A Brahmo 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." [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 ]

The 2001 Census of India ["Minor religious groups" Census of India data dissemination publication of 2006, limited circulation.] 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 not exceeding 20,000 people. [Samaj membership lists]

Considering the small numbers of Brahmos, their disproportionate influence on India's development post-19th Century is unparalleled in recent times. A recent publication describes this influence,

"... 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 ..." [ Fair use of extract vide section 52(1)(f) of "Indian Copyright Act, 1957"]

Brahmo and Brahmo Samaj

"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 in the Samaj, for example, when offspring of Brahmos follow 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". [ [ Brahmo Samaj of Delhi ] ]

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 ["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.] that a non-Brahmo Brahmo Samajist" does not cease to be (say) a Hindu or Sikh by following the Samaj.

Notable non-living Brahmos

* Anandamohan Bose - Noted religious and political reformer, President of Indian National Congress.
* Aruna Asaf Ali - Indian freedom fighter and prominent leader of the Quit India Movement.
* Girish Chandra Sen - Translated the Quran into Bengali.
* Gunabhiram Barua - Famous playwright and the first widow remarriage in Assam.
* Indrajit Gupta - Communist, "Pro-tem" Speaker of Parliament and Home (Interior) Minister of India (1996-98).
* Jagadish Chandra Bose - Noted Indian Scientist.
* Kadambini Ganguly - First female medical graduate in South Asia.
* Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis - Scientist, Noted statistician and Founder of the Indian Statistical Institute in 1931.
* Rajnarayan Basu - Writer and intellectual of the Bengal Renaissance.
* Sarojini Naidu - Poet, Prominent freedom fighter and Politician. First woman Governor of an Indian State.
* Satyendranath Tagore - Social Reformer and first Indian to join the Indian Civil Service, in June 1863.
* Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar - Noted Chemist, Founder of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, First Indian Knighthood for Science.
* Subroto Mukerjee - First Chief of Air Staff of the Indian Air Force.
* Sucheta Kriplani - First woman Chief Minister of an Indian State.
* Swarnakumari Devi - Noted Bengali poet, novelist, musician and social worker.

See also

* Adi Dharm
* Brahmoism
* Brahmo Dharma
* Brahmo Samaj
* History of Bengal
* Indian National Congress
* Kayastha
* Prarthana Samaj
* Sadharan Brahmo Samaj
* Tattwabodhini Patrika
* Trust deed of Brahmo Sabha
* Vaisya

References & Notes

External links

* []

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