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President’s Speech at the 141st Annual General Meeting

Respectable members,

By the grace of God and devoted sincere and earnest efforts of devotees, workers and a large band of well-wishers and patrons, Sadharan Brahmo Samaj completed one hundred and forty years of its existence. Before presenting the annual report for this year’s performance we gratefully bow down to our almighty Father for his benign guidance through the trials and uncertainties of past years. Before reviewing our performance during the current year, we offer our reverence and gratitude to all departed souls who left us during the year and had rendered remarkable service to the cause of the Samaj. Men and women old and young, we draw our inspiration from the service rendered by them during the year and offer our heartfelt sympathy to the members of their families. We record their name as far as practicable separately

Today we are going to discuss briefly how far, during the period stretching from October, 2017 to September, 2018, the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj has been able to successfully translate all the work designated to it into reality as well as to what extent it has been found wanting. In order to fruitfully respond to the internal needs and financial demands of the Samaj, it is absolutely essential to put on record everything pertaining to office management and financial transactions of the Samaj. But the central responsibility lies in the implementation of the ideals and ideology of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.

We all know that this Brahmo Samaj of ours is chiefly a religious organisation. The ideology Raja Rammohun Roy hinted at in his own work and writings, and which is amply reflected in the words of the trust deed, is still the ideology of our Samaj. However, like in any other religious organisation, the ideals and ideology of our Samaj have developed and flourished through a process of evolution. Such evolution has been brought about through the exemplary approach and attitude of leaders like Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, Bramhananda Keshab Chandra Sen, Pandit Shivnath Shastri, Ananda Mohan Basu as well as countless dedicated members of the Samaj. The chief and central ideal of the Brahmo Samaj is the worship of the peerless and incorporeal Brahmo.

On the occasion of 100 years of demise of our great leader Pt. Shivnath Sastri, I take the opportunity to quote from an address by him at the ‘Magh Celebrations’ of the Samaj entitled ‘ Dharma samajer jiboni shakti’(‘The Elixir of the Religious Community’), Pt. Shibnath Shastri said, “The power of the Almighty is showered on religious communities if  i) there is a perceived  wonderful communion and spiritual relationship amongst all, ii) there is no animosity among people , iii) belief, self-renunciation and self-restraint create an exquisite paradigm, iv) a person is dedicated fully and solely to the community he represents, and v) the internal matters of the Samaj are regulated and marshalled with strict adherence to the norms of the institution.” Addressing the Brahmos he further said that with prayer as the only succour for the mind and spirit, we have to surrender wholeheartedly to belief and dedicate ourselves to the complete well-being of the Brahmo Samaj. In this context, allow me to read out a sentence from Rabindranath’s essay entitled ‘Brahmosamajer Sharthakata’ (The Indispensability of Brahmo Samaj’), “The worship which can embrace and unite all, that by virtue of which life can turn into something completely true and worth-living in the midst of a limitless cosmic universe, is genuine worship of the Brahmo, which India will establish in the world , and such is the scripture of the Brahmo Samaj.”. Let us take a pledge that we will remain united and form a united Brahmo Samaj. Let unity be our motto,

We have, however, not also been able to forge ahead towards the fulfillment of selfless service for the ignorant, the weak and the distressed which is widely considered the most cherished work of the Almighty. Apart from the home for destitute girl and an eye clinic dispensary at Balarampur, we could not establish any new philanthropic organisation. In the past Sadharan Brahmo Samaj established school and colleges for cultivation and dissemination of liberal education and pursuance of Brahmo ideology. For various reasons now most of them are beyond our control. Required legal steps have been taken. We can affirm that presently our plea lies with Hon”ble Calcutta High Court for consideration. It is another matter that the hearing got adjourned though we kept on appealing for immediate hearing of the case from time to time. You all are aware that the Court will hear the case at the appropriate time, and little can we do about this. If the Hon’able High Court accepts our plea, it will be possible to again govern and run the institutions founded by the Brahmo Samaj. We at this stage can try to establish some new educational institutions.

Ways of serving humanity have changed with the passage of time. Raja Rammohan Roy appeared not only as a saviour of Indian women by helping uprooting the abominable “Sutti” system, he also dedicated himself to the all-round welfare and well-being of women as a whole. He blazed the trail for developments of all kinds like education for women, preservation of the rights of women, women emancipation etc. The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj was greatly inspired by his example and followed his footsteps by taking many steps and adopting many measures over the years. However, in the present times, we have largely failed to start any new work for the well-being of womankind. It is regrettable because in the present scenario countless women are falling prey to untold atrocities, torture, exploitation and similar criminal offences. Thus there is ample scope for philanthropic work to be done in this area.

You are all well aware how in the present age, corruption and lawlessness have spread in all the layers of society. In these times of corruption and anarchy, the Brahmo Samaj can most certainly give a serious thought to starting some social movements to drum up the moral support of people. With a view to serving humanity I fervently invite all members of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj to chalk out more innovative plans, pool money required for this purpose, be prepared to take the responsibility. A good many number of houses and landed property of the Brahmo Samaj are still lying unused.We have to use them for honest purposes or very soon our Samaj will be denied any rightful claim of such property. Very recently Krishnagar Samaj building was under threat of destruction and unauthorised occupation by locals. The vandalism has been checked due to prompt action from Samaj and with the help of district administration

While details of activities will be given discipline wise separately. I may be permitted to touch upon certain highlight of the activities during the year under review.

In year under review three new books were published. Publication wing tries very hard to market Samaj publication in the best interest which hitherto was in appalling situation. Members will be happy to note that Samaj in collaboration with outside Book seller and Publishers have started marketing its publication and the result is overwhelming. 

In the area of Office Administration and Accounts many new and innovative steps are taken. Some of which are installation of Close Circuit Camera to man vulnerable places of Samaj premises, computerization of many Samaj activities and Accounts, introduction of on-line payment facility for all members & donors, installation of card swapping (POS) machine for cash less transactions, On-line sale of Samaj publications, more uses of e-mail and regular updating Samaj website for prompt awareness, Installation of Water Purifier for quality drinking water etc.

Active and sincere efforts are made by Samaj authority to complete all arrear Annual Accounts and timely complied statutory formality to halt financial loss. Members will be happy to note that renovation and extension of the old press room has been completed and it linked with the office room to utilize for discussion and other official work.

Some jobs are long overdue which require immediate attention i,e, a) Flooring of the Samaj Prayer hall which is severely damaged due to its 140 years lives and sustained natural hazards b) Repairing of Sadhanasram building, c) The building of Balya Bhavan at Baniban where at present there are no inmates, can be utilized to establish an eye-clinic and Charitable dispensary for the benefit of local villagers. I hope the new committee will take up these jobs with priority.

Sooner it came to our knowledge about the financial crisis of Brahmo Balika Shikshalaya, the reputed educational institution run by Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, Samaj takes step to cope up with the situation. We hope to improve this situation with the active support of our members and guidance of outside agency.

These are only some thoughts and reflections I offered for your wise consideration. Lot more can be done. I firmly believe and have conviction that the new committee will work unitedly towards revitalization of lost grandeur of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj and way forward for the betterment.

“Om Brahmo Kripahi Kevalam”

Kolkata                 Asish Kumar Pain

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