Ram Mohun Roy, Ram Mohun also spelled Rammohun, Rammohan, or Ram Mohan (Bengali: রাজা রামমোহন রায়; 22 May 1772 – 27 September 1833), was an Indian religious, social, and educational reformer who challenged traditional Hindu culture and indicated the lines of progress for Indian society under British rule. He is sometimes called the "father of modern India". He, along with Dwarkanath Tagore and other Bengalis, founded the Brahmo Sabha in 1828, which engendered the Brahmo Samaj, an influential Indian socio-religious reform movement during the Bengal Renaissance. His influence was apparent in the fields of politics, public administration, and education, as well as religion. He is known for his efforts to abolish sati, the Hindu funeral practice in which the widow immolated herself on her husband's funeral pyre
Early life and education (1772–1792)
Early political and religious career (1792–1820)Raja Rammohan Roy's impact on modern Indian history concerned a revival of the ethics principles of the Vedanta school of philosophy as found in the Upanishads. He preached about the unity of God, made early translations of Vedic scriptures into English, co-founded the Calcutta Unitarian Society, founded the Brahmo Samaj, and campaigned against sati. He sought to integrate Western culture with features of his own country's traditions. He established schools to modernise a system of education in India.
During these overlapping periods, Ram Mohan Roy acted as a political agitator and agent, while being employed by the East India Company and simultaneously pursuing his vocation as a Pandit.
In 1792, the British Baptist shoemaker William Carey published his missionary tract An Enquiry of the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of Heathens. In the following year, William Carey landed in India to settle. His objective was to translate, publish and distribute the Bible in Indian languages and propagate Christianity to the Indian peoples. He realised the "mobile" (i.e. service classes) Brahmins and Pundits were most able to help him in this endeavour, and he began gathering them. He learned the Buddhist and Jain religious works as a means to improve his argument in promotion for Christianity in the cultural context. In 1795, Carey made contact with a Sanskrit scholar, the Tantric Hariharananda Vidyabagish, who later introduced him to Ram Mohan Roy; Roy wished to learn English.
Between 1796 and 1797 the trio of Carey, Vidyavagish and Roy fabricated a spurious religious work known as the Maha Nirvana Tantra (or "Book of the Great Liberation")and attempted to portray it as an ancient religious text to "the One True God". The document's judicial sections were used in the law courts of the English Settlement in Bengal as Hindu Law for adjudicating upon property disputes of the zamindari. However, British magistrates and collectors began to suspect it as a forgery; its usage, as well as the reliance on pundits as sources of Hindu Law, was quickly deprecated. Vidyavagish has a brief falling out with Carey and separated from the group but maintained ties to Ram Mohan Roy. The Maha Nirvana Tantra's significance for Brahmoism lay in the wealth that accumulated to Rammohan Roy and Dwarkanath Tagore by its judicial use, and not due to any religious wisdom within.
In 1799, Carey was joined by missionary Joshua Marshman and the printer William Ward at the Danish settlement of Serampore.
From 1803 to 1815, Rammohan served the East India Company's "Writing Service", commencing as private clerk "munshi" to Thomas Woodforde, Registrar of the Appellate Court at Murshidabad, whose distant nephew, also a Magistrate, later made a living off the spurious Maha Nirvana Tantra under the pseudonym Arthur Avalon. In 1815, Raja Ram Mohan Roy formed "Atmiya Sabhan", and spent many years[when?] at Rangpur and elsewhere with Digby, where he renewed his contacts with Hariharananda. William Carey had, by this time, settled at Serampore and the trio renewed their association with one another. William Carey was also aligned with the English Company, then headquartered at Fort William, and his religious and political ambitions were increasingly intertwined.
The East India Company was taking money from India at a rate of three million pounds a year in 1838. Ram Mohan Roy estimated how much money was being driven out of India and where it was headed towards. He predicted that around half of the total revenue collected in India was sent out to England, leaving India to fill taxes with the remaining money.
At the turn of the 19th century, the Muslims, although considerably decreased after the battles of Plassey and Buxar, still posed a political threat to the Company. Rammohan was now chosen by Carey to be the agitator among them.
Under Carey's secret tutelage in the next two decades, Rammohan launched his attack against the bastions of Hinduism of Bengal, namely his own Kulin Brahmin priestly clan (then in control of the many temples of Bengal) and their priestly excesses. The social and theological issues Carey chose for Rammohan were calculated to weaken the hold of the dominant Kulin class, especially their younger disinherited sons forced into service who constituted the mobile gentry or "bhadralok" of Bengal, from the Mughal zamindari system and align them to their new overlords of Company. The Kulin excesses targeted included child marriage and dowry. In fact, Carey tried to convert Raja to Christianity and appointed a religious priest to try to convert Raja, although the priest later accepted Hinduism.
Middle "Brahmo" period (1820–1830)Commenting on his published works, Sivanath Sastri wrote that Roy was part of a second appeal to the Christian Public. Brahmanical Magazine Parts I, II and III, with Bengali translation and a new Bengali newspaper called Sambad Kaumudi, was processed in 1821. In 1822, A Persian paper called Mirat-ul-Akbar contained a tract entitled "Brief Remarks on Ancient Female Rights"; a book in Bengali called Answers to Four Questions was released the same year. The third and final appeal to the Christian public took place in 1823. Roy wrote a letter to Rev. H. Ware on the "Prospects of Christianity in India" and an "Appeal for Famine-Smitten Natives in Southern India" in 1824. A Bengali tract on the qualifications of a God-loving householder, a tract in Bengali on a controversy with a Kayastha, and a Grammar of the Bengali language in English were written in 1826. A Sanskrit tract on "Divine Worship by Gayatri" with an English translation, the edition of a Sanskrit treatise against caste, and the previously noticed tract called "Answer of a Hindu to the Question" was released in 1827. A form of divine worship and a collection of hymns were composed by Roy and his friends in 1828. In 1829, "Religious Instructions founded on Sacred Authorities" was published in English and Sanskrit; a Bengali tract called "Anusthan" was also published that year. A petition against Suttee also took place in 1829. In 1830, Roy was in charge of a Bengali tract, a Bengali book concerning the Bengali language, the trust deed of the Brahmo Samaj, an address to Lord William Bentinck congratulating him for the abolition of Sati, a document in English of the arguments regarding the burning of widows, and a tract in English on the disposal of ancestral property by Hindus
Life in England and death (1830–1833)
The religious reforms of Roy contained in beliefs of the Brahmo Samaj expounded by Rajnarayan Basu are: Brahmos believe that the fundamental doctrines of Brahmoism are at the basis of every religion, followed by man; Brahmos believe in the existence of One Supreme God, and worship Him alone. Brahmos believe that worship of Him needs no fixed place or time.
Social Reforms of RammohanRoy demanded property inheritance rights for women and, in 1828, set up the Brahmo Sabha, which was a movement of reformist Bengalis formed to fight against social evils.
Roy's political background influenced his social and religious to reforms of Hinduism. He wrote: "The present system of Hindoos is not well calculated to promote their political interests…. It is necessary that some change should take place in their religion, at least for the sake of their political advantage and social comfort."
Rammohan Roy's experience working with the British government taught him that Hindu traditions were often not respected or thought as credible by Western standards; this affected his religious reforms. He wanted to legitimise Hindu traditions to his European acquaintances by proving that "superstitious practices which deform the Hindu religion have nothing to do with the pure spirit of its dictates! " The "superstitious practices" Rammohun Roy objected included sati, caste rigidity, polygamy and child marriages. These practices were often the reasons British officials claimed moral superiority over the Indian nation. Ram Mohan Roy's ideas of religion sought to create a fair and just society by implementing humanitarian practices similar to Christian ideals and thus legitimise Hinduism in the modern world.
Greatest social reformer in the history of IndiaThe Maker of modern India, the founder of the greatest socio- religious reform movements, Brahmo Samaj, Raja Ram Mohan Roy has played a crucial role in the abolition of social evils like the Sati system. He also advocated various changes in the Indian society by popularizing the study of English, modern medicine, technology and science. This is the reason why he was referred as “Raja’ by the Mughal emperor.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born in Radhanagar of Hiigly district in Bengal on 22nd May 1772 to Ramakanto Roy who was a viashnavite and Tarini who belonged to the Shakta community.Raja Ram Mohan Roy pursued hi higher studies at Patna and was proficient in speaking Bangla, Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit by the age of fifteen. He never followed the concept of idol worship and the conservative rituals of the Hindus. He was an independent thinker who never believed in the superstitions and social bigotry. His father being an orthodox Hindu Brahmin often criticized this thought process of his son and this resulted in differences between the two. Raja Ram Mohan Roy could not bear these differences and then left home and travelled across Himalayas, Tibet and then returned home after a pretty long duration.
He was compelled to marry by his family with a hope that he would change. But everything was in vain. Raja Ram Mohan Roy then went to Varanasi and studied all the Vedas, Upanishads and the Hindu Philosophy in detail. The death of his father in 1803 compelled him to return back to Murshiabad . He then decided to take up a business of moneylending in Calcutta followed by a job in the Revenue Department of the East India Company during 1809-1814.
He propagated the need of educating the women and the learning of the English language. He also founded a school in the year 1822 that emphasized on teaching English and also opposed the funding provided by the government to teach Sanskrit in schools.
Brahmo Samaj was founded by him in 1828 to check the hypocrisies of people done under the veil of religion. Finally sati system was abolished in the year 1829. The Mughal emperor appointer him as an ambassador to the United Kingdom pleading his (emperor’s) pensions and allowances that he was entitled to receive and he travelled to UK in the year 1830. In the year 1833 Raja Ram Mohan Roy succumbed to Meningitis on September 27th at Stapleton near Bristol.
EducationistIn 1830, he helped Alexander Duff in establishing the General Assembly's Institution, by providing him the venue vacated by Brahma Sabha and getting the first batch of students. Roy supported induction of western learning into Indian education. He advocated the study of English, science, western medicine and technology. He spent his money on a college to promote these studies.
JournalistRoy published magazines in English, Hindi, Persian, and Bengali. He published Brahmonical Magazine in English in 1821. One notable magazine of his was the Sambad Kaumudi, published in 1821. In 1822, Ram Mohan published Mirat-ul-Akbar in Persian language.
Brahmonical Magazine ceased to exist after publication of few issues. But Sambad Kaumudi, a news weekly, covered topics such as freedom of press, induction of Indians into high ranks of service and separation of the executive and judiciary. Sambad Kaumudi became bi-weekly in January 1830 and continued for 33 years.
He published newspaper to register his protest against the introduction of Press Ordinance of 1823. The ordinance stated that a license from the Governor General in council would be mandatory to publish any newspaper. When the English Company censored the press, Rammohan composed two memorials against this in 1829 and 1830 respectively. Being an activist, he steadily opposed social atrocities like Sati and child marriage.
- Ram Mohan Roy, The English Works of Raja Rammohun Roy (1906)
- S. D. Collett, The Life and Letters of Raja Rammohun Roy (1900)
- Ram Mohan Roy, a Present To the Believers in One God (ca. 1803)
The cover was issued from Radhanagar Post Office, birth place of Raja Rammohan Roy, on his 150th death anniversary.
Raja Rammohan Roy MahavidyalayaRaja Rammohan Roy Mahavidyalaya, established in 1964, is a government affiliated college located at Radhanagar in the Hooghly district of West Bengal. It is affiliated to University of Burdwan and teaches arts, science and commerce
Arts and Commerce
- Political Science