250th-birth-anniversary-celebration-of-raja-rammohan-roy

Context

Under the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM), the Ministry of Culture on 22nd May 2022, held an opening ceremony in Kolkata to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Raja RamMohan Roy. It will continue until May 22nd next year.

“Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” is an occasion to pay respect and remember our great men and heroes who sacrificed their lives for the independence of our country.

About Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Raja Ram Mohan Roy also known as the father of Modern India’s Renaissance, was a social reformer who laid the foundation of the age of enlightenment and liberal reformist movement in India.

Life 

  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born on  May 22, 1772 to the orthodox Brahmin family in Radhanagar, Bengal.  
  • Ram Mohan Roy's early education included a study of Persian and Arabic in Patna, where he read Quran and also translated the works of Plato and Aristotle into Arabic.
  • In Benaras he learned Sanskrit and read the Vedas and Upanishads. 
  • Returning to the village at the age of 16, he wrote a rational critique of Hindu idolatry. From 1803 to 1814, he worked for the East India Company as a personal Diwan, first at Woodforde and then at Digby.  
  • In 1814 he quit his job and moved to Calcutta, devoting his life to religious, social and political reforms.  
  • In November 1830, he sailed to England to to counteract the possible nullification of the Act banning Sati. 
  • Ram Mohan Roy was awarded the title of "Raja" by Akbar II, the nominal Mughal Empire in Delhi. 
  • Tagore described Ram Mohan as "a brilliant star in the sky of Indian history" in his speech entitled "The Founder of Modern India."

Social Reform and Ideology

  • He opposed superstitious practices,  polygamy, child marriage, and the rigor and excess of the caste system, and claimed the right to inherit women's property. 
  • He advocated marriage between castes, education of women, and remarriage of widow. 
  • In 1814 he founded Atmiya Sabha (Friendly Society). In Atmiya Sabkha he sought to initiate social and religious reforms in society. 
  • In 1828 he founded Brahmo Samaj, a Hindu reform movement which aimed at combating the social illnesses that are prevalent in society.  
  • He actively opposed the sati system. 
  • As a result of his hard work in the fight against Sati, Sir William Bentinck, Governor of the Bengal Presidency, officially outlawed the practice of Sati in 1829.  
  • In 1830, Raja Ram Mohan Roy visited Britain as  Mughal Ambassador to ensure that Sir William Bentinck's Bengal Sati decision, which banned the practice of Sati, was not overturned.

Educational Reform 

  • He advocated research in English, science, Western medicine, and technology. 
  • He established many schools in India to promote the modern education system  
  • He worked with David Hare in 1817 to establish several institutions, including the Hindu University of Calcutta. Anglo Hindu School in 1822 and the Vedanta University to spread the teachings of Hindu monotheism. 
  • He also helped establish Scottish Church College in 1830. 

Economic and Political Reforms 

  • Raja Ram Roy was impressed and admired the British constitutional government system that gave people their individual civil liberties. 
  • He wanted to extend the benefits of this government system to the people of India.
  • He supported a free press movement in India. 

Writing 

  • In 1803 he published  his first book, Tuhhatul Muwahhidin (a gift to monotheism). 
  • He advocated the importance of discussion and the need for education for all, through the first Bengali language weekly newspaper that he started in 1821, known as Sambad Kaumadi. It was also the first newspaper in English language.
  • He also published an English weekly newspaper called  Bengal Gazette and a Persian newspaper called Miratur Akbar. 

Taxation Reforms 

  • He condemned oppressive practices of Bengali zamindars and demanded fixation of minimum rents. 
  • He also demanded the abolition of taxes on taxfree lands.  
  • He called for a reduction of export duties on Indian goods abroad and the abolition of the East India Company`s trading rights.  

Administrative Reforms 

  • He demanded the Indianisation of superior services and separation of the executive from judiciary. 
  • He demanded equality between Indians and Europeans.  

Death 

  • He died of meningitis on September 27, 1833, in Stapleton near Bristol during his visit to England. 
  • To commemorate Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the British government named a street in Bristol “Raja Rammohan Way”.

About Brahmo Samaj 

  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy founded Brahmo Sabha in 1828. It was later renamed Brahmo Samaj. His main goal was the worship of eternal God. It opposed priesthood, rituals, and sacrifices.  
  • It focused on prayer, meditation, and reading the scriptures. 
  • Brahmo Samaj 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 a pioneer of all social, religious and political movements in modern India.
  • In 1866, it was divided into two parts: Brahmo Samaj of India, led by Keshab Chandra Sen, and Adi Brahmo Samaj, led by Devendranath Tagore. 
  • Notable executives: Debendranath Tagore, Keshab Chandra Sen, Pt. Sibanas Sastri and Rabindranath Tagore