Keshab Candra Sen, Hinduism, image worship
Keshab Chandra Sen (1838–84) was a prominent social and religious reformer in Kolkata. In 1857, he joined the Brahmo Samaj, which was known for its emphasis on the scriptural texts, the Upaniṣads, and the concomitant rejection of popular expressions of Hinduism, such as image worship. An aim of the Samaj was to focus on a core common to all religions, lying beyond rituals and doctrines. With time, Sen and other young members broke with the Brahmo Samaj over issues of authority and ideology. In 1866, they formed a new institution, the Brahmo Samaj of India. Sen articulated an agenda for this new organization, that being the harmonization of religions by integrating their different aspects. Contrary to the aims of the original Samaj, this led to an increasing focus on religious particularities, first with saints and prophets, and later coming to include aspects of image worship. In fact, in 1881, Sen performed a hybridized set of rituals that partially drew upon the latter. This was an ironic change, given that a defining characteristic of the original Samaj was the rejection of all forms of image worship, and given that Sen's opposition to it was initially even stronger than that of the majority membership. A need for concreteness in religious devotion was one of the motivating forces behind this fifteen-year development.
Journal of Ecumenical Studies
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