Sitanath Tattvabhushan.

The philosophy of Brahmaism, expounded with reference to its history : lectures delivered before the Theological Society, Calcutta, in 1906-1907 online

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Online LibrarySitanath TattvabhushanThe philosophy of Brahmaism, expounded with reference to its history : lectures delivered before the Theological Society, Calcutta, in 1906-1907 → online text (page 17 of 23)
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tions, avoided those sacred writings in which the
aspects of piety I refer to had been developed. To
remedy the defect mentioned, he should either have
gone to those sources or have composed praises and
prayers of his own, either of which courses he seems
intentionally to have avoided. The defect was
partly remedied, however, in both cases, and, in the
latter case in a remarkable degree, by the hymns
composed in those days, which were sung in the
course of the services and became a great source of
comfort and edification in private devotions also.
The hymns of Raja Rammohan Ray and his followers
in the one period and those of Babu Satj^endranath
Thakur and his brothers in the other, mark two
remarkable epochs of spiritual awakening in the
history of Bengal. The former mainly call away
the mind from the sins and snares of the world and
concentrate it on the Supreme Being as our real
good and the goal of human existence. The latter
speak in touching accents of the love of God for
man and of communion with God as the source of
supreme and inexhaustible bliss. The Maharshi's
vydkhydnas or ' expositions ' would not have pro-
duced the profound effect they did without the hymns


composed by his sons, which, themselves the effects
of the feelingfe produced by his teachings, served to
deepen the i'eelings of hundreds of hearts arising
from the same source.


However, the defect in the received liturgy just
mentioned could not remain unrfcruedied, if the
Brahma Samaj were to advance spiritually. No
religious body can grow in spirit with the use of
mere stereotyped prayers. So the reform came J
and it came from the progressive -section of the
Samaj, the section that eventually separated itself
from the parent church and formed itself into the
Brahma Samaj of India. The seeds of the reform,
and in fact those of the Brahma Samaj of India,
were sown in an institution called the Sangat
or the Sangat Sabhd, (named after similar Sikh
assemblies) which has had the most important results
in the hi.story of the Brahma Samaj. The object of
the body was to make Brahmaism a reality in the
life of it iiors, with mutual help, advice and co-

operation. The moving spirit was Kesavchandra
-ult probably of several conferences,
bo the conclusion that true worshj"
cons ''lowing clement-: .\rddliand

(adoration), Kritnj/ iianksgiving), Dhydna

Ration or communion), Anutdpa (ivpentaiu
' 7m >i<f (prayer proper) and.!/ /./ (sdf-

n of worship into its
red in a little book


named BrdhmadKarmer Anusthdna, or " the Practice
of Brahmaism," ^vhich gave the substance of the
conclusions arrived sat in the Sangat and which has
since gone through several editions. This enumera-
tion of the primaryx movements of the soul towards
God is so very like the enumeration of " religious
obligations" in* Miss F. P. Cobbe's Eeligious Duty,
a book largely read by Brahmas in those days,
that I cannot but think that the Brahma leaders
really took their clue from that gifted writer. Miss
Cobbe's enumeration is, in fact, the same as that
of the Brahma leaders, with this slight difference
that, in the former, faith finds a place among the
other obligations and dhydna is absent. Gradually,
however, our leaders seem to have found out that
their division of the elements of worship was not
quite logical ; and so the list was reduced. Anutdpa
and Atmasamarpana were probably felt as included
in prayer, and were dropped in the later editions of
Brdhmadharmer Anusthdna. In a little pamphlet
giving the form of service in the Brahma Samaj of
India, published shortly after the establishment of
that Samdj, we find the elements of worship enu-
merated as four, Arddhand, Kritajnatd, Dhyana and
Prnrthand. Again it was felt that Kritajnatd was
comprehended in Arddhand and so in later editions
of the Sdmdjik TJpdsana Prandli, or Order of Public
Service, Kritajnatd was dropped and worship was
taught as consisting of three elements, Arddhand,
Dhydna and Prdrthand. In this doctrine the



Brahma Samaj, in its progressive sojctions, now rests,
and it may \^ell do so, for there it a logicalness in
this division which cannot be 'easily questioned.
The Maharshi's archand, prandmah, samddhdnam
and stotram cross and recrflss pne another. This
cannot be said of the trichotomy of drddhand,
dh/jana and pr'irthatid. They ar clearly distin-
guishable though closely allied attitudes of the soul
towards God. By drddhand is meant the praise of
God as conceived in all his known attributes of
God as satyam, jninani, anantam, the true, the all-
knowing, the infinite ; dnindirupam, amritam,
&'mt 'he blissful, the sweet and the peaceful ;

si rmn, a 1 i en it am, the good, the one without a
second ; and suddham, apdpavidham, as the holy,
untouched by sin. The adoration or praise of God
as endowed with all these attributes has the effect of
clearing our ideas about him, strengthening our
faith in him and bringing out and deepening the
of awe, reverence, gratitude, love, depend-
ence and the like, which the human soul ought to
feel ipreme. Dh/jdna, in its literal

e, is thinking of God, and in this sen> aeeoin-
pani-^ oi is identical with drddhan '/ ; but in the

mia Sainaj it is used in a deeper sense, in Tho

with the /' 'Ihi,

<m of the mind in God. Hence, it

s naturulK '-dtlhanu, which, by removing

the dullness and dry ness of the heart that stand
between it and God, reveals him to it in his



sublimity and ih the beauty of his goodness and

holiness. The nlace of prdrthand or prayer proper,

as the third of tlie soul's movements towards God,

is also sufficiently clear The wants of the soul,

the defects and shortcomings that keep us from

that abiding communion with God which is our

ideal, are best seen when we are face to face with the

perfectly holy One. Well may the unspiritual,

those who do not habitually adore God and

concentrate their minds in him, saj< that they do

not feel the need of prayer. Darkness is visible

only in contrast with light. A soul quite unillu-

mined by the presence of God naturally fails

to see its own darkness. On the other hand,

it is when the presence of God and his relation to

us is most deeply felt that our prayers become

most fervent and prove most efficacious. It will

thus be seen that the Brahma doctrine of worship,

as consisting of the three elements of drddhand,

dliydna and prdrthand, embodies a good deal of

spiritual wisdom and is based on a true insight

into the requirements of the soul. As I have said in

my Edigion of Brahman : " Faith, love and holy

desire being the very essence of religion, these three

acts of devotion will be found to be excellently

calculated to foster these essential elements of

spiritual life. Arddhand and dliydna have the

direct effect of deepening faith in God, of awakening

a consciousness of his relation to us, and of arousing

those feelings of reverence, gratitude, admiration



and humble dependence on God which constitute the
proper attitude of our souls towards him, whiJe
prayer serves effectively to attune our wills to the
Divine will and bring down Divine help upon us."

(pp. 85, 86.)


\v, it seems to me that ihe progressive
sections of the Brahma Samaj have satisfactorily
solved the problem whether public worship should
be conducted through a fixed liturgy or be entirely
free and There are evils on both sides.

A liturgy is very liable to be recited hurriedly and
mechanically and thereby to encourage dryness; while
a minister left entirely free to lead the devotions of
a congregation by his extern-port prayers, may be
too personal in the expression of his feelings, or,
praying in a dry, wild and restless manner, may fail
altogether to touch the feelings of his brethren.
sections of the Brahma Samaj have
adopted a middle course. Ttey have prescribed an
ord< -vice laying down that after uJhulhan

(lit. or the call to prayer, should come

. then a genera! prayer, then

all a sp' for the

ice dwelt upon in the They

'1 down a number of i D which

th<- in, dictions of the ipinister should proceed in

going through the s< \ercise of adoration. It

is indee^ ' that he should have feelings and

awaken feelings in the hearts of his fellow-worshippers,


but it is also wanted that his and their feelings
should take a fixed channel, tha they should
follow the devout contemplation of the attributes of
God enumerated in certain texts from the Upanishads,
or to speak more correctly, should follow the reali-
sation or consciousness of God as endowed with
those attributea\ These texts are the same as are
used in the first portion of the Sainddhanam of the
Adi Brahma Samaj liturgy with the addition of
another text by the progressive Br-ihrnas under the
Maharshi's advice.

It may be worth while mentioning the exact
sources from which these texts are drawn. The
first, 'Satyam Jndnam Anantam Brahma,' is taken
from the first verse, second valli, of the Taittiriya
Upanishad. The second, ' Anandantpam Amritam
yadvibhdti,' which means that which shines as
bliss, as immortal or as the sweet, is from the
seventh verse, second khanda, of the second
Mundaka. The third, ' Sdntam Sivamadvaitam,' is
from the seventh verse of the Mdndukya ; and the
fourth, ' Suddham Apdpaviddham,' is from the eighth
verse of the Isd. These Vedic mantras are first


uttered in unison by the congregation, and then
follows the minister's extempore adoration of God
on the lines of the conceptions embodied in them.
The way in which the congregation is affected by
such adoration depends upon the extent to which
the minister has made these conceptions his own by


private meditations on them and by cultivating the
feelings answering to them. It will thus be seen
that the task of a minister undey the system we are
considering is most arduous and that a great demand


nade both upon his thoughtfulness and his
fervency of feeling. How otfr ministers acquit
themselves under such a trying system of conducting
public service, is a question upon which I am not
jiiired to express my opinion ; but I may as
well say that, in proportion as their congregations
consist of real worshippers as distinguished from
sight-seers, their devotions no less than their
subjected to a severe criticism. It is
evident that, under such a system, those alone can
be successful ministers who diligently cultivate
/han't in their private devotions, and cultivate it
in the s . in which they are required to con-

duct it in public service, and that it is only such
nbers of the congregation as adopt the system in
; p that can enjoy public worship
best and are also good judges of the quality, the
depth and sweetness, of the devotions
offered by a minister. Hence, the very adoption of
in public service has had the effect^of
he private' devotions of
st and zealous members of the
ma Sam ij. The good which lh<- "i of

'' in/I \\:\<~ produced in the !

of devout Brihmas, in bringing li^ r h' M>SS and

strength to their souls, is simply incalculable. It


will not be too much to say that those who do
not enter into the spirit of this system know only
the outer crust of t the Brahmaism ; they miss the
inner struggles, sorrows, aspirations and joys of the
Brahma life.


However, *drddliand is followed in our form of
worship by dhydnci or silent meditation. It is really
an attempt to realise the direct presence of God in
the soul. Of this exercise I say in rny Religion of
Brahman : " Arddhand leads naturally to dhydna, i.e.,
fixing the mind on the object of worship as defined
by the above meditations. This attitude of the mind
this meeting of God face to face, as it were, in the
inmost chamber of the soul is a most important
discipline. It gives seriousness to the soul, clears
its spiritual vision, confirms its faith in the highest
truths, and giving it a taste of supersensuous joys,
makes worship attractive 'io it and weans it away from
sensual pleasures. It should therefore be cultivated
by every worshipper of Brahman with the greatest
care." As, however, dhy<'t)ia is a silent exercise,
every worshipper befng left to cultivate it in the
best way he can, it is difficult to speak of the collect-
ive experience of the Brahma Sarnaj about it.
I shall therefore content myself with what I have
already said about it till I come to Yoga or communion,
to which the cultivation of dhydna gradually led the
advanced members of the Brahma Sarnaj of India.
I shall close this part of my subject by saying a few

Prartliand OR PRAYER PROPER. 285

words on prdrthand. This subject has been -very
ably dealt with by Bdbu Nagendrandth Chdturji in
the second volume of his Dhannajijndsfi ; and I
would refer those who may have intellectual difficul-
ties on the subject to his fuN and clear exposition.
My remarks on the present occa&ion will be confined
to a repetition of what I have briefly said on the
subject in my Religion of Brahman. "Dhyana",
I say in that book, " will naturally lead ioprurthana,
prayer, the breathing of the soul's highest desires to
God, the desire, for instance, for a clear vision of
him, for the strength to live constantly in his pre-
sence, for deep love to him, and for both internal
and external holiness. When there is genuine spiritu-
al thirst in the soul, prayer comes out of it spontane-
ously, it is felt more as a necessity than a duty, and
no doubts arise as to its reasonableness and efficacy.
But there are some to whom such doubts are a real
difficulty. I would advise persons of this class not
to pray till they feel an irresistible impulse to pray,
when th'-ir doubts will be easily solved. But until
that time they should all the more diligently
cultivate the other two elements of worship,
drd tnd dhijdna, which are clearly duties

arising out of our relation to God, When they
have practised these two forms of worship with some
succ''vs, they will see that the necessities of the spirit
will coin]" 1 th'-in to have recourse to the third form
of worship as well. In regard to the usual objection
urged against prayer, namely, that in praying to God


for this or that thing we really ask him to violate
his own laws, it may be briefly said that we need
not pray for things the attainment of which we
know to be subject to fixed, unalterable laws, be they
things physical or spiiitual. About these things we
may trust that God will work out his will for our good
even without, and often in spite of, our prayers. But
there are things of the spirit in regard to which
prayer itself is the law. When we pray for them,
we get them ; when we do not pray for them, we do
not get them. Kvery spiritually-minded person
will find out for himself what these things are.
For such things prayer is a necessity and therefore
a duty. It is for this that we see prayer forming
such an important part in the spiritual exercises of
every devout person."

I have now spoken of the Brahma Samaj system
of worship as fully as I could in the space of a few
minutes. Those wishing to have a closer acquaint-
ance with it I must refer to the Bengali tract,
named " Bralimopdsand-prandli o Prdrtliandmdld, "
published by the Sadharan Brahma Samaj, and a
similar English tract published by the Mission
Office of the Brahma Samaj of India. The Adi
Brahma Samaj order of service will also be found in
a little tract published by that Samaj. I shall now
speak briefly of some of the other exercises com-
prised in the Brahma system of spiritual culture.
I have already said something on Brahma hymns and


their effect on the religious life of the Brihma
Samaj and of the country in general. The Brahma
Samaj has been very fortunate in the matter of its
singers and musical composers. The days when
Babu Satyendranath Thakur was the leading singer
of the church were followed by the musical ascend-
ancy of Bdbu Trailokyanath Sanyal, the ' singing
apostle' of the Brahma Samaj of India, better known
to the outside public by his assumed name of
Chiranji'va Sarma. The effect produced by the melo-
dious voice and the rich musical compositions of
this gifted Brahma missionary on all those who
have come under his influence, is simply incalculable.
He stands to the great Brahmananda in the same
relation as Babu Satyendranath Thakur stands to the
Maharshi. Kesavchandra's touching and beautiful
delineations of the love of God for man, and his lofty
teachings on Yoga, bhaktiand ridhdn, could not have
luced the profound effect they did but for the
help lent them by the melting hymns composed by
his devoted disciple under the inspiration of his
sermons, and often quite in prompto. Another
movement in devotional music has been led by B;'ibu
Bavindranath Thakur, the eminent Bengali poet,
the youngest son of the Maharshi. He may be said
to be the leading musical composer of the day, and
his influence on the hearts of Brihmas and others
more or less connected with the Brahma Samaj is
certainly the greatest at the present day. Not being
under the inspiration of any great preacher like the


Maharshi or the Brahrnananda, but led only by the
inner workings of his soul, he must )>e regarded as
more original in tyis musical productions than the
musical leaders whose labours have preceded his
work, as also he is certainly the most cultured and
refined of them. But this, which is an advantage
from one pokit of view, is a disadvantage from
another. The effect produced by his hymns is
likely to pass away sooner than desirable, as the sen-
timents breathed by them do not fall under a system
and are not backed by the persuasive power of the
teachings of a great preacher.

After sangitas or ordinary hymns come sank'<r-
tanas, the peculiar form of musical compositions
introduced by the school of Chaitanya, the great
Vaishnava reformer of Bengal. They are hymns
mostly in praise of God, composed in popular language
and set to light airs that easily touch the heart
and fire the imagination. They are usually sung in
chorus and to the accompaniment of the khol and
the kartdl. They were introduced into the Brahma
Samaj by the late Pandit Vijaykrishna Gosvami,
o^e of the first of Brahma missionaries and long
an honoured leader of the, Brahma Samaj. They
have had the profoundest influence on Brahma
devotions and have, perhaps more than anything
else, served to popularise our services. They may
be said to be the one link of close connection be-
tween the Brahma Sarnaj and the uneducated or


half-educated masses of our countrymen. Those
who cannot follow our preaching, those who do not
even appreciate our hymns set to classical music, feel
the power of our sankirtanas and are profited and
feel spiritually drawn to the>Brahrna Samaj by join-
ing in or listening to them.

As to the other sddhans enjoined by the Brahma

;aj, I have time simply to mention some of them
till I come to yoga, of which I shall speak in some
detail. They are dtmachintd and dtmaparikshd,
introspection and self-examination ; ndmajapa and
ndmasddhana, devoutly uttering the names of
God and realising God in those attributes which

-e names convey ; and svddhydya or 3<istrapdtha,
the devout study of sacred books. These and other
minor exercises you will find dealt with in detail in
the following books: Brdhmadhannrr Anusthdna,
already mentioned by me ; Qharmaaddhcmd in three
volumes published by Babu Urneschandra Datta ;
Yoga and Brahmagitopanishad by Kesavchandra
Sen ,'t'iljin/lu, (/'/<-/ >ns of the New Light and

Whisperifrom tin-. Inner Life by the present speaker ;

dnta o Mrita Dharma, edited by the late Babu
Adityakumar Chatturji ; and Dharma* 'nJhrtn I>v*i3abu
Lalitmohan Das. Of sermons for devout study, those
most worth mention are the Vy<ikhi/'inas of the
Maharshi, the AcJidr;/>r Upa<l<*lin ;inl Speaker
Nivedana of the Hnihmananda, and the Dhan

I 4ri.


L now come to treat briefly of the Brahma
system of yoga or communion, which represents the
high- water mark of Brahma s'idhan or spiritual
culture. As I have already said, the Brahma practice
of dhynna led naturally to the desire for a direct
realisation of God's presence and to an inquiry into
the teachings of t the Hindu scriptures on the subject.
The result w r as the formulation of a system, partly in
harmony with and partly differing from the sastric
system. Kesav's system is seen in its first draft in
his Brahmagttopanishad ; it comes out in its fullness
in his posthumous essay on Yoga. Kesavchandra con-
ceives yoga as threefold. These three forms of
yoga he calls successively Vedic or objective yoga,
Vedantic or subjective yoga, and Pauranik or bhakti
yoga. By Vedic or objective yoga, he means the
realisation of God as the one Power or Will behind
natural phenomena. I think this sort of ' realising '
God falls short of true realisation, inasmuch as he
is conceived as a Power behind phenomena. The
true vision of God in Nature is not attained until
these phenomena are identified with God and re-
cognised as his appearances. This Kesavchandra
could not do consistently with his Scotch Dualism
or 'what remained of it in him in spite of the pro-
Vedantic tendency of his latter days. Nature yet
remained to him something of a reality distinct from
God and prevented the full and legitimate develop-
ment of his system of yoga. However, the second
form of yoga taught by him is Vedantic or subjective


yoga, the realisation of God as the soul of our
souls. In his^ delineation of this devout exercise he
approaches most nearly the inne/ aspect of Vedant-
ism. He sees that in the visio i of God in the soul
nothing is seen which is not divine and he speaks
even of the utter annihilation of self in God. But
there being no definite system of philosophy behind
what he says, it may be doubted whether the unity
he sees is the fundamental unity of consciousness,
which is the only real unity, or merely that superficial
unity of force which science, professes to see.
Regarding the distinction also, of which he speaks,
it i.s doubtful whether it is the irresolvable distinction
of the manifested and the Unmanifested or only
that spurious distinction which is created by
the popular dread of Pantheism and Monism.
However, as far as he went in this direction,
Kesavchandra's services in re-establishing the almost
broken unity of the theistic thought of ancient and
modern India by his latter day teachings on Yoga,
v valuable and are fraught with important
consequences for the future. However, we come
thirdly to his idea of Pauranik or bhakti yoga, by
which he means the realisation of the Divine activity
in history, both individual and social. Kesavchandra
not developed this third form of Pauranik yoga
in the essay I have referred to. I understand that
hf had the idea of doing so in a distinct treatise ; but
he did not live to carry out his ink-ntimi. How
from his previous teachings on the lovo of God, on


cultuve of lliakti and on the doctrine of Divine dis-
pensations, we can gather in part wha^ his teachings
on Pauranik yoga c would have been. According to
him every individual's life is a field of direct Divine
activity, every event ifc it being determined by the
Divine love. Every life is a jivan-veda, a direct re-
velation of God, so that one has only to look within
and study his own life to learn how God deals with
man. But the history of nations and churches has an
important message for us. The lives of the great
founders of religions particularly are special manifes-
tations of God. Such men came, under Divine dis-
pensation, to teach us special truths and exemplify
special features of the spiritual life. Such lives should
therefore be carefully studied and the truths and
graces illustrated by them assimilated by a special
course of s<idhan or spiritual culture. I put
Kesavchandra's idea as briefly as I can. The brevity
of my statement may conceal the grave signifi-
cance of his teachings, an effect which I would try
to prevent, if I could. The importance he attached
to the study of historical religion and to the
systematic culture of the aspects of practical
religion brought to light or emphasised in the
various systems, constitutes one of the special

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Online LibrarySitanath TattvabhushanThe philosophy of Brahmaism, expounded with reference to its history : lectures delivered before the Theological Society, Calcutta, in 1906-1907 → online text (page 17 of 23)