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A Brahmo (Bengali: ব্রাহ্ম) is either an adherent of Brahmoism to the exclusion of all other religions, or a person with at least one Brahmo parent or guardian and who has never denied his faith. This definition has evolved from legal acts and juristic decree since previously "the word Brahmo did not admit of a clear definition."[1]

The 2001 Census of India [2] counted only 177 Brahmo in India, but the number of "followers" (Brahmo Samajists) who constitute the wider community Brahmo Samaj ("assembly for Brahmo worship") is significantly higher, and reliably estimated as about 20,000 Sadharan Brahmo Samajists, 10,000 other Brahmo denominations and 8,000,000 declared Adi Dharmists.[3][dubious ] Since the Brahmo Samaj does not sanction caste, many low caste Brahmo converts in Upper India benefiting under India's social development policies prefer to declare themselves as Adi Dharm, a practice fostered by the Brahmo Samaj of North India since the 1931 census. A state-wise study by the Brahmo Conference Organisation has tabulated 7.83 million Adi Dharm declarants in the 2001 Census.

A recent publication describes the disproportionate influence of Brahmos on India's development post-19th Century as unparalleled in recent times,[4]

... Brahmos are among the elite groups of modern India, along with the Parsis of Bombay, the Chitpavans of Pune, the Iyers and Ayyangars of the South, the Kashmiri Pandits of Uttar Pradesh and the Kayasthas of the Punjab and Bihar. The Brahmos were the most cosmopolitan, having been overwhelmingly drawn from three castes - Brahmins, Vaidyas and Kayasthas - while the others were from a single caste. Their rise into eminence was earlier than all others except the Parsis. Brahmos engaged almost wholly in urban vocations, and except for the Tagores had no feudal associations. It was they who played the leading role in organizing the Indian Political Association, forerunner to the Indian National Congress as a platform for the educated middle class ...

Brahmo and Brahmo Samaj[edit]

Brahmo Samaj refers to the wider socio-religious community either following the principles for Brahmo worship or subscribing to membership of a Brahmo Samaj, or to a Samaj, an association established for maintaining premises for assembly and Brahmo worship. A follower or Subscriber Member of this community is referred to as Brahmo Samajist.

When is a Brahmo not a Brahmo Samajist?

One aspect of Brahmoism is recognition that not only explicit faith and worship makes for a Brahmo, but also genealogy, which is implicit. People with even a single Brahmo parent or other Brahmo guardian are treated as Brahmos until they absolutely renounce the Brahmo faith. This often causes tension within the Samaj, for example, when an offspring of a Brahmo follows communism or atheism or another belief without renouncing Brahmoism formally. There are differing views between the Theist and Deist streams of Brahmoism on the retention of such people within the fold. Additionally, a Brahmo who opts not to subscribe to membership of a Brahmo Samaj remains a Brahmo but ceases to be a Brahmo Samajist.[5]

Co-faith and conversion

Brahmoism does not forbid its followers from retaining other faiths like Hinduism, Islam or Christianity. Neither is formal conversion to Brahmoism required nowadays, thereby affirming the now very well settled legal controversy [6] that a non-Brahmo Brahmo Samajist does not cease to be (say) a Hindu or Sikh by following the Samaj.

Notable Brahmos[edit]

See also[edit]

References & notes[edit]

  1. ^ finding of the Legal member of Viceregal Council Sir.Henry Maine cited in Pt.Sivanath Sastri's "History of the Brahmo Samaj" 1911/1912 1st edn. p.229
  2. ^ Minor religious groups Census of India data dissemination publication of 2006, limited circulation.
  3. ^ Q7.
  4. ^ Calcutta:Society And Change 1690-1990 .Fair use of extract vide section 52(1)(f) of Indian Copyright Act, 1957
  5. ^ Brahmo Samaj of Delhi
  6. ^ Rani Bhagwan Koer & Ors v. J.C.Bose & Ors 1903, 31 Cal 11 in the Privy Council of British Empire upholding the decision of the High Court of the Punjab 1897.

External links[edit]