The evolution into a Reformist
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born on 22 May 1772 in Radhanagar village of Murshidabad district in West Bengal. He had differences with his father, a Hindu Brahmin, over Hindu religion and therefore; he left home at a very young age and travelled to Himalayas. On returning home, his parents married him off hoping this would change his outlook towards the religion.
Sought reforms within the Hindu religion
Raja Ram Mohan Roy founded Brahmo Samaj in 1828. It believes in the existence of One Supreme God-having the personality and attributes of preserving the Universe-whose worship needs no fixed place or time. The followers of Brahmo Samaj, called Brahmo Samajists, do not believe in idol-worship, do not discriminate on the basis of caste, creed or religion. Fundamentally, his ideas of religion sought to create a fair and just society.
Shunned orthodoxy and fought many social evils
He crusaded against the brutal practice of Sati, which forced women to immolate themselves on their husbands’ pyre. He also championed other women causes like right to property and the right to remarry. He also worked for eradicating other social evils like child marriage, illiteracy, caste system, infanticide, etc. from the society.
Education as a tool to eradicate social evils
Raja Ram Mohan Roy considered education as an instrument to bring social reforms in the Hindu society marred with superstitious practices. According to him, these practices were the reasons because of which the British could claim moral superiority over India and justify its colonization. In 1817, he had set up Hindu College at Calcutta. In 1822, he founded Anglo-Hindu school followed by Vedanta College in 1826. These institutions taught his teachings of monotheism along with a modern-western curriculum.
Reformist till the last breath
Raja Ram Mohan Roy died of meningitis in Bristol on 27 September 1833 and was buried in Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol. Three years before he died, he travelled to the United Kingdom as an ambassador of the Mughal Empire to ensure that Lord William Bentick’s proposal to abolish Sati did not get overturned.