Raja Ram Mohan Roy was the first Indian who founded a reformist movement in India.” He wanted to modernise India as early as possible, therefore, he was called the ‘representative of the modern age’.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born in 1774 A.D. at Badha Nagar, a small village in Bengal in a noble Brahmin family. He was very intelligent since the very childhood. Besides Arabic, Persian and English, he learnt French. Latin, Greek, etc. As regards idol worship, his thinking was just contrary to his father.
He also studied the philosophies of Hinduism. Islam, Christianity, and Sufism. He also went to England and was deeply influenced by the English language and western culture. He was forced to leave the house at the age of seventeen due to his being against idol worship.
He also travelled to Tibet and studied Buddhism. But no language or literature or religious philosophy impressed him so much as the English language. He served in the East India Company for some time. The women of his family- became annoyed with him due to his independent thinking.
In 1814 A.D he got retirement from the service of the East India Company and indulged himself in the work of preaching and making reforms in the society. Ancient religious books were the basis of his drinking but he was greatly influenced by the English education.
He was a staunch supporter of the theory of oneness of God and he was totally against idol worship ritualism, blind faith and superstitions. In order to give practical shape to his ideals and to take them to the ears of the people, he founded Brahmo Samaj on 20th August step in the purification of Indian culture.
In 1833 A.D. Raja Rain Mohan Roy died in England when he was making efforts for reforming the British administrative system.
Main Principles of Brahmo Samaj:
1. God is one only. He is worthy of worship. He is prohibited from being worshipped as god or Goddess.
2. People of every caste or class had the right to worship God.
3. There is no need of a symbol for devotion.
4. God is immortal and He never birth in the form of man.
5. Salvation is almost impossible without the mercy of God.
6. Soul is immortal.
7. Salvation can only be achieved by giving up committing opsins.
8. To love human beings and to have love towards them is the supreme religion.
9. There is no place for idol worship, animal sacrifice, offering (prasad), Bhog and Ritualism in the Brahmo Samaj.
Reforms of Raja Ram Mohan Roy:
Originally, Brahmo Samaj was a reformative institution. It openly condembed the bad traditions and evils which were rampant in the society. The evils like sati system, child marriage, infanticide, pardah system, caste system, drinking and untouchability were in vogue during this period and they were sapping the vitality of India.
As a result of constant opposition of the Brahmo Samaj, later, an Act was passed against the sati system and various social evils such as caste system, child marriage infanticide were declared illegal. Owing to the preachings of the founder of Brahmo Samaj widow remarriage and inter caste marriages began to take place.
It also lessened the bonds of caste system. In spite of the best its of the modern Government, caste system could not be abolished entirely from India and it is even now present in our country in net form or the other but the contribution of Brahmo Samaj cannot be underrated in this sphere.
Religious Reforms :
As it is evident from the principles of Brahmo Samaj, Raja Ram Mohan Roy wanted to give a simple, clear and plain religion to the people of India in which the door of salvation, was throw open for everyone without the distinction of cast and creed. The religion propounded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy had four main characteristics:
(i) Idol worship strictly prohibited, (ii) Stress on oneness of God, (iii) Intellectual attitude, (iv) Love towards all human beings.
The religion of Raja Ram Mohan Roy was not based on the principle of any partic religion but it was the mixture of the elements of Hindu Vedanta, Sufism and Christianity because according to the principles of Brahmo Samaj, the soul has been accepted alone so there was no possibility of any difference between Indian and other religions.
The Brahmo Samaj was not at all free from the foreign influence because the proof founder of this faith was himself influenced by the western culture and education.
He was a total devotee of western civilisation. The Brahmo Samaj adopted all the modern methods for preaching its principles. Besides Brahmo Samaj, Tatva Bodhini of Mahrishi Debendranath Tagore, Sangat Sabha of Kesliav Chandra Sen and the writings of Raja Ram Mohan Roy played a prominent role in changing the outlook of the Hindus.
Undoubtedly, Brahmo Samaj was a socio- religious movement but besides effecting Social and religious reforms it played a prominent role in the making of the nation. On the basis of the ideas of Keshav Chandra Sen. Surendranath Banerjee tried to spread his political movement throughout the country.
Raja Ram Mohan made some serious efforts to reform the Hindu law and lo free the printing press from the control of the Government He forcibly advocated the freedom of thought. Raja Ram Mohan Roy forced the English government to provide equality to the people of India in getting appointments in the demonstration and the army.
He also stressed that the Persian should not continue any more to be the language of the courts because it was the language of the medieval age. It should now be replaced by the English language.
He played a prominent role in the establishment of Hindu college in 1813 A.D. and as a result of his efforts in 1835 A.D. Sir Charles Metcalfe removed all the restrictions so far imposed on the press. He permitted the news papers to work according to their sweet will.
The leaders of the national movement took advantage J of this freedom granted to the press and turned it to their own interests, led it on the path of independence.
Reforms in Education:
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a learned and educated person, so he made development of education and literature the aim of his life. Hence he opened schools and colleges at several places, Vedanta College, the English School and City College of Calcutta were the results of his efforts. All these educational institution so really contributed towards the modernization of India.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy made the newspapers and his books, a medium to propagate his ideals. He also made a tremendous contribution in the development of Bengal. Urdu, Persian, Ariabic, Sanskrit and English language and literature and wrote books in all these languages.
He made his newspapers ‘Sainvad Kaumudi’ and ‘Miratul Akhbari’ vehicles to carry his thoughts to the people. He was also in favour of making all education and literature free from any restrictions.
In fact, Raja Ram Mohan Roy played a significant role in the progress and development of social and religious movements. He was a great reformer, politician, editor, theologian and a literary person. He played a prominent role in the modernisation of India.
He not only brought to the notice of the people the problems pertaining to religion and society but also suggested the constructive method of solving these problems and roused’ them from their lethargy.
Gradually, a current of reformation spread in India and one after the other, various movements emerged in India. Hence Raja Ram Mohan Roy is regarded as the innovator of modern India. Really, both Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Brahmo Samaj played a significant role in the making of the modern India.