DU SOL BA 3rd Year History of Social Thought Notes Chapter 20 Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772—1833)
Write a note on Brahmo Samaj. What social reforms were sought to be achieved through it ?
Raja Ram Mohan Roy is held as the father of renaissance which laid the foundation of Indian nationalism and other social reform movements during the British Rule in India. The Brahmo Samaj, established in 1828 by Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833) who can be correctly described as the Father of India Nationalism was the first movement of this kind. In like religio-philosophical and social out look, he was deeply influenced by the monotheism and anti-idolatory of Islam, Dersism and Sufism, teaching of Christianity and the liberal and nationalist doctrines of the west.” According to M. A. Buch “He tried to interpret and assimilate into himself the highest elements of Islam, Christianity and modern Rationalism or Humanism, transferred the ethical them into a single creed which he found in the ancient Upanishadi philosophy of his own community.”
The Brahmo Satnaj attacked “polytheistic degeneration of ancient Hindu Monotheism.” Raja Ram Mohan Roy attacked, “the ideal worships of the Hindus as degrading and expounded the conception of one God of all religions and humanity”.
National and social ethical considerations and the philosophical •onvictions motivated his attack on polytheism and idolatory. He said, “by constant reflections on the ……injurious rites introduced by the peculiar practice of Hindu idolatory which more than any pogon-worship destroys the texture of society together with compassion for many expelled me to use every possible effort to enable them to contemplate – the unity and omnipresence of Natures’ God”.
Brahmo Samaj under the leadership of Raja Ram Mohan Roy preached for the rational approach to religion. It propagated that, ‘the individuals should study the scriptures directly without the priest as intermediary, and assess the national character of a religious doctrine. He must subject religious principles to the test of his own ethical reason and reject those which contradict the test.’
Brahmo Samaj vehemently opposed the evil practice of castism. To quote A. R. Desai, “Brahmo Samaj, under the leadership of Raja, launched offensive against the caste system, branding it as undemocratic, inhuman and anti-national, crusaded against Sati and child marriage. In third for the freedom for provision to remarry and equal rights of man and woman.”
Brahmo Samaj works for the nourishment of the democratic, culture of the west, since Raja Ram Mohan Roy was an admirer of the western liberal democratic culture. ‘The Samaj valued the modern western culture and organised educational institutions in the country for its spread among the people.’
According to Rajan Palm Dutt, “In the earlier period of British Rule, in the first half of the sixteenth century, the British rulers – in the midst of, and actually through all the misery and industrial devastation – were performing and actively progressive role, were in many spheres actively combating the conservative and feudal forces of Indian society This was the period of courageous reforms, of such measures as the abolition of sati (carried out with the wholehearted to operation of the progressive elements of Indian society), the abolition of slavery (a more formal measure in practice), the war or infanticide and thuggism, the introduction of western education and the freeing of the press.
Rigid in their outlook, unsymphathetic to all that was backward in Indian traditions, convinced that the nineteenth century bourgeois and Christian conception was the normal for humanity, these early administrators nevertheless carried on a powerful work of innovation representing the spirit of the early ascendant bourgeoisie of the period and the best of them like Sir Henry Lawrence, won the respect and affection of those with whom they had to deal, The deepest enemies of the British were the old reactionary rulers who saw in them their supplanters. The most progressive elements in Indian Society, at that time, represented by Ram Mohan Roy and the reform movement of the Brahmo Samaj looked with an unconceal.d admiration to the British as the champions of progress, gave unhesistating suppose of their reforms, and saw in them the vanguard of a new civilization”.
Commenting upon the role of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ravindra Nath Tagore wrote, “Raja Ram Mohan Roy inaugurated the Modern Age in India.”
In conclusion it may be said that “since the Brahmo Samaj was not merely a religious movement but also included in its programme items of social and political reform, it was the precurser of the subsequent social reform movement initiated by the early Indian National Congress. The religious reform movement thus prepared for purely secular social and political reform movement in the country. That is the historical significance of Raja Ram Mohan Roy and the Brahmo Samaj he started”.
After Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the leadership of Brahmo Samaj came into the hands of Debendra Nath Tagore (1817-1905).
Keshab Chandra Sen (1883-84) was the next leader of the Brahmo Samaj. Under him, the doctrine of Brahmo Samaj was more and more adopted to the doctrine of pure Christianity. In the later stages, he propounded the doctrine of Adesha, according to which God inspires knowledge the some individuals whose words must therefore be considered infallible and true. A section of Brahmo did not accept this doctrine, left the Samaj, and started the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.’
‘The Brahmo Samaj’ was the pioneer of the nationalist movement, which by the working of the history, began as a religious reform movement arising at liberating the individual from the dead weight of an authoritarian religion which strangulated their initiative and stultified both the individual and corrective mind.
The Brahmo Samaj inaugurated a new era for the Indian people by proclaiming the principles of individual freedom, national unity, solidarity and collaboration and the demarcratization of all social institutions andsocial relations. It was the first organised expression of their national awakening.
“Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a modern man and he more than anybody else symbolised the renascent spirit of new India.” Comment on this statement.
Discuss the efforts towards modernity by Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
Raja Ram Mohan Ray sought to remove ‘spoils’ in the society and very aptly recognised that religion was being maligned. In every field there was injustice with the woman and the poor. He therefore, stood out as an apostle of a religious revival. He urged a return to the original principles of Vedantism and for a total rejection of the religious and social impurities that had crept in Hinduism. He also advocated an all-round re-generation of the social and national life and the acceptance of all that is useful and beneficial in the modern life of Europe.
He fought tooth and nail to remove the Sati Practice and very much succeeded in his mission. Besides this he preached for equal status to women.
He felt that the illiteracy was the main cause of backwardness. He pressed for learning English. He started school to give free education to children. He distributed free of cost the translated volumes of Upanishads.
He realised that the judiciary and executive must be separate to ensure prompt justice.
Besides above he championed the cause of democracy.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy touched all those points of social reforms which needed elimination. He also stressed for the separation of judiciary and executive and also the removal of illiteracy. His dream could not fulfilled in his life time but the need for fulfilment was realised by both Government and people and all the reforms dreamt by Raja Ram Mohan Roy have been done by Government.
As such Raja Ram Mohan Roy symbolised the renascent spirit of new India.
Write an essay on the humanism of Raja Ram Moban Roy relating with his ideas on freedom and reforms of judiciary.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a very kind hearted man. He could not tolerate any injustice with anyone. He studied the working of Hindu Samaj and noticed that many impurities had crept in the society which were not only causing hardship and atrocities to so many but also bringing a bad name to the Hindu religion. He, therefore, with perfect determination raised his voice for the abolition of Sati practice. He started powerful propoganda against Sati practice and even he went to the burning grounds in Calcutta and tried his best to avert the Sati sacrifies by persuasion. He went far and wide to propagate it. He moved the Government to prohibit the Sati practice.
He emphasised the right of women to freedom and propagated for the stoppage of the atrocities committed by men on women folk. He also laid stress on the necessity of western education and establishment of classless society. He started the compaign for the march of Hindu people on the road of liberal transformation.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy may be called the father of Hindu Reformation. For this purpose he founded the Brahmo Samaj. The Brahmo Samaj was a synthesis of the doctrines of European Enlightenment with the philosophical view of upanishads. His real aim was to purge Hinduism from the customs and superstitions with which it was overlaid and his object was to raise the status of women to bridge the yarning gulf between popular and higher Hinduism. He fought against injustice, social taboos, castes, polygamy and well entranched abuses.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy embodies the new spirit, its freedom of enquiry, its thirst for science, its large human sympathy, along with its reverent but not uncritical regard for the past and present disinclination towards the revolt.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy stood out as an apostle of a religious revival. He emphasised for the return to Vedantism and total rejection of all the religious and social impurities that have crept into Hinduism.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy also advocated for the acceptance of all that was good in western civilisation. He is rightly called the prophet of the new age. He stands as a tribune and prophet of new India. He was not only the founder of Brahmo Samaj but was also the father of constitutional agitation in India.
Discuss the contributions of Raja Ram Mohan Roy to the Indian Social Thought.
Major contributions of Raja Ram Mohan Roy are given below :
1. Free Press and Expression of Social Ideas. One of the founders of modern press, he emphasised that freedom of thought and expression thereof without any fear is most vital for the governors and the governed and for democratic rule in the country. His views could best be known and understood by a minute study of his writings such as (a) Petition against the Press Regulations to the Supreme Court and to the king – in Council (b) Letter to Lord Amberest on English education.
“Raja Ram Moban Roy was the founder of the nationalist Press in India. Though a few papers had been started by other before him, his Safnbad-Kaumudi in Bengali published in 1821, and Mirat-ul- Akbar in Persian published in 1822, were the first publication in India with a distinct nationalist and democratic progressive orientation. These papers were mainly the organs of the propaganda of social reform, and a critical discussion of religion and philosophical problems”.
2. Efforts to abolish Caste-system. The Brahmo Samaj formed by Raja Ram Mohan Roy provided the lead to the later programmes against the practice of .caste system. To quote D. R. Dean, “the pioneering of toe anti-caste movement first started by Brahmo Samaj later was continued by other organisations which were subsequently formed in the country. The Brahmo Samaj, under the armed democratic cultural influence of the west, denounced the caste as an institution itself.”
However, ‘there were different angles from which caste was attacked by different social reform groups. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the founder of the Brahmo Samaj, invoked the authority of Mahanir- vana Tantra, an old religio-sociological work of Hinduism, to support his view that caste should no longer continue. The Brahmo Samaj opposed the rigid social divisions, which caste implied, thus “When will those pernicious distinctions which are swaying the very eye blood of our nation be at an end, and India emerges in a strong united nation to fit, fulfill the high destiny which providence has ordained for her. There cannot be a surer truth than this that high destiny cannot be fulfilled without the utter distinction of the supreme root of all our social evils, the caste system”.
3. Efforts for the abolition of untouchability. Raja Ram Mohan Roy was against the practice of untouchability. The Brahmo Samaj “strove by propaganda education and practical measures, to restore equal social, religious and cultural right to the untouchables”.
4. Steps against the practice of ‘Sati’. Raja Ram Mohan Roy was the champion who fought for the removal of disabilities of Indian women and their freedom from various forms of opposition, especially the evil and inhuman practice of ‘Sati’. He strove by propaganda “to put an end to the practice of Sati and finally Lord Bentek was pursuaded to abolish it. With his efforts, infanticide was also subsequently declared a crime. ”
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was the most distinguished person of his time rightly deserves to be honoured with the title of “Prophet of New India”. He was a true patriot advocate of the poor and oppressed. Wanted honour to women in society, a great social and religious reformer, remover of the corrupt and improper customs crept into religions, advocate of English education to Indian, a noted writer and journalist, founder of the Brahmo Samaj, lover of liberty of free press and free expression of thought by one and all, rightly championed the separation of judiciary from executive and wisest man of literature.