Raja Ram Mohan Roy

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Raja Ram Mohan Roy is regarded as the ''Father of the Bengal Renaissance
Ram Mohan Roy
May 22 1772(1772--)September 30 1833
Alternate name:Raja Ram Mohan Roy
Date of birth:May 22 1775(1775--)
Place of birth:Radhanagore, Bengal
Date of death:January 30 1948 (aged 80)
Place of death:Stapleton, Bristol
Movement:Brahmo movement
Ram Mohan Roy, also written as Rammohun Roy, or Raja Ram Mohun Roy (Bangla: রাজা রামমোহন রায়, Raja Rammohon Rae), (May 22, 1772September 27, 1833) was the founder of the Brahmo Samaj, one of the first Indian socio-religious reform movements. His remarkable influence was apparent in the fields of politics, public administration and education as well as religion. He is most known for his efforts to abolish the practice of sati, a Hindu funeral custom in which the widow sacrifices herself on her husband’s funeral pyre. It was he who first introduced the word "Hinduism" (or "Hindooism") into the English language in 1816.

In 1828, prior to his departure to England, Roy founded, with Dwarkanath Tagore, the Brahmo Samaj, which came to be an important spiritual and reformist religious movement that has given birth to a number of stalwarts of the Bengali social and intellectual reforms. For these contributions to society, Raja Ram Mohan Roy is regarded as one of the most important figures in the Bengal Renaissance.

Early life and education

Roy was born in Radhanagore, Bengal, in 1772. His family background displayed an interesting religious diversity. His father Ramkant was a Vaishnavite, while his mother Tarini was from a Shakta background. Rammohan learnt successively Bangla, Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit by the age of fifteen.

As a teenager, Roy became dissatisfied with the practices of his family, and travelled widely, before returning to manage his family property. He then worked as a moneylender in Calcutta, and from 1803 to 1814 was employed by the British East India Company.

Reformer

Religious Reformer

  • Roy advocated monotheism, or the worship of one God.
  • He denounced rituals, which he deemed meaningless and giving rise to superstitions.
  • He published Bengali translations of the Vedas to prove his points.
  • In 1814, with the help of young Indians, he set up the Amitya Sabha to propagate rational religious ideas.
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Social Reformer

  • Crusaded against social evils like sati and polygamy.
  • Demanded property inheritance rights for women.
  • In 1828, he set up the Brahmo Sabha to campaign against social evils.
  • Due to his efforts, Governor General William Bentinck made sati illegal through an act in 1829.

Educationist

  • Roy believed education to be an implement for social reform.
  • In 1817, in collaboration with David Hare and Alexander Duff, he set up the Hindu College at Calcutta.
  • In 1830, he helped Alexander Duff in establishing the General Assembly's Institution, by organizing the venue and getting the first batch of students.
  • He supported induction of western learning into Indian education.
  • He also set up the Vedanta College, offering courses as a synthesis of Western and Indian learning.
  • He was a polyglot and was well versed in many world languages.

Journalist

  • Roy published journals in English, Hindi, Persian and Bengali.
  • His most popular journal was the Samvad Kaumudi. It covered topics like freedom of press, induction of Indians into higher ranks of service, and separation of the executive and judiciary.
In the social, legal and religious reforms that he advocated, Roy was moved primarily by considerations of humanity. He took pains to show that his aim was not to destroy the best traditions of the country, but merely to brush away some of the impurities that had gathered on them in the days of decadence. He respected the Upanishads and studied the Sutras. He condemned idolatry in the strongest terms. He stated that the best means of achieving bliss was through pure spiritual contemplation and worship of the Supreme Being, and that sacrificial rites were intended only for persons of less subtle intellect.

Roy campaigned for the rights of women, including the right of widows to remarry and the right of women to hold property. As mentioned above, he actively opposed polygamy, a system in which he had grown up.

He also supported education, particularly of women. He believed that English-language education was superior to the traditional Indian education system, and he opposed the use of government funds to support schools teaching Sanskrit. In 1822, he founded a school based on English education.

To overcome the social and religious evils, as he perceived them, he started a religious group known as the Brahmo Samaj. The Samaj borrowed beliefs and practices from several religions, and was eclectic in its philosophy.

Late Life

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Blue plaque in Bedford Square, London


In 1831 Ram Mohan Roy travelled to the United Kingdom as an ambassador of the Mughal Empire to ensure that that Lord Bentick's law banning the practise of Sati was not overturned [1]. He also visited France.

He died at Stapleton then a village to the north east of Bristol (now a suburb) on the 27th September 1833 of meningitis and is buried in Arnos Vale Cemetery in southern Bristol. A statue of him was erected in College Green, Bristol in 1997. There is also a blue plaque commemorating him on his house in Bedford Square, London.

Tomb

The tomb built in 1843, located in the Arnos Vale Cemetery on the outskirts of Bristol, is in need of considerable restoration and repair. It was built by Dwarkanath Tagore in 1843, 10 years after Rammohan Roy's death due to meningitis in Bristol on Sep 27, 1833.

In September 2006 representatives from the Indian High Commission came to Bristol to mark the anniversary of Ram Mohan Roy's death, during the ceremony Hindu, Muslim and Sikh women sang Sanskrit prayers of thanks [2].

Following on from this visit the Mayor of Kolkata, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya (who was amongst the representatives from the India High Commission) decided to raise funds to restore the tomb.

In June 2007 businessman Aditya Poddar donated £50,000 towards the restoration of his grave after being approached by the Mayor of Kolkata for funding. [3].

Epitaph

The epitaph on the late 19th century stone at the tomb reads: "Beneath this stone rest the remains of Raja Rammohan Roy Bahadur, a conscientious and steadfast believer in the unity of Godhead, he consecrated his life with entire devotion to the worship of the Divine Spirit alone.

"To great natural talents, he united through mastery of many languages and distinguished himself as one of the greatest scholars of his day. His unwearied labour to promote the social, moral and physical condition of the people of India, his earnest endeavours to suppress idolatry and the rite of suttie and his constant zealous advocacy of whatever tended to advance the glory of God and the welfare of man live in the grateful remembrance of his countrymen."

Some opinions

Rabindranath Tagore
When Rammohun Roy was born in India, the darkness of a moonless night was reigning. Death was roaming in the skies…When Rammohun Roy awoke and spread his sight on Bengali society it was an abode of the spirits…At that time, only the ghost of the living ancient Hindu religion held its sway in the funeral grounds. It had no life, it had no vitality, it only had its strictures and threats…In the days of Rammohun, the tattered foundations of Hindu society, with thousands of holes filled with creatures, progressively growing from generation to generation, was bulging with the impact of age and immobility. Rammohun proceeded fearlessly to free society from the serpent-like bondage … Today even our youngsters will kick such dead serpents with a smile on the face, we will laugh them off as common field snakes without any poison – we have forgotten their enormous power, the magnetic attraction of their eyes and the dangerous embrace of their long tails. …When the Bengali students came out of Hindu College, imbibed with the new English education, a certain type of intoxication grew in them… They took the blood that oozed from the deeply injured heart of the ancient Hindu society and used it as a plaything… To them nothing was good or sacred in Hindu society, they did not even have that respect for ancient Hindu society that they should pick up its skeletons, scattered hither and thither, cremate them properly and return home with a heavy heart after sprinkling the ashes in the waters of the Ganges… Considering the conditions of the period, they cannot be blamed that much…But the man who scotched the first flames of revolutionary fire in the present Bengali society, that Rammohun Roy was not intoxicated in that manner. He observed everything, good and bad, patiently. He enlightened the dark Hindu society of those days, but did not light the all-consuming fires of cremation. That was the greatness of Rammohun Roy.
[4]

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Epitaph for Ram Mohun Roy on his tomb
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Tomb of Ram Mohun Roy in Arno's Vale Cemetery, Bristol, England


Brajendra Nath Seal
The period in which the Raja was born and grew up was, perhaps, the darkest age in modern Indian history. An old society and polity had crumbled down, and a new one had not yet been built in its place. Devastation reigned in the land. All vital limbs of society were paralysed; religious institutions and schools, village and home, agriculture, industry and trade, law and administration, all were in a chaotic condition. An all-round reconstitution and renovation were necessary for the continued existence of social life and order. But what was to be the principle for organisation? For there were three bodies of culture, three bodies of civilisations, which were in conflict, - the Hindu, the Moslem, and the Christian or Occidental; and the question was, - how to find a rapport, of concord, of unity, amongst these heterogeneous, hostile and warring forces. The origin of Modern India lay there. The Raja by his finding of this point of concord and convergence became the Father and Patriarch of Modern India, an India with a composite nationality and a synthetic civilisation; and by the lines of convergence he laid down, as well by the type of personality he developed in and through his own experiences, he pointed the way to the solution of the larger problem of international culture and civilisation in human history, and became a precursor, an archetype, a prophet of coming Humanity.
[5]

Friedrich Max Muller
Rammohun Roy was to my mind a truly great man, a man who did a truly great work, and whose name, if it is right to prophesy, will be remembered for ever, with some of his fellow-labourers and followers, as one of the great benefactors of mankind…And, therefore, whatever narrow-minded critics may say, I say once more that Rammohun Roy was an unselfish, an honest, a bold man, — a great man in the highest sense of the word.
[6]

See also

References

1. ^ The Telegraph (Calcutta) - New life for Raja’s tomb
2. ^ BBC News - City service honours humanitarian
3. ^ BBC News - £50k restoration for Indian tomb
4. ^ ''Charitra Puja: Rammohun Roy (in Bengali) by Rabindranath Tagore.
5. ^ Address delivered on the occasion of the death anniversary of Raja Rammohun Roy, held at Bangalore on 27th September 1924.
6. ^ ''Rammohun to Ramakrishna by F. Max Muller.

External links


Bengal Renaissance
Topics History of BengalBritish RajBengali literatureBengali poetryBengali musicBrahmo SamajAsiatic Society of BengalYoung BengalSwadeshiSatyagrahaTattwabodhini PatrikaSulava SamacharAnanda Bazar PatrikaTagore familyRabindra SangeetSantiniketanVisva Bharati UniversityComplete Works of Kazi Nazrul IslamVangiya Sahitya ParishadSambad Prabhakar   
People Raja Ram Mohan RoyRamakrishna ParamahamsaHenry DerozioDebendranath TagoreKeshub Chandra SenIshwar Chandra VidyasagarMichael Madhusudan DuttRajnarayan BasuDwarkanath GangulyAkshay Kumar DattaSarat Chandra ChattopadhyayBankim Chandra ChattopadhyaySri AurobindoSwami VivekanandaRabindranath TagoreKazi Nazrul IslamSatyendranath TagoreRam Chandra Vidyabagish   


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Coordinates: Radhanagore is a village in Hooghly District of West Bengal, India. It is famous as the birthplace of Raja Rammohun Roy. Located near Khanakul, it is approachable from Tarakeswar or Arambag. Mundeswari river flows nearby.
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Brahmo Samaj (Bengali Bramho Shômaj) is a social movement which culminated in the Brahmo religion. It was conceived as reformation of the prevailing Bengal of the time and began the Bengal Renaissance of the 19th century.
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Brahmo Samaj (Bengali Bramho Shômaj) is a social movement which culminated in the Brahmo religion. It was conceived as reformation of the prevailing Bengal of the time and began the Bengal Renaissance of the 19th century.
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Satī (Devanagari: सती, the feminine of sat "true") (also suttee) is a Hindu funeral custom, now very rare, in which the widow would immolate herself on her husband’s funeral pyre.
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Dwarkanath Tagore (Bangla: দ্বারকানাথ ঠাকুর, Darokanath Ţhakur) (1794-1846), one of the earliest entrepreneurs from India, has been remembered for an altogether different reason:
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Brahmo Samaj (Bengali Bramho Shômaj) is a social movement which culminated in the Brahmo religion. It was conceived as reformation of the prevailing Bengal of the time and began the Bengal Renaissance of the 19th century.
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The Bengal Renaissance refers to a social reform movement during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the region of Bengal in undivided India during the period of British rule.
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Coordinates: Radhanagore is a village in Hooghly District of West Bengal, India. It is famous as the birthplace of Raja Rammohun Roy. Located near Khanakul, it is approachable from Tarakeswar or Arambag. Mundeswari river flows nearby.
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