Rammohun Roy

Rammohun Roy

 

(Rammohan Roy). Born May 22, 1772 or 1774, in Radhanagar, Bengal; died Sep. 27, 1883, in Bristol, England. Indian (Bengali) educator, philosopher, religious reformer, public and literary figure, and precursor of Indian bourgeois nationalism. Wrote in Bengali, English, and Persian.

Rammohun Roy, the son of a prominent Brahman, graduated from the Muslim college in Patna. He regarded the struggle to overcome the backwardness of his native land as his main task. He therefore developed a universal religiophilosophic system with a rationalistic foundation that asserted human equality before god and rejected certain tenets of orthodox Hinduism, such as caste divisions, self-immolation of widows, and child marriages. He considered education to be the basic means of progress. On his initiative, Hindu College, the first secular school in India, was opened in Calcutta in 1817.

In 1821 and 1822, Rammohum Roy began publishing the newspapers Sambad Kaumudi (Moon of Intelligence) in Bengali and Mirat-ul-Akhbar (Mirror of News) in Persian. He publicly defended freedom of speech and freedom of the press and likewise advocated equality of the Indians and the British before the law. In economics, he urged study of the British experience in trade and industry and called for establishment of a fixed land tax in all the provinces of India. By 1815 he had formed the Atmija Sabha, or Association of Friends, a circle made up of those who shared his beliefs. The members of the group formed the core of the Brahmo Samaj, which Rammohun Roy founded in Calcutta in 1828.

Rammohun Roy played a prominent role in the formation of a new Bengali literature. His rich literary legacy includes Bengali translations of philosophic works of ancient India (the Upanishads), legal studies, sharply polemical and satirical tracts on religious and social themes, and textbooks.

Rammohun Roy did not link the creation of a genuinely enlightened India to the struggle for national independence. Objectively, however, his activity was directed both against feudalism and colonial oppression.

WORKS

The English Works of Raja Rammohun Roy. Allahabad, 1906.

REFERENCES

Komarov, E. N. “Ram Mokhan Rai—prosvetitel’ i provozvestnik national’nogo dvizheniia v Indii.” In Obshchestvenno-politicheskaia i filosofskaia mysl’ Indii. Moscow, 1962.
Paevskaia, E. V. “Ram Mokhan Roi—predshestvennik burzhuaznogo natsional’nogo dvizheniia v Bengalii.” Uch. zap. Tikhookeanskogo in-ta, vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
Paevskaia, E. V. “Ideia ravenstva ot bkhaktov (XV-XV1 vv.) do Rammokhan Raia (pervaia tret’ XIX v.).” In Trudy mezhvuzovskoi nauchnoi konferentsii po istorii literatur zarubezhnogo Vostoka. Moscow, 1970.
Raja Rammohun Roy and Progressive Movements in India. Calcutta, 1941.
The Father of Modern India: Commemoration Volume of Rammohun Roy. Calcutta, 1935.

E. V. PAEVSKAIA

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