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Raja Ram Mohan Roy

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Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the esteemed founder of the Brahmo Samaj, emerged from humble beginnings. Born in May 1772 in Radhanagar, Hooghly District, Bengal Presidency, he hailed from an orthodox Bengali Hindu family. His thirst for knowledge was evident from a young age.

Ram Mohan’s education was a remarkable blend of diversity. He embarked on a journey of learning that took him to various corners of the intellectual world.

At Patna, he delved into Persian and Arabic studies, delving deep into the Quran, the Arabic translations of Plato and Aristotle, and the works of Sufi mystic poets. By the tender age of fifteen, he had mastered Bangla, Persian, Arabic, and Sanskrit. His linguistic prowess also extended to Hindi and English.

Quest for Wisdom

A relentless pursuit of knowledge led him to Varanasi, where he immersed himself in the Vedas, Upanishads, and Hindu philosophy. His quest for understanding was not confined to his native beliefs; he also studied Christianity and Islam extensively. It was during this period that, at the age of sixteen, he penned a rational critique of Hindu idol worship, foreshadowing his future endeavors.

Contributions to Society

From 1809 to 1814, Raja Ram Mohan Roy served in the Revenue Department of the East India Company, further enhancing his understanding of governance. His tenure also saw him in the roles of personal Diwan to Woodforde and Digby. However, from 1814 onwards, he chose to dedicate his life to religious, social, and political reforms.

Ram Mohan Roy was deeply impressed by the civil liberties offered under the British System of Constitutional Government. He harbored a desire to extend these privileges to the Indian populace.

His economic contributions included condemning oppressive practices by Bengali zamindars and advocating for the reduction of export duties on Indian goods abroad.

The Voice of Press Freedom

A staunch advocate of press freedom, he vehemently opposed the British government’s unjust policies, particularly restrictions on press freedom. His writings and activism supported the movement for a free press in India. When press censorship was relaxed in 1819, he founded several journals that championed this cause.

Ram Mohan Roy’s commitment to social transformation manifested in his formation of reformist religious associations. Notable among these were the Atmiya Sabha, the Calcutta Unitarian Association, and the Brahmo Samaj.

He campaigned vigorously for women’s rights, including the right for widows to remarry and the right for women to own property.

Condemning Social Evils

His relentless efforts led to the abolition of the abhorrent practice of Sati in 1829, under the administration of Lord William Bentinck, the then Governor-General of India. Ram Mohan Roy also fought against the caste system, untouchability, superstitions, and the use of intoxicants. He championed the cause of rationalism and modern scientific thinking.

Recognizing the importance of education, he founded several schools to impart Western scientific education in English. He believed that English-language education was superior to the traditional Indian system.

His support for educational endeavors included the establishment of the Hindu College and Vedanta College, where courses in both Indian and Western sciences were offered.

Religious Reformation

Ram Mohan Roy’s first published work, “Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhiddin” (a gift to deists), was a groundbreaking exposé of irrational religious beliefs. He vehemently opposed idolatry, corrupt practices within Hinduism, and advocated for monotheism. He also translated the Vedas and Upanishads into Bengali, making these sacred texts more accessible to the masses.

Legacy of Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s multifaceted contributions in social, religious, political, economic, and educational spheres earned him the titles of the ‘Father of Modern India’ and ‘Father of Indian Renaissance.’ His founding of the Brahmo Samaj in 1828 was a pivotal moment in the Indian intellectual landscape.

The Brahmo Samaj aimed at the worship of the eternal god, rejecting priesthood, rituals, and sacrifices in favor of prayers, meditation, and scripture reading.

This intellectual reform movement condemned prevalent social evils and laid the foundation for rationalism and enlightenment in India. It believed in the unity of all religions, fostering tolerance and harmony.

Prominent leaders emerged from its ranks, including Debendranath Tagore, Keshub Chandra Sen, Pt. Sivnath Shastri, and Rabindranath Tagore.

Inspiring Generations

In conclusion, Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s ideologies, unwavering commitment to reform, and pioneering spirit have left an indelible mark on Indian society. His legacy continues to inspire generations, embodying the spirit of rationalism, social justice, and enlightenment that is as relevant today as it was in his time.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the ‘Father of Modern India,’ remains a guiding light for all who seek to bring positive change to our society.

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