Profiles of Personalities: Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833)

He was an influential socio-religious reformer whose works influenced the contemporary politics, administration, education and religion of India during pre-independence.

Ram Mohan early in his life went to Patna to study Persian and Arabic in a Madrasa at the behest of his father. Persian and Arabic were in high demand at that time as it was still the court language of the Mughal Emperors. He studied the Quran and other Islamic scriptures. Post completion of his studies in Patna, he went to Benares (Kashi) to learn Sanskrit. He mastered the language in no time and began studying scriptures, including the Vedas and Upanishads. He learnt English language at the age of 22.

  1. He established Atmiya Sabha in 1815, which is seen as precursor for socio-religious reforms in Bengal and thereby in India. Through Atmiya Sabha, he campaigned for the rights of women; he started opposing Sati System and Polygamy in Hindus, demanded property inheritance rights for Women.
  2. In 1817, he founded Maha Pathshala which came be to known as Hindu College at Calcutta. This was renamed as Presidency College in 1855. He paved the way to revolutionising education system in India in this college along with David Hare which later went on to become one of the best educational institutions in the country producing some of the best minds in India.
  3. In 1821, he established Sambad Kaumudi, through which he advocated for freedom of Press, induction of Indians into High ranks and separation of executive and judiciary. He also published a Persian news Magazine the following year named Mirat-ul-Akbar
  4. His efforts to combine true to the roots theological doctrines along with modern rational lessons saw him establish the Anglo-Vedic School in 1822 followed by the Vedanta College in 1826.
  5. In 1828, he established Brahmo Sabhaalong with Dwarkanath Tagore which later became Brahmo Samaj and was influential in bringing various social reforms in India; with the efforts of this Sabha in 1829 Lord William Bentinck abolished Sati through Regulation XVII. By this time he became a well-known figure in India.
  6. It was then, Akbar-II gave him the title of “Raja”, and Akbar-II sent him to England to persuade them, for the cause of Mughal Emperor, in Bristol, England, he died of meningitis in the year 1833.
  7. Recently, the British government has named a street in Bristol as ‘Raja Rammohan Way’ in the memory of Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
  8. His ‘Gaudiya Byakaran’ in Bengali is the best of his prose works. Rabindranath Tagore and Bankim Chandra also followed the footsteps of Ram Mohan Roy.

Some of his Publications are as follows:

  • Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhidinor A Gift to Monotheists (1805),
  • Vedanta (1815), Ishopanishad (1816),
  • Kathopanishad (1817), Moonduk Upanishad (1819),
  • The Precepts of Jesus – Guide to Peace and Happiness (1820),
  • Sambad Kaumudi – a Bengali newspaper (1821),
  • Mirat-ul-Akbar – Persian journal (1822),
  • Gaudiya Byakaran (1826),
  • Brahmapasona (1828) and Brahmasangeet (1829) and
  • The Universal Religion (1829).


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