In News: Celebrating the 250th birth anniversary of Raja Ram Mohan Roy
- In West Bengal, the unveiling of a statue at Raja Ram mohan Roy Library Foundation, Salt Lake, by Minister of Culture, will mark the inauguration of the Centre’s celebration plans.
About Raja Ram Mohan Roy
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy was the father of Modern India’s Renaissance and a tireless social reformer who inaugurated the age of enlightenment and liberal reformist modernization in India
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born on 22 May 1772 in an orthodox Brahman family at Radhanagar in Bengal.
- Ram Mohan Roy’s early education included the study of Persian and Arabic at Patna where he read the Quran, the works of Sufi mystic poets and the Arabic translation of the works of Plato and Aristotle. In Benaras, he studied Sanskrit and read Vedas and Upanishads.
- Returning to his village, at the age of sixteen, he wrote a rational critique of Hindu idol worship.
- From 1803 to 1814, he worked for East India Company as the personal diwan first of Woodforde and then of Digby.
- In 1814, he resigned from his job and moved to Calcutta in order to devote his life to religious, social and political reforms.
- In November 1830, he sailed for England to be present there to counteract the possible nullification of the Act banning Sati.
- Ram Mohan Roy was given the title of ‘Raja’ by the titular Mughal Emperor of Delhi, Akbar II whose grievances the former was to present before the British king.
- Ram Mohan Roy was greatly influenced by western modern thought and stressed on rationalism and modern scientific approach.
- He believed that religious orthodoxies have become causes of injury and detrimental to social life and sources of trouble and bewilderment to the people, instead of tending to the amelioration of the condition of society.
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy concluded that religious reform is both social reform and political modernisation.
- Ram Mohan was attracted to Islamic monotheism. He said that monotheism is also the fundamental message of Vedanta.
- His idea of single, unitarian god was a corrective to the polytheism of orthodox Hinduism and to Christian trinitarianism. He believed that monotheism supported one universal model for humanity.
- He believed in social equality of all human beings and thus was a strong opposer of the caste system.
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy founded Brahmo Sabha in 1828, which was later renamed as Brahmo Samaj.
- Its chief aim was the worship of the eternal God. It was against priesthood, rituals and sacrifices.
- It focused on prayers, meditation and reading of the scriptures. It believed in the unity of all religions.
- It was the first intellectual reform movement in modern India. It led to the emergence of rationalism and enlightenment in India which indirectly contributed to the nationalist movement.
- It was the forerunner of all social, religious and political movements of modern India.
- He founded the Atmiya Sabha in 1814, the Calcutta Unitarian Association in 1821, and the Brahmo Sabha in 1828 which later became the Brahmo Samaj
- He campaigned against the caste system, untouchability, superstitions and use of intoxicants.
- He was well known for his pioneering thought and action on the emancipation of women and especially on the abolition of sati and widow remarriage.
- He attacked child marriage, illiteracy of women and the degraded state of widows and demanded the right of inheritance and property for women.
- It was his relentless advocacy alongside contemporaries such as Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar that finally led to the abolition of Sati under the governor generalship of William Bentinck in 1829.
- He supported David Hare’s efforts to find the Hindu College in 1817, while Roy’s English school taught mechanics and Voltaire’s philosophy.
- He followed it up with the Anglo-Hindu School in 1822 and, in 1830, assisted Alexander Duff to set up the General Assembly’s Institution, which later became the Scottish Church College.
- In 1825, he established Vedanta College where courses in both Indian learning and Western social and physical sciences were offered.
Literary Works of Raja Ram Mohan Roy
- Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhidin (1804)
- Vedanta Gantha (1815)
- Translation of an abridgement of the Vedanta Sara (1816)
- Kenopanishads (1816)
- Ishopanishad (1816)
- Kathopanishad (1817)
- A Conference between the Advocate for, and an Opponent of Practice of Burning Widows Alive (Bengali and English) (1818)
- Mundaka Upanishad (1819)
- A Defence of Hindu Theism (1820)
- The Precepts of Jesus- The Guide to Peace and Happiness (1820)
- Bengali Grammar (1826)
- The Universal Religion (1829)
- History of Indian Philosophy (1829)
- Gaudiya Vyakaran (1833)
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s first published work Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhiddin (a gift to deists) published in 1803 exposed irrational religious beliefs and corrupt practices of the Hindus as the belief in revelations, prophets, miracles etc.
- In 1814, he founded Atmiya Sabha in Calcutta to campaign against idolatry, caste rigidities, meaningless rituals and other social ills.
- He criticized the ritualism of Christianity and rejected Christ as the incarnation of God. In Precepts of Jesus (1820), he tried to separate the moral and philosophical message of the New Testament.
- Rabindranath Tagore called him a ‘Bharatpathik’ by which he meant to say that Rammohun combined in his person the underlying spirit of Indic civilisation, its spirit of pluralism, tolerance and a cosmic respect for all forms of life
Political and Economical Reforms
- Through his writings and activities, he supported the movement for free press in India.
- When press censorship was relaxed by Lord Hastings in 1819, Ram Mohan found three journals- The Brahmanical Magazine (1821); The Bengali weekly, Samvad Kaumudi (1821); and the Persian weekly, Mirat-ul-Akbar.
- Administrative reforms: He demanded the Indianisation of superior services and separation of the executive from judiciary. He demanded equality between Indians and Europeans.
- Roy condemned oppressive practices of Bengali zamindars and demanded fixation of minimum rents. He also demanded the abolition of taxes on tax-free lands.
- He called for a reduction of export duties on Indian goods abroad.
Previous Year Questions (PYQs)
Q.1) Which of the following statements is/are correct regarding Brahmo Samaj? (2012)
- It opposed idolatry.
- It denied the need for a priestly class for interpreting the religious texts.
- It popularized the doctrine that the Vedas are infallible
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
- 1 only
- 1 and 2 only
- 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
Source: Indian Express