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Keshub Chandra Sen (1838 – 1884): The Next Dominant Force in the Brahmo Samaj

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The third phase in the Brahmo Samaj was dominated by Keshub Chandra Sen. He passed on a new vigor and delivered a new zeal into the Brahmo Samaj. Keshub Chandra Sen was a Bengali Hindu philosopher and social reformer who endeavored to integrate Christian theology within the structure of Hindu philosophy. In 1856, he became a member of the Brahmo Samaj but later in 1866 he created his own breakaway “Brahmo Samaj of India”. While the existing Brahmo Samaj continued under the guidance and leadership of Maharshi Debendranath Tagore. Later on he initiated a syncretic “New Dispensation” inspired by Christianity, Bhakti and Hindu practices. Keshab Sen and his wife Jagonmohini Sen had ten children.

In 1857, Keshub Chandra Sen joined the Brahmo Samaj by signing the Brahmo covenant and took part in studying the mental and moral philosophy. He taught prayer as a mean of spiritual enlightenment and nourishment. In 1859 he established the Brahmo School where lectures were delivered weekly. The Sangat Sabha was established in 1860. It was a society of fellow believers who promoted mutual spiritual association amongst its members and sowed seeds of new Brahmoism. In 1862, he got elevated to the post of Minister of the Samaj.

However in 1865, dissimilarity between Keshab Chandra Sen views and Debendranath Tagore views aroused. Sen wanted to diminish the Brahmo ideas and bring social reforms while Tagore wanted to concentrate on spiritual values although he wasn’t against social reforms. Besides this, they both had different concepts of Christ. All this resulted into a spilt in the Samaj. After the schism, Keshub started his new “Brahmo Samaj of India” and constructed a Tabernacle of New Dispensation in 1868.

His primary pursuit was to craft a universal religion; therefore he implemented many ceremonies from both Christianity and Hinduism. Some condemned and opposed him, while others appreciated him. Keshub Chandra Sen made many significant contributions in the Brahmo movement. Among the many was his first notable contribution i.e. the diction of the doctrine of God in principles. The second was the contribution that brought man’s social life within the sphere of his religious duties. The third was absorbing the spiritual life of the Brahmo Samaj through the spirit of repentance and prayer. Next was his blending in of Bhakti or Devotional zeal into the movement. His faith in the mission of the Brahmo Samaj contributed important emphasis on the principle laid down by Rammohun Roy that is, the service of man was to serve God.

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