Bodo Brahma Dharma
Bodo Brahma Dharma was a new religious movement agitated by Gurudev Kalicharan Brahma in the early 20th century in Dhubri District of Assam among the Bodo people after initiation in the Brahmo faith and the teachings of the Adi Brahmo Parambrahma in 1906 at Kolkatta and assisted by Rupnath Brahma. The religion tried to reform some of the traditional customs of Bodo society and reform the Bathow religion (an animist doctrine) and opposed Christianity and missionaries amongst the Adi (Adivasi) tribals of lower plains of holy Brahmaputra river. The Adi Dharma of Brahmo Samaj successfully kept many tribals out of Christianity during Colonial rule.
Social conditions of Bodo before Brahma Dharma
The Bodo indigenous people were followers of the Bathou religion which was based on the worship of Bathow. The Bodos ate pork, chicken and brewed and drank the rice beer zou and zumai. Traditional Hindu society looked down upon these practices. Further, many Bodos were either converting to Christianity, or were being Hinduised (Sarania, Rajbanshi etc.).
Brahma dharma teachings
Kalicharan Brahma (then Kalicharan Mech) agitated the Brahmo religion to unify and reform Bodo society to meet these challenges. He was initiated into the religious significance of Adi Brahmo Parambrahma in 1906 and began his program of social and religious reform of Bodo society. Based on the Adi Brahmo Trust deed of Brahmo Sabha, he did away with worship of various deities and animal sacrifices and in its place instituted the burning of ahuti, which was similar to the Hindu homa, but had particular differences. He preached against rearing of pigs, fowl birds and brewing of the rice beer. To carry forward his teachings, he established the Bodo Mahasabha.
Many Bodos who followed Brahmo Dharma started using Assamese of Gunabhiram Barua in favor of the Bodo language. In 1911, the title Brahma was formally accepted as the last name of the follower of this religion.
The Brahma Dharma did not become the predominant religion of the Bodos, but it has remained as an important Bodo institution. Under the Brahma Dharma, the Bodos found their first national awakening and consolidation. Some followers of Brahma Dharma (Joynarayan Basumatari, Satich Chandra Basumatari), incorporated Bathou back into the religion without the associated traditional forms of worship. Due to Brahma Dharma's insistence on education, most of the intellectual leaders of the Bodo society belong to the class created by the Brahma Dharma.
- Mosahary, R. N., (1997) "Brahma Religion and Social Change among Bodos" in The Bodos: Children of Bhullumbutter, eds T. Pulloppillil & J Aluckal, Spectrum Publications, Guwahati.