Raja Ram Mohan Roy Jayanti: Raja Ram Mohan Roy, born on May 22, 1772, in the Hooghly district of Bengal, was a prominent social reformer and a pioneer of reform movements in India. Known as the "Father of Bengal Renaissance" or the "Father of Modern India," he dedicated his life to the religious, social, intellectual, and political upliftment of Indian society. Raja Ram Mohan Roy possessed a remarkable intellect, being well-versed in multiple languages, including Bengali, Sanskrit, Persian, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and English. He drew inspiration from Vedantic philosophy, Christianity, Islam, and modern Western thought.
Deeply concerned about the prevailing social and religious issues, Raja Ram Mohan Roy critically examined India's past and exposed the false rituals, superstitions, and practices prevalent in Hindu society. He vehemently denounced social and religious evils such as image worship, rituals, polytheism, the caste system, and untouchability. In 1815, he founded the Atmiya Sabha, which later evolved into the Brahmo Sabha in 1828, and eventually into the Brahmo Samaj in 1829. This Samaj advocated for the unity of all religions and the need to combat religious and social injustices.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy played a pivotal role in championing the cause of women's rights. During an era when women faced immense adversity and inequality, he took a firm stand against their subjugation. His significant contribution was persuading Lord William Bentinck, the Governor General, to declare the practice of "sati" illegal and punishable in 1829. Raja Ram Mohan Roy advocated for widow remarriage, female education, and women's right to inherit property, thereby challenging the deep-rooted prejudices and restrictions imposed on women.
Believing that India could progress through Western education, Raja Ram Mohan Roy promoted both Indian and Western learning. He was hailed as the Prophet of New India for his visionary ideas. He also fought for social justice and equality in all forms, advocating for freedom of the press and fair revenue systems for peasants. As a testament to his broad-mindedness and inclusive nature, he even adopted a Muslim boy despite being a Brahmin himself. Raja Ram Mohan Roy's influence spanned various sections of Indian society, leaving a profound impact on the collective conscience of the nation.
After his demise, many luminaries such as Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, Shiv Nath Shastri, and Keshab Chandra Sen followed in his footsteps, carrying forward his enlightened path. Raja Ram Mohan Roy's immense contributions in diverse fields earned him worldwide acclaim and continue to inspire generations. As we celebrate his 249th birth anniversary on May 22, it becomes the duty of every Indian to remember and honor this remarkable personality who dedicated his life to the betterment of Indian society.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy gained recognition and fame when the Mughal emperor Akbar II honored him with the title of Raja. From that point onward, he came to be known as Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Throughout his life, he entered into marriage three times, though sadly, two of his spouses passed away prematurely, while the third survived him. Firm in his belief in monotheism, he staunchly opposed the practice of idol worship, advocating for the worship of one God.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy made significant contributions in various spheres, leaving a lasting impact on Indian society. His endeavors encompassed religious, educational, and social reforms, which challenged prevailing orthodox practices and paved the way for progress and enlightenment.
In 1815, he formed the Atmiya Sabha, a society aimed at discussing and translating Vedic scriptures and Upanishads. This initiative fostered a deeper understanding of Indian philosophy and spirituality.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy translated the Vedic scriptures and Upanishads into English, making them accessible to a wider audience and promoting intercultural exchange of knowledge.
In 1828, he founded the Brahmo Samaj, a reformist movement that emphasized the dignity of human beings and criticized idol worship. The Brahmo Samaj aimed to establish a rational and inclusive form of worship.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy played a pivotal role in abolishing various oppressive practices prevalent during the 18th and 19th centuries. One of his most notable achievements was the abolition of the Sati pratha, a custom where widows were forced to self-immolate on their husband's funeral pyre. His relentless efforts and advocacy led to the passing of a law by Lord William Bentinck in 1829, officially banning the practice.
In 1822, Raja Ram Mohan Roy founded the newspaper 'Sambad Koumudi,' providing a platform for the dissemination of progressive ideas and the expression of public opinion.
He published the Mirat-ul-Akbar journal in the Persian language, serving as a means to inform and enlighten people during the British East India Company's rule.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy took significant steps to reform education in India. In 1816, he established the first English school, promoting the learning of English and modern subjects.
He founded the Hindu College in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1817, known as the center of the Young Bengal Movement. This institution aimed to modernize Hindu society and broaden the curriculum by introducing subjects such as Mathematics, Geography, and Latin.
With the establishment of the Vedanta College, Raja Ram Mohan Roy propagated the ideology of Hindu monotheism, opposing idol worship and emphasizing the worship of one God.
One of his most influential contributions was the abolition of the Sati Pratha, liberating widows from the horrific practice of self-immolation.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy vocally opposed the caste system, child marriage, and advocated for widow remarriage, challenging regressive societal norms.
He played a crucial role in uplifting the status of women by emphasizing the importance of women's education, recognizing their intellectual capabilities, and promoting gender equality.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy's multifaceted contributions and progressive vision continue to inspire generations, cementing his place as one of India's greatest social reformers.