Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav: Remembering Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the founder of Brahmo Samaj
New Delhi, Jun 27: Ram Mohan Roy was a reformer who was known for his efforts on the abolition of 'sati' system and child marriage. He occupies a distinguished place among the builders of modern India.
Born on May 22, 1772, in an orthodox Brahmin family at Radhanagar in the Hooghly District of Bengal, he developed an inquisitive and philosophical bent of mind since childhood. Apart from learning Bengali, he became a scholar in Sanskrit, Persian, and Arabic. Thus becoming well versed in Indian thought and philosophy.
Since the British had imposed their power in India by the time he was born, he got curious about the English culture and their cultural roots. Hence, he studied English. However, it did not satisfy his urge for knowledge, so he learnt Greek, Hebrew, and Latin to discover the sources of the religion and culture of the West.
"Rammohun stands in history as a bridge over which India marches from her unmeasured past to her incalculable future. He was the arch which spanned the gulf that yawned between superstition and science, between despotism and democracy, between immobile custom and a conservative progress, between a bewildering polytheism and a pure, if vague, theism," English writer Miss Collett said in his biography.
His deep understanding of different cultures and religions inspired him to establish Brahmo Samaj. "In his thirties, he wrote a treatise in Persian entitled "Tuhaft-Ul-Muwahhidin" (A Gift to Monotheists) in which he preached the unity of God and argued that the natural tendency in all religions was toward monotheism. He was a life-long campaigner for the abolition of the practice of Sati-immolation of widows on the funeral pyres of their dead husbands. This practice, though never widespread in India, was totally prohibited by Law in 1829, due to the untiring efforts of Rammohun Roy. His crusading spirit also touched on many other aspects of social reform. He campaigned for female education and property rights for women. He was a powerful advocate of widow remarriage," Department of Posts said in its Information Brochure on Commemorative Postage Stamp.
In 1814, he formed 'Atmiya Sabha' which was a group of aristocrats and the new middle-class liberals who gathered for intellectual discussions. He founded the "Brahmo Samaj" in 1928. It was a platform where people belonging to all religions could worship God in a cosmopolitan house with several newspapers. He then published a bilingual Bengali-English magazine, and later desiring an All-India circulation, he published a weekly in Persian.
He is considered as the originator of the first secular movement in India
His patriotism was based on the doctrine of the solidarity of the whole of humanity. His intense love of liberty was the mainspring of all his political opinions. He was also the first constitutional agitator in this country.
In 1830, the Emperor of Delhi sent Raja Rammohun Roy to England as an envoy and died there on the 27th September 1833.