Raja Rammohan Roy And His Contribution
Raja Rammohan Roy And His Contribution
Life in brief
- Born: August 14, 1774
- Place of Birth: Radhanagar village, Hoogly district, Bengal Presidency (now West Bengal)
- Parents: Ramakanta Roy (Father) and Tarini Devi (Mother)
- Spouse: Uma Devi (3rd wife)
- Children: Radhaprasad and Ramaprasad
- Education: Persian and Urdu in Patna; Sanskrit in Varanasi; English in Kolkata
- Movement: Bengal Renaissance
- Religious Views: Hinduism (early life) and Brahmoism (later in life)
- Publications: 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).
- Death: September 27, 1833
- Place of death: Bristol, England
- Memorial: Mausoleum at Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol, England
Early Life | Raja Rammohan Roy And His Contribution
- Ram Mohan Roy was born in Radhanagar, Hooghly District, Bengal Presidency to a prosperous family of the Brahman class (varna).
- 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.
- As a youth, he traveled widely outside Bengal and mastered several languages—Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, and English, in addition to his native Bengali and Hindi.
- Roy supported himself by moneylending, managing his small estates, and speculating in British East India Company bonds.
- He learnt English language at the age of 22. He read the works of philosophers like Euclid and Aristotle which helped shape his spiritual and religious conscience.
Beginning Of Social And Religious Cognizance
- In 1805 he was employed by John Digby, a lower company official who introduced him to Western culture and literature. For the next 10 years Roy drifted in and out of British East India Company service as Digby’s assistant and continues his religious studies as well.
- In 1803 he composed a tract denouncing what he regarded as India’s superstition and its religious divisions, both within Hinduism and between Hinduism and other religions. As a remedy for those ills, he advocated a monotheistic Hinduism in which reason guides the adherent to “the Absolute Originator who is the first principle of all religions.”
- He sought a philosophical basis for his religious beliefs in the Vedas (the sacred scriptures of Hinduism) and the Upanishads (speculative philosophical texts), translating those ancient Sanskrit treatises into Bengali, Hindi, and English and writing summaries and treatises on them. The central theme of those texts, for Roy, was the worship of the Supreme God who is beyond human knowledge and who supports the universe. In appreciation of his translations, the French Société Asiatique in 1824 elected him to an honorary membership.
- In 1815 Roy founded the short-lived Atmiya-Sabha (Friendly Society) to propagate his doctrines of monotheistic Hinduism. He became interested in Christianity and learned Hebrew and Greek in order to read the Old (see Hebrew Bible) and New Testaments.
- In 1820 he published the ethical teachings of Christ, excerpted from the four Gospels, under the title Precepts of Jesus, the Guide to Peace and Happiness.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy Contribution
- He was opposed to Sati, polygamy, child marriage, idolatry, the caste system, and propagated widow remarriage.
- He stressed on rationalism and modern scientific approach.
- He believed in social equality of all human beings.
- He started many schools to educate Indians in Western scientific education in English.
- He was against the perceived polytheism of Hinduism. He advocated monotheism as given in the scriptures.
- He studied Christianity and Islam as well.
- He translated the Vedas and five of the Upanishads into Bengali.
- In 1828, he founded the Brahmo Sabha which was later renamed Brahmo Samaj. He had also founded the Atmiya Sabha.
- Brahmo Samaj’s chief aim was worship of the eternal god. It was against priesthood, rituals and sacrifices. It focused on prayers, meditation and reading of the scriptures.
- It was the first intellectual reform movement in modern India where social evils then practiced where condemned and efforts made to remove them from society.
- It led to the emergence of rationalism and enlightenment in India which indirectly contributed to the nationalist movement.
- The Brahmo Samaj believed in the unity of all religions.
- He worked for the improvement in the position of women. He advocated widow remarriage and education of women.
- His efforts led to the abolition of Sati in 1829 by Lord William Bentinck, the then Governor-General of India.
- He was a true humanist and democrat.
- He also spoke against the unjust policies of the British government especially the restrictions on press freedom.
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy and his Brahmo Samaj played a vital role in awakening Indian society to the pressing issues plaguing society at that time and also was the forerunner of all social, religious and political movements that happened in the country since.
Educational reforms | Raja Rammohan Roy And His Contribution
- Roy believed education to be an implement for social reform.
- Ram Mohan Roy was educated in traditional languages like Sanskrit and Persian. He came across English much later in life and learned the language to get better employment with the British.
- But a voracious reader, he devoured English literature and journals, extracting as much knowledge as he could.
- He realised that while traditional texts like Vedas, Upanishads and Quran provided him with much reverence for philosophy, his knowledge was lacking in scientific and rational education.
- He advocated the introduction of an English Education System in the country teaching scientific subjects like Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and even Botany.
- In 1817, in collaboration with David Hare, he set up the Hindu College at Calcutta.
- In 1822, Roy found the Anglo-Hindu school, followed four years later (1826) by the Vedanta College; where he insisted that his teachings of monotheistic doctrines be incorporated with “modern, western curriculum.”
- Ram Mohan Roy was a staunch supporter of free speech and expression. He fought for the rights of vernacular press.
- He also brought out a newspaper in Persian called ‘Miratul- Akhbar’ (the Mirror of News) and a Bengali weekly called ‘Sambad Kaumudi’ (the Moon of Intelligence).
- Mirat-ul-Akbar contained a tract entitled Brief Remarks on Ancient Female Rights and a book in Bengali called Answers to Four Questions in 1822
- In those days, items of news and articles had to be approved by the Government before being published.
- Ram Mohan protested against this control by arguing that newspapers should be free and that the truth should not be suppressed simply because the government did not like it.
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy travelled to England in 1830 to request the Imperial Government to increase the royalty, received by the Mughal Emperor and to ensure that Lord Bentick’s Sati Act would not be overturned.
- During his visit to United Kingdom, Raja Ram Mohan Roy died of meningitis at Stapleton in Bristol on 27 September, 1833.
- He was buried at the Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol. Recently, the British government has named a street in Bristol as ‘Raja Rammohan Way’ in the memory of Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
Conclusion | Raja Rammohan Roy And His Contribution
- Ram Mohan viewed education as a medium to implement social reforms so he came to Calcutta in 1815 and the very next year, started an English College by putting his own savings.
- He wanted the students to learn the English language and scientific subjects and criticized the government’s policy of opening only Sanskrit schools.
- According to him, Indians would lag behind if they do not get to study modern subjects like Mathematics, Geography and Latin. Government accepted this idea of Ram Mohan and also implemented it but not before his death. Ram Mohan was also the first to give importance to the development of the mother tongue.
- His ‘Gaudiya Byakaran’ in Bengali is the best of his prose works. Rabindranath Tagore and Bankim Chandra also followed the footsteps of Ram Mohan Roy.