The impact of modern Western Culture and consciousness of defeat by a foreign power gave birth to a new awakening. Thoughtful Indians began to look for the strengths and weaknesses of Indian society an ways to remove the weaknesses. The central figure in this awakening was Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
He is regarded as the first leader of modern India. He worked hard all his life for their social, religious, intellectual and political regeneration. Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born at Radhanagar, Hoogly in 1872. He was a scholar who knew many languages, including Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, English, French, Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy settled in Calcutta in 1814 and soon attracted a band of young men with whose cooperation he started Atmiya Sabha. This was the beginning of the struggle against the social and religious evils.
He started translating religious books in Bengali. He wrote ‘Gift to Monotheists’ in Persian language in 1809. In this book he put forward weighty arguments against belief in many Gods and for the worship of a single God. In 1820 he also wrote ‘Percepts of Jesus’ in which he tried to separate the moral and philosophic message of New Testament.
In 1821, he established “Sambad Kaumudi”. In the very next year, he also published a Persian news magazine named “Mirat-ul-Akbar”. In Sambad Kaumudi, he touched the subjects like freedom of press, induction of Indians into High Ranks and separation of executive and Judiciary.
In 1817, Raja Ram Mohan Roy founded Mahapathshala (Hindu College) at Kolkata along with David Hare. This was later renamed as Presidency College in 1855. In 2010, this college has been upgraded to the status of a full university.
Brahmo Samaj :
Brahmo Samaj was a theistic movement within Hinduism, founded in Calcutta in 1828 by Ram Mohan Roy. The Brahmo Samaj does not accept the authority of the Vedas, has no faith in avatars, and does not insist on belief in karma or samsara. It discards Hindu rituals and adopts some Christian practices in its worship. Influenced by Islam and Christianity, it denounces polytheism, image worship, and the caste system. The efforts of Brahmo Sabha led the Regulation XVII, via which Lord William Bentinck abolished Sati practice in India in 1829.
Whereas Ram Mohan Roy wanted to reform Hinduism from within, his successor, Debendranath Tagore, broke away in 1850 by refusing to accept Vedic authority and making reason and intuition the basis of Brahmanism. Later in 1866 under the leadership of Keshab Chadra Sen organised the Brahmo Samaj of India (Older group became Adi-Brahmo Samaj). New group encouraged the education of women, and campaigned for the remarriage of widows and for legislation to prevent child marriages. The group divided once again in 1878 when Keshab Chandra Sen arranged marriage of his under-age daughter. The new group which was started in 1878 was known as Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.
The decade of 1820-30 was very important as many religious texts of Hindus were translated in English. In 1828, when Brahmo Sabha was launched he was a well known figure in India. In 1830, Ram Mohan Roy travelled to the United Kingdom as an ambassador of the Mughal Empire, to ensure that banning the practice of Sati was not overturned. For this he was awarded the tiltle “Raja” form Mughal Emperor Akbar II. Raja Ram Mohan Roy died of meningitis in England on 27th September 1833.
In News :
- On 16th November 2016, S Nihal Singh was awarded Raja Ram Mohan Roy Award. The award carries a cash component of Rs. 1 Lakhs.
- Presidency College is celebrating 200 years of Establishment.