Bengal History: Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Born on 22 May 1772, Raja Ram Mohan Roy became a very influential figure in Bangladesh and is considered to be the pioneer of modern India. He reformed numerous practices within the Hindi culture, such as the abolishment of the traditional practice that forced widows to sacrifice themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands, called sati. He not only influenced religious practices but also education, politics and public administration. He assisted in the progress of the country and laying the foundations to developing the country to what it is today.

His decisions to challenge religion and assist in diverse changes came naturally to Raja Ram Mohan Roy, as he grew up in a household where his father was Vaishnavite and his mother Shivaite, which was highly unusual for the time. Between the years 1792 and 1820 he became more active in religious campaigns and politics, translating scriptures into English, modernising education systems in schools and co-founding establishments such as the Brahmo Samaj and the Culcutta Untarian Society. He also took on the role of agent and political mediator. From 1803 to 1815, Raja Ram Mohan Roy joined the East India Company in their writing service, after which he took on the challenge of working towards reforming religion and social standards through the Atmiya Sabha society. He was passionate about creating equality for women, campaigning for them to own property and trying to reform the culture to allow widows to get married again.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was sent to the United Kingdom in 1980 to be an ambassador for Emperor Akbar II, and also travelled to France. On 27 September 1833, Raja Ram Mohan Roy succumbed to meningitis and is buried in Bristol, in the Arnos Vale Cemetery. In his personal life, Raja Ram Mohan Roy was married three times and had two sons. His legacy of reform, especially in regard to women’s rights is still respected today. Through the books he wrote and his direct involvement in fighting to change social and political standards, Roy did the groundwork to improve the lives of future generations. He once wrote: “The present system of Hindoos is not well calculated to promote their political interests…. It is necessary that some change should take place in their religion, at least for the sake of their political advantage and social comfort.”