Ram Mohan was a public agitator on political questions and condemned the oppressive practices of the Bengal Zamindars that had reduced the peasants to a miserable condition. He demanded that the maximum rents paid by the actual cultivators of land should be permanently fixed so that they too would enjoy the benefits of Permanent Settlement of 1793. He demanded the abolition of the British East India Company’s trading rights and the removal of heavy export duties on Indian goods. He also raised the demands of Indianisation of the superior services, separation of the executive and the judiciary, trial by jury and judicial equality between Indians and Europeans.
Early Life of Raja Ram Mohan Roy
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born on May 22, 1772, in the village of Radhanagar in the District of Hooghly in West Bengal. His father Ramkanto Roy was a Vaishnavite, while his mother, Tarini, was from a Shaivite background. Raja Ram Mohun Roy was sent to Patna for higher studies. By the age of 15 years, Raja Ram Mohun Roy had learned Bengali, Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit languages.
Social Reforms of Raja Ram Mohan Roy
The social reforms of Ram Mohan Roy have had a huge impact on Indian society over the past century. In 1815 he founded the “Atmiya Sabha”. Atmiya Sabha tried to initiate social and religious reforms in society. In the weekly meetings of the Sabha the members discussed the basic principles of Hinduism. In 1828, Raja Ram Mohan Roy founded the ‘Brahmo Samaj’. Through Brahmo Samaj, he wanted to expose the religious hypocrisies and check the growing influence of Christianity on the Hindu society.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy worked as a Social Reformer. He rejected the barriers of caste divisions and stood forth as the high priest of Universalism and Love. The best example of his life-long crusade against social evils was the historic agitation he organized against the inhuman custom of women becoming Sati. When the orthodox Hindus petitioned to Parliament to withhold its approval of Lord William Bentinck’s action of banning the rite of Sati, he organized a counter-petition of enlightened Hindus in favor of Bentinck’s action. He was a champion of women’s rights. He attacked polygamy and the degraded state to which widows were often reduced. To raise the status of women he demanded that they are given the right of inheritance and property.
Educational Reforms of Raja Ram Mohan Roy
Views of Ram Mohan on Education was very clean and modern. He was in favor of modern education and provided wholehearted co-operation to David Hare when the latter founded the famous Hindu College at Kolkata. He also maintained at his own cost an English School in Kolkata from 1817. Through his translations, pamphlets and journals, he helped evolve a modern and elegant prose style for Bengalis.
Ram Mohan Roy took a keen interest in international events. Everywhere he supported the cause of liberty, democracy and nationalism and opposed injustice, oppression and tyranny in every form. All his life he fought against social injustice and inequality even at great personal loss and hardship. In his life of service to society, he often clashed with members of his family, with rich zamindars and powerful missionaries and with high officials and foreign authorities as well.
Religious Reforms of Raja Ram Mohan Roy
Religious reforms of Raja Ram Mohan Roy has helped India as a nation to get rid of many religious superstitions. His religious and philosophical ideas were somewhat different. He vigorously opposed the worship of idols and the prevalence of meaningless religious rituals. He held that all the sacred books of the Hindus preached the worship of one God. According to him, human reason was the final standard of truth of any doctrine. It can be Eastern or Western. He believed that the Philosophy of Vedanta was based on reason. He did not confine his application of the rational approach to Indian religions and the traditions alone. He insisted on applying this rational approach to Christianity as well. He did not accept the elements of blind faith even in Christianity. This earned for him the hostility of the Christian missionaries. He vigorously defended Hindu religion and philosophy from the ignorant attacks of Christian missionaries. He believed that basically all religions preach a common message. He represented a synthesis of the thought of the East and the West.