30 Jul 2019
GS Paper 1
Discuss the contributions of Raja Ram Mohan Roy in the making of modern India. (250 words)
- Give a brief introduction of Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
- Explain his contributions in different fields and how it brought significant change in the lives of the people.
- Conclude how his legacy shall be continued and the need for reform today.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy, 'the father of Indian renaissance', was a man of versatile genius. The ‘Brahmo Samaj’ established by him was the earliest reform movement greatly influenced by modern western ideas. As a reformist ideologue, Roy believed in modern scientific approach and principles of human dignity and social equality.
His ideas and activities were aimed at political upliftment of the masses through social reform and to the extent can be said to have nationalist undertones. His major contributions can be understood in the following contexts:
- In 1803, he published his first book, ‘Tuhfat-ul- Muwahhidin’ or ‘Gift to Monotheists’, in which he argues for monotheism (the concept of single God). He translated Vedas and the five Upnishads to Bengali to prove his conviction that ancient Hindu texts supported monotheism.
- In 1814, he founded Atmiya Sabha in Calcutta to campaign against idolatry, caste rigidities, meaningless rituals and other social ills.
- He criticized the ritualism of Christianity and rejected Christ as the incarnation of God. In Precepts of Jesus (1820), he tried to separate the moral and philosophical message of the New Testament, which he praised, from its miracle stories.
- Roy established the Brahmo Samaj in August 1828, which acted against the evil practices that existed in the Hindu society.
- Roy was a crusader against the inhuman practice of Sati. He started anti-sati struggle in 1818 and cited sacred texts to prove that no religion sanctioned burning alive of widows, besides appealing to humanity, reason and compassion. His efforts were rewarded by the Government Regulation in 1829 which declared practice of Sati a crime.
- Roy attacked polygamy, child marriage, and the degraded state of widows and demanded right of inheritance and property for women.
- He also campaigned against caste system, untouchability, superstitions and use of intoxicants.
- Roy did much to disseminate the benefits of modern education to his countrymen. 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 Vedanta college where courses in both Indian learning and Western social and physical sciences were offered.
- Roy also worked as the editor of Bengali newspaper “Sambad Kaumudi” (1821) and the Persian newspaper “Mirat-Ul-Akbar”.
Economic and Political Reforms
- Roy condemned oppressive practices of Bengali zamindars and demanded fixation of minimum rents. He also demanded abolition of taxes on tax-free lands.
- He called for a reduction of export duties on Indian goods abroad and abolition of the East India Company’s trading rights.
- He demanded the Indianisation of superior services and separation of executive from judiciary. He demanded equality between Indians and Europeans.
Therefore, Roy was much ahead of his times. His understanding of the international character of the principles of liberty, equality and justice indicate that he well understood the significance of modern age. These principles continue to inspire the idea of ‘New India’ today.