Who established Tattvabodhini Sabha and Adi Brahmo Samaj?
This is a very interesting question. We all must be aware that Raja Rammohan Roy stood for a rational approach to the religion. He was deeply touched by the monotheism and one God doctrine of other religions. He attacked Idol worship and propounded the theory of “One God for all religions and humanity”.
Raja Rammohun Roy had earlier set up the Atmiya Sabha (circa. 1815-19) with an objective of propagation of the monotheistic doctrine of the ancient Hindu scriptures. There were no sets of rules and rites of Atmiya Sabha but its members followed only one god.
In 1828, Raja Rammohun Roy established Brahmo Sabha which was later known as Brahmo Samaj. In the Brahmo concept, there was no place of incarnations. There was no place for idol worship, rituals, and sacrifices and there was a complete emphasis on love of mankind irrespective of all colours, races and religions.
In 1830, Raja Rammohun Roy had gone to England as an envoy to Mughal emperor Akbar Shah II. He was well received in all sections of England. On September 27, 1833, Raja Rammohun Roy died in England.
After his death, for some time, there was a dearth of dynamic leadership in Brahmo Samaj but later Maharishi Dwarkanath Tagore and Pandit Rama Chandra Vidyavagish managed it for around a decade.
But the true leadership was provided by Debendranath Tagore, eldest son of Maharshi Dwarkanath Tagore.
Before Debendranath joined the Brahmo Samaj, he had organized a Tattvaranjini Sabha at Calcutta. The same Sabha was later known as Tattvabodhini Sabha. The objective of Tattvabodhini Sabha was to encourage religious inquiries and disseminate the essence of Upanishads.
On 21 December 1841, Debendranath Tagore and his around 20 associates joined the Brahmo Samaj and thus the mission of Raja Rammohun Roy got a fresh blood. But Debendranath Tagore also stood boldly against the radical attack of the missionaries on Indian religions and culture. To counter the same a text “Brahmo Dharma” was compiled by him, which was inspired by the ancient Hindu scriptures and introduced a new form of worship called “Brahmopasana”.
During a period from 1856 to 1858, Debendranath Tagore had retired to Shimla. In 1857, Keshub Chandra Sen joined Brahmo Samaj and became a full time missionary of the Brahmo Samaj.
Keshub Chandra Sen had different thoughts, away from the fundamental doctrine of Brahmo Samaj but he was capable to attract the young enthusiast. He established a Sangat Sabha while still in Brahmo Samaj, to discuss the spiritual and social problems of the contemporary society.
In 1861, Keshub Chandra Sen established Indian Mirror, the first Indian Daily in English. Keshub is also known for initiating some of the philanthropic projects such as relief funds for humanitarian crises.
In 1866, Keshub is known to have made a very controversial lecture titled “Jesus Christ: Europe and Asia” in the Medical College Hall of Kolkata , that led to a concept called “Oriental Jesus”. The growth of differences in the ideas of the old and new groups led to the Schism in Brahmo Samajh in 1866, itself.
The Old conservative group, whose doctrine was “Brahmoism is the highest form of Hinduism” called itself Adi Brahmo Samaj. Thus we come to the conclusion that Adi Brahmo Samaj was established originally by Raja Rammohun Roy and practically by Debendranath Tagore.
The new group, which had also become an all India movement by this time called itself “Brahmo Samaj of India” or “Nava Vidhana”. Its doctrine was “Brahmoism is Catholic and Universal”. But Keshub Chandra Sen could not provide leadership to the new organization for a long time, due to some of his own controversial steps.