Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a great scholar of
Persian, Sanskrit and English and a popular
social reformer from Bengal. He was in fact
Modern India's first social reformer who
believed in the principle of social equality and
human dignity. Ram Mohan Roy was a blend of the
West and the East.
Ram Mohan Roy was born on 14 August 1774, in Radhanagar village, situated in the Hooghly district of West Bengal. He was born to Ramkanto Roy and Tarini Devi. He was sent to Patna to pursue his higher studies. He had learnt Bangla, Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian by the age of fifteen. Ram Mohan Roy possessed scientific and rational approach to life and opposed idol worship and orthodox Hindu rituals and superstitions. However, his father was an orthodox Hindu Brahmin. This resulted in a rift between him and his father, after which he left home. He wandered around the Himalayas and went to Tibet. After he returned home, his parents quickly got him married.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy went to Varanasi and studied the Hindu scriptures like Vedas, the Upanishads, etc. He returned to Murshidabad following his father's demise in 1803. He then worked as a money-lender in Calcutta. Between the years 1809 and 1814, he served in the East India Company in the Revenue Department. Ram Mohan Roy founded the 'Atmiya Sabha' in 1814 to bring about religious and social reforms in the society. He campaigned for women's rights to education, to hold property and to remarry. He played a crucial role in abolishing the practice of polygamy and Sati. Ram Mohan Roy established the 'Brahma Samaj' in 1828 to do away with the religious hypocrisy and curtail the influence of Christianity on the Hindu society.
Ram Mohan Roy was conferred the title 'Raja' by Mughal Emperor Akbar II in 1831 when he visited England as an ambassador of the Emperor. He went to convince the British Government not to overturn the ban on the practice of Sati and to request the British government to increase the Emperor's allowances and pension. Raja Ram Mohan Roy breathed his last on September 27, 1833 at Stapleton near Bristol, due to meningitis. He was buried in Arnos Vale Cemetery, located in southern Bristol. Recently, the British Government has named a street as 'Raja Rammohan Way' in his memory.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy realized that without thorough knowledge of English, Science, Mathematics, Western Medicine and Technology, India would be lagging far behind other countries, such as America, Japan, Russia and Germany. Therefore, he established a college to teach these subjects with his own money. It is because of his selfless acts towards educating and developing India, Ram Mohan Roy is remembered in the history of India as the 'Father of the Indian Renaissance'.