Socio Religious Reformer
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a socio – religious reformer during the British rule, who was a major player in effacing some of the evils prevalent in the Indian society. He challenged some of the practices that had crept into Indian culture which was detrimental to the progress of India. He played a key role in the abolishing of Sati and pitched for women’s rights at a time when superstition and social bigotry was much prevalent in the Indian society.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy
Father of Modern India
For laying down the guidelines for the development of the Indian society under the British Rule, he was given the title ‘Father of Modern India’. His ideas were propagated through Brahmo Samaj which he later founded.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born on May 22nd, 1772 at Radhanagar village of Hoogli district in Bengal.
An Independent Thinker
From his young age Raja Ram Mohan Roy was an independent thinker. He had differences with his father, an orthodox Brahmin, on certain superstitions and practices that were followed in the society. He was also against idol worship.
Travel to Himalayas
He soon left home for Himalayas seeking true wisdom and travelled upto Tibet. He returned home after this Himalayan sojourn.
After his return, Raja Ram Mohan Roy was compelled to enter into marriage by his parents, inorder to bring about a change in his thinking process and outlook. The marriage however did not have any impact on his progressive mindset.
Learning Vedas and Upanishads
Raja Ram Mohan Roy travelled to Varanasi and pursued his interests in Indian philosophy, studying the Veda and Upanishad.
Forming Atmiya Sabha
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was against all superstitions, which he wanted to remove from the society. His first step in bringing about a change in the society was taken when he formed the Atmiya Sabha. The main aim of this association was to trigger socio religious reforms in the society. He vehemently opposed the practices of Sati and Polygamy and pushed for women rights, such as women’s right to own property. Another area of activity for this Sabha was women’s education. Raja Ram Mohan Roy was seen as a savior for women, working to improve their lives.
Founding Brahmo Samaj
In 1828, he founded the Brahmo Samaj through which he furthered his mission of educating people to give up what he called ‘evil practices’ that had crept into Hindu religion.
According to him, evil practices such as Sati and polygamy were actually allowing Christianity to get converts and bring a bad name to Hindu religion.
The practice of Sati
Immediately a year later, the efforts of Brahmo Samaj and its founder bore fruit, when Sati was abolished in 1829.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy established many schools under Brahmo Samaj to spread his idea of education, which was an amalgam of Vedic and Western thought. He felt a change in the education system was necessary for India to make progress in the modern world.
Brahmo Samaj remains the legacy of Raja Ram Mohan Roy to this day, an institution that has grown over the last two centuries.
This country will be ever indebted to Raja Ram Mohan Roy for ridding the society of unwanted superstitions and inculcating the true sense of modernism in people at the time of British rule, to bring about a progressive outlook in the minds of the people, away from conservatism.
Let us honour the ‘Father of modern India’ on his Birthday.