During the 19th century Indian society had various social and religious problems in the Indian society. Several movements were started to help reform the society various "samajs" were formed. These included the Prathna Samaj, the Satya Shodhak Samaj, the Theosophical Society, and others. The Brahmo Samaj was one of these. It was founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in the year 1828. It can also be said as the first attempt by the Indians to reform their religion and end its harmful practices. While under Keshab Chandra Sen it was able to make great progress and set up many branches across India. The Brahma Samaj helped reform the Indian society.
Some of its important reforms were to end the practice of sati (the widow committing suicide on her dead husband's funeral pyre), opposing the worship of many gods, ending costly sacrifices and meaningless rituals. The movement proposed the belief that God is omnipresent, promoted inter-caste and widow remarriage, opposed child marriage and polygamy, and more.
The following doctrines, as noted in Renaissance of Hinduism, are common to all varieties and offshoots of the Brahmo Samaj:
- Brahmo Samajists have no faith in any scripture (holy writings) as an authority.
- Brahmo Samajists have no faith in Avatars (gods taking on a bodily form).
- Brahmo Samajists denounce polytheism (multiple gods) and idol-worship.
- Brahmo Samajists are against caste restrictions.
- Brahmo Samajists make belief in the doctrines of Karma and rebirth optional.
- Source: The Gazetteer of India, Volume 1: Country and people. Delhi, Publications Division, Government of India, 1965. CHAPTER VIII – Religion. HINDUISM by Dr. C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar, Dr. Nalinaksha Dutt, Prof. A.R.Wadia, Prof. M. Mujeeb, Dr. Dharm Pal and Fr. Jerome D'Souza, S.J.