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Brahmabandhab Upadhyay

Swami Brahmabandhab Upadhyay
Born February 1, 1861(1861-02-01)
Khanyan, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died October 27, 1907 (aged 46)
Calcutta, India
Nationality Indian
Occupation Theologian (and Mystic)

Brahmabandhab Upadhyay [real name: Bhavani Charan Banerjee] (February 1, 1861(1861-02-01) - October 27, 1907 (aged 46)) was a Bengali Brahmin and nephew of the Indian freedom-fighter Kalicharan Banerjee who converted to Christianity.



After initially opposing his uncle's conversion, Upadhyaya began to study under a Catholic priest and sought conversion, but being denied, sought and received baptism at the hands of an Anglican, after which he was conditionally re-baptized and admitted into the Catholic Church. After his conversion, Upadhyaya dropped "Brahmo" from his name for religious reasons, and called himself "Bandhab Upadhyaya".

A great intellectual like his uncle, Upadhyay helped lead the effort at bridging the cultural gap between Westernized Christianity in British India and proselytes. Upadhyaya became famous for dogging Annie Besant and following up on her lectures on Theosophy by giving lectures against Theosophy and in usually the same venues. Upadhyaya also sought to Indianize Christianity within the limits of orthodoxy. He portrayed himself as a Hindu Christian, positing Hinduism as cultural, not religious, and founded an ashram in Bengal to follow-up on his ideas and experiments.


Upadhyaya wrote in the Sophia, July 1897:

Are we Hindus?
By birth we are Hindus and we shall remain Hindu till death. But as dvija (twice-born), by virtue of our sacramental rebirth we are Catholics, we are members of the indefectible communion embracing all ages and times. In customs and manners, in observing caste and social distinctions, in eating and drinking, in our life and living we are genuine Hindus, but in our faith we are neither Hindu nor European, nor American nor Chinese, but all-inclusive....
The test of being a Hindu cannot therefore be in religious opinions. Yet, we have drunk of the spirit of Hinduism... We agree in spirit with Hindu law-givers in regard to their teaching that sacramental rites (samskaras) are vehicles of sanctification.
With wondering reverence do we look upon their idea of establishing a sacred hierarchy vested with the highest authority in religious and social matters....

Upadhyay was the composer of the hymn Vande Saccidananda ("Saluting the Holy Trinity") and today widely sung during vernacular services in Christian Churches all over India:

I bow to Him who is
Being, Consciousness and Bliss.
I bow to Him whom worldly minds loathe,
Whom pure minds yearn for,
The Supreme Abode.
He is the Supreme,
The Ancient of days,
The Transcendent,
Indivisible Plenitude,
Immanent yet above all things.
Three-fold relation,
Pure, unrelated knowledge beyond knowledge.
The Father, Sun Supreme Lord, unborn,
The seedless seed of the tree of becoming,
The cause of all,
Creator, Providence, Lord of the Universe.
The infinite and perfect Word,
The Supreme person begotten,
Sharing in the Father's nature,
Conscious by essence,
Giver of true Salvation.
He who proceeds from Being and Consciousness
Replete with the breath of perfect bliss
The purifier, the Swift,
The Revealer of the Word the Life-giver.

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  • Hundreds of articles in Bengali and English in short-lived journals and magazines of Bengal such as Sophia, Jote, Sandhya, The Twentieth Century, Svaraj, etc.
  • The Writings of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay (ed. by J.Lipner and G.Gispert-Sauch), 2 vol., Bangalore, 1991 and 2001.


  • ANIMANANDA, B.: The Blade; Life and work of B. Upadhyay, Calcutta, n.d.
  • MUKHOPADHYAY, Uma: India's fight for freedom or the swadeshi movement (1905-06), Calcutta, 1958.
  • LIPNER, Julius J.: Brahmabandhab Upadhyay: the Life and thought of a revolutionary, New-Delhi, 1999.
  • TENNENT, Timothy C.: Building Christianity on Indian Foundations: The Legacy of Brahmabandhav Upadhyay. Delhi: ISPCK, 2000.
  • SPENDLOVE, Gregory Blake: A Critical Study Of The Life And Thought Of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay. Deerfield: TEDS, 2005.

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