Raja Ram Mohan Roy
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born in Bengal in 1977 into a Hindu family. His mother was a Shaiva (devotee of Lord Shiva) while his father was a Vaishnava (devotee of Lord Krishna). He was brought up in an unusual cultural diversity background which led him to question the normal cultural practices.He worked in the English East India Company and did not hesitate to merge the beliefs of the east and the west for the well-being of the people. He is best known for the Bengal Renaissance . He has been described by Tagore as the father of modern India. He was the pioneer of many reforms during the 18th century. He was well educated in English and Persian. In addition to it, he was also well versed in the holy Hindu scriptures.
Images : Wikipedia Commons
Raja Ram believed in one supreme God. Since he had learnt the scriptures from an early age he took keen interest in translating them to the English language. He questioned the quality of education and encouraged the western influence on the Hindu culture. He was a pundit by profession who enjoyed intellectual friendship with many Europeans. As was the practice in olden days, Raja too was married as a child twice.
Ram was the founder of the Calcutta Utilitarian Society and the Brahmo Samaj. It was a movement for religious reforms. It literally meant people who worshiped Brahma. Ram was against differences based on caste, creed and culture and wanted to change the caste rigidity practices.Brahmos introduced the concept of one supreme God and encouraged people that the time or place of prayers did not matter as long prayers were offered with sincerity. He thought that absurd superstitions marred the purity of the Hindu spirit and portrayed wrong values about the religion. He abhorred dowry harassment (the collection of money from the bride to the groom during a wedding, polygamy (multiple partners) and child marriages. He demanded rights for women, the most important being rights for property inheritance.
Though he is known for many social reforms, he is best known for the abolition of the practice of Sati. It was a very cruel practice followed in ancient India. When a husband died, the wife was expected to jump into the funeral pyre of the husband thus dying along with him. It was a long held practice and had already taken many poor wives as victims. It was believed to be a strong part of wedding. Ram lost his sister-in-law to Sati and it stirred him deeply. When Ram opposed to this, people thought he was a government official who had no right in meddling with religious affairs. But Ram was undeterred in his campaign against Sati and finally made the British Government pass a ban on this practice. He was a great humanitarian who wanted to create a fair society where everyone enjoyed justice.
Doctrines of Brahmo Samaj
No belief in Scripture as authority
No belief in Idol Worship
No Belief in Avatars
Optional belief in Karma and rebirth
Against Caste rigidity
Respect all creations, but never worship them.
There is only one God and one being.
Conscience is the highest ruler of existence.
Innumerable revolutions have taken place in all parts of the globe where no freedom of the press existed.— Raja Ram Mohan Roy
Because of his strong education, Ram wanted to develop the field of education in India. He was the founder of Hindu college in Calcutta. He wanted the western educational system to be a part of the Indian system. He was also the advisory member of many schools. He was interested in translating many English works into the local languages. He encouraged English, Science, technology,geography, Latin and western medicine at a time when schools were primarily teaching sanskrit. He also did not let down the importance of the knowledge of mother tongue. He believed in the freedom of press and freedom of speech. He was a part of many magazines which brought about social reforms. He was a humanitarian at heart who though about the bigger picture of the society.
In his last years he traveled to England. He died there and was cremated at Bristol.
Honours & Memorials
In 1964, the government of India released a Postal Stamp after Ram.
He was known by the following titles:
Father of Modern India
Maker of Modern India
Father of Bengal Renaissance
Prophet of Indian Nationalism
Raja was the title he received for his active participation in reforms.
A museum built in his memory stands at Kolkata. It documents his life and reforms.
A street named is named after him in every leading Indian city namely Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore and Vishakapatnam.
A college is named after him in Delhi.