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Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Raja Ram Mohan Roy
  • Social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy, also known as the father of „Indian Renaissance‟, is remembered for his fight for women‟s rights at a time when the country was suffering from harsh societal norms and traditions which included the practice of Sati.
  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born in Radhanagar in Bengal Presidency in 1772 to a Brahmin family. His father Ramkanta was a Vaishnavite, while his mother, Tarini Devi, was from a Shivaite family.
  • His father was a wealthy Brahmin and orthodox individual, and strictly followed religious duties. At the age of 14 Ram Mohan expressed his desire to become a monk, but his mother vehemently opposed the idea and he dropped it.
  • Following the traditions of the time, Ram Mohan had a child marriage at age nine but his first wife died soon after the marriage.
  • He was married for a second time at ten and had two sons from the marriage. After the death of his second wife in 1826, he married for a third time and his third wife outlived him.
  • Ram Mohan Roy’s early education is an disputed. One view is that “Ram Mohan started his formal education in the village pathshala where he learned Bengali and some Sanskrit and Persian.
  • He became profound learner and scholar of Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, English and Bengali; and foreign languages such as Greek, Latin and Hebrew.
  • Later he is said to have studied Persian and Arabic in a madrasa in Patna and after that he was sent to Benares (Kashi) to learn the intricacies of Sanskrit and Hindu scripture, including the Vedas and Upanishads.
    • He left home at an early age and shunned the prevalent practices of idol worship and several orthodox practices of the time. Roy left home and traveled through Himalayas and Tibet while learning Persian and Arabic along with Sanskrit.
    • This influenced his thinking about one god, as he preached unity of God and made early translations of Vedic scriptures into English in the later parts of his life.
    • Ram Mohan Roy’s impact on modern Indian history was his revival of the pure and ethical principles of the Vedanta school of philosophy as found in the Upnishads.
    • He preached the unity of God, made early translations of Vedic scriptures into English, co-founded the Calcutta Unitarian Society and founded the Brahma Samaj.
  • After the death of his father in 1803, he moved to Murshidabad where he published his first book, a Persian treatise with an Arabic preface, “Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhidin” or “A Gift to Monotheism”.
  • In 1814 he settled in Calcutta and in 1815 founded the Atmiya Sabha. In 1828 he established the Brahmo Samaj, “One God Society.” In 1830, he had gone to England as an envoy of the Mughal Emperor, Akbar Shah II, who invested him with the title of Raja to the court of King William
  • In 1830, Raja Ram Mohan Roy traveled to the United Kingdom as an ambassador of the Mughal Empire to ensure that Lord William Bentinck‟s Bengal Sati Regulation, 1829 banning the practice of Sati was not overturned.
  • He was against the practice of idol worship, blind faith and religious rituals. Rammohan wanted to reform Hinduism. He died on 27th September 1833 in England
  • As a Hindu, Rammohan was well aware of the weak points from which Hinduism was suffering. On the basis of the Vedas and Upanishads, he provided a new life to Indian society.
  • He interpreted religion with reason and opposed idol-worship and ritualism. He believed that every religion possesses the same truth. He criticized the ritualism of Christianity and refused to accept Christ as the incarnation of God.
  • He wanted to simplify and to modernize the Hindu religion being influenced by the western concept of reason and scientific thought.
  • Crusaded against Hindu customs as sati, polygamy, child marriage and caste system.Demanded property inheritance rights for women.
  • In 1828, he set up the Brahmo Sabha a movement of reformist Bengali Brahmins to fight against social evils.
  • He supported inter-caste marriages, women education, widow remarriages etc. With his
  • Active persuasion Lord William Bentick,the then Governor General of British India passed the famous Regulation XVII in1829 that situated Sati as illegal and punishable by courts.
  • The Brahmo Samaj adopted practical steps to propagate its religious and social ideas. It established various learned societies and educational institutions.
  • Rammohan championed the cause of English language and western system of education and supported the move of Lord Macaulay. He started the English school, the Hindu College in 1817(presidency college) and the Vedanta College at Calcutta.
  • Rammohan started publishing newspapers and magazines for which he was called the “Father of Indian Journalism”. He edited the Bengali newspaper, “Sambad Kaumudi”, and the Persian newspaper “Mirat-Ul-Akbar”.
  • With the glorification of ancient Indian culture, the Brahmo Samaj as an institution helped in developing confidence among Indians in their own religion.
  • Rammohan also believed in the freedom of man and opposed the racial superiority of Europeans. Raja Rammohan Roy is called as the Father of Indian Renaissance due to his mass awakening and rational thinking.
  • Brahmo Samaj had a number of branches established in distant provinces like Punjab, Madras, Uttar Pradesh etc.

Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhidinor A Gift to Monotheists (1905), Vedanta (1815), Ishopanishad (1816), Kathopanishad (1817), Moonduk Upanishad (1819), The Precepts of Jesus – Guide to Peace and Happiness (1820), Sambad Kaumudi – a Bengali newspaper (1821), Mirat-ul-Akbar – Persian journal (1822), Gaudiya Vyakaran (1826), Brahmapasona (1828), Brahmasangeet (1829) and The Universal Religion (1829).