Under this head may be included a number of efforts at a reformation of the religions of India, but principally that of which the FOUNDER was Ram Mohan Roy, a Hindu rajah born in Bengal on 14th, August 1774. His ancestors were high caste Brahmins; so he acquired the usual elements of a native education, to which he added Persian, and afterwards Sanskrit. When quite young he began to look into the evidences for and against Hinduism and
other religions professed about him. Having found them altogether unsatisfactory, and even repugnant to his mind, he boldly denounced them. This led to a quarrel with his family and community, though his mother seems to have been convinced of the errors of her religion, but would not give it up. He spent two or three years in Tibet, where he openly denounced
the dogma of the divinity of the Lama somewhat to his peril. In 1803 his father died, having disinherited him, but his brother dying in 1811 he got back what he had sacrificed. He then opposed idolatry the more, and wrote books against it in different languages. In 1820, accepting the morality of Christ's teaching, though not his divinity, he published "The Precepts of Jesus, the Guide to Peace and Happiness". In 1831 he visited England, where, overtasking his strength to meet the many engagements made for him to speak, he died in 1833. In 1830, before leaving for England, he had founded the Brahmo Sabha (a Theistic Society).
In 1842 this society was joined by Babu Debendranath Tagore, a wealthy Brahmin of Calcutta, by which, and also by the spread of the English language, it made rapid progress in different parts with branches in various parts of the country, of which they now claim to have one hundred, with a goodly showing of members. But there are a far greater number of sympathizers who are not willing to come out fully.
They are theistical, believing in one Eternal Being, to whom they pray, but deny a divine revelation, assuming that nature and intuition are sufficient. At the same time they are eclectic, holding that there is some good in all systems of religion, and that there
may be progression in religious belief. This being the case, they progress so fast that no one can keep up with them or tell one week what new development or "new dispensation," as one party now call it, will take place next week. They, however, ignore caste, and
have given up all idolatrous rites, and perform public worship, and as far as they go there is a real reformation, though they do not seem to be in the way to embrace the Gospel fully.
Akin to the Brahmo Somaj are the Prarthana Somaj (Praying Society), and Arya Somaj (Society of Aryans), of Western India; only they have not so fully broken away from Hinduism, from whose ranks they are mostly recruited, though many Mussulmans and Parsees are in sympathy with them. They, however, have some imposing edifices, which are in striking contrast with the temples, mosques, and fire temples around them.
From all this it will be seen that India is full of religion of every variety, Theism, Atheism, Monotheism, Dualism, Polytheism, Pantheism, all of which have had their origin here or hereabouts. And yet here extremes meet where there is the most religion there is the least. What Paul said in addressing the Athenians applies to the whole of Asia; and with all
their millions of gods they need apostles to preach to them the " Unknown God."