Dev Samāj

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An organization formed in 1887 by Pandit Shiv Narayan Agnihotri after his split from the Brāhmo Samāj. Rejecting Brahmo rationalism, he taught that only he, as guru and enlightened being, could show the way to eternal bliss, and by 1895 he had made himself the sole object of worship for the educated, high-caste Punjabis who made up his following. Worship of Agnihotri was combined with a strict ethical code (which required, inter alia, vegetarianism) and a radical social programme, including the lifting of all caste restrictions, a ban on child marriage, and the promotion of women's education and rights, including widow remarriage. In the 1920s the Samāj had over 3 500 members, but, although remaining active in educational work, the organization has declined since Agnihotri's death in 1929.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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