Modern History Simplified: Raja Ram Mohan Roy – The father of Modern India’s Renaissance

Raja Ram Mohan Roy
  1. Called the father of Indian Renaissance or the maker of Modern India.
  2. He believed in modern scientific approach and principles of human dignity and social equality.
  3. Religious Reforms 
    1. He was a proponent of Monotheism. He wrote Gift to Monotheists (1809) and translated into Bengali the Vedas and the five Upanishads to prove his conviction that ancient Hindu texts support monotheism.
    2. Atmiya Sabha (or Society of Friends) in Calcutta was set up in 1814 to propagate the monotheistic ideals of the Vedanta and to campaign against idolatry, caste rigidities, meaningless rituals and other social ills.
    3. He also wrote Precepts of Jesus (1820) in which he applied the principles of rationalism and tried to separate moral/philosophical messages from magic or superstitions. 
    4. In 1828, he founded Brahmo Samaj which wanted  to purify Hinduism and to preach monotheism. It also promoted Upanishads and denounced polytheism and idol worship. 
    5. Rammohan Roy did not want to establish a new religion. He only wanted to purify Hinduism of the evil practices which had crept into it.
  4. Social Reforms 
    1. Determined crusader against the inhuman practice of sati. His efforts were rewarded by the Government Regulation in 1829 which declared the practice of sati a crime.
    2. As a campaigner for women’s rights, Roy attacked polygamy and the degraded state of widows and demanded the right of inheritance and property for women.
    3. On the Education front, he supported David Hare’s efforts to found the Hindu College in 1817, while Roy’s English school taught mechanics and Voltaire’s philosophy. In 1825, he established a Vedanta college where courses in both Indian learning and Western social and physical sciences were offered.
    4. A gifted linguist, he knew more than a dozen languages including Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, English, French, Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
    5. Pioneer of Indian Journalism, Roy brought out journals in Bengali, Hindi, English, Persian to educate and inform the public and represent their grievances before the government. 
  5. Political Activist 
    1. Roy condemned oppressive practices of Bengali zamindars and demanded fixation of maximum rents.
    2. He also demanded abolition of taxes on tax free lands.
    3. He called for a reduction of export duties on Indian goods abroad and abolition of the East India Company’s trading rights.
    4. He demanded the Indianisation of superior services and separation of the executive from the judiciary.
    5. He demanded judicial equality between Indians and Europeans.
  6. As an Internationalist
    1. He stood for cooperation among nations.
    2. He promoted the principles of liberty, equality and justice.
    3. He supported the revolutions of Naples and Spanish America.
    4. He condemned the oppression of Ireland by absentee English landlordism

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