry into the history 
of a belief other than our own, will still depend 
upon the correctness of the conclusions which we 
have come to by inductive reasoning ; but this 
deductive method which we adopt will give us 
sympathy with the weakness and the strength of 
the objects of our enquiry, such as the other could 
not offer, for the method of deduction is after 
all more closely in correspondence with the progress 
of life : man learns truth by collecting facts and 
from them drawing his conclusions ; God makes 
truth, causing all things to issue from the one 
source ; we can best hope to understand truth 
when we view history and the thoughts of men 
from the standpoint of the knowledge of their 
Maker, and in their relation to Him, tracing the 
gradual development of belief from the past to 
the present, rather than from the present to the 
past. 

The character of the Brahmo and Arya Samaj 



8 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

in their earlier history and later developments can 
be justly estimated only by those who know 
something of the religious soil from whence they 
sprung, and of the religious movements which 
preceded them. Were it not possible for us to 
see in the history of the past the forces which 
have issued in the formation of these Religious 
Societies, we should be inclined to ignore them 
as agents in the development of the character of 
the peoples of India. Had Theism no past his- 
tory we should have to discuss its claims as 
against those of Christianity by a process of 
inductive argument, and, granted that the result 
were that which we have accepted, we should 
discredit its power over human nature in the 
present, we should see for it no place in the 
history of the future, for to us it would seem 
to be no necessary factor in the Life of Man. 
But when it can be shown that the Theism of 
India to-day is the legitimate offspring of the 
Theism of past ages,^ modified indeed by new 
conditions of life, but yet essentially the same, 
and witnessing to the same essential characteristics 
of the human heart, we are forced to recognise 
its claim to a correspondence with the needs of 
man, we dare not ignore it lest we should be 

^Hopkins, p. 510. This is not the view of M. Williams, Theistic 
Reformers^ p. il. 



INTRODUCTION 9 

shutting our eyes to that Truth which is the only 
food capable of sustaining human life. 

If the Theism of India to-day be the child 
of the Theism of the past, we must go to the 
past to understand the present ; it is only when 
we compare the man with his ancestors that we 
are able to tell whether there be any progress in 
development or not, whether life be a cycle or 
a way to an End ; and, further, the history of 
the past tells us that about which the present 
leaves us in doubt, viz., the result for good or 
for evil of the emphasizing or neglect of one or 
other aspect of life ; the past has its lessons, its 
warnings, its encouragements, let the present use 
to the full the experience gained by the past, 
the inheritance left by father to son. We shall 
try to trace in outline the religious genealogies 
of the Brahmo and Arya Samaj from the 
earliest times of which we have any record, taking 
as our test of vital relationship the effort to 
adhere to the truth of the Unity of God and 
the consequent unity of man, or to clothe the 
same truth in warmer language, " the Fatherhood 
of God and the Brotherhood of Man." We hope 
to be able by the study of the Present in the 
light of the Past to answer the question " are 
the Theistic Reformers of India to-day any nearer 
to an expression of the truth which will satisfy 



10 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

alike the reason and the affections of men, than 
were their predecessors ? or can this truth be 
universally accepted and realized in Life only 
through the acceptance of Historic Christianity ? " 



THEISM IN INDIA PREVIOUS TO THE 
BIRTH OF RAMMOHUN ROY. 

I. Monotheism in the Rig Veda. 

It is in the Vedas [the books of Indian 
(Aryan ?) wisdom,^ cf. otSa, video, Nor : ved.] the 
authoritative repositories of the wisdom which the 
religious ancestors of the Hindu people attained 
by listening to the voice of Divine Revelation 
[Sruti,^ " that which is heard or revealed," is the 
term applied to literature believed to have been 
received immediately from the Divine Being] that 
we first seek for monotheistic teaching. The 
Vedas, which it is worth our while to remember, 
were not introduced to the notice of European 
scholars until the year 1805,^ by their subject- 
matter fall under a threefold division : (i) Mantra 
(man, Latin mens, to think), this division consisting 
of texts, and hymns of prayer and praise ; (ii) 

^ Westcott, in Cavib. Comp. to Bible. . 
2 Williams, Hinduism, p, i8» •' Earth, p. xxii., note. 



12 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

Brahmana, the priestly and ritualistic commentaries 
upon the Mantra ; and (iii) Upanishads {upa-ni- 
sadin, sitting below), which are subsidiary works 
of the Ritualistic Brahmanas contained in the 
Aranyakas or Forest-Books, intended for the use 
of forest hermits who have passed beyond the 
need of sacrifice.^ Their object ^ is the fuller 
investigation of the abstruse problems suggested 
by the mysticism of the Brahmanas. 

It is with the first of these divisions that we 
are at present concerned, the second division being 
devoted to practice rather than thought, and the 
third belonging to a later period than that into 
which we would now enquire. 

The Mantra portion of the Veda is again sub- 
divided into four (five) Samhita (collections), viz., 
the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda (Black and White), 
the Sama Veda,^ and the Atharva Veda. Of 
these the Rig Veda is the most important, and 
it is to this that we will confine our enquiry, 
for the Yajur and Sama Vedas are little more 
than collections of texts and hymns taken from 
the Rig Veda and used in the performance of 
sacrifices, and the Atharva Veda seems in its 



1 Hopkins, pp. 217, 218, 219, footnote. Max Miiller, 6". B, E., I. 
Ixxix. sc/q. 

2 M. Williams, Hinduism^ p. 44. 

^ M. Williams, Indian Wisdom^ p. 6. 



THEISM IN INDIA 13 

present form to be later than the time of 
Manu,^ 

The interest and importance of the question 
before us, whether monotheistic teaching is to be 
found in the Rig Veda, is enhanced by the appeal 
to Vedic authority made by the leaders of the 
Arya Samaj, who by this action have greatly 
strengthened their position and increased their 
influence amongst their fellow-countrymen.^ Yet 
before citing any passage of the Rig Veda which 
may be taken as evidence to the existence of 
a monotheistic creed, attention should be called to 
the dependence of the meaning of language upon 
the environment of the speaker or writer. Words 
that show us the orthodoxy of Origen would 
from the lips of Athanasius have sounded like 
heresy. Thought and language alike gain accuracy 
only through controversy, where in self-defence 
ambiguity is avoided ; and the process of making 
weapons of offence and defence is no short one. 
The history of Jewish monotheism shows how 
slight is the barrier, at an early period of 
development, between monotheism, polytheism, and 

^M. Williams, Indian Wisdom^ pp. 5 and 6. (Contrast Barth, p. 33.) 
Hopkins, pp. 174-5 

2 Last Days in England of Rammohun Roy. Carpenter, pp. 5 and 6 ; 
*'The Brahmo Samaj," Encyl. Brit., by Sir W. W. Hunter; M. 
Williams, Religious Thought and Life in India. Cap. xx. on Dayananda 
Sarasvati ; cp. also Barth, pp. 154-5 for a similar appeal by various 
Hindu sects. 



i4 THE BR AH MO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

pantheism ; it may be questioned whether even 
the prophet Elijah had fully grasped the Unity 
of God when he bade the people choose between 
Baal and Jehovah ; the people certainly thought 
that it was only a question of the supremacy of one 
national God over another, and this after they 
had listened from childhood to the solemn de- 
claration of the Divine Unity, "the Lord our God, 
He is One." The title ^ Lord of Hosts' affords 
us an instance of the growth in the meaning of 
language with the progress of thought ; being at 
first taken to mean that the God of Israel was 
a God of battle. Who led His people to victory, 
at a later date it was taken to express the 
dominion over all created being, over the powers 
of the hosts of Heaven.^ Bearing in mind then 
the limits of language, let us consider the evidence 
for the existence of monotheistic belief that is 
offered us in such characteristic passages of the 
Rig Veda as the following : 

Rig Veda (Mandala, x. i2gy 

■*' In the beginning there was neither nought nor aught, 
Then there was neither sky nor atmosphere above. 

Only the Existent One breathed calmly, self-contained, 
Nought else than Him there was— nought else above, beyond." 

iFor the indefiniteness of such terms as 'pantheism,' 'monotheism,' 
vid. Rhys Davids, Hibbert Lectures, p. 21. 
^M. Williams, Indian Wisdom^ pp. ipfif. 



THEISM IN INDIA 15 

Rig Veda (Mandala, x. 121). 

"What god shall we adore with sacrifice? 
Him let us praise, the golden child that rose 
In the beginning, who was born the lord — 
The one sole lord of all that is — who made 
The earth and formed the sky, who giveth life. 
Who giveth strength, whose bidding gods revere, 
Whose hiding-place is immortality." 

With such passages as the above we must 
compare the following which point to a nature- 
worship closely akin to polytheism through the 
personification of the distinctive forces of Nature. 

Rig Veda i. 168.1 

"Self yoked are they come lightly from the sky. The im- 
mortals urge themselves with the goad. Dustless, born of 
power, with shining spears the Maruts (storm-gods) overthrow 
the strongholds. Who is it, O Maruts, ye that have lightning 
spears, that impels you within ? . . . The streams roar from 
the tyres, when they send out their cloud voices." 

The above citations will suffice as examples of 
the evidence that may be collected from the Rig 
Veda to show that the character of its teaching 
is monotheistic, pantheistic, or polytheistic. It is 
true that the Rig Veda is a composite work, and 
represents not one only but many schools ^ of 
thought ; yet the very fact that such opposite 
opinions should be treasured in the same collection 
of hymns makes the conclusion that the faith of 

^Hopkins, pp. 8-1 1, 
-Ibid., p. 16, 



I6 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

the many writers of this literature was neither 
monotheistic, pantheistic, nor polytheistic, but rather 
a vague ^ and chrematheistic ^ physiolatry, appear 
to be the most probable. This faith has been 
called Henotheism, the worship of each divinity 
in turn as if it were the greatest and even the 
only god recognised. 

" As soon as a new god is evoked, all the rest 
suffer eclipse before him ; he attracts every attri- 
bute to himself; he is the god ; and the notion, 
at one time monotheistic, at another pantheistic, 
which is found in the latent state at the basis of 
every form of polytheism, comes in this way to be 
ascribed indiscriminately to the different personali- 
ties furnished by the myths,"^ which myths of 
Nature worship " resolve into physical phenomena."* 
If we accept this view of the religious thought of 
the Rig Veda, we shall be able to see an orderly 
development in Hindu theology, from the half- 
embodied deities to the first immaterial author of 
the universe, " from the physical beginning of the 
Rig Vedic religion to its spiritual Brahmanic end" ;^ 

^ Hopkins, pp. 135 and footnote (166). 

^M. Williams, Indian Wisdom, pp. 7 and 8 ; Encyl. Brit., 9th Ed., 
"Theism." "Henotheism is an imperfect kind of monotheism in 
which God is thought of as One only because others had not yet 
presented themselves to the mind, a monotheism of which polytheism 
is not the contradiction, but the natural development." M. Miiller, 
Lectures on the Origin of Religion, pp. 266 and 291-3. 

^Barth, p. 26. ^ Ibid., p. 178. ^Hopkins, pp. 73, 74. 



THEISM IN INDIA 17 

the Rig Veda, thus interpreted, shows us man seek- 
ing for a true conception of God, and not resting 
satisfied in any one expression of belief We are 
conscious that in these days we stand upon a higher 
level than its writers, viz., that of the " fulness of 
time" used by God for the enlightenment of man 
through man: we therefore cannot regard their 
teaching as final or infallible, though we offer them 
the reverence due to parents. The monotheist of 
to-day will welcome their words expressive of belief 
in the unity of God as a link of truth in the present 
with truth in the past, and can afford to ignore 
those sentiments which the light of longer life has 
shown to be partial or misleading. Theistic re- 
formers may rightly appeal to the Rig Veda for 
confirmation of their teaching, not as to an all-wise, 
infallible authority, but as to a child safeguarded 
by its innocence and lack of bigotry from any wilful 
perversion of the truth. They will find in it the 
human heart opened in ready sympathy, eager to 
learn, eager to worship. 

II. Monotheism in the Upanishads. 

From the Rig Veda we turn to the literature of 
a later period to see whether there be in it any 
trace of a continuous development of religious 
thought in the direction of a monotheistic belief 
Some such development of thought can, we believe, 



i8 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

be found in the Upanishads. This literature covers 
an indefinite period of time.^ The treatises which 
bear this name, and have up to the present time 
been catalogued, number nearly 250.^ The earlier 
of these writings, i.e, those which occupy a place 
in the Samhitas, Brahmahas, and Aranyakas, are 
probably of a date earlier than 600 B.C., and are 
therefore anterior to the rise of Buddhism.^ We 
have already spoken of the meaning of the title 
Upanishad (p. 1 2). 

With the Upanishads we pass from one class of 
literature to another ; the language of the Rig 
Veda and the Yajur, Sama, and Atharva Vedas is 
with some exceptions* the unconscious servant of 
a life full of hopes and fears and of absorbing 
activity ; in the Upanishads, language, as the fruit- 
ful mother of thought, rules men's lives in the right 
of her offspring.^ Thought is recognised as a power, 

^Hopkins, p. 216: "In India no literary period subsides with the 
rise of its eventually 'succeeding' period." 

2 Earth, p. 66. 

^S. B. E., vol. i., Ixvii. Hopkins, pp. 216, 217. For the opposite 
view see Barth, p. 67. 

^M. Miiller, Vedanta Philosophy, p. 144. 

^Khandogya — Upanishad. 1st Prapathaka. 13th Khanda, 4. 
"Speech yields the milk, which is the milk of speech itself to 
him who knows this Upanishad of the Samans in this wise. He 
becomes rich in food and able to eat food." — Dr. Martyn Clark, 
Lecture IV., p. 8. 

II. Aranyaka, 3 Adhyaya and Khanda 4. "Dependent on names 
they rejoiced in what had been revealed." — M. Muller, Vedanta 
Philosophy, pp. 115, 116, 141. 



THEISM IN INDIA «9 

and speech is identified with thought ; hence the 
importance of such a mystic syllable as Om.^ 
Thought is exalted, but not yet as pure thought, 
because it is yet associated with sound, the abstract 
with the concrete, motions of the mind with motions 
of matter. The basis of pantheism is found here, 
being neither denied by the assumption of antagon- 
ism in the form of dualism, nor destroyed by the 
recognition of the power of self-determination ^ as 
distinguishing the 'Person' from the 'thing.' 

Indian writers distinguish the Upanishads from 
other Vedic literature by the title ' Jnana Kanda,' 
' the department of knowledge,' as distinct from 
' Karma-Kanda,' 'the department of works.' ^ Al- 
though it be true that " belief in India was never 
so philosophical that the believer did not dread 
the lightning,"* yet that belief became increasingly 
philosophical as man by the efforts of his mind 
became less directly dependent upon the forces 

^ Farrar, Chapters on Language^ p. 256: "Sound which is the 
incarnation of thought." Such an identification of thought and sound 
we beUeve to be inevitable, and its pantheistic consequences are, we 
think, also so, unless counteracted by one of the two means (dualism 
or personification) referred to in the text. See Max Miiller, Science 
of Language, vol. ii., pp. 73 fif., "Without speech no reason, 
without reason no speech." 

^Kant, cit. Illingworth, Personality — Human and Divine, pp. 22 
and 23. Tennyson, Life of, vol. i. pp. 311, 312. 

^M. Williams, Hindtiism, p. 43. Barth, p. 67. M. Williams, 
hidian Wisdom, p. 33. 

^Hopkins, p. 37. 



20 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

of nature. When he learnt that by foresight in 
the preparation of water- tanks he could make him- 
self comparatively independent of Indra, and await 
with equanimity the result of the latter's contest 
with Vritra the cloud-serpent, he began to recog- 
nise a power within himself that might, when 
developed, put him on an equal footing with the 
objects of his worship.^ This power was invisible 
and abstract, and yet often showed itself superior 
to the visible and concrete. If religion was still 
to hold its sway, the nature of the gods must be 
regarded as similar to this greatest power within 
the experience of man. Thus little by little the 
religious conception of the divine nature became 
more abstract, and the moral power of will, or 
prayer, came to be regarded, under the name 
Brihaspati, or Brahmaspati,^ as the Supreme Being. 
But although the conception of the divine nature 
becomes even in the Rig Veda thus spiritualised, 
there is as yet no clear and exclusive personification 
of moral force. Brihaspati takes the place of Indra,^ 
but not to the exclusion of other gods, who repre- 
senting concrete material force yet hold their place 
in the pantheon. The writers of the Upanishads, 
which were intended for the use of those who 
separated themselves from the world, and have as 

^Barth, p. 71. '^ Ibid., pp. 15, 16. 

' Hopkins, 136. 



THEISM IN INDIA ii 

their object the destruction of passion,^ can afford 
to ignore that popular conception of the divine 
nature, drawn from the experience of life, which 
demands a personal revelation corresponding to 
the many and various conditions of life, and there- 
fore tends to the multiplication of deities, and can 
devote themselves to abstract philosophy unham- 
pered by any call to action. To be is their motto, 
rather than to do. We rise in the Upanishads 
to a conception of the divine nature as being 
' without body, parts, or passions ; of infinite power, 
wisdom and goodness'; but we do this by ignoring 
factors in the problem of life that is given to man 
to solve. The belief in one God as opposed to 
many is of indefinite value until it is made clear 
whether the unity be one of nature or personality. 
Such a passage as the following suggests indeed a 
belief in the unity of person, and the selfish con- 
sequences of such a belief are unflinchingly painted 
by one who has withdrawn himself from the life 
of the world. " Not for the husband's sake is* the 
husband dear, but for the ego's sake is the husband 
dear. Not for the wife's sake is the wife dear, but 
for the ego's sake is the wife dear. . . . Not for 
the sake of gods are the gods dear, but for the 

^ S. B. E., vol. i., p. Ixxxi. M. Miiller on the Origin of Religion^ 
pp. 324-5 ; M. Miiller, Vedanta Philosophy, pp. 15, 18, 22 sq, 

[Yet this literature is religious. See Barth, pp. 77 ff., and Hopkins, 
pp. 239 f.] 



22 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

ego's sake are gods dear ; not for the sake of any- 
thing is anything dear, but for the sake of the 
ego is anything dear. . . . Where there is as it 
were duality, there one sees, smells, hears, notices, 
knows another ; but when all the universe has be- 
come mere ego, with what should one smell, see, 
hear, address, notice, know any one else? How 
can one know him through whom he knows this 
all, how can he know the knower? The ego is 
to be described by negations alone, the incompre- 
hensible, imperishable, unattached, unfettered ; the 
ego neither suffers nor fails." ^ The universal ego is 
identified with the particular ego.^ 

Because these writers did not recognise that 
human personality can only find full scope through 
social life, which offers an object for love, and 
implies a relation between subject and object, they 
did not feel the need of a " social God, with all 
the conditions of personal existence internal to 
himself's 

But on the other hand other passages from the 
Upanishads may be cited which point to the con- 
ception of divine unity as being one of nature 
rather than of person. " Whether the All is per- 
sonal or impersonal — is still an unsettled point""* 

^Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad, dL Hopkins, pp. 234-5. 

2 Hopkins, 236. ^ Illingworth, 'Personality, pp. 69-75. 

^Hopkins, p. 219. 



THEISM IN INDIA 23 

" Whether the immortal impersonal was a being 
alive and a personal atma or whether this personal 
being was but a transient form of impersonal im- 
perishable being was a point concerning which the 
sages were in all probability uncertain."^ In one 
passage we have presented to us a personal deity, 
under the Rig Vedic name Prajapati, the father- 
god ; in another passage He is represented as 
Himself proceeding from a material substratum ; 
in mythic form he is Hiranyagarbha, the golden 
embryo, who issued from the world-egg.^ 

The belief of the Upanishads is that there is 
" but one real Being in the universe, which Being 
also constitutes the universe."^ This pantheistic creed 
is spiritualised, the one Being is regarded as spirit ; 
everything material is evanescent, and owes its 
origin to Maya (illusion) alone. 

" There is one only Being who exists. 
Unmoved, yet moving swifter than the mind : 
Who far outstrips the senses, though as gods 
They strive to reach him ; who himself at rest 
Transcends the fleetest flight of other beings ; 
Who like the air, supports all vital action. 
He moves yet moves not ; He is far yet near: 
He is within this universe, and yet 
Outside this universe : whoe'er beholds 



^ Hopkins, p. 238. 

^Barth, p. 68; A. E. Gough, in Encyc. BrzL, gth Ed., article 

Vedanta." - '' 

^M. Williams, Indian Wisdom, p. 34. 



24 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

All living creatures as in Him, and Him 

The universal spirit — as in all, 

Henceforth regards no creature with contempt."^ 

The impersonal character of this spirit is shown by 
the following : "In the beginning, there was the 
mere state of being — one only without second. It 
willed, * I shall multiply and be born.' It created 
heat. That heat willed, ' I shall multiply and be 
born.' It created water." ^ The origin of all things 
is no more personal than heat or water. 

We conclude that in the Upanishads it is pos- 
sible in the more spiritual conception of God, and 
the declaration of the essential unity of man with 
God, to recognise an advance in religious develop- 
ment towards a monotheistic belief; but we do not 
think that the philosophy here propounded is safe- 
guarded against a pantheistic interpretation. The 
language of Jean Paul in one of his dreams is 
descriptive of the religious thought of the Upani- 
shads. In his dream his eye was opened and a 
sea of light filled all Creation ; his heart felt the 
presence of an unspeakable power, swelling in varied 
forms of existence around him. Suns and planets 
were seen to float as mere specks in the ocean of 
life which was revealed to him. . . . But in this 
glorious splendour his guide had vanished. He 

^M, Williams, Indian Wisdom, p. 36. 
•^Ibid., p. 39. 



THEISM IN INDIA 2$ 

was alone in the midst of life.^ The loneliness of 
life as exhibited in the Upanishads is glorious, 
but incompatible with human life : if this be the 
perfect revelation of God, no man can see His 
face and live. 



III. Connection between later Religions 

AND the growing MONOTHEISM. 

Leaving the Upanishads we must in the course 
of our enquiry as to the antecedents of modern 
theism touch but very lightly on those religious 
movements which, while they register a protest 
against the polytheistic and pantheistic tendencies 
of the day, do not contribute a monotheistic solu- 
tion to the problems of life. Thus in the case 
of Buddhism we have a philosophy presented to 
us that starts from different premises from those 
upon which the religions of the world rest. " It 
can only by courtesy be called a religion at all."^ 
" The distinguishing characteristic of Buddhism was 
that it started on a new line, that it looked at the 
deepest questions men have to solve from an 
entirely different standpoint. It swept away from 
the field of its vision the whole of the great soul 

^Jean Paul, cited Westcott, Gospel of Resurrection^ pp. i and 2. 
2 Marcus Dods, Mohammed^ Buddha and Christy p. 129; Wilson, 
Select Works ^ vol. ii., p. 361. 



26 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

theory which had hitherto so completely filled 
and dominated the minds of the superstitious and 
of the thoughtful alike. For the first time in the 
history of the world it proclaimed a salvation which 
each man could gain for himself — without the least 
reference to God, or to gods, either great or 
small." 1 " A system like this, in which our whole 
well-being — past, present, and to come — depends 
on ourselves, leaves little room for a personal 
God."^ Buddhism is the expression of the pessi- 
mistic atheism^ of the age which produced the 
Chokmah literature of the Hebrews ; these latter, 
hoping against hope, by an effort of faith sought 
refuge from pessimism in a theistic creed : " vanity 
of vanities, saith the preacher ; all is vanity." 
" Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter : 
Fear God and keep his commandments"; but Gau- 
tama found the solution not in thought but 
through the glorious inconsistency of his life; 
preaching pessimism, he by active love inspired 
his , followers to optimism ; proclaiming atheism, 
he offered himself to his disciples in the place of 
the Deity. His unselfish love removed the barrier 
of caste, and in him the devotee found refuge. The 
Buddhist's confession of faith is this, "I take refuge 

^ Rhys Davids, Hibbert Lectures^ pp. 28, 29. 
2 Sir W. W. Hunter, Brief History of Indian Peoples, p. 77. 
^ For a definition of the * atheism ' of Buddhism see Westcott, Gospel 
of Life, pp. 166-7. 



THEISM IN INDIA 27 

in Buddha, in the doctrine, in the Church." ^ We 
do not then in Buddhism find that direct advance 
towards monotheism which we believe can be traced 
in the Rig Veda and in the Upanishads ; and 
yet indirectly it has borne fruit. It reacted upon 
Brahmanism and led to fresh efforts being made 
by such men as the 'Revivalist preacher '^ Sankara- 
Acharya to set the theology of the day upon a 
level with the fuller revelation of the Divine in 
human experience. The immediate result was the 
formation of the various schools of philosophy, 
each emphasizing one side of the truth. Of 
Jainism, even though it arose earlier than Buddhism,^ 
we need not speak here, for its distinctive features 
are imperceptible : it has neither the marked diver- 
gence from Brahmanism in its essential principles 
that gives Buddhism its chief interest, nor does 
it differ from Buddhism except in the direction of 
pantheism. The Jains are described as being " of 
all the sects the most colourless and insipid."* 

^Hopkins, pp. 313-321; M. Dods, pp. 181 ff. ; Wilson, Select 
Works, vol. ii., pp. 337-339. 355-357- 

^M. Williams, Hinduisvi, p. 83, *' of whom it has been said thac 
since his short life in the 8th or 9th century everv Hindu sect has had 
to start with a personal God" ; Hunter, Brief History, p. 100. 

^Hopkins, p. 283. For the opposite opinion, vid. Earth, p. lajo sq, 

^ Ibid., p. 296. 



28 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

IV. Monotheistic Tendencies in Saivaism 

AND VAISHNAVISM. 

In Saivaism we have the faith of the Brahmans, 
in Vaishnavism that of the people.^ In the essen- 
tial teaching of the former we find traces of 
monotheistic belief; and we find the same in the 
reforming sects of the latter. Saivaism represents 
the Sankhya system of philosophy, the tendency 
of which is monotheistic, whilst Vaishnavism re- 
presents the pantheistic philosophy of the Vedanta.^ 
" As soon as Saivaism becomes popular and de- 
velops into a religious system for the masses, it 
at once gives up Siva and takes up Vishnu, or 
keeping Siva it drops pantheism and becomes a 
low form of sectarian asceticism. Saivaism is, there- 
fore, fundamentally Unitarian."^ It would seem 
that thoughtful men, in the first centuries after 
the Christian era, whose orthodoxy would not per- 
mit them to accept the atheistic doctrines of Gau- 
tama, and who yet found no rest in the unphilo- 
sophic religion of the Mantra portion of the Vedas, 
turned to Saivaism as offering them the calm re- 
pose that a belief in one Supreme Being can alone 
afford. Saivaism lost its hold upon such men 

"^ Encycl. Bri., 9th Ed., art. "Hindustani," by Charles James Lyall. 
Wilson, Select Works, vol. i., p. 191. 

2 Hopkins, p. 484. ^ Ibid., p. 485. 



THEISM IN INDIA 29 

through the fascination of the Vaishnavite philo- 
sophy, presented with new and living power by 
Sankara-Acharya.^ Pure Saivaism does not appeal 
to facts as such ; its claim upon men for acceptance 
rests upon its correspondence to the requirements 
of man's intellect ; hence the more simple mono- 
theistic belief is out-bidden by the pantheistic 
philosophy which attracts men by the innumerable 
questions which it raises. The failure of Saivaism 
to hold its own is due to its want of connection 
with the facts of life ; it does not, in Northern 
India, offer to its adherents even the semblance 
of an historic faith ; its literature as known in 
Northern India is without the inspiring epic poem, 
so great a source of strength to Vaishnavism and 
Krishnaism ; only in the south where it treats 
local manifestations of Siva as being historical 
persons does it yet rival Vaishnavism; it succeeds 
to the extent that it is inconsistent with itself.^ 
We find then in the stricter form of Saivaism a 
theism, not indeed guarded by clear definitions 
against the charge of being pantheistic,^ but yet 
differing from Vaishnavism as monism from pan- 
theism. And this form of Theism appears to fail 
in its effort to satisfy the needs of men so far as 
it keeps itself pure by seclusion from the world. 

1 Hopkins, pp. 488-9. 2\Yilson, Select Works^ vol. i., pp. 188-190. 
^ Hopkins, p. 484, footnote 2. 



30 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

It claims to speak about, comment upon, interpret 
the facts of life, but it cannot claim these very 
facts as the expression of itself 

Our interest in Vaishnavism, on the other hand, 
centres about its reformers ; about those men who 
could no longer brook the degrading confusion of 
truth and falsehood, of fact and illusion, of right 
and wrong, which belongs to pantheism.^ These 
men sought freedom by the assertion of their 
belief in the unity of the Supreme Being. Of 
these the leading minds were Ramanuja, Madhva, 
Vallabha, and Chaitanya, and, under direct Moham- 
medan influence, Kabir and Nanak ; ^ we will 
briefly enquire into the distinctive characteristics of 
each of these attempts at Theistic reform. 

Ramanuja founded his Protestant sect about 
the middle of the I2th century;^ this sarnpra- 
daya, or sect, was known as the Sri Sampradaya. 
Born in Southern India about the end of the iith 
century, Ramanuja spent the early years of his 
life in converting Saivas to Vaishnavism. Even 
when Saivaism during the reign of Krimi Konda 
Chola had the support of the throne, Ramanuja 
refused to conform to its teaching, and had to 

^ For an account of the reformer Swami Narayan, see Hinduism^ 
M. Williams, pp. 145-6. Heber, Indian Journal^ vol. ii., pp. 108 sq. 

2 Royal Asiatic Society, M. Williams, Indian Theistic Reformers^ 
p. 2. 

3 Wilson, Select Works^ vol. i., pp. 35 sq. Barth, p. 194. 



THEISM IN INDIA 31 

escape for his life to Mysore. This shows him 
to have been faithful to the Vaishnavite body, 
although ready himself to differ from his teachers 
on certain points. In opposition to Vedantic 
Vaishnavism, Ramanuja and his followers have 
maintained that the Deity is endowed with all 
good qualities and with twofold form, the supreme 
spirit, the cause, and the gross spirit, the effect 
or matter.^ So far as the former, the Paramatma, 
is concerned, we find unity and that distinct from 
the world, but this supreme spirit finds its comple- 
ment in the gross spirit which is one with the 
world, and here lies the foundation of pantheism. 
The Deity is not in the fulness of his nature, but 
only in one form, distinct from the world. Hence 
not Vishnu alone, but also Laksmi and their re- 
spective incarnations are objects of worship to the 
Ramanujas.2 The conception of an incarnation is 
clearly that of a " conversion of the Godhead into 
flesh," not of " the taking of the manhood into 
God." 

Madhva, or Ananda-Tirtha, was born about 
1200 A.D.^ All the Madhavas are Brahmans, for 
Ananda-Tirtha was a strict observer of caste dis- 
tinctions.* He himself encouraged idolatry, treat- 

^ Wilson, Select Works, vol. ii., p. 43. Hopkins, pp. 497 sq, 

2 Wilson, Select Works, vol. ii., p. 38. 

•■^Wilson, p. 139, gives 1121 a.D. as date of his birth. 
^Barth, p. 196. ^ ' 



32 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

ing an image of sacred clay recovered from a 
submerged vessel as an object for special devotion.^ 
The Madhavas identify Vishnu with the Supreme 
Spirit, as the pre-existent cause of the universe, 
from which, however, it is essentially distinct ; yet 
this distinction is not that between spirit and 
matter, but between absolute being and life, be- 
tween the Supreme Spirit and the principle of life, 
between the Jivatma and the Paramatma.^ Thus 
it seems that the Madhavas may be regarded as 
monotheistic so far as the Deity is to them an 
abstract conception apart from life, but when they 
think of the Deity as living their faith tends to 
become pantheistic ; in life spirit and matter are 
united, though not thereby becoming identically the 
same.^ When in all living being is recognized the 
presence of God, and absolute lifeless Divine Being 
is the object of enthusiastic devotion, pantheistic 
idolatry appears to be inevitable. Such pantheism 
is excluded when the Deity is regarded as a 
Being independent for His life of the life which 
surrounds Him, as having life in Himself Through 
separating the Supreme Spirit from life, Ananda- 
Tirtha and his followers have made a pure mono- 
theism untenable, for the God whom they seek is 
the God of the living, and must therefore be Him- 

^ Wilson, Select Works ^ vol. ii., pp. 140, 141. 
^Jbid., pp. 143-4. ^ Ibid., pp. 144-5, footnote 4. 



THEISM IN INDIA 33 

self the source of life ; if life be not essentially in 
Him it must be sought elsewhere, and the faith of 
the seekers becomes dualistic. 

Vallabha, who was born in 1479,^ proclaimed a 
doctrine of pure non-dualism (Suddhadvaita). As 
a consequence of this he taught that to renounce 
well-being was to insult the Deity ,2 teaching which 
has been carried by his disciples to excess and 
made the excuse for licentious indulgence of the 
grossest kind. The object of adoration amongst 
the Vallabhas is the infant Krishna, as Bdlago- 
pala,^ who is regarded as one with the universe,* 
which derives its existence from him. He is 
exempt from Maya (illusion) and all qualities, 
eternal alone, the supreme soul of the world f yet 
he himself gave birth to Maya and to all the 
divine beings — Vishnu, Brahma, Durga, Radha, and 
others. In this sect we can see but little progress 
towards monotheism beyond the protest against a 
theism that separates God from life; Krishna is 
formally recognized as supreme, but his worship- 
pers are ready to recognize other gods, holding 
subordinate positions, as yet sharing his nature. 

1 Williams, Hinduism^ p. 143. [Hopkins, p. 504, regards Val- 
labha Swami as founder of the sect, i6th cent. ; see Wilson, p. 120.] 
^Barth, p. 234. 
^The child shepherd. 

* Wilson, Select Works ^ vol. i., p. 121, footnote i. 
^ Ibid.^ pp. 122-3. 

C 



34 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

We see no distinction drawn between the spiritual 
and material, divine and human, but between the 
Maker and the made : the distinction between 
Krishna and man is not one of nature but of rela- 
tive position ; the former creating man clothes the 
formless with illusive form, the eternal divine with 
transitory matter ; so far as anything is it is divine. 
Such a doctrine when held by men, who by the 
conditions of their life are compelled to act upon 
the assumption that the things they see and feel 
are real, becomes pantheistic, as they forget to 
regard their surroundings as illusive (the effect of 
Maya) they look upon them as divine. This dis- 
tinction between Maker and made is not sufficient 
to prevent confusion of thought and worship when 
the nature of both is regarded as the same. Such 
a difficulty arises from the assumption of the 
eternity of matter, if real, or else its illusiveness, 
on the principle ' out of nothing can nothing be 
made.^ 

Caitanya. The sect which takes its name 
from Caitanya is a yet more lamentable instance 
than the last of the degradation of a society which 
claimed to reform that body from which it sprang. 
Its founder was born in 1485. His nature was 
emotional to an extreme. His devotion was offered 

^ For the assertion of the contrary principle, see Rufinus in Sym- 
bolum Apostoloruniy cit. Heurtley, p. 132, Omnis creatura ex nihilo est. 



THEISM IN INDIA 35 

to Krishna, and was of a sensuous type, that 
of epco9 rather than of ayaTrrj, of natural affection 
than of disciplined will.^ It seems probable that 
he lost his life through drowning in the Jumna 
when in a state of half-conscious ecstasy.^ The 
Caitanyas worship Krishna as the Supreme Spirit 
and both the cause and substance of creation ; as 
Creator he is Brahma, as Preserver Vishnu, as 
Destroyer Siva, and yet only one God. Even as 
He reveals a distinct face (irpocrwirov) under vary- 
ing circumstances, so also He reveals Himself to 
man, when occasion demands, as an incarnation 
(Avartara). The effect, as well as purpose, of 
such a declaration of monotheism as this, in the 
face of virtual pantheism, has been to supersede 
the necessity of self-denial and effort of mind or 
body. The purpose of man's life will be fulfilled 
if he devotes himself absolutely, without restraint, 
in affectionate love (Bhakti) to the person of 
Krishna, which person may for a time be a human 
being. We need not dwell upon the obvious 
dangers attending such a false monotheism as this ; 
the declaration of the unity of God demands that 
those who worship Him should do so without 
reserve, but they who obey this call and yet seek 
Him in the world, instead of through the world, 

^Hopkins, pp. 503-4; Bhattacharjee, pp. 459-471. 
2 Wilson, Select Works, pp. 155-61. 



36 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

are in a worse position than any polytheist ; ignor- 
ing the distinction between the good and the evil 
which is present in this world, they consecrate 
themselves to any form or being that appeals to 
them, as though it alone had a claim upon them. 
A polytheist may at least choose as his favourite 
deity the pure and the good, and neglect the 
immoral, but he who sees but one Being mani- 
fested alike in pure and filthy forms is bound to 
lose what sense of moral goodness he ever 
possessed. 

Kabir. In that reforming sect, the rise and 
tenets of which we now make the subject of our 
enquiry, we can distinctly trace the influence of 
Islam. Such an influence can indeed be seen in 
some of those religious bodies which we have 
already mentioned, for it is probable that their 
monotheism was the result of contact with Mu- 
hammedanism rather than with Christianity ; ^ but 
in the case of Kabir and his followers we are 
left no longer in doubt as to such connection 
with Islam. Kabir himself is said by some to 
have been born in the Muhammedan faith.^ Setting 
aside the legendary account of his life of 300 

1 Hopkins, p. 509; Barth., pp. 211, 212. 

^Encyc. Brit.y article on "Hindustani Literature," by C. T. Lyall ; 
Barth., p. 240. 

For the contrary opinion see Wilson, Select IVorks, vol. i., p. 69, 
note 74. 



THEISM IN INDIA 37 

years upon earth, it is thought that he lived in 
the early part of the 15th century.^ He showed 
great boldness in his attacks upon idolatrous 
worship, though at the same time he permitted 
the adoration of various deities as representing 
one God. His object was to unite Hindus and 
Muhammedans in a common faith. The Universal 
Name of the One Being he proclaimed to be 
" The Inner," whether invoked as Allah by Mu- 
hammedans or as Rama by Hindus.^ Of his 
followers, such as live in the world conform out- 
wardly to the usages of their tribe and caste, 
but those who are free from the fetters of social 
life abstain from all the ordinary practices, and 
address their homage exclusively to the invisible 
Kabir.^ An accepted maxim with them is this : 
" Associate and mix with all, and take the names 
of all ; say to everyone : ' yes, sir ; yes, sin' " ^ 

The One God whom they worship has a body 
formed of the five elements of matter — he is 
able to assume any shape he will. He is not 
essentially different from man. He is eternal 
even as the matter of which he consists is eternal. 

^Wilson, Select Works ^ vol. i., pp. 71, 72 sq.; Barth., p. 238; 
Hunter, Brief History, p. 104. 

2 M. Williams, Hiftduisnty p. 142 ; Hunter, Brief History, p. 104 ; 
Wilson, Select Works, vol. i., pp. 7-9 sq. 

'Wilson, Select Works, vol. i., p. 75. 

-* Jbid., p. 75, iv. 



38 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

God and man are in the same manner everything 
that lives and moves and has its being. The 
differences between man and man of faith, of 
hope, and of fear, are due to Maya, illusion, 
originating with the Divine Being.^ 

As we try to estimate the value of the teaching 
of Kabir, the hopelessness of making any progress 
through mere syncretism is forced upon us. The 
reformer's labour appears fruitless when he breaks 
down idols, only to become, against his will, him- 
self the object of idolatrous worship. The power 
of Islam opened the mind of Kabir to the need 
of recognizing the Unity of God, and he set 
himself whole-heartedly to do so, greeting Mu- 
hammedans as his brothers in the truth ; but the 
conception of unity which he possessed was not 
that which lent force to I slam, ^ that was a Unity 
of Person, his was a Unity of Nature. It is true 
that the belief in God as One Person is sadly 
defective, and does not correspond to the fulness 
of life ; but it was this narrow creed that, by its 
simplicity and clear definition, separated Moslems 
from * Infidels,' and at least helped to make 
Muhammedanism a power. ^ The creed of Mu- 
hammed has been regarded by some Christians 

^Wilson, Se/ecf IVorks^ vol. i., pp. 91-92; Encycl. Brit.y article 
*' Hindustani Literature. " 

2 Maurice, Religions of the Worlds p. 21. 
'^Ibid.y p. 22. 



THEISM IN INDIA 39 

as a necessary stage in the religious development of 
a nation ^ ; by separating God from the world it 
makes clear the relative position of God above, 
and man below, of Maker and made ; it shows 
idolatry to be what it is. But Kabir did not 
accept the principle upon which Islam rests ; and 
although he tried, he tried in vain, to enforce its 
precepts. He would not relax his hold of that 
which he was assured was true, that God's relation 
to man is that of a Father. He tried to enforce 
Muhammedan precepts upon the basis of Hindu 
principles, monotheistic teaching upon a pantheistic 
foundation, and failed. He failed because the 
solution of the problem in the actual course of 
history had not been made known to him. 

Nanak. Where Kabir failed Nanak, in the 
eyes of the world, succeeded ; he alone of Hindu 
Reformers founded a national religion. ^ It is 
important that we should seek the answer to the 
question : ' Why did the pupil succeed where the 
teacher failed ? ' ' Was the success of Nanak 
due to any essential difference between his system 
and that of Kabir, or to the different circumstances 
of the times ? ' Nanak Shah was born near 
Lahore at the end of the 1 5th century. Follow- 
ing in the steps of his predecessor, Kabir, he 

^Trench, Mediaeval Church History^ p. 56. 
2 Wilson, Select Works, vol. L, p. 69. 



40 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

attempted to combine Hinduism with Islam, pro- 
mulgating his doctrines in the Adi Granth (First 
Book), which prohibits idol worship, and teaches 
the Unity of God pantheistically.^ This book has 
become an object of worship.^ Nanak's teaching 
differed from that of Kabir in his general accept- 
ance of the principles of Vedantic philosophy, 
which involve the denial of any qualit}^ or form 
in the Divine Being ; ^ his teaching is therefore 
not so grossly pantheistic as that of the latter ; 
he accounted for phenomena by the Vedantic 
assumption of Maya, illusion. In its devotional 
aspect his teaching is beautiful in its recognition 
of the Fatherhood of God, as is shown in the 
following lines: 

" Thou art the Lord — to thee be praise ; 
All life is with thee. 
Thou art my parents, I am thy child — 
All happiness is derived from thy clemency." 

Yet it is not to this recognition of the Father- 
hood of God, nor to the principle of bhakti 
(devotion), which was held in common with other 
reformers, who based their distinctive teaching on 
Vedantic philosophy, that we can attribute the 
power over men of the Sikh religion. Its power 

^ Sir M. Williams, Indian Wisdom^ p. 325, note. 
"^^SX^Xin^ Select Works, vq\. i., p. 268, vol. ii., p. 14 1, " they worship the 
visible type of the Khalsa (national identity, vid.ibid.^-p. 135) in the book." 
^ Ibid., pp. 269 and 91. 



THEISM IN INDIA 41 

was due to a principle adopted from the creed 
of the Mussulman, viz., the worship of force as 
such. Had not his successors advanced upon the 
creed of Nanak, it is probable that the Sikhs or 
* disciples ' would never have been known as a 
nation ; but the tenth Guru, or master, Guru 
Govind, established the worship of the sword. In 
the weakness of the theology of Nanak we may 
indeed see that which led to the political strength 
of the Sikh religion, but this does not alter our 
estimate of his teaching. Because Nanak failed 
to offer to his disciples a revelation of God 
which should make them satisfied in worshipping 
Him alone, they had recourse to hero-worship, re- 
garding Nanak and his successors as Incarnations 
of the Divine ; in this way individual men came 
to have supreme power over their countrymen, 
and a monarchy being thus established on a 
religious basis, it needed but the fitting occasion 
to transform it into a military and political power, 
and this was done by the fifth Guru — Guru Arjun — 
and yet more markedly by Guru Govind,^ who 
" threw open his faith and cause to all castes, to 
whomsoever chose to abandon the institutes of 
Hinduism, or belief in the mission of Muhammed, 
for a fraternity of arms and a life of predatory 

^Barth., pp. 245-6 (according to Wilson, Select Works^ vol. ii., p. 
127, Arjun was the 4th Guru, after Nanak) ; Hopkins, p. 511. 



42 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

daring.^ The orders issued to his disciples, who 
now assumed the title Singh (lion), by their 
religious and military head were these : "If you 
meet a Muhammedan, kill him ; if you meet a 
Hindu, beat and plunder him."^ So entirely had 
the sword become the object of their worship 
that Govind required every Sikh to wear upon 
his person some emblem of steel ;^ loyalty to 
their one leader seems to have taken the place 
of their consecration to One God, their salutation 
being, ''Hurrah for the Unity of the Guru."^ Cir- 
cumstances over which Nanak and his successors 
had no control did, without doubt, tend to make 
their creed a national one. Thus the persecution 
of non-Mussulmans by Aurangzeb, in 1677,^ united 
the Hindu sects of Northern India, and turned 
the Sikhs from quietism to militarism. The 
disciples of Nanak have made for themselves a 
name in history, but they have done so not owing 
to, but in spite of, their religion, not through 
exalting it, but by destroying it ; it is said to-day 
that " the Sikh religion scarcely deserves the 
name of a religious faith." ^ Looked upon as a 

^ Wilson, Select Works^ vol. i. , p. 273. 
• '^Hopkins, p. 512; Wilson, Select Works^ vol. ii., p. 143. 
^Wilson, Select Works ^ vol. ii., pp. 129 and 131. 

* Ibid.,^. 129. 

. ^Hunter, Brie/ //istory,. p. 148; also pp. 151-213. 

* Wilson, Select Works, vol. ii., p. 149. 



THEISM IN INDIA 43 

religious movement, that which had Nanak Shah 
as its leader seems to share in the failure that 
met the attempts of Kabir at reformation, and 
for the same reason, viz., its shallow syncretism 
which ignores fundamental divergencies of belief 



THE RISE OF THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 

Having followed from the earliest times the 
various efforts made by the ancestors of the natives 
of modern India to formulate a pure Theistic 
Creed, we are now in a position to judge the 
character, and to some extent the future, of the 
two Theistic Societies, the Brahmo Samaj and the 
Arya Samaj. 

The Brahmo Samaj owes its origin to the labours 
of the great and good man Rajah Rammohun Roy, 
who was born in 1772 and died in England in 
1833.^ His character of patient endurance in the 
cause of what to him seemed to be the truth was 
shown even in his earliest years. At the age of 
sixteen he composed a tract against idolatry. In 
this pamphlet we see the result of the union in a 
thoughtful mind of the opposite doctrines of Islam 

^S.B.E., vol. I., p. Ixii., footnote, gives 1774 as the date of his birth, 
as also does Slater, TAe Brahma Samaj ^ p. 23. I accept the date given 
by M. M. Williams, R.A.S. Journal. Jan. 1881, p. 4, Encyc. Brit,, 
9th Ed. article, " The Brahma Samaj." 



THE RISE OF THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 45 

and Vaishnavism. In his college life at Patna he 
listened to the greatest Muhammedan teachers, at 
home he came under the influence of his pious 
Vaishnavite parents. At school he learned to de- 
spise the extravagant stories of the Puranas, at 
home he learned the need of a kindlier creed 
than that of Muhammed — no wonder then that he 
sought even so early in life to unite these opposing 
creeds in one that should satisfy the demands alike 
of head and of heart. ^ The publication of his 
first tract stirred up such a feeling of animosity 
against him that he had to leave his home ; he 
betook himself first to Benares, where he received 
instruction in the Vedas from the learned Brahmans, 
to which caste he himself belonged. From there 
he went to Thibet that he might learn the tenets 
of Buddhism from its adherents rather than its 
opponents ; his genuine desire to form a fair judg- 
ment of the merits of every creed being further 
evidenced by his learning the language in which 
each of these finds its expression : thus he studied 
Sanskrit that he might rightly understand the 
Vedas, Pali that he might read the Buddhist Tripi- 
taka, Arabic as the key to the Quran, Hebrew as 
that to the Old, and Greek as that to the New 
Testament. 

^R.A.S. Journal, Jan. 188 1, p. 4 sq. ; S.B.E., vol. I., p. Ixii. ; M. 
Carpenter's Life, pp. 37 sq. 



46 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

At the age of twenty he returned to his home, 
where the affection of his father, conquering his 
religious prejudices, gave him a warm welcome. 
Consideration for his father's feelings acted as a 
restraint upon him until the latter's death in 1803, 
Shortly after this his brothers also died, and Ram- 
mohun Roy succeeded to their share, as well as 
his own, in his late father's property. He thus 
became more free than at any previous time to 
follow the bent of his own inclinations, and he 
now spent a considerable sum of money in the 
free distribution of his various works, notably of 
his pamphlet, Against the Idolatry of All Religions^ 
which was written originally in Persian. Yet the 
possession of wealth which in one way made him 
independent, became in another a serious hindrance 
to his projects, for the tenure of his property de- 
pended upon his formal retention of the customs 
of his caste. This fact had considerable influence 
upon the character of that movement of which he 
was leader : Rammohun Roy had constantly to 
declare that he had no intention of breaking away 
from the religion of his ancestors, but wished to 
restore it to its original purity. Accordingly he 
was not satisfied with publishing criticisms of 
various forms of idolatry, but undertook the trans- 
lation into Bengali, Hindustani and English of an 
abridgment of the Vedanta, and of selected por- 



THE RISE OF THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 47 

tions of the Veda ; of the latter the Upanishads 
appealed to him more than the earlier Mantra 
portions, because of their lofty tone and correspond- 
ence to his own spiritual yearnings ; he did not 
hesitate, however, even in the publication of these 
books, to omit portions at his own discretion ; his 
individual judgment was to be the test of worth.^ 

At this period of his life he held office under 
the British Government as Dewan or managing officer, 
his early antipathy to the English having been 
overcome ; his character was such that he was 
highly valued by his employers and was able to 
make a considerable income by his profession ; 
after ten years spent in this office, during which 
his attitude towards the idolatry of his fellow- 
countrymen became increasingly antagonistic, he 
was able to retire to an estate, which he purchased, 
in a suburb of Calcutta. This was in the year 
1814.^ At his private house he now gathered a 
considerable number of Hindu and Jain friends 
from the neighbouring city and led them by his 
conversation to recognize the need to restore their 
faith to its original form, casting aside all contem- 
poraneous or later idolatrous accretions. We notice 
that the retention of any part of the Sacred Scrip- 

"^ S.B.E., vol. I., pp. Ixiii. sq. ; R. A. S. Journal, Jan. 1881, pp. 4-5 ; 
Slater, pp. 24-26 ; R. R.'s Last Days, pp. 3-8. 

^ R. A. S. Journal, ci. sup., pp. 5-7; Slater, p. 24; R. R.^s Last 
Days, p. 4. 



48 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

tures was to depend not upon its early date but 
upon its intrinsic value. In 1 8 1 5 he and his 
friends resolved to form a society amongst them- 
selves for spiritual improvement ; to this body was 
given the name of " Atmiya Sabha," " Spiritual 
Society." However, the opposition raised by 
Brahmans, who were present at some of their dis- 
cussions, and whose arguments were swept aside 
by the Reformers, proved too great and this society 
gradually dissolved. Rammohun Roy was now 
forced to look more than ever to foreigners for the 
sympathy and moral support which his countrymen 
were not yet ready to give him. Doubtless the 
fact that Christians warmly supported him led him 
to form the more favourable opinion of the teaching 
of the Founder of Christianity; in 1820 he pub- 
lished a selection, chiefly from the Synoptic Gospels, 
of the sayings of Christ, under the title. The Precepts 
of Jesus, the Guide to Peace and Happiness!' ^ Of 
the character of this work and of the motives which 
led to its production, we will reserve our judgment 
until we sum up the teaching of Rammohun Roy 
as a whole. The immediate result of the publica- 
tion was a warm controversy between The Friend of 
India ^ and the author ; the latter appealed to the 

^ R. A. S, Journal^ cit. sup.^ p. 8; Slater, pp. 25-26; Last Days^ 
p. 10. 

2 A publication of the Serampore Christian missionaries. 



THE RISE OF THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 49 

Christian Public against the charge of anti-Christian 
teaching. Up to this point the controversy had 
been carried on under pseudonyms, but on the ap- 
pearance of this " First Appeal," Dr. Marshman of 
Serampore College entered the lists against Ram- 
mohun Roy, who also now declared his identity, 
and wrote two answers : the ' Second ' and the 
* Final ' Appeal to the charges made against him. 
These documents form valuable evidence as to the 
nature of his teaching. ^ 

Amongst the Christians with whom Rammohun 
Roy came in contact was a Mr. Wm. Adam, one 
of the Serampore missionaries ; this man welcomed 
the efforts at reform which Rammohun Roy was 
making, and the latter became for some time a 
regular attendant at services conducted by him. 
Little by little Rammohun Roy gained such 
influence over his friend that Mr. Adam became 
a Unitarian ; this success in inducing a Christian 
teacher to embrace his own views encouraged 
Rammohun Roy to start a religious community 
which should include foreigners as well as his own 
countrymen amongst its members. His aspirations 
appear thus to have risen from the mere reform 
of the Hindu Faith to the establishment of an 
universal religion. In 1828 this, the seed of the 

^/^.^.S. Journal, cit. sup., pp. 8-1 1 ; Slater, pp. 25-26; Last Days, 
pp. 11-16. 

D 



so THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

Theistic Church of India was sown; in 1830 the 
buildings of the Society were opened, and a trust- 
deed drawn up in which the building was set apart 
for services conducted according to the principles 
of the Brahma Sabha or Brahmiya Samaj, that is 
to say " The Assembly or Society of God."^ It 
was at the same period of his life that Rammohun 
Roy attained great success in the direction of 
social reform, for it was mainly owing to his efforts 
and more especially to his showing that the practice 
of Suttee found no sanction in the Vedas, that 
this abominable custom was made illegal in British 
India in the year 1829.^ With the foundation of 
the Brahmo-Samaj we are brought to the close of 
this brief sketch of its founder's life ; alike in the 
social and the religious spheres of his labour he 
had met with marked success, but he felt that 
this needed to be pushed farther by his visiting 
England ; he hoped by his presence there to 
prevent the possible repeal of the law against 
Suttee, and also to enlist the sympathies of 
Christians in England on behalf of those who 
were trying to enlighten their fellow-countrymen. 
At the close of the year 1830 he left India, and 
after two and a half years spent in the eager 

^ Mozoomdar, p. 231 ; R.A.S. Journal, cit. sup,, pp. lo-ii ; Slater, 
pp. 26-27 '■) Encyc. Brit., 9th Ed., article '* Brahma Samaj." 

^ Sir M. M. Williams, Religious Thought and Life in India, cap. xix. 



THE RISE OF THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 51 

prosecution of his duties in Europe he died on 
September 27th, 1833.^ We are more concerned 
now with the nature of his work than with the 
character of the man, and yet the two cannot be 
separated, his great abiHties and the enforced 
limitations of his early environment have alike 
left their mark for good and for evil upon the 
society he founded. Both the writings of the 
man and the trust-deed of the first meeting-house 
of the Brahmo-Samaj witness to a noble spirit of 
liberality, which finds its source in deep love of 
man as man. The following is an extract from 
the trust-deed referred to, and is quoted at some 
length because of its importance. '' For the worship 
and adoration of the eternal, unsearchable, im- 
mutable Being, who is the Author and Preserver 
of the Universe, but not under and by any other 
name, designation or title, peculiarly used for, and 
applied to any particular being or beings by any 
men or set of men whatsoever ";..." and 
that, in conducting the said worship and adoration, 
no object, animate or inanimate, that has been, 
or is, or shall hereafter become ... an object 
of worship by any men or set of men, shall be 
reviled or slightingly or contemptuously spoken 
of, or alluded to, either in preaching, or in the 
hymns or other mode of worship, that may be 

"^ R. A. S. Journal, cit. sup.^ pp. 13-14 ; Slater, pp. 28-29. 



52 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

delivered or used in the said messuage or build- 
ing. . . ."^ This declaration at once guards 
the Theistic worship to which it refers from pan- 
theistic idolatry, and prevents any direct or indirect 
attack upon opposing creeds. Man is to be won 
to the truth only by its declaration, not by the 
denunciation of all that is opposed to it. Pleasing 
as such an attitude is to our minds, we doubt 
whether it be that which is best calculated to 
lead to the promotion of the truth in the world 
as it is : it is hardly that of a church militant. 
We may contrast with the language of this trust- 
deed that used by the Apostle St. Paul in de- 
nouncing the idolatrous practices into which he 
saw a tendency amongst Christians to relapse. 
" Flee from idolatry " . . . "is that which is 
offered to idols anything ? or is an idol anything ? 
No ! but the things that the nations offer, they 
offer to devils and not to God." ^ We take it that 
the state of the world is such that man can, as a 
whole, be brought to the truth only by the contrast 
between darkness and light, truth and falsehood, 
being forced upon him ; before he can learn to 
desire enlightenment the horror of the darkness 
that envelops him must be revealed ; many in- 

^ Encyc. Brit., 9th ed., article by Sir W. W. Hunter, "Brahma 
Samaj.*' 

^Ellinwood, pp. 115-219; i Cor. x, 14, 19, 20. 



THE RISE OF THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 53 

dividual men there are, like Rammohun Roy himself, 
whose moral balance seems from early youth to 
be on the side of goodness, and such men may 
find what they need in the revelation of goodness 
alone ; gazing upon this they are raised from grace 
to grace, from imperfection to a perfect moral 
beauty ^ ; but a religion that claims to be universal 
must, we think, be aggressive^ as well as con- 
templative ; even amongst those who have become 
its adherents there must be many whose temptation 
to relapse into idolatry needs to be counteracted 
by the stern denunciation of the evil, as well as 
by the commendation of the good, and this not 
only in questions of morals, but also in questions 
of faith. The writings of Rammohun Roy himself 
at an earlier period of his life, when he was brought 
into close contact with idolatry in his own home, 
bear witness to the need of assuming an aggres- 
sive attitude ; thus he did not hesitate at that 
time to denounce idol-worship as " the source of 
prejudice and superstition, and of the total de- 
struction of moral principle, as countenancing 
criminal intercourse, suicide, female murder and 
human sacrifice."^ As his circumstances changed 
and he found himself the centre of a circle of 

^ Westcott, Gospel of the Resurrection^ p. 9. 

'^Westcott, Epp. of St, John^ p. 264, "Essay on the Church and 
the World." 

'^ K.A.S. Journal.^ cit, s'up.y p. 7. 



54 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

friends like-minded with himself, and the possibility 
of removing such gross scandals as Suttee by such 
secular means as legislation presented itself to him, 
we think that he became more optimistic and 
underrated the moral and spiritual degradation 
with which he had to do ; to this undue optimism, 
rather than to his " too lively sense of the value 
of money," ^ do we attribute the vague and com- 
prehensive liberality of his later years. We should 
not have entered upon this criticism of the liberality 
of the Brahmo-Samaj at this period of its history, 
did we not identify its underlying cause with that 
which prevented Rammohun Roy from acknow- 
ledging the Divinity of Jesus Christ. The optimism 
of the Indian Reformer may be regarded as due 
to his failure to estimate the nature of sin and of 
its results in the world. That greatest of all 
mysteries,^ the forgiveness of sins, was to him no 
mystery at all. His conception of the state of 
man is illustrated by a conversation he had with 
a lady on the subject of * original sin ' ; being 
asked whether he believed in it, he replied, " I 
believe it is a doctrine which in many well-regulated 
minds has tended to promote humility, the first of 
Christian virtues ; for my own part, I have never 

^ R. A. S. Journal^ cit. sup. ^ \1. 

^Westcott, Historic Faith, pp. 130 sq ', Dale, The Atonement^ 
pp. 315* 316, 348. 



THE RISE OF THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 55 

been able to see the evidence of it."^ As we 
read his words on the forgiveness of sins we see 
little essential difference between his doctrine and 
that of Gautama; both alike held a subjective 
view, and one which makes them independent for 
forgiveness of any action on the part of God ; 
forgiveness, they both thought, could come through 
the suffering of the sinner, either, as Gautama, 
throughout the ages until sin be ' paid for,' or as 
Rammohun Roy by the sorrow of repentance 
even in this life. In support of his views the 
latter writer quoted passages from the Old and 
New Testaments in which " the forgiveness of God 
is said to be obtainable by sincere repentance, as 
required of sinners by the Redeemer."^ This 
argument from the Christian Scriptures will have 
but little weight with those who, recognizing a 
progressive revelation in the course of history, do 
not look to find the whole truth in the pages of 
the Old Testament,^ and who set side by side 
with those texts in the New Testament which 
speak of repentance as necessary to the obtaining 
of forgiveness, those many other passages which 
present Christ to us as the objective means through 
which we are pardoned, as being Himself the 

li?. R:s Last Days, p. 112, '^ Ibid, p. 13. 

^Not that we can ignore the O.T. teaching of the need of an 
objective propitiation inculcated by the typical sacrifices. 



56 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

propitiation for our sins. The thought that was 
ever uppermost in the mind of Rammohun Roy 
was the improvement morally, and in every other 
way, of the human race ; it was their ' improve- 
ment ' rather than their ' salvation.'^ It is natural 
that a man's estimation of the character of his 
deliverer should correspond to his sense of the 
danger from which he is delivered ; it is only when 
man has abandoned all hope of gaining forgive- 
ness through human effort, that he can recognize 
Him as Divine Who has power on earth to forgive 
sins.^ 

In one direction the reforming work of Ram- 
mohun Roy will be of permanent value ; we think 
that he turned into a right channel that tendency 
towards united action which had been debased 
into a hard and fast system of caste. Each caste 
is, in the first place, a trade guild. Its members 
support one another in the event of a trade dis- 
pute, and combine to prevent the employment of 
those who do not belong to their body.^ In caste, 
exclusiveness is the correlative of brotherly union. 
Now other reformers before Rammohun Roy had 
protested against this narrow exclusiveness, but 

^Trench, Hulsean Lectures ^ 1846, p. 207, •* It was not seen how 
man had ceased to be a Son of God. " 

2 Dale, The Atonement^ pp. 315-6, 338. 

^ Hunter, Brief History^ pp. 27, 28 ; M. Williams, Hinduism, 
PP- 153-4. 



THE RISE OF THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 57 

the results of their protests were either that caste 
was ignored only at the moment of intense religious 
excitement, and resumed its sway as soon as the 
worshippers returned to their ordinary occupations, 
or else that a series of new castes took the place 
of the old. 

The reason of their failure to destroy the 
power for evil, that the system of castes possesses, 
was this, that its power for good was not utilized 
by those who would abolish it. The need of 
common action, of a brotherhood realized in life, 
was felt so intensely that efforts of a merely 
negative character to do away with caste met, 
and we may say met happily, with no lasting re- 
sponse. What was needed, and is needed still, 
was the full recognition of the principle of brother- 
hood, not in worship only but also in daily life, 
and this brotherhood must be shown to include all 
human beings ; such a brotherhood can only be 
realized through having as its centre one who is 
unfettered by the bonds of society or even of 
nationality, one who is indeed the Son of Man ; 
so far as Rammohun Roy led men to Christ as 
" The Guide to Peace and Happiness " he formed 
them into an all-inclusive Universal Brotherhood.^ 
He is said to have been the first to introduce public 

^ Cambridge Mission to Delhi. Occasional Paper ^ No. 1 5, Bp. of 
Lahore. 



58 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

worship and united prayer amongst Hindus.^ He 
may not himself have recognized in full the power 
of the Name of Jesus, but he did to some degree 
see in Him the " Way " to God, and preaching 
God revealed through Jesus, he gave to men as 
the attractive object of their united worship One 
Who is all things to all men, regardless of birth 
or attainments. 

It remains for us to consider the attitude adopted 
by Rammohun Roy towards the Sacred Scriptures, 
the Vedas, and the Bible. The Vedas he defended 
against the charge of inculcating idolatry on the 
ground that, though tolerating it as a last pro- 
vision for those who are otherwise incapable of 
contemplating the invisible God of Nature, they 
repeatedly urge the relinquishment of the rites of 
idol-worship.^ It does not seem to have occurred 
to him to defend one part at the cost of any other, 
claiming as a reason for doing so the composite 
character of these books. Yet he did not hesitate 
to make himself and other men the final judges 
as to what parts of the Vedas, Quran, Zand-Avasta 
and Bible are to be accepted as the truth of God. 
' The only test of the validity of any doctrine was 
its conformity to the natural and healthy working 

^ J^.A.S. Journal, cit. sup,, p. 12; Mozoomdar, p. 24 ; Brahvio 
Year Book for iS'jg, p. 27. 
^ R.A.S. Journal, cit, sup,, p. 6. 



THE RISE OF THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 59 

of man's reason, and the intuitions and cravings 
of the human heart.' ^ We may contrast this atti- 
tude of Rammohun Roy with that of Tertullian, 
who in questions of faith recognized the value of 
historic tradition for the right interpretation of 
Scripture.^ The former seems to us to ignore one 
of the most important means of arriving at the 
truth, when he regards himself and his contem- 
poraries as being in an equally favourable position 
to form an opinion with those who possess a system 
of interpretation handed down from the time that 
the writings came into existence. It is only natural 
that Rammohun Roy should have ignored this 
factor in the formation of a sound judgment when 
in the case of the Vedas the commentaries were 
obviously of a far later date than the texts to 
which they were appended, and when, in the case 
of the Old Testament writings, mystic interpretation 
had taken the place of a once historic tradition ; 
yet none the less did he suffer loss through dis- 
carding tradition as a key to the interpretation of 
the New Testament writings, which has been 

^ R.A.S. /., cit. sup., p. 10. 

2 Tertullian : de haeret, § 6, Nobis vero nihil ex nostro arbitrio inducere 
licet, sed nee eligere quod aliquis de arbitrio suo induxerit. Apostolos 
Domini habemus auctores, qui nee ipsi quidquam ex suo arbitrio, quod 
inducerent, elegerunt : sed acceptam a Christo disciplinam fideliter 
nationibus assignaverunt, § 37, Constat . . . non esse admittendos 
hereticos ad ineundam de Scripturis provocationem, quos sine Scripturis 
probamus ad Scripturas non pertinere. 



6o THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

securely kept through the unbroken succession of 
the historic Church. We must bear in mind when 
we consider his publication The Precepts of Jesus, 
that he treated the New Testament scriptures apart 
from their historic setting, even as though they 
had been written in his own day. It is this that 
accounts for his extravagant censorship, by which 
he excluded every fact of our Lord's life which 
he thought would not commend itself as true to 
the minds of his readers. Thus he excluded the 
accounts of Christ's miracles except where they were 
inextricably interwoven with His sayings, although 
he himself professed to believe the crowning miracle 
of the Resurrection.^ 

Since he had approached the Truth through 
tearing himself away from old associations, it is 
not to be wondered at that he maintained that it 
is necessary to right thought to be independent 
of the thought of others ; thus he says that the 
duty of parents is not so much to impart to their 
children their own belief, as to prepare their minds 
in a general way to accept a belief when they are 
capable of investigating the Scriptures and of listen- 
ing to arguments from different points of view.^ 
We, who as men acknowledge the great debt we 
incurred when as children we listened to the teach- 

^ Carpenter, Last Days, p. 137. 
"^R.R.'s Final Appeal, pp. 355-356. 



THE RISE OF THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 6i 

ing which was part of our inheritance, cannot deny 
a share in this blessing to others ; we think that 
even " the individual believer whose conviction 
seems and is most independent, would not in reality 
have been able to attain to it independently."^ 
Rammohun Roy appears to have assumed that on 
attaining a certain age individuals, trained as he 
would have them without " dogmatic " teaching, 
would be capable of forming a judgment unin- 
fluenced by other evidence than that then placed 
before them ; the question becomes once more a 
question of the present state of human nature. ^ 

Rammohun Roy, as stated above, defended his 
publication The Precepts of Jesus in three successive 
" Appeals " to the Christian public. The strength 
of these is mainly negative, and is due to the 
attitude assumed by his opponent, who held, accord- 
ing to Rammohun Roy, that the Incarnation was 
the result of the sins of the world ; ^ O felix culpa ! 
a doctrine of more than doubtful historic catholicity. 
Thus, too, the attacks made by Rammohun Roy 
upon Trinitarian teaching appear to be due to a 
misconception of the teaching of the Catholic 
Church ; otherwise we can hardly account for such 

^V. H. Stanton, Place of Authority, p. 74. 

^ For a just appreciation of the value and limits of dogma, see Life of 
Tennyson^ vol. i., pp. 310, 311. 

^ See Second and Final Appeal generally, and especially the Final 
Appeal, p. 415. 



62 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

words as these : " Early impressions alone can 
induce a Christian to believe that three are one 
and one is three ; just as by the same means a 
Hindoo is made to believe that millions are one, 
and one is millions." The placing by Christian 
theologians of the Trinity within the Divine Nature 
is here ignored ; Rammohun Roy started with the 
assumption, other than Christian, of the absolute 
simplicity of the divine nature ; and on this assump- 
tion he mocked at the conclusions which were not 
drawn from it ; the absolute simplicity of the divine 
nature is in truth not compatible with the " Christian 
Trinity of three eternal aspects of the divine nature, 
facing inward on each other as well as outward on 
the world," ^ but neither do we Christians claim 
such simplicity of nature in the Object of our 
faith ; seen from afar in Old Testament times, the 
Nature of God was thought to be simple, but as 
He revealed Himself to men through Christ they 
saw in Him an ever active Love eternally directed 
towards an Eternal Object^ When we maintain 
the Unity of the Divine Nature, and the Three 
Persons within that complex Nature as necessary 
to its self-satisfying fulness, we cannot think that 
these words of Rammohun Roy are true : " What- 

^ H. M. Gwatkin, The Arian Controversy, pp. 1 3- 14. 
'^Gore, Creed of the Christian, pp. 20-23. 
Westcott, Epp. S. John, pp. 166-219. "The unity is not numerical 
but essential." 



THE RISE OF THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 63 

ever argument can be adduced against a plurality 
of gods strikes with equal force against the doc- 
trine of a plurality of persons in the Godhead ; and 
on the other hand, whatever excuse may be pleaded 
in favour of a plurality of persons of the Deity, 
can be offered with equal propriety in defence of 
polytheism." ^ We will take but one argument 
against polytheism ; " such a system is evil because 
it leaves its adherents divided between the worship 
of good and evil, of pure and filthy gods " ; can 
we say this of the Three Persons in the Blessed 
Trinity ? No ! because their nature is one, all 
alike are Holy.- 

Lastly, what estimate may we form of the value 
of the Brahmo-Samaj at the time of its founder's 
death ? We think that it was an advance upon 
the earlier Theistic Reforms, upon that of Ramanuja 
in its recognition of the independence of the 
Supreme Being, in the fulness of His nature, of 
the created world {vide p. 31); upon that of 
Anand-a-Tirtha through breaking with the subtle 
distinction between Being and Life which led to 
dualism {vide p. 33); upon that of Vallabha by 
its denial of the sovereignty of evil over man,^ 

^ R.A.S. Journal, p. 9, citation from Final Appeal. 

■•^ Robson, Hindtiism and Christianity^ p. 247, ' Christianity makes 
holiness an essential in God. Hinduism makes it an accident,' 

^ It seems veiy probable that Rammohun Roy's shallow conception 
of sin was due to a tacit assumption of its derivation from Maya. 



64 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

{vide p. 34) made practical through the acceptance 
of the sinless man as a guide, instead of the 
Infant Krishna as an object of worship. The 
Brahmo-Samaj saved its members from the poten- 
tially degrading worship of the divine in man, 
which characterized the followers of Caitanya, by 
its express denial of the doctrine of Incarnations ; 
so too, its doctrine of a Unity of Person made 
the worship of its founder, even after his death 
{vide p. 38), an impious act ; it never rested for 
its power upon the sword, as did the Sikh faith, 
but spoke with authority through its identification 
with Western civilization. In short, the Brahmo- 
Samaj up to this date had avoided the pitfalls 
that had proved fatal to other efforts at reform, 
and we cannot value too highly its protest against 
idolatry, the caste system, and degradation of 
women, but on the other hand it had given no 
satisfactory answer to the real problems of life ; 
these problems in later years demanded solution, 
and the effort to answer them led to schism after 
schism in the Body. No final answer could it 
offer because the voice of history was silenced 
through the undue exaltation of the ' inner-con- 
sciousness ' of the individual man ; thought rather 
than experience was made the criterion of the 
truth ; in the sphere of thought all may at least 
claim to be equal ; they cannot do so in that 



,1.-, Ki^-. moTf a-oi-^.mw.yc 



THE RISE OF THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 65 

of experience. Experience as such was put out 
of court, and Christianity was treated as a system 
of philosophy rather than as a revelation of God 
through facts of history, concerning which some 
could authoritatively teach others. The answer 
which history gives to the problems of life was 
not accepted because the Brahmo Samaj thought 
before it listened, instead of listening before it 
thought ; it preferred to treat the facts of Christi- 
anity as a superstructure upon faith rather than 
as its foundation. 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ. 1 833-1 858. 

We return once more to our sketch of the 
historical development of the Brahmo Samaj. The 
death of Rammohun Roy was a severe blow to 
the society ; its president, Pandit Ramchandra 
Vidyavagisa, supported by the late Rajah's friend 
Dvaraka Nath Tagore laboured earnestly on its 
behalf, yet it was not until the year 1841, when 
the latter's son, Debendra Nath Tagore, became 
its leader that the Brahmo Samaj found a really 
efficient head.^ The conditions under which this 
man was brought up had great influence upon 
his character and that of the society. Born in 
1 8 1 8 in a home where gross idolatry was practised, 
he was educated at a Hindu college on principles 
of avowedly rationalistic philosophy ; he sought to 
base his faith upon reason rather than upon facts 
interpreted by reason, and took as his spiritual 
and intellectual guides such writers as Hume and 

^Slater, p. 33 J^.A.S. Journal^ cit. supra, pp. 15-16; Monier 
Williams, Religious Thought and Life in India, p. 20. 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 67 

Kant ; but with manhood he awoke to the need 
of more deeply spiritual teaching, and with this 
in view he studied the Upanishads and found in 
their mysticism that which satisfied him more fully 
than did the simple precepts of Jesus.^ At the 
age of 22 he founded a society for the promotion 
of the study of the Hindu Scriptures, to which 
he gave the name Tattvabodhini Sabha, or " The 
Truth-knowing Society." Two years later Debendra 
Nath Tagore formally joined the society founded 
by Rammohun Roy : on his becoming a member 
of this body he was impressed by its evident need 
of a properly appointed president, a regularly 
ordained minister, a settled form of worship, and 
a fixed standard of faith and practice. At the close 
of the year 1843 he succeeded in organizing the 
society, summing up its teaching in definite formulae, 
to which its members formally assented, and re- 
cognizing Pandit Vidya-bag-ish as the duly appointed 
minister.^ The ' Brahmo covenant,' or the vows 
to be taken by all members of the society, con- 
sisted of seven declarations ; according to these 
idolatry was to be abandoned, God, Creator, Pre- 
server, Destroyer, Without Form, was to be 
worshipped, holy lives were to be led, and forgive- 
ness of sins was to be won through the abandonment 

^ Slater, pp. 32 and 33. 

2 Keshab Chunder Sen in England^ vol. ii. , p. 151. 



68 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

of sin.^ This last clause shows us that Debendra 
Nath's conception of sin was not different from 
that of Rammohun Roy. During this time the 
Tattvabodhini Sabha to which Debendra Nath 
Tagore still belonged issued a monthly journal 
entitled the Tattvabodhini Patrika ; the editor of 
this paper held very liberal views with regard to 
the infallibility of the Vedic writings ; he exercised 
a great influence upon Debendra Nath and eventu- 
ally converted him to his own views on the subject 
of inspiration. The year 1844 may be regarded 
as that which witnessed the establishment of the 
first organized Theistic Church of India, at this 
period known as the Brahmo Samaj of Calcutta. 
Three years later the number of members had 
increased to seven hundred and sixty-seven. But 
throughout this period the rationalistic tendency 
of his earlier education, supported by the above- 
mentioned influence of Akhai Kuma Datta, was 
at work within the mind of Debendra Nath, and 
was leading to a closer approximation of his 
doctrine to that of Rammohun Roy in the accep- 
tance of private judgment as the arbiter between 
falsehood and truth. It was not, however, until 
the Rig, the Yayur, the Sama, and Atharva Vedas 
had bpen carefully studied from this new point 
of view that their authority as Divinely inspired 

^ R. A. S. Journal, cit. sup., pp. 15-17 ; Slater, p. 34-35. 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 69 

Scriptures was discarded ; this happened in the 
year 1850. Two years later Debendra Nath 
issued a revision of the seven declarations and 
asserted the following four principles : (i) In the 
beginning was the One Supreme alone, He made 
the universe. (2) He is eternal, intelligent, in- 
finite, blissful, self-dependent, formless, one only 
without a second, all-pervading, all-governing, all- 
sheltering, all-knowing, all-powerful, unmoveable, 
perfect, and without parallel. (3) By worship of 
Him alone can happiness be secured in this world 
and the next. (4) Love towards Him, and per- 
forming the works He loves, constitute His 
worship.^ With regard to these principles we 
would call attention to the avoidance of the 
axiom of the Sankhya philosophy that " out of 
nothing can nothing be made." ^ We shall see 
that at a later date God was declared to have 
created all objects out of nothing.^ By assuming 
Creation out of nothing, it became possible to 
believe in the real existence of created things 
without their being regarded as part of God ; He 
neither made them out of His own Nature^ nor 

^ M. Williams, Religious Thought and Life in India^ cap. xx. ; 
Slater, pp. 35-37; R.A.S. Journal^ cit. sup., pp. 17-20; Encyc. Brit., 
article " Brahmo Samaj," Sir W. W. Hunter. 

2 M. Williams, Hinduism, appendix, p. 193. 

•^ R. A. S. Journal, cit. sup., p. 26. 

^ Vid. Rufinus in Synibolum Apostolortmi, Heurtley, pp. 132-133, 



70 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

was their existence due only to illusion (Maya, 
cf. above, p. 34) ; the thought that everything 
is made out of the thought or will of God and 
is therefore part of Himself, though essentially 
true, seems to have been definitely and perhaps 
wisely laid aside by the Brahmo Samaj, as a 
dangerous subtlety conducive to pantheism. 

The second main principle raises in our minds 
the question, " How can God be ' all-sheltering,' 
' all-knowing,' and ' perfect,' without an Eternal 
Object of His eternal Love ? Is this faith intel- 
ligible ? can it be thought out ? " As we reason 
from human personality concerning the nature of 
perfect divine personality, we think that the tri- 
unity which we find in man of subject, relation 
and objfect must be eternally actualized within the 
Godhead. ^ Further, it is doubtful whether the 
doctrine of the personality of God was regarded 
by the Samaj as of great importance ; those who 
desired a more formal initiation into the system, 
and to be made members of the ' inner church ' 
had indeed to assert their belief in a Personal 
God, but the essential creed of the congregation 
was so drawn up as to enable any deist to sub- 
scribe to it, the unity being that of impersonal 

where the unique character of Christ as the ' Unicus Filius ' is supported 
by an **a fortiori" argument based on this assumption. Westcott, 
Epp. S.John, pp. 218-220. 
. ^ Hlingworth, Persotiality^ p. 74. - 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 71 

Nature.^ Throughout this period the Brahmo Samaj 
of Calcutta, although it had struck at the very root 
of the traditional beliefs of India, neither claimed to 
follow Christ, nor departed from national customs ; ^ 
but a period of change was now at hand, of change 
made inevitable by the comprehensive character 
of the Samaj ; as fresh members were admitted they 
made the Society increasingly representative of 
human nature as a whole, and the craving of the 
human heart for freedom and for religious warmth, 
which in the case of the early members of the 
Samaj had been checked by timid conservatism 
and intellectual antagonism was bound sooner or 
later to find expression. We cannot but think 
that the new movement within the Samaj, of which 
we are about to give an account, though resting 
upon insufficient foundation, did nevertheless bear 
witness to an essential truth ; and we think that 
the very fact that such a movement should have 
taken place is evidence of the insufficiency of the 
Brahmo Samaj of Calcutta to satisfy the needs of 
men. This new movement centres about one indi- 
vidual, Keshab Chunder Sen, ^ but remarkable as 
this man was for ability, we cannot regard the 
movement of which he was leader as originating 

^ Hopkins, pp. 516-518, with footnotes; important restrictions upon 
Sir M. M. Williams. 
^Mozoomdar, p. 234. 
^ R. A. S. Journal, cit. sup., pp. 20 sq. 



72 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

with himself, for even though he had never lived 
some such movement would, we think, have occurred, 
and would have found another head ; it was the 
result of " sheer psychological necessity " ; ^ yet no 
doubt the striking character of its leader left its 
stamp upon the new society, and it is well that 
we should pass in review the personal history and 
character of this able man. Keshab Chunder Sen 
was born in the year 1838 ; his family were zealous 
worshippers of Vishnu, and in his early childhood 
he felt the power of enthusiastic devotional fervour. 
He was educated at the Presidency College, Cal- 
cutta, and his intellectual training here proved fatal, 
for the time, to his faith. But the desire for 
spiritual exercise yet burnt strongly within him, and 
little by little he found rest and satisfaction in the 
revelation to his soul of the Supreme Spirit, and 
the apparent antagonism between reason and faith 
ceased to trouble him ; within his own soul he 
found perfect harmony between them, and he cared 
no longer about the discrepancies which troubled 
those who did not share his spiritual experiences; 
he sought no longer to verify the facts of revela- 
tion by strict historical research, finding sufficient 
evidence for them within his own heart. We shall 
notice presently the consequent subjective character 
of the new Samaj. 

^ Mozoomdar, p. 203. 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 73 

At the time when Keshab Chunder Sen was 
passing through " the crisis of faith," and had al- 
ready caught glimpses of the life beyond, he came 
across a tract published by the Brahmo Samaj of 
Calcutta, which showed him that the views accepted 
by that society closely coincided with his own, and 
he accordingly became a member of it ; this hap- 
pened in the year 1858. In the same year Debendra 
Nath returned from his voluntary exile in the Hima- 
layas, where for three years he had occupied himself 
in meditation and prayer ; his return was marked 
by a development of the devotional side of the life 
of the Samaj,^ and thus rendered it the more accept- 
able to Keshab Chunder Sen. Between the latter 
and Debendra Nath there sprang up a warm friend- 
ship, and the enthusiasm of the younger man 
affected his companion, who ventured in the year 
1 86 1 to celebrate the marriage of his daughter 
according to a reformed theistic ritual ; yet beyond 
this point Debendra Nath would not go, and when 
Keshab pressed the complete abolition of all caste 
restrictions Debendra Nath refused his consent, 
and retired once more to the hills. The result was 
a complete severance between the followers of 
Keshab who termed themselves "Progressives," and 
in November 1866 were organized as a New Society 
under the title the " Brahmo Samaj of India," and 

^ Mozoomdar, pp. 192-3-4. 



74 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

the adherents of Debendra Nath, who were now 
known as the Adi Brahmo Samaj.^ 

Having reached the parting of the ways, it may 
be well to look back upon the past history of the 
Adi Brahmo Samaj, and to try to estimate its 
future value as a religious force, before proceeding 
to sketch the history of the new Samaj. 

Owing its origin to the efforts of Rammohun 
Roy, the (Adi) Brahmo Samaj received its definite 
organization from Debendra Nath Tagore. During 
his presidency the fundamental principles of the 
Society were affected by the decision of 1850, 
which rejected the doctrine of the infallible inspir- 
ation of the Vedas. Although the conservative 
minority within the Brahmo Samaj did not on 
this occasion succeed in retaining the principles of 
Rammohun Roy, these were revived by Dayananda 
Sarasvati, the founder of the Arya Samaj, and will 
come before our notice at a later period. Between 
1850 and 1858, at which latter date the Bhakti 
movement began which led to the schism of 1866, 
the spiritual character, which the personal influence 
of its founder had imparted to the Brahmo Samaj 
of Calcutta, seemed to be lost, and its proceedings 
became mechanical ; even such a question as the 
character of the supreme Spirit being decided by 

^ Mozoomdar, pp. 195-7, 238-9; Slater, pp. 42 sq. ; R.A.S. 
Joumaly cit. sup., pp. 22-26; Hopkins, pp. 518-519 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ 75 

a show of hands.^ When we try to estimate the 
value of the Adi Brahmo Samaj, we must recog- 
nize to how great an extent its success has been 
due to the circumstances of the times rather than 
to its own intrinsic force. Thus its rise has 
corresponded to the breaking down by European 
influences of the reHgions of India ; ^ as the effect 
of Western upon Eastern thought has at first 
been negative rather than constructive, so too in 
matters of faith has been the teaching of the Adi 
Brahmo Samaj; it has been moving with the 
stream ; on the other hand, in questions of practice, 
it has been conservative, it has escaped opposition 
by its principle of non-interference with those 
customs which the natives of India are not yet 
prepared to give up ; its policy has throughout 
been cautious, because intellectual rather than 
emotional, for emotional fervour does not stay to 
look at difficulties.^ It has followed the path of 
Western civilization, and because it has not hitherto 
borne the brunt of the battle we can neither 
congratulate it upon its victories nor lament any 
great failure. Our estimate of the value of the 
Adi Brahmo Samaj must depend upon the value 
that we attach to the principles of Bhakti, upon 

^ Mozoomdar, p. 192. 

- Lyall, Asiatic Studies i 1st series, pp. 28-29. 

^ Merivale, Conversion of the Northern Nations^ p. 5. 



76 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

the place that we assign to emotion in the spiritual 
life ; to those who regard Bhakti with contempt 
as mere ' hysterical fervour ' ^ the negative charac- 
ter of the Adi Brahmo Samaj will appear to be 
its strength and greatest recommendation ^ ; but 
to those who see in Bhakti an essential element 
of true religion, the absence of such emotionalism 
from the fundamental teaching of this Samaj will 
be sufficient prediction of its future failure to 
establish itself as an universal church ; to them 
it will not seem " strong enough to exercise an 
influence with effect on 200,000,000 of men," ^ to 
them it will seem to be unable wholly to ' shake 
off the lingering influence of the old Vedantic 
Pantheism.' * 

^Hopkins, p. 519. ^Hopkins, p. 517. ^ Earth, p. 294. 

*/^.A.S., cit. sup., p. 40, p. 26; Tennyson, Life, vol. i., p. 67, 
"The lips of little children preach against you, you that do profess 
to teach And teach us nothing, feeding not the heart." 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ OF INDIA. 

We may now turn our attention more fully to 
the Brahmo Samaj of India during the period of 
its existence from the year 1866 down to the 
present day. Of the creed of the Brahmo Samaj 
of India at the time of its inauguration the follow- 
ing are the essential points : 

(i.) God is the First Cause of the universe. 
By His will He created all things out of 
nothing and continually upholds them, 
(ii.) The true Scriptures are two, the volume of 
nature, and the natural ideas implanted in 
the mind, 
(iii.) God Himself never becomes man by putting 
on a human body. His divinity dwells in 
every man, and is displayed more vividly 
in some. Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammed, 
Nanak, Chaitanya, and other great teachers 
appeared at special times and conferred 
vast benefits upon the world. 



78 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

(iv.) The Brahmo religion is distinct from all 
other systems of religion ; yet it is the 
essence of all. It is not hostile to other 
creeds. What is true in them it accepts. 
It is based on the constitution of man, 
and is, therefore, eternal and universal. 

(v.) Every sinner must suffer the consequences 
of his own sins sooner or later in this 
world or the next. Man must labour after 
holiness by the worship of God, by sub- 
jugation of the passions, by repentance, by 
the study of nature and of good books, 
by good company, and by solitary con- 
templation. These will lead through the 
action of God's grace to salvation.^ 

Let us consider these articles of faith, comparing 
them with those of the Adi Brahmo Samaj and 
with those of the Christian Church. With regard 
to the first of these articles we have above (p. 69) 
called attention to the departure by modern theistic 
reformers from the Sankhyan maxim, ' out of 
nothing can nothing be made,' which maxim had 
been the cause of the failure of earlier attempts 
at reform ; we see a step forward in the bold 
assertion in the creed of the Brahmo Samaj of 
India of creation out of nothing. Belief in God 

^ R.A.S. Journal^ cit, supra, pp. 26-27. 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ OF INDIA 79 

as Preserver, itself no new belief, we see asserted 
in a Theistic as opposed to a Deistic form, " He 
continually upholds them." God after creation has 
continued his activity in relation to the world. 

The second article is one of great importance 
as defining revelation. Two sources of knowledge 
of God are recognized, viz., the book of nature, 
and the human conscience ; do these two sources 
correspond to the twofold methods of revelation 
recognized by Christians, the external and objective 
on the one hand, and the internal and subjective 
on the other? The question can only be answered 
by reference to the teaching of the recognized 
leaders of the Samaj. The conclusion to which 
we come after studying the writings and lectures 
of Keshab Chunder Sen and those of his able 
coadjutor, Pertab Chunder Mozoomdar, is this, that 
when they speak of the presence of God, and revela- 
tion of God in Nature, they think of the universal 
Divine Immanence in all Being, and of a passive 
rather than an active self-revelation ; in other 
words, that God's workings in Nature, in the 
material world, are patent to those, who, listening 
to the voice of conscience, have learnt to recognize 
their Maker, but that they do not themselves in 
the first place awaken man's conscience. Thus 
subjective thought about God, does, we think, in 
their teaching, precede objective self-revelation upon 



8o THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

His part. Those who are spiritually enlightened 
can trace in history the finger of God, but our 
knowledge of God does not rest upon the know- 
ledge of facts of history. The silence in the 
writings of these two men on the suoject of the 
evidence of history concerning God is very striking, 
and illustrates at once the subjectivity of their 
faith and its utter contrast with the historic 
creed of the Christian. 

The value to members of the Brahmo Samaj 
of India of historic records consists not of the 
facts thus preserved, but of the contemporary 
interpretation of those facts ; they see in such 
records ' a grand depository of truth attained by 
the religious consciousness of all nations, under 
varying modes and orders of development.' ^ 

The true character of the teaching of the 
Brahmo Samaj is somewhat veiled through its 
emphasizing the thought that the voice within 
men, which speaks of God, is really His voice 
and does not originate with themselves. " The 
religion of the Brahmo Samaj is called a Dis- 
pensation because the Brahmos have not made 
their religion ; it was dispensed to them by One 
who at once can understand human wants, and 
satisfy them from the fulness of His mercy and 
truth ;^ "Inspiration with us is an objective reality, 

1 Mozoomdar, p. ^T. ^ Mozoomdar, p. 352. 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ OF INDIA 8i 

and as such it is under no necessity to be 
distinguished as ' ordinary ' or ' extraordinary.' All 
impulses which are objectively perceived to come 
from God are inspiration with us." ^ 

They thus in theory give an objective tone to 
their creed, but it is in theory only, for as soon 
as we come to the actual question of the accept- 
ance or rejection of any proposition, it is referred 
to the judgment of the individual rather than to 
the judgment of God as revealed objectively and 
externally. The matter is one of so great 
importance that we proceed to illustrate the 
conclusions stated above by quotations from the 
writings of this Samaj. The following are words 
of Keshab Chunder Sen when speaking in behalf 
of the Brahmo Samaj of India in 1872: "As 
touching the question asked, 'Is Christ our guide?' 
I revere Christ as a Teacher ; to Chaitanya and 
other Indian prophets too, and to the ancient 
scriptures of the Hindoos, we are profoundly 
thankful for our spiritual growth. But we look 
upon none of these as our guide in the path of 
salvation. I put it to you, my friends, whether 
it is Christ that leads me to God, or God who 
leads me to Christ ? Assuredly, it is God who, 
in the first instance, turns the heart of man and 
also guides him to such places and persons as 

. . '^Brahmo Year Book for 1880, p. loi. 

F 



82 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

may help to satisfy his thirst." ^ An examination 
paper, set in 1873, in Keshab's Brahmo Theological 
School contained this among its questions, " Prove 
the absurdity of the assertion that the knowledge 
of the Divine attributes is derived from scripture 
or prophet." 2 

Pertab Chunder Mozoomdar appears to define 
what the Brahmo Samaj of India means by the 
' Volume of Nature ' and the ' Ideas implanted in 
the mind,' when in lectures delivered in 1875 he 
distinguishes Theism from Deism. Of the former 
he says, " Theism [consists of] two great parts. 
One of these is what is termed Natural Religion. 
This is the faith that is formed in man's mind by 
the action of natural phenomena and laws upon its 
faculties and instincts. The conceptions and prin- 
ciples of this kind of Theism are, to a certain 
extent, changeable, inasmuch as men's ideas on 
natural facts and laws are subject to change. . . . 
This Theism is man seeking God." " The second 
part is revealed Theism, the deep spiritual religion 
produced by the action of God's Spirit within 
man's soul. [This] Theism is God seeking man."^ 
Apparently, so far as things outside us are con- 
cerned, we are only enquirers and not the recipients 

^ The Brahmo Year Book for 1876, pp. 6 and 7 sq.^ also Mozoomdar, 
p. 372. "To us it is not the prophet who reveals God, but God who 
reveals the prophet." 

"-Ibid, for 1877, p. 20. ^Brahmo Year Book for 1877, p. 21. 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ OF INDIA 83 

through external facts, of Divine Revelation ; be- 
tween Natural Religion and the inward communing 
of the soul with God there seems in the Brahmo 
scheme to be no room for ' Revealed Religion ' ; 
there is no ' authoritative publication of Natural 
Religion.' ^ 

It is in its fundamental subjectivity that we 
find the weak point in the teaching of the Brahmo 
Samaj. It is this that has encouraged its leaders 
to despise what is generally known as ' Christian 
Evidences/ to deny the Divinity of Christ, and to 
lose all sense of proportion in vague spiritualistic 
mysticism. Thus Keshab made it his boast that 
he never ' betook himself to the voluminous books 
which treat of the Evidences of Christianity ' ; ^ 
because he did not see in history an unveiling of 
God's purpose independently of his own powers of 
interpretation he failed to see, in the unique posi- 
tion of Christ in history, evidence of His unique 
character ; Christ was to him a spirit rather than 
a living man, a spirit who identified Himself with 
his own spirit ; " I . . . draw a line of demarca- 
tion between the visible and outward Christ and 
the invisible and inward Christ, between bodily 
Christ and spiritual Christ, between the Christ of 
images and pictures and the Christ that grows in 

^ Butler's Analogy ^ part II., chap i. 
^ K.C.S. in England, vol. i., p. 167. 



84 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

the heart, between dead Christ and living Christ." ^ 
This last passage will prepare us for the later de- 
velopment of this movement, when Keshab Chunder 
Sen claimed his independence of all guidance other 
than the voice of the spirit within him. The 
following passages from the writings of Pertab 
will show that his faith was like that of Keshab, 
intuitional and subjective. " No theology," he says, 
" have we got, all our theology is our earnest, 
intense faith in the presence of the spirit of God 
within us." ^ Whilst questioning the assertion that 
the Brahmo faith rests on intuition alone, he says, 
" The germs only, and the germs not merely of the 
religion of the Brahmo Samaj, but of Christianity, 
Hinduism, and Mohamedanism alike, are intuitions ; 
the peculiarity of the Brahmos being that they 
build their faith thereon without the supernatural 
and historical groundwork which belongs distinc- 
tively to each of the rest." ^ The contradiction in 
terms in the above passage is characteristic of the 
writer and his school of thought. Such a sub- 
jective faith, which, as shown above, claims in the 
spiritual sphere to be objective, is destructive of 
all sense of responsibility ; neither credit nor blame 
may be awarded to those who are not in the 
position to form an independent judgment of the 

^ K.C.S. in England, vol. i., p. 173. 
2 Mozoomdar, p. 62. ^ Ibid., pp. 72-73. 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ OF INDIA 85 

Spiritually " objective " revelation of God, because 
their own subjective faith is itself the outcome of 
that revelation. " We deserve," says the same 
writer, " no credit for (the) existence (of our 
church) for its success, for its influence — neither 
do we deserve any discredit for the singularities, 
accidents and dangers that have befallen the Samaj 
at different times." ^ Man's 'free-will' and conse- 
quent responsibility is implicitly denied. 

The Third Article is one of supreme importance 
as defining the attitude of the Brahmo Samaj of 
India towards Christ. It clearly places Him on a 
level with other great religious teachers, and denies 
His Divinity in any sense other than that which 
may be admitted in the case of every human being. 
We have already pointed out what, in our opinion, 
has been the cause of this failure to recognize 
the unique character and position of Christ, viz. the 
wholly subjective view of Divine Revelation. The 
value to the members of this Samaj of every 
event in the world's history is its moral lesson ; 
they look for nothing but moral teaching ; their 
life and well-being can, they think, be affected 
only through their power of spiritual perception. 
Thus every occurrence in our Lord's life is regarded 
simply as an object-lesson, as moral teaching in the 
form of events ; to the wise man, the outward form 

^ Mozoomdar, p. 355. 



86 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

is of little or no importance, so long as he grasps 
the inward truth which it is intended to convey ; 
facts, as such, are in themselves illusive, only means 
to an end ; the teaching they convey is real and 
eternal. We feel that we are here under the influ- 
ence of the doctrine of Maya, ' illusion,' ^ which 
gives birth to external forms with the purpose of 
imparting the Truth. In such an atmosphere as 
this we do not wonder that the fact of our Lord's 
resurrection from the dead fails to appeal to men 
as evidence of His unique relation to God, for it is 
regarded simply as another moral lesson on a par 
with those of other teachers, which took no objec- 
tive form. 

It will be well to give some examples to illus- 
trate the teaching of the Samaj from which the 
above conclusions have been drawn. Of the later 
development of this society, Keshab wrote : " It is 
subjective ; it endeavours to convert outward facts 
and characters into facts of consciousness ; ... (it 
believes that God is an objective reality)." ^ " Jesus 
is . . . simply a spirit to be loved, a spirit of obedi- 
ence to God that must be incorporated in our 
spiritual being." ^ " Jesus Christ, truly analyzed, 
means love of God and love of man." ^ " When 

^ Sir Alfred Lyall, Asiatic Studies, 2nd series, p. 93 ; M. Mliller, 
Vedanta Philosophy, p. 130. 
^ Brahmo Year Book for 1881, p. 43. 
^ K.C.S. in England, vol. i., p. 173. ^ Ibid., p. 169. 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ OF INDIA 87 

I talk of Christ, I mean simply the spirit of 
loyalty to God, the spirit of absolute determined- 
ness and preparedness to say at all times and in 
all circumstances 'Thy will, not mine, be done.'"^ 
" The true Christ of all Nations is not the Christ 
of flesh and blood that lived some time ago . . . 
not the visible, but the spiritual Christ." ^ " Must 
a visible Incarnation be worshipped because men 
cannot realize the Invisible God ? God forbid ! 
He needs not flesh to reveal Himself; He is present, 
filling the whole universe, one vast spiritual entity, 
before whose reality the world is but a delusion."^ 
" He who does not understand God cannot under- 
stand Christ." * " True incarnation simply means 
God manifest in humanity ; not God made man, 
but God in man." ^ 

In the Fourth Article we have the claim of the 
Brahmo Samaj of India to Catholicity ; so far as 
this term means the power to appeal to all classes 
of men we may admit the claim ; but if the term 
be taken to mean not only the preaching to all 
men but also the setting forth of all truth,^ we 
do not think their claim can be substantiated, 
The Brahmo Samaj of India by recognizing the 

'^ K.CS. m England, p. 176. ^ Ibid., vol. ii., p. 194. 

^ Ibid., vol. ii., p. 195. Note specially the reference to the "World " 
as " delusion." 

^ Ibid., p. 196. ^ Mozoomdar, p. 374. 

^Pearson ofi the Creed, p. 612, and '^ ^'sX.q.qA.X, Historic Faith, pp. 1 22-3. 



88 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

place of the emotions in religion had advanced 
beyond the Adi Brahmo Samaj whose sphere was 
limited by its narrow intellectualism/ because the 
former could appeal to all classes of men ; but it 
is one thing to arouse the interest and to gain 
the sympathy of all men, it is quite a different 
thing to maintain that interest, and secure that 
sympathy by continually satisfying the require- 
ments of intellect and feeling ; it is here that we 
see the failure of the Brahmo Samaj of India ; its 
foundation is too narrow for stability, the appeal 
to reason and feeling alone as final cannot satisfy 
those who have before them the external evidence 
of history. 

Its claim to combine within itself the essence 
of all religions gives to the Brahmo Samaj of India 
at least the semblance of eclecticism, and having in 
our minds the failure of the Eclectic Reformers, 
Kabir and Nanak (see pp. 36 sq.), we cannot think 
that success awaits such a system ; but the charge 

^We find an illustration of the unreadiness of Unitarians to admit 
' feeling ' as a factor in the formation of judgment in Dr. Lant Carpenter's 
Biography^ p. 238. We are told that he would not argue with his 
friend who had departed from Unitarian doctrine because the latter's 
action was due to ' feeling.' For the independent character of aesthetic 
feeling see Balfour Fotmdations of Belief, pp. 65-66, 326. He claims 
for it that "It is at least something other than the chance play of sub- 
jective sensibility or the far-off echo of ancestral lusts," nor are we 
"precluded . . . from referring our feeling [of beauty] to God, nor 
from supposing that in the thrill of some deep emotion we have for an 
instant caught a far-off reflection of Divine Beauty." 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ OF INDIA 89 

of eclecticism is met by the leaders of this Society^ 
with a fresh definition of the word ; eclecticism, 
they say, is taken by the Brahmos to mean not 
the " collection " but the unification of truth.2 The 
work of this Samaj is further stated to be " heed- 
ful (observance) of the peculiarities of other systems 
of faith, and (acceptance of) every one of those 
peculiarities, (accumulation of) them, (assimilation of) 
them with its own life, and (preservation of) them 
in the midst of its own being." ^ The distinction 
between the ' collection ' and the ' unification ' of 
truth appears to us to be that in the former we 
have various sides of truth placed in juxtaposition to 
one another, without any attempt being made to 
destroy the distinctive character of each represen- 
tation of truth ; whereas the " unification " of truth 
implies the reduction of all sides of truth to a 
common denominator, this being an advance upon 
the collection of truth and being necessarily 
dependent upon it ; those who claim to ' unify ' 
truth cannot deny having already undertaken 
the preliminary step of ' collecting ' truth. The 
common denominator adopted by earlier Eclectic 
Reformers was the acceptance of certain intellec- 
tual general principles, that which the Brahmo 
Samaj of India adopts is (mystic) spiritual unity; 
in this it finds the ' harmony of all religious dis- 

^ Mozoomdar, pp. 154^-^. ^Ibid., pp. 158, 173. ^ Jbid., p. 161. 



90 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

pensations.'^ Can we accept such a common 
denominator? Its acceptance implies that reduc- 
tion of objective facts to subjective interpretation, 
which we have already spoken of and which, 
as we have seen, deprives us of any criterion of 
truth external to ourselves. Such ' unification ' of 
truth is worth very little when gained at the 
expense of truth. The following ' recommenda- 
tion ' of the Brahmo Samaj of India by one of 
its friends instances that neglect of historical 
evidence above referred to. " (This) reform," he 
says, " (is) no restoration appealing to recognized 
historical authority, but a movement creative of 
faith ' de novo.' It (does) not derive itself from 
the ancient religion of the country, nor from 
Christianity, but commence(s) afresh from the native 
resources of the human heart and soul."^ 

This spiritual interpretation taking the place of 
the simple acceptance of historic facts has had 
the result of raising the religion of the Brahmos 
above the concerns of this world ; even such a 
petition as " Give us this day our daily bread " is 
to be taken as referring to spiritual food ; " what 
is it," asked Keshab Chunder Sen, " we should pray 
for? Not for rain . . . not for outward prosperity 

^Mozoomdar, p. 165. 

"^K.C.S. in England, vol. i., p. 12. Speech by the Rev. J. 
Martineau. 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ OF INDIA gr 

, . . (but) that we may enjoy . . sweet communion 
with the Lord. . . . Let us leave all these issues 
{i.e. material blessings) in the hands of Providence."^ 
So too Pertab C. Mozoomdar " there is only one 
prayer which we know ..." Lord, pour into my 
heart Thy Spirit ;"2 "The Brahmo Samaj (of India) 
believes in the duty and utmost efficacy of prayer 
for spiritual things and not for material benefits." ^ 
Whilst we fully adniit that conformity to the will of 
God is the essence of prayer, we cannot but think 
that a religion that does not encourage prayer for 
material things is unsuited for those whose home, 
though for a time only, is in a material world. 

The 5th Article enumerated above deals with 
sin, its consequences, and its remedy. In the 
recognition of the grave character of sin we see 
an advance upon the teaching of the Adi Brahmo 
Samaj {yid. p. 68). "In neither Ram Mohun 
Roy nor in Debendra Nath Tagore do we perceive 
the strong sense of sin, the need of regenerate 
life, the passionate thirst for God as Saviour and 
Comforter."^ "(In 1865) for the first time in 
connection with the Brahmo Samaj was witnessed 
the rare spectacle of sinful men, bitterly conscious 
of their sins, praying and listening with living 

^ K.C.S. in England^ vol. i. , p. 69. 

2 Mozoomdar, p. 54. ^ Ibid., p. 185. 

'^Brahmo Year Book for 1877, p. 17; Slater, p. 136, Keshab is quoted 
as writing : " Sin is not accidental, sin is radical." 



92 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND AYRA SAMAJ 

sincerity for their souls' salvationr^ In our ex- 
amination of the doctrine of the Brahmo Samaj 
of India on sin it will be necessary clearly to define 
the terms used. By ' sin ' we mean the assertion 
of our will against the will of God, or in other 
words, ' conscious rebellion against that which we 
know to be right' ^ 'A sin ' or ' sins ' are 
actions of this nature ; the result of these actions 
is the confirmation of the habit of opposing God, 
the strengthening of the bonds by which we are 
held ; the result of sins is sin, and sin being 
lawlessness, it involves the punishment that accrues 
to every infraction of law. By the forgiveness 
of sins we mean the annulling of their results, 
it may be through suffering, so that the moral 
character of those who have been affected actively 
or passively by a sin be not thereby adversely 
affected, but be conformed more entirely to the 
will of God. The forgiveness of sins means the 
reversal of their results. In the Brahmo state- 
ment of doctrine concerning sin, we notice, firstly, 
that the results of sins rest upon those who commit 
them, there is no vicarious suffering ;^ and, secondly, 
that by effort on the part of the sinner, under 

'^Brahmo Year Book for 1877, p. 18 ; the italics are Miss Collet's. 

"^ Lectures on Church Doctrine, Dr. Cunningham on ' ' Sin " ; Dale, 
The Atonement, p. 330. 

•* " Every sinner must suffer the consequences of his own sins sooner 
or later." 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ OF INDIA 93 

God's blessing, he may gain his soul's salvation, 
by which last term we understand the annihilation 
of sin. Let us notice the difficulties in which 
this doctrine involves us when * sin,' ' sins,' and 
' forgiveness ' are given the meaning assigned to 
them in our definitions. Assuming, what we think 
will in these days be readily granted, the * solidarity' 
of the human race not only in their physical 
but also in their spiritual nature, the objections 
raised against ' vicarious ' suffering will bear but 
little weight except as against a crude misinterpre- 
tation of that term. But if ' none of us liveth to 
himself,' neither sinneth any to himself, and this 
truth must be taken account of in any doctrine 
of sin. Even supposing that a man could by 
sorrow and repentance,- faith, and effort totally 
efface the effect for evil upon his own character 
of some sin, and thereby . make any ' forgiveness ' 
external to himself unnecessary, yet his efforts 
could not annul, still less reverse, the results in 
others of his sinful action ; his sin continues to 
bear fruit, the burden of responsibility for past 
sin daily grows heavier ; the power of blotting out 
the past is not his, for the taint is upon others 
than himself Were it possible to think that the 
whole human race would as one man turn to 
repentance it might be possible to conceive of 
forgiveness of sins upon earth apart from any 



94 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

Special dispensation, but we cannot entertain such 
a possibility, for we have not the slightest evidence 
of such general repentance in the past. The 
world, to find the forgiveness of sins, needs a 
representative man, one whose actions may be 
■claimed as their own by all who are willing to 
become morally and spiritually one with him. In 
the Person of the Son of Man, of Jesus Christ, 
we see the forgiveness of sins made possible, 
because the sins of the world, which were the 
cause of His Passion and Death, became through 
Him motives towards obedience and love of God, 
instead of being fruitful in disobedience and hatred.^ 
Through the action of Christ even the sins of 
men are made instruments of service to God ; 
they have led to the supreme revelation of His 
love.^ Jesus Christ by identifying Himself with 
sinners was able to offer even their past opposition, 
their sins, as a sacrifice to God, when in loving 
obedience He offered Himself. In the Crucified 

^ Dale, The Atonement^ p. 346. God's hostility to our sins has 
received adequate expression in the death of Christ, and now He is 
ready to confer on us the remission of sins for Christ's sake. 

2 Romans iii. 5-7 ; Dale, The Atonement, p. 392. " The principle that 
suffering — suffering of the most terrible kind — is the just desert of sin, 
is not suppressed. It would have been adequately asserted had 
God inflicted on man the penalties of transgression. It is asserted in 
a still grander form and by a Divine act, which in its awful sublimity 
and unique glory infinitely transcends the mere infliction of suffering 
on those who have sinned." Westcott, Gospel of the Resurrection, 
pp. 145, 146. 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ OF INDIA 95 

and Risen Christ we have the strong assurance 
of the forgiveness of sins ; apart from Him we 
cannot see even the possibility of such. 

Having inquired into its fundamental teaching, 
we now resume once more our narrative of the 
Brahmo Samaj of India. After the separation of 
the followers of Keshab Chunder Sen from the Adi 
Brahmo Samaj, the former were for many months 
on the verge of religious despair, having no foun- 
dation on which to ground their belief, no leader 
and guide to encourage them to advance;^ in 1867 
Keshab was informed by his disciples that " unless 
there was a New Dispensation the Samaj could 
not be saved ; unless there was a new agency to 
keep (them) together there would be another rup- 
ture in the Brahmo Samaj.'' ^ Under this pressure 
Keshab gave himself up to prayer and to the 
exercise of his spiritual powers ; to such a height 
of spiritual enthusiasm did he attain that his fol- 
lowers more than regained their former confidence 
in him, and the Samaj received a new lease of life. 
Yet its stability was not ensured, for it rested 
upon the individuality of its leader and upon New 
Dispensations granted from time to time. If its 
leader should disappoint them by personal incon- 
sistency, or if he should fail to usher in a New 
Dispensation when the enthusiasm of his disciples 

^ Mozoomdar, pp. 207-9, "^ Ibid.y pp. 213-4. 



96 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

began to wane, the society was doomed to division 
and failure. These two dangers threatened the 
Samaj, and it was not long before it fell a victim 
to the former of them. One of the means by which 
Keshab Chunder Sen strengthened the Samaj, whilst 
at the same time doing really effective work, was 
his social reforms ; through these he enlisted the 
sympathies of many who would not have been 
attracted by the directly spiritual side of his work. 
The most important result of these efforts was the 
passing in 1872 of the "Native Marriage Act," 
which introduced for the first time the institution of 
civil marriage into Hindu society.^ It also fixed 
the minimum age for a bridegroom at 18 and 
for a bride at 14. Only six years later Keshab 
Chunder Sen committed the fatal mistake of 
ignoring the law which he had himself been instru- 
mental in passing ; he permitted the marriage of his 
daughter, below the age of fourteen, to the young 
Maharajah of Kuch Behar, who was not then six- 
teen years of age. As the defenders of this action 
have declared that what took place in 1878 was a 
betrothal only and not a marriage, it is well to insert 
here the account given of the event by the Indian 
Mirror, the Brahmo Samaj organ, and the mouth- 
piece of Keshab himself, in its issue of December 29, 

'^ R.A.S. Journal, cit. supra, y>Y>' 30-31 J Mozoomdar, pp. 294-5; 
Slater, p. 86. . 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ OF INDIA ^7 

1878. "The principal event of the year was the 
Rajah's marriage, which was celebrated on the 6th 
of March. ... It was necessary to the legality 
of the marriage that the rites should be Hindu 
in all essential features. After much deliberation 
and argument Babu Keshab Chunder Sen was 
brought to see that .... it was absolutely 
essential that the marriage .... should be a 
Hindu marriage." " The marriage has since been 
formally declared legal by the Commissioner, acting 
under Government . . . ." ^ The result of this 
marriage was the defection from the Brahmo Samaj 
of India of a large number of its members, who 
with the support of the Adi Brahmo Samaj 
organized yet a new Samaj under the title the 
" Sadharan " or " General " Samaj. Corresponding 
to this defection there was a fresh development 
of spiritual fervour in the Brahmo Samaj of India 
which to some extent counteracted the influence 
of the seceders. Keshab and his followers defended 
the Kuch Behar marriage by asserting the doctrine 
of special inspiration,^ and, by adopting the phrase- 
ology of the Vaishnavites, made their teaching attrac- 
tive to a far larger circle than heretofore ; this last 
phase removes the Brahmo Samaj of India further 

^ R.A.S. Journal, vol. xiii., part ii., April 1881, p. 286. 
^Brahmo Year Book for 1878, p. 36; Slater, p. 86; Bhattacharjee, 
pp. 159-171- 

G 



98 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

from Christianity, and from pure monotheism. We 
shall therefore not follow its history further, but 
content ourselves with noticing those aspects of 
its teaching which have not yet come before us, 
and with estimating the strength and the weak- 
ness of this Samaj as a factor in the development 
of the religious life of India. 

We have already said something of the advance 
which the Brahmo Samaj of India made upon the 
teaching of the Adi Brahmo Samaj in its recognition 
of the place in true religion of the emotions as 
well as of the reason ; its leaders saw that a faith 
incapable of kindling enthusiasm was powerless to 
control the lives of those who professed it ; they 
recognized the truth so well expressed by a great 
Englishman, " No heart is pure that is not passion- 
ate ; no virtue is safe that is not enthusiastic." ^ 
" How can I be free," asks Pertab C. Mozoomdar, 
" from the carnal passions of my own nature unless 
there is a more powerful passion to hold them down, 
and to turn them from evil into good ? " ^ We see 
also a corresponding advance in* another direction ; 
the Brahmo Samaj of India felt the need in the 
Object of their worship of a Personality correspond- 
ing to the Personality of Man ; they did not rest 
satisfied in an Abstract Idea^ however beautiful it 

^ Sir John Seeley, Ecce Homo^ p. 8. ^ Mozoomdar, p. 59. 

^ Ibid., pp. 91, 179 ; Keshab C. Sen in England, vol. i., pp. 40 sq. 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ OF INDIA 99 

might be ; in this yearning after God revealed per- 
fectly in man we recognize a testimony to the 
truth, and evidence of Christ's being " The Desire 
of All Nations " ; yet no sooner did this yearning 
take definite form and seem about to be satis- 
fied in the person of Jesus Christ than it was 
negatived by the mysticism which loves to explain 
away the facts of history.^ The human centre 
of the Christian faith was recognized to be its 
strength, yet the leaders of the Brahmo Samaj of 
India would not commit themselves to the accep- 
tance of the God-Man.2 In the words of a Christian 
poet we find at once the expression of the need 
that gave birth to this Samaj, and the assurance 
which they yet seek that that need has been met 
in an historic character. " 'Tis the weakness in 
strength that I cry for, my flesh that I seek in 
the Godhead ! I seek and I find it. O Saul, it 
shall be a Face like my face that receives thee, a 
Man like to me, thou shalt love and be loved by for 
ever ; a Hand like this hand shall throw open the 
gates of new life to thee ! See the Christ stand ! " ^ 

^ Vide Slater, appendix, p. 107 ; Robson, Hinduism and Christianity ^ 
pp. 279 seq. 

'^ Ibid., pp. 142-4, 102-3; R.A.S. Journal, Jan. 1881, p. 37. "It 
is evident that Mr. Sen intends Christ to be accepted by his fellow- 
countrymen as the greatest of all Asiatic saints, and not in the character 
ascribed to Him by the Church of England" ; R.A.S. Journal^ 1881, 
p. 288. 

^R. Browning, Saul, xviii. 



loo THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

As a witness to truths ignored by earlier Theistic 
reformers, we value highly the Brahmo Samaj of 
India, but its lack of an historic basis has, we 
think, already proved, and will, till remedied, ever 
prove fatal to the society. Its emotionalism knows 
no bounds ; it carries us beyond the laws of moral 
right and wrong laid down for the government of 
man ; " true Bhakti is beyond the region of 
morality and immorality ; " ^ by ignoring the dis- 
tinction between the finite and the infinite, between 
God and man, the reverence that is due to God 
is lost, and we find terms of endearment applied 
to Him that seem calculated to destroy any con- 
ception of awe in the presence of His unapproach- 
able holiness.^ Its emotionalism has given rise to 
the doctrine of the maternity of God, as more 
calculated to stir the emotions than the belief in 
His Fatherhood,^ and also to the resuscitation of 
the idolatrous worship of Hari.* Christianity on 

^ Mozoomdar, p. 338. [The whole context should be read to avoid 
possible misrepresentation. The essayist does not agree with Mozoom- 
dar in thinking that the danger of immorality is removed from him 
who is admitted to Bhakti.] 

^K.C.S. in England^ vol. i., p. 88, "Oh, I wish I could hug 
my God to my heart " ; vol. ii., p. 2CX), *' My God is a sweet God." 

2 Mozoomdar, pp. 394-401 ; Slater, pp. 97-99 ; Brahmo Year Book 
for 1879, p. 31. The Sunday Mirror, speaking of a missionary expedi- 
tion, says, "'The mother^ the mother, the mother' — this is the 
battle-cry with which the expedition has fought." 

^Brahmo Year Book for 1880, pp. 32 and 33 — citations from the 
The Sunday Mirror: "The Brahmo Samaj preaches no idolatry, no 



THE BRAHMO SAMAJ OF INDIA loi 

the contrary has been safeguarded against such a 
relapse into heathen mythology and spiritual ex- 
travagance by the appeal of eye-witnesses to the 
historic facts which it was their mission to proclaim ; 
if the Brahmo Samaj of India is to save the 
people of the country which by its title it claims 
to represent, it must listen to, and then make its 
own the assertion of the foundation in the life of 
the world of the revelation it proclaims. They 
will have a gospel to deliver, as well as an ideal 
to depict, when they can say with St. John, " The 
Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us, and 
we beheld His glory," and when they can proclaim 
Him " Who has been seen with the eyes, and felt 
with the hands," ^ as being in a unique sense the 
Son of God. 

mediation, no miracles, no creed-bound faith. All its changes are 
wrung upon that single word — God- Mother. . . . It is a great con- 
solation to think that at any rate above 12,000 people seriously 
heard the name of Hari during the past fortnight. . . . We have 
found out that every idol worshipped by the Hindus represents an attri- 
bute of God, and that each attribute is called by a particular name. " 

^ I John i. 3 ; Trench, Hulsean Lectures, pp. 198-9 : "A system 
which shrinks from saying ' Christ is God ' finds it impossible to rest in 
that denial . . . and hasten(s) to say ' Man is God,' giving in the end 
to every man that .which it started with affirming it was blasphemy 
to give to any, even to the Son Himself. " 



THE SADHARAN BRAHMO SAMAJ. 

The schism in the Brahmo Samaj of India which 
led to the formation of the Sadharan Brahmo 
Samaj was due, as we have seen, to the action 
of Keshab Chunder Sen in regard to his daughter's 
marriage. The confidence of the Samaj in their 
leader being thus rudely shaken, many of its 
members felt it necfessary to reconsider their posi- 
tion and the organization of the Society, the result 
being that they determined in future to have a 
representative government, and no longer to be 
dominated by the influence of one man however 
commanding his genius might be. There is little 
doubt that this realization of the need of a 
constitutional government of the Samaj was 
due to their acquaintance with the Christian 
Church, the stability and world-wide influence of 
which had deeply impressed them for they seem 
to have attributed the strength of the Christian 
Church to its organization as such rather than 



THE SADHARAN BRAHMO SAMAJ 103 

to its foundation upon the historic and living 
Christ.1 

An attempt was made to call a general meeting 
of the Brahmo Samaj of India to reconsider the 
whole question of its organization, but this failed 
owing to the secretary's (Pertab C. Mozoomdar, 
a strong supporter of Keshab Chunder Sen) very 
tardy acquiescence in the request, though made 
by a large majority of the branches of the Samaj .^ 
The seceders accordingly, under the leadership of 
Ananda Mohan Bose, held an independent meet- 
ing at Calcutta on May 15, 1878, at which they 
had the support of the Adi Brahmo Samaj and 
its venerable head, Debendra Nath Tagore. The 
meeting deplored the want of a constitutional basis 
in the Brahmo Samaj of India and established the 
Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. The new Samaj pro- 
claimed as its object the * realization of the grand 
ideal of Rammohun Roy, from which (they said) 
the Brahmos had greatly departed.'^ Truths were 
to be collected from all the teachers and all the 
scriptures of all countries.* Although the difference 
between the Brahmo Samaj of India and the 
Sadharan Brahmo Samaj was primarily one of 
organization, it necessarily entailed differences of 

1 Mozoomdar, pp. 140 sq. ; R. A. S. Journal, Jan. 1881, pp. 37-38; 
Slater, pp. 86-87. 

'^Brahmo Year Book for 12,12), p. 73. 

^Brahmo Year Book for 1881, p. 71. ^ Ibid., for 1879, p. 75. 



104 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

creed because the creed of the former Samaj was, 
to so great an extent, coloured by the personal 
predilections of its founder. In the fact that the 
Sadharan Samaj promulgated a new creed, we 
have evidence which proves to how small an extent 
the creed of Keshab Chunder Sen was the creed 
of those who professed to be his followers ; the 
Christianity of the Brahmo Samaj of India was 
less than skin deep. It remains for us to examine 
the creed put forward by the Sadharan Brahmo 
Samaj. This creed is a development of that of 
the Adi Brahmo Samaj as formulated by Debendra 
Nath Tagore.^ and the criticism passed upon it 
above (pp. 69-76) will apply also to the creed 
now before us, we need therefore deal only with 
the developments of the latter. These are chiefly 
of a negative character and directly opposed to 
that Christian teaching which Keshab Chunder Sen 
claimed to assimilate to his own doctrines. The 
most important article is the following : " We regard 
the belief in an individual being a way to salva- 
tion, or a link between God and man, as a belief 
unworthy of a Theist, and those who hold such a 
belief as unworthy of the Brahmo name." ^ This 
statement of belief is made yet more explicit in 
the words of the leaders of this Samaj. Thus 
S. K. Chatterji, in a lecture in 1879, said, " Theists 

1 Slater, pp. 94-95. "^Brahmo Year Book for 1878, pp. 74-75. 



THE SADHARAN BRAHMO SAMAJ 105 

(can) never accept Christ (as the Saviour of man- 
kind, the mediator between God and man) as 
they inculcate direct communion and relationship 
between God and man ; they (are) in need of no 
mediator." " India does not want Christ for her 
salvation. . . . The Theistic religion of India is 
in no way inferior to the teachings of the Bible — 
the Vedas and the Upanishads (are) sufficient for 
our salvation." " There was no more divinity in 
(Christ) than what every man has."^ Another 
member of the same Samaj is yet more extreme 
in his views, and his words suggest the reckless 
acceptance of statements of the opponents of Christi- 
anity, without a careful study of the history of 
that faith ; " even granting," says Sivanath Sastri, 
" that such a being (as Christ) ha(s) existed, 
there have been men among His followers superior 
to Him in many respects.^ 

The following extract from a sermon preached 
at the Anniversary of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj 
in 1880 will suffice to express the doctrinal atti- 
tude of the Society : " God never forsakes men." 
" (This) means that God is always after US " 
... " The doctrine is not at all new. What, for 
instance, is the doctrine of Incarnation, believed by 
the orthodox portion of our countrymen, and by 
whole Christendom ? The cardinal point in such a 

^Brahmo Year Book for 1879, p. 77. "^Ibid., p. "]?>. 



io6 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

doctrine is the idea that God comes down to help 
humanity . . . Man surely needs a lifting power . . . 
a force coming from without. This power is in God 
and from God it must be communicated to the soul 
of man. For the purpose of such communication it 
is not needful that God should suffer the bonds of 
flesh. ... on the side of God there is no slackness 
of pursuit, but it is we, who do not bend the knees 
of our proud will before His redeeming grace." ^ 

Much as we may value the above statement as 
a true expression of the yearning love of God 
for His children, we cannot shut our eyes to the 
fact that in other respects the doctrine of the 
Samaj is totally at variance with Christian truth. 
The differences between us are fundamental ; we 
not only draw opposite conclusions, but we draw 
them from different premises. Until our premises 
be granted we cannot therefore enter into argu- 
ment with any hope of attaining to the unity of 
faith.^ Because they are drawn from the experience 
of life, so long as our experience is different, so 
too will be our religious premises. We Christians 
claim to possess a more comprehensive experience, 

'^Ibid. for 1880, p. 14. 

2 "AH moral reasoning must ultimately rest on the internal evidence 
of the moral sense ; and when this is disordered, the most unquestionable 
logic can conclude nothing, because it is the first principles which are 
at issue." — ^James Spedding on The Two Voices. Tennyson, Life^ 
vol. i., p. 193. 



THE SADHARAN BRAHMO SAMAJ 107 

that of all men, at all times, and under all condi- 
tions of life.^ We consider the position of Theism 
to be impregnable so long as those who maintain 
it separate themselves from the life of the world, 
and ignore its facts ; but if they mix with all 
classes of society, the rich and the poor, the 
religious and the irreligious, we maintain that they 
must recognize the need of a Human Saviour, for 
they will see the repeated failure of the highest 
spiritual teaching, by itself, to raise men,^ and 
they will also see countless human beings saved 
by the personal influence of men whose doctrine 
is absorbed in character.^ This fact, that personal 
human influence is the greatest moral force, leads 
us to look for the closest union with God through 
this means ; our experience of life prepares us to 
come to God through a Human-Divine Mediator. 
As Man He draws us, as God He raises us ; God 
and Man being One Person in Christ, devotion to 
Jesus spells love of God, and love of God becomes 
a power within us even in this world.* 

^ See V. H. Stanton, Place of Authority, pp. 53 sq.^ with his 
criticism of J. S. Mill, on the argument e consensu omnium. Trench, 
Hulsean Lectures^ 1 846, pp. 225-6 : " They are as busy about sacrifices 
in the outer Court of the Gentiles as in the Holier Place of the Jews." 

* Even Muhammedanism is now in part bearing witness to this 
truth ; the sect of the Shiaks celebrate the death of Hussein as one 
who died for the sins of the whole world. Vid. C. M. S., Gleaner ^ 
Aug., 1900, p. 124. 

^Trench, Hulsean Lectures^ 1846, p. 262. 

^ Ibid.y pp. 167-70 and pp. 192-4. 



THE ARYA SAMAJ. 

We have already seen how the Brahmo Samaj 
of Calcutta, under the Presidency of Debendra 
Nath Tagore, rejected the doctrine of the infallible 
inspiration of the Vedas, and thus departed from 
one of the main principles (see p. 68) laid down 
by the founder of the society. Through this great 
crisis the Samaj passed without an open schism, 
the majority being on the side of the new doctrine, 
and the minority giving way to them. But belief 
in the infallibility of the Vedas and their sufficiency 
through all time, to salvation, had not been finally 
destroyed. It was revived by Dayananda Sarasvati, 
who founded a society entitled the Arya Samaj ; 
to him the Vedas were the only Revelation, and 
when freed from later accretions, and interpreted 
according to his own canon of interpretation, 
absolutely infallible.^ His conception of God was 
of One abstracted from all idea of shape and 

^Slater, pp. 37-38; R.A.S. Journal, Jan., 1881, pp. 40-41; Oman, 
pp. 1 1 3- 1 14; Max Miiller, Biographical Essays ; Dayananda, p. 170. 



THE ARYA SAMAJ 109 

form without any second, as set forth in the 
Vedas. He rejected the doctrine of the personality 
of God, because to him this meant earthly, material, 
limitations.^ He endeavoured to show that the 
Vedas condemn idolatry, and teach all science.^ 
His followers maintain that every part of the 
Vedas (proper) is written in the name of the 
whole, i.e. represents the whole inspired book, and 
is not the expression of this or that, probably 
mistaken, individual.^ The character of the 
Founder of this Samaj was very different from 
that of the noble Rammohun Roy, the conscientious 
Debendra Nath, and the enthusiastic Keshab 
Chunder Sen ; he seems to have been, by his own 
admission, both untruthful and addicted to intoxica- 
tion.* It is evident that we have now before us 
a question totally different from that raised by 
the Brahmo Samaj ; this is not so much a question 
of ethics, religion, and philosophy, as of literary 
criticism. Can the assertion by the Arya Samaj 
of the unity of the Vedas, and their pure mono- 
theistic teaching, be substantiated ? The question 
can be answered only by Sanskrit scholars, and 

^Oman, p. 105. 

2 T. Williams, Three Letters, an Exposure of Dayananda Sarasvati, 
Delhi, 1889; Oman, pp. 113-115; Dr. Martyn Clark, Lecture i., p. 5; 
Lecture iv. , p. 3. 

3 T. Williams, 2nd Letter. 

*Oman, pp. 106-110, with citations from the Theosophist^ 



no THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

to them we must refer the matter. Dayananda's 
renderings of certain passages have been challenged ; 
he is said to have materially changed the meaning 
by deliberately misrepresenting person, mood, and 
conjugation.^ Into the larger questions we have 
already enquired (pp. 1 1 sq.), with the result that 
we find in the Mantras Henotheism^ rather than 
Monotheism, and in the Upanishads, a further 
development in the direction of pure Monotheism, 
but a Monotheism so vague as to be constantly 
lapsing into Pantheism. We cannot therefore accept 
the first principles of this Samaj nor regard it as 
building upon any sure foundation ; yet, because 
in India the creations of Illusion are forces that 
cannot be ignored, it is well that we should go 
a little further and enquire into the practical 
character and influence of the Arya Samaj at the 
present time. 

Consistently with their adherence to Vedic teaching, 
the members of the Arya Samaj on special occasions 
duly perform the " Hom " sacrifice. Pieces of dry 
wood are arranged in the form of a square sacrificial 
pit ; at each corner of this is placed a composition 
of fragrant and combustible gums, and around them 

^ T. Williams, 1st and 2nd Letters. Yet Dayananda has the reputa- 
tion amongst his fellow-countrymen of being ' the greatest Vedic scholar 
of the age.' Oman, p. 91, Cit. Civil and Military Gazette, March 
6, 1879. 

^Miiller, <^it. Oman, p. 115. 



THE ARYA SAMAJ iii 

are placed four brass vessels containing spices and 
grain, and a fifth vessel containing clarified butter 
(ghee). The firewood and resinous gums are lighted 
and the flames are fed from the contents of the five 
vessels, during which ceremony Mantras are recited 
in Sanskrit by the officiating priest/ In this manner 
the ancient Vedic sacrifice to Agni is maintained ; 
but although this practice is the logical outcome 
of their adherence to the Vedas, many members of 
the Arya Samaj find in it a stumbling-block ; they 
do not know what attitude to assume with regard 
to it ; on the one hand the influence of Western 
thought has destroyed their faith in the efficacy 
of such a sacrifice, on the other hand the spirit of 
conservatism and their obligation to follow the 
teaching of the Vedas prevents their ignoring the 
sacrifice altogether. The practical consequence is 
this, that some members of the Samaj declare the 
purpose of the ceremony to be scientific fumigation 
for sanitary reasons, whilst others take the middle 
course of giving their support to those who offer 
the sacrifice by their presence at the service, whilst 
they exonerate themselves from any charge of 
idolatrous worship by studied carelessness and in- 
attention during the performance of the rites.^ We 
cannot but regard such an attitude as this as being 

^ Oman, pp, 88, 95, and 96. 

^ Oman, pp. 79, loi, 102. Dr. Martyn Clark, Lecture VI., p. 2 sqq. 



112 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

temporary.! On the one side the old faith has been 
destroyed ; on the other a new and Hving faith, 
that of Christianity, is being introduced into the 
country. Were it not for the latter it is probable 
that we should see no attempt to revive the old 
faith ; we may regard the existence of the Arya 
Samaj as to a large extent the result of Christian 
missions ; and so far as open antagonism is less 
bad than sullen indifference, the result is one for 
which we may be thankful.^ The Arya Samaj, out 
of patriotic antagonism to Christianity,^ has assumed 
a position which is becoming more and more clearly 
untenable ; there seems good reason to believe that 
as Christianity is shown to be a universal and not 
merely a national faith, the prejudices which have 
given birth to the Arya Samaj will die, and its 
antagonism to Christianity will cease. At the 
present time the cause of the Arya Samaj is pro- 
moted by charges against Christians of ignoring 
the Hindu Scriptures, of circulating the Bible by 

^ Bp. Lightfoot, Christianity and Paganis??i, pp. 87, 95, 96. 

^ Delhi Mission Report, 1898, p. 37. "They openly declare them- 
selves to be enemies of ours, and deny the possibility of the Incarnation, 
but they acknowledge more frankly than most the sinfulness of men 
and the need of strenuous efforts to obtain salvation." 

'Oman, pp. 120- 121. Delhi Mission Report, 1898, pp. 38-39. 
" In Rohtak itself a branch of the Arya Samaj has been established, 
which I cannot help looking upon as an indirect result of our work. 
... I believe that it is a real move forward, and an attempt to 
accept Christianity without * the offence of the cross.' " 



THE ARYA SAMAJ 113 

thousands whilst only talking of getting a trans- 
lation of the Vedas." ^ Such charges are being 
falsified by the increasing study by Europeans of 
the Religious Books of India, and we may hope 
to see religious prejudice fade away, as enlightened 
sympathy makes common religious thought possible. 
The outcome of a recent public discussion between a 
Christian missionary and an ' orthodox ' Hindu was 
that members of the Arya Samaj told the former 
that they were satisfied in some ways at the result 
of the discussion, and would like to have another 
on their own account after having had time to think 
over the unfamiliar lines of argument adopted by 
him.2 We see here that the members of the Arya 
Samaj are susceptible to argument when their pre- 
judices are not aroused, and when they are allowed 
time for thought, and liberty to form their own 
judgment. This being the state of the Arya Samaj, 
of what immense importance is it that Christians 
should gently and tactfully break down the barrier 
of ignorant prejudice, both by making themselves 
acquainted with Indian literature and by coming, 
directly or through their representatives the mission- 
aries, into sympathetic touch with these men. 

'^ Delhi Mission Report^ 1899, p. 36. ^ Ibid.^ p. 38. 



CONCLUSION. 

We now approach the conclusion of our work ; we 
have traced in outline the history in India of Theistic 
thought up to the time of Rammohun Roy ; we have 
seen progress first in one direction and then in 
another, but in the case of every Theistic reform we 
have found some fundamental want or error that 
accounts for its failure to become universal. We 
have examined more closely the Theistic Reforms, 
which, beginning with that of Rammohun Roy, bear 
evident traces of the influence of Christianity, viz., 
the Brahmiya Samaj, the Adi Brahmo Samaj (that of 
Calcutta) the Brahmo Samaj of India, the Sadharan 
Samaj, and that which is essentially distinct from 
these — the Arya Samaj. We have been compelled 
to limit our treatment of these societies to a brief 
enquiry into their history and doctrine, and to 
pointing out what appears to us in each case to 
differentiate the teaching of the Samaj from that of 
the Christian Church, hoping thereby to make it 
evident what line of argument should be adopted by 



CONCLUSION . 115 

those who contend with them on the battlefield of 
India. 

Thus we think that the Adi Brahmo Samaj, and 
the Sadharan Samaj need to have placed clearly 
before them the inability of man, by reason of sin, to 
have communion with God, and the fact that God does 
draw men to Himself through the personal influence 
of individual men, who are thus types of the unique 
Mediator between God and man. 

In the case of the Brahmo Samaj of India we 
think that it can be brought into the truth only 
through the acceptance of sound historic principles ; ^ 
the systematic teaching of history, especially the 
history of those countries where external events 
are seen to mould the character of nations, as in 
the case of the Jews,^ will give to the Brahmo 
Samaj of India that sense of proportion that 
they at present lack, and will serve as an antidote 
to that narrow subjectivism which at present 
makes them blind to God's objective revelation in 
Jesus Christ. 

In the Arya Samaj we have an avowed enemy, 
but one who appears to be susceptible to courtesy, 

^ See Sir A. Lyall, Asiatic Studies, 2nd series, pp. 88-89, where a 
Hindu defends the principle of dissolving history into mysticism. 
Westcott, Gospel of the Resurrection, p. 52, § 9, "The doctrines of 
Christianity flow from alleged facts. The belief in the historic event 
precedes the belief in the dogma." 

^G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of Palestine, p. 33. 



ii6 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

and likely to become Christian when the increase of 
knowledge, and the brotherly love of Christians has 
warmed their hearts and enlightened their minds. 
Their position is, in the face of modern literary 
criticism, so obviously untenable, that if we make it 
possible for them to evacuate it without loss of self- 
respect they will in all probability do so before very 
long, and once they are enrolled in the Christian 
ranks, their known conservatism will give their 
witness to Christ far more weight with their fellow- 
countrymen, than that of men regarded as reck- 
less revolutionists and the introducers of a foreign 
creed. 

Before we close it is right that we should seek 
an answer to the burning question, " What pro- 
spect is there of India as a whole accepting 
Christianity ? " We dare not speak dogmatically 
on a matter on which the greatest writers are at 
variance ; we dare not ' rush in where (scholars) 
fear to tread ' ; but it may be useful to summarize 
the verdicts of leading students of the subject 
and estimate their force from the standpoint of 
the Catholic Church. Twenty years ago the 
French writer Barth could venture on no answer 
as to the future faith of India ; to him Christian 
missionary enterprize seemed to fail owing to the 
too great use of argument ; the solution must 
come through life rather than through abstract 



CONCLUSION 117 

thought.^ We find more encouragement when we 
turn to a recent work also entitled The Religions of 
India. Professor Hopkins points out that the 
comparative failure of Christianity in the past to 
become the religion of India has been greatly due 
to the open antagonism between its doctrines and 
the lives of those who profess them. " Not the 
heathen, but the Christian, barred the way against 
Christianity. . . . The hand stole and killed ; the 
mouth said, ' I love you.' The Hindoo under- 
stood theft and murder, but it took him some 
time to learn English. All this must be remem- 
bered when the expenditures of Christianity are 
weighed with its receipts." ^ The character of 
Christian influence in India is now quite other 
than it was, and the chief barrier to advance is 
being broken down. The same writer recommends 
the preaching of the simplest creed, and the precept 
both in word and life " Thou shalt love the Lord 
thy God, and thy neighbour as thyself," and is 
able to see in the distant future the rise of a 
spirit of progress which will set India free to 
accept Christ.^ Another witness to the future 
progress of Christianity in India is Sir Monier 
Monier Williams, who, in his comparison of the 
religions of India, is able to say that " the masses 
(of India) will never be satisfied with (Positivism). 

^Barth, pp. 28-9, sq. ^pjopy^s, pp. 565-6. ^ Ibid,^ pp. 570- 1. 



ii8 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

Christianity has many more points of contact with 
their ancient faith than Islam has ; and when the 
walls of the mighty fortress of Brahmanism are 
encircled, undermined, and finally stormed by the 
soldiers of the Cross, the victory of Christianity 
must be signal and complete." ^ Turning to other 
evidence, we are told that Brahmanism is at 
present absorbing many who otherwise would 
accept Christianity or Islam ; ^ it recognizes with 
sympathy some of the needs of men, and by its 
sympathy secures their adherence to its principles, 
and unconsciously keeps them back from that faith 
which not only recognizes but also satisfies all 
human needs ; this is a fact which shows the import- 
ance of immediate effort being made to present the 
Gospel of Christ to all the aboriginal tribes of India 
before they are drawn into the maze of Brahmanism. 
As to Brahmanism itself, the same writer thinks 
that it, in a simplified form, will be the religion 
of the masses for generations to come, ^ and that 
in the far future we may look to see prevalent 
in India a narrow egotism, without religion, and 
without reason, and nothing but confusion and 
distress. * And yet beyond this again he sees the 
establishment of one religious system, for which 
the way will have been prepared by the unifying 

iM. Williams, Modern India (1878). 

2 Sir A. Lyall, 1st Series, p. 108. '^ Ibid., p. 119. "^Ibid., p. 121. 



CONCLUSION 119 

influence of British rule ; that faith, he thinks, 
may possibly be Islam.^ 

The above citations suffice to exemplify the 
greatly varying interpretations of the signs of the 
times ; the character of each interpretation corre- 
sponds to the position assumed by each interpreter. 
Those who refrain from taking part in the active 
propagation of the Christian faith, assuming an 
attitude of strict neutrality, can see only a field 
for doubtful speculation ; whereas those who identify 
themselves with Christian missionary enterprize are 
able to entertain the assured belief that India is 
being rapidly prepared for the general acceptance 
of Christian truth. Before we accept either inter- 
pretation we must decide which is in the best 
position to form a sound judgment, whether the 
looker-on or he who is engaged in the work ; for 
our own part, we think that St. Paul the Missionary 
could have given a more accurate forecast of the 
future of Christianity than could the ruler Gallio, 
and that those who mark the effect of Christian 
teaching upon their own Hindu pupils are better 
able to gauge its power than those who judge of 
its future according to the rapidity with which it 
spreads ; because Christianity demands the re- 
generation of each individual with the complete 
transformation of his character rather than the 

^ Sir A. Lyall, pp. 296 and 302. 



I20 THE BRAHMO SAMAJ AND ARYA SAMAJ 

acceptance of general truths, we think that the 
index to its progress is to be found within the 
personal experience of the individual. The general 
acceptance of nominal Christianity, which might 
lead an outside observer to comment on its success, 
would be to the thoughtful missionary but an 
illusory promise could he see nothing deeper ; 
whereas the absence of such a general acceptance 
troubles him little when he knows of individuals 
whose lives have been transformed by the Gospel ; 
accepting the principle that the Kingdom of God 
is like leaven, he looks cheerfully forward to see in 
due time the leavening of the whole population of 
the world, and in the light of this reasonable hope 
he interprets the signs of the times as pointing to 
the speedy Advent of Christ to India. 



GLASGOW : PRINTED AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS BY ROBERT MACLEHOSE AND CO. 



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