Friday, January 29, 2010

From 'jai he' to 'jai ho'

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From: sarbajitr <>
Date: Sat, Jan 30, 2010 at 12:51 PM
Subject: [brahmoconferenceorg] From 'jai he' to 'jai ho'

At least this article in the Deccan Herald reminds the nation that Jana Gana Mana was composed as an (Adi) Brahmo hymn and a sign of the rebellion of Adi Brahmo Samaj against the British Imperialists and their monarchy, and reiterates the Brahmo article of faith that when government's policy clashes with our religion's views we must refuse to obey the State.

"Jana Gana Mana was written out of protest towards the monarchy, hence the reference to the eternal lord of India's destiny, 'bharat bhagya vidhata', far greater than any mortal monarch."

Not many people know this, but Brahmos are exempt from standing up when Jana Gana Mana is played.


Article text.
Narrow Nationalism
From `jai he' to `jai ho'

The incongruity of the Republic Day spectacle is best captured by the strains of the National Anthem; a tribute to the universal spirit that has been trapped in the armoury of a nation-state, writes Neerja Dasani

Breathing fire: Is aggression today's nationalism? DH PhotoJanuary 26, 2010. You turn on the television. The remote takes its time to locate the unfamiliar Doordarshan. But the visual that greets you on that fog-filled morning is an all-too-familiar one. The macho military parade. The exoticised tableaux portraying the `unity in diversity' of India. Schoolchildren playing patriot-patriot, or patriot parrots.
The jawans don't carry placards or photo exhibitions depicting the daily violence they are forced to inflict on Indian citizens in the name of `national security'. The Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa tableaux do not portray the struggles of their first people against the `national interest'. The dancing children do not ask you uncomfortable questions such as why the national average for malnourished children is 47 per cent, the highest in the world.

The incongruity of the spectacle is best captured by the strains of the National Anthem; a tribute to the universal spirit that has been trapped in the armoury of a nation-state.
As we enter the year of the 150th birth anniversary of its creator, Rabindranath Tagore, the question arises: What would Gurudev have made of all this? Would the man, who in Nationalism (1917) refers to the `nation' as an `inhuman machinery of politics and commerce' and an `intrusive agent of exploitation and dominance', be pleased with his prescience?

Tagore always stood for the supersession of nationalism by internationalism, which ironically was a significant factor in the selection of the Anthem. Recollecting the moment, then Prime Minister Nehru told the Constituent Assembly, on August 23, 1947: "The matter came to a head on the occasion of the general assembly of the United Nations in 1947 in New York…our delegation possessed a record of  Jana Gana Mana which they gave the orchestra who practiced it. Apart from the general appreciation with which it was received… there was not much choice for us as there was no musical rendering available of any other national song…"

Pre-emptively pacifying ardent nationalists, who might object to the first official version being played by the London Philharmonic Society, Nehru said an expert Indian musician was guiding them.

Sixty two years later Shashi Tharoor is charged with showing disrespect to the National Anthem when he interrupts its singing to urge the audience to place their palms over their hearts instead of merely standing at attention. The previous year, Infosys chief Narayan Murthy has a case registered against him for justifying his company's use of an instrumental version to avoid excluding the foreigners present there. Over the years there have been demands for the word `Sindh' to be replaced by `Kashmir', reducing an abstract concept to a geographical formality. Most recently, Ram Gopal Varma's film Rann ran into trouble with the censor board for a remixed version of the Anthem, depicting India as a broken and bleeding state.

Nationalism has now entered the realm of farce. According to Ashis Nandy, political psychologist and social theorist, this `steamrolling' version of nationalism is a departure from its predecessor, which was based on the idea of a confederation.

In The Political Culture of the Indian State (1988), he refers to the prevalence of two de facto natural anthems, Tagore's Jana Gana Mana and Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay's Bande Mataram, as a good example of a nationalism that refuses to be fully defined. He says: "Jana Gana Mana, despite being the National Anthem of a postcolonial society, is one of the least nationalist anthems in the world. It celebrates an open-ended, nonchauvinist concept of Indian civilisation."

Contextualising the current scenario, he adds: "It is an indicator of the changing mood in India that recent attempts have been again made, after a gap of nearly 40 years, to discredit Jana Gana Mana by alleging that it was originally a paean to George V, the British sovereign. Obviously, it is not an Anthem the tough-minded Indian neo-nationalists are enthusiastic about. Some of them, seeking to make up for what theAnthem lacks in toughness, have tried to make the singing of it compulsory. Only a few have seen these attempts as assaults on the spirit of the Anthem."

But then again, how many of us can claim to understand, let alone do service to, this spirit? Freedom from the British was the clear goal of the earlier nationalists. Freedom for the burgeoning middle class of India, who dictate the terms and conditions of the nation-state, is confined to living a life of passive consumption. A collective is no longer considered cool, fierce individualism is.

The rushed attainment of freedom meant an incomplete process of decolonisation. Vested interests saw the benefits of preserving the Police Act of 1862 as the central piece of legislation governing all acts of policing in India. The Indian Penal Code, drafted in 1860, is full of pruderies long abandoned by Britain, such as Section 497 that deals with adultery and punishes even consensual sex between adults. Creative expression through theatre is still subjected to the Dramatics Performance Act, 1876, which requires each group to submit a script to the police for consent prior to the performance.
Freedom that is still a product of colonised minds could perhaps explain the continuing obsession with fair skin, the incessant migration to the West, the distrust of neighbouring countries still looked upon as competitors rather than comrades and the ceaseless construction of `Buckingham Palaces' in urban India. The country is now defined by a `pan-Indian middle-class consciousness, a homogenising nationalism, and a centralising nation state'.

This shift from `Jai he' to `Jai ho' is an aggressive one, with no tolerance for any form of dissent or questioning. National interest, it is understood, shall always override local or regional interests. National security, says Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, with the backing of the elite class, shall override even human rights.

Nation-building by the book, like history, is predominantly the playing ground of the `fathers of the nation'. Their commanding voices often drown out the soulful songs of those who have stood up against state suppression. These anthems of resistance that relate to the reality of the country do more justice to the spirit of the National Anthem than the prevalent practiced and performed patriotism.

The composition, the first of five stanzas of a Brahmo Samaj hymn, first sung at the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress on December 27, 1911, was born of rebellion. The Indian National Congress requested Tagore to write a felicitation for King George V on his visit to India. It was meant to be an appeasement gesture in response to the annulment of the Bengal Partition Act. Tagore was said to be both troubled and deeply offended by the request. Jana Gana Mana was written out of protest towards the monarchy, hence the reference to the eternal lord of India's destiny, bharat bhagya vidhata, far greater than any mortal monarch.

But this was far removed from the foggy fanaticism of today that superimposes a majoritarian divinity onto a political construct. Tagore, said, "To worship my country as a god is to bring a curse upon it."

Ironically, the creator of the national anthem might well have been accused of perfidy in today's India. "Patriotism," he said, "cannot be our final spiritual shelter; my refuge is humanity. I will not buy glass for the price of diamonds, and I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity as long as I live."


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Monday, January 25, 2010

Table of contents

Table of contents

Table of Contents for World Brahmo Samaj Council website

  • Brahmo Samaj
  • News, Brahmo Conference Organisation
  • Brahmo Samaj FAQ Frequently asked Questions
  • Brahmo Samaj articles Rabindranath Tagore
  • Brahmo Samaj liturgy and prayers
  • Brahmo Samaj, FAQ Adi Brahmo Samaj
  • Covenant of Brahmo Samaj
  • Brahmo Samaj beliefs, foundations, Raj Narayan Bose Basu
  • Brahmo Samaj Prime Principles
  • Brahmo Samaj Articles of Faith
  • Brahmo Samaj Trust Deed of 1830
  • Brahmo Samaj, Brief History & Time Line
  • Anusthanic Brahmos, Ananusthnic Brahmo Samaj
  • Brahmo Samaj, True Brahmoism
  • Brahmo Samaj, Did God create matter?
  • History of the Brahmo Samaj
  • Brahmo Conference Organisation
  • Sadharan Brahmo Samaj World Brahmo Council
  • Sadharan Brahmo Samaj doctrine
  • Sadharan Brahmo Samaj founders
  • Adi Brahmo Samaj
  • Brahmoism, Genetics, Memetics
  • Brahmo Samaj and Christianity
  • Nature of "True Brahmoism"
  • Adi Brahmo Samaj on caste
  • "True Brahmo" principles
  • Salvation in Brahmo Samaj
  • Monday, January 4, 2010

    Sunday, January 3, 2010

    Doctrine of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj

    Doctrine of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj

    1) Faith in a Supreme Being and in Existence after Death is natural to man;

    2) We regard the relation between God and men to be direct and immediate;

    3) We do not believe in the infallibility of any man or any scripture ;

    4) Whatever book contains truths calculated to ennoble the soul or elevate the character is a Brahmo's scripture, and whoever teaches such truths is his teacher and guide;

    5) We regard the belief in an individual being a way to salvation, or a link between God and Man, as an unworthy belief, and those who hold such belief as unworthy of the Brahmo name;

    6) We consider it to be blasphemy and an insult to the Majesty of Heaven to claim Divine inspiration for any act opposed to the dictates of reason, truth, and morality;

    7) We regard the culture of faith at the sacrifice of reason, or the culture of reason at the sacrifice of faith as equally defective, and as fruitful sources of evil in the religious world;

    8) We consider love of God and doing the will of God as equally imperative in the routine of a Brahmo's life;

    9) We regard the worship of one God as the highest of a Brahmo's duties and as the best of means to improve the soul and the neglect of it as a way to spiritual death.

    More information on Sadharan Brahmo Samaj

    Friday, January 1, 2010

    Timeline of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj foundation

    Sadharan Brahmo Samaj

    History of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj

    1833 Rammohun Roy passes to his heavenly abode on 27th September in Bristol 

    1839 Tattwabodhini Sabha, or truth-teaching society, started by Debendranath Tagore to discuss social and religious matters amongst bhadralok Bengalees.

    1843 Debendranath and 20 of his Tattawobodhini companions are formally initiated in the Brahmo Samaj by Ramchandra Vidyabagish on December 21, (7th Paush 1765 B.E.). Debendranath institutionalizes Rammohun's ideology of reformed Hinduism. Vedas venered as a scriptural source of Hinduism*. 4 Brahmin scholars are deputed to Benares to study the 4 Vedas as sources of religious authority. Their reports some yers later disquiet Debendranath and Akshay Kumnar Dutta (his scribe and companion).

    1850 Debendranath Tagore publishes the Brahmo Dharma in English (it had been previously privately published in Bengali in 1848). The Vedas are henceforth rejected as a religious authority, in favour of "the book of nature" and "man's virtuous intuition".

    1855 Charles Dall, American Unitarian missionary arrives in Calcutta to cause trouble in Brahmoism. He organises a Masonic Lodge called the Goodwill Society where AntiBrahmo Keshab Chandra Sen takes up mebership in 1856. The AntiBrahmo is the grandson of Rammohun's lifelong Hindu Sabha opponent Baboo Ram Kamal Sen.

    1857 AntiBrahmo Keshub Sen, joins the Calcutta Brahmo Samaj when Debendrnath is meditating in the Himalayas.* On his return, Debendranath instructs Dall never to enter the Brahmo Samaj or speak the name of Jesus Christ in his presence. A vengeful Dall forms the "Friends of Rammohun Society" to counter Debendranath's command over the Brahmo Samaj - Keshab Sen is his hand picked protege.

    1859 Tattwabodhini Sabha disbanded after Pt. Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, its famous secularist reformer and secretary, resigns in protest against the AntiBrahmno Keshub's actions which Debendranath was not opposing publicly. Young Brahmo Master Hemendranath Tagore (third son of Debendranath and the "first Brahmo" as well as Dwarkanth Tagore's chosen heir) is annointed MahaAcharya by the outgoing Tattwabodhini Council with the approval of Debendranath. MahaAcaharya embarks on a lifelong Yogic quest under the Tattwabodhini masters.

    1860  The AntiBrahmo Keshub establishes the Sangat Sabha which is the nest of all AntiBrahmo vipers. MahaAcharya Hemendranath Thakur finalises the "Brahmo Anusthan" or formal Code of Practice for True Brahmos. It is only revealed to the sacredotal Brahmins of Adi Brahmo Samaj against solemn oath.

    1861 Debendranath's eldest daughter Sukumari was married according to the new Brahmo Anusthan on 26th July. In the same year the marriages of 3 other Brahmos of Brahmin caste take place by the new Anusthan. The Sangat Sabha mounts a virulent campaign against the new Anusthan. A fortnightly titled The Indian Mirror is established at the Adi Samaj.*

    1862  Considerable tension simmers between the Brahmin Tattwabodhities under MahaAcharya and followers of the AntiBrahmo. To effect reconciliation on 13 April Debendranath grants Keshub Chandra Sen a Ministryship as Acharya Brahmanand under the MahaAcharya. An uneasy stalemate continues for the next 3 years.*

    1863 MahaAcharya now turns to North India and Upper India for expansion. The Brahmo Samaj is founded at Lahore in February by MahaAcharya's lieutenant Pandit Nobin Chandra Roy. The next month the Calcutta Brahma Sabha is renamed as the Calcutta Brahmo Samaj.

    1865  Matters come to a head with the formal expulsion of Keshab Sen from the Adi Brahmo Samaj by MahaAcharya Hemendranath. However, both sides choose to keep this secret for strategic reasons.

    1866  Creation of the Brahmo Samaj of India under Keshub at a meeting held in the house of the Calcutta College on 11th November. AntiBrahmo Keshab is appointed "Secretary for Life" and he decress that "God shall always be President of his Samaj". The Calcutta Samaj is now referred to as the Adi (or Original) Brahmo Samaj by the common people. MahaAcharya intiates legal action for all titles to the Brahmo heritage, his followers are referred to as "True Brahmos".*

    1867 Bijoy Krishna Goswami is expelled from Adi Brahmo Samaj. He persuades Keshub to use Vaishnavism and 'sankirtan' (community singing) in services of AntiBrahmno's Church. By now the Adi Brahmo Samaj is increasingly outspoken against the British Crown, and equates Brahmoism with Nationalism and as the True Hindutvata (Indian-ness). The Hindu Mela - a powerful Swadeshi movement is initiated by the Tagore family, it is opened by a hymn composed for the occcasion by MahaAcharya.*

    1869  Under legal threat from MahaAcharya for fradulent use of the title Brahmo Samaj , Keshub renames his Church as "The Tabernacle of the New Dispensation" and consecrates his chapel on 22nd August 1870. Keshub visits England at the invitation of the British Crown to counter the Adi Brahmo Samaj's national religion campain. Keshab is granted a brief audience with the Queen-Empress who gives him an annuity of 300 pounds per year. The AntiBrahmo promply declares all his followers to be loyal to her Majesty's Sovereignty. In the same year a vigorous campaign is launched by the Adi Brahmo Samaj against the inter-caste mariages being organised by the AntiBrahmo's faction. Keshab seeks the legal opinion of Sir Henry Maine (Legal Member of the Viceroy's Council) and is dismayed to learn that marriages conducted by his followers have no validity in law. *

    1872  The Adi Brahmo Samaj ensures the passage of the Special Marriages Act (Act III of 1972) which forces Keshab's followers to declare that they are "neither Hindoo, nor Mussalman nor Christian". The new doctrine of Hindu nationalism is forcefully articulated before orthodox Hindu leaders of Calcutta by Adi Brahmo Samaj President Raj Narain Bose, in a lecture entitled "The Superiority of Hinduism."*

    1874  With the blessing of MahaAcharya, a Liberal faction within New Dispensation organizes the Samadarshi party to counter Keshab's growing dictatorial tendencies. Keshub abandons Unitarian gospel of social reform. He and his disciples begin a series of bizarre enctments known as "Pilgrimages to the Saints" which afford considerable amusement to his detractors"*

    1876 Members of the Samadarshi party constitute the Indian Association in support of the moderate nationalist ideology of Surendranath Banerjee. The movement leads a decade later to the formation of the Indian National Congress.*

    1878 Marriage of Keshub's eldest daughter, Suniti, to the Maharaja of Cooch Behar, Prince Nripendra Narayan, in violation of the Brahmo Marriage Act of 1872, becomes the cause of action for the First Schism in the New Dispensation. Samadarshi party returns to its Brahmo roots and reconstitutes itself as the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj or the (General Body of the Brahmo Samaj)*

    With acknowledgements to "Brahmo Samaj and the reform of Modern India (1979)" by David Kopf, "The History of the Adi Brahmo Samaj (1893-1897)" in 3 vols edited by Kshitendranath Tagore and "History of the Brahmo Samaj (1911) in 2 vols by Shibnath Sastri M.A. publ. Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, 211, Cornwallis Street Kolkatta.

    Brahmo Dharma

    The philosophy of Brahmo Samaj is contained in the Brahmo Dharma written in 1848 by Debendranath Tagore.

    "Brahmo Dharma, the only book of Brahmoism

    What is the teachings of the Brahmo Dharma ?

    The religious system unfolded in the Brahma Dharma is that of the Upanishads, with some infusion of modern ideas.

    Examples of directions in Brahmo Dharma given to seekers after God :

    To know Him, one should go to the spiritual teacher. To whom comes the pupil of entirely peaceful and well regulated mind, the knower of God, should communicate the particulars of divine knowledge by which is known the Being, undecaying, perfect, and true. He, who is wise, of regulated mind, and is always pure, attains that station after which one is not born again.

    The lesser knowledge is the Rig-Yeda, the Yajur Yeda, the SamaVeda, the Atharva Yeda etc. The higher knowledge is that contemplation by which the Eternal is known.

    Contemplate God through Om, and let welfare attend thee, as thou crossest the darkness of ignorance.

    By means of Om, the knower of God obtaineth Him who is all-tranquil, without decay, without death, without fear, the all excellent. We contemplate the adorable power and glory of the Being divine, who brought forth the world. Silence, Silence, Silence !!!"