May 22, 2021 will mark the 249th birth anniversary of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who is widely known as the Father of Modern Indian. He was born on May 22, 1772 in Radhanagar village in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district. On his birth, he was named Ramkanto Roy and grew up to become a great scholar, best known for his efforts towards abolishing sati and child marriage. The ‘Father of the Indian Renaissance’, Roy was bestowed with the title of Raja by Akbar II, the Mughal emperor.
On his 249th birth anniversary, let us look at few of the important known facts about the Indian stalwart:
- After getting his formal education at a village pathshala, he studied Persian and Arabic at a madrasa in Patna, Bihar. Later, he was sent to Benares (Kashi/Varanasai, UP) to learn the intricacies of Sanskrit and Hindu scripture, including the Vedas and Upanishads.
- Roy formed Atmiya Sabha (Friendship Association) in order to translate Upanishads and discuss it. The discussion among the members of the association on theology led to the establishment of ‘Brahmo Samaj’ in 1828 with Debendranath Tagore to reform Hinduism. From an young age, Roy was against the practice of idol worship, superstitions, blind faith and black magic.
- Under the capacity as an ambassador of the Mughal Emperor, Roy went to England to lobby against overturning the ban of Sati system in India -a ritual in which women forced to douse themselves in fire after the death of their husbands.
- After campaigning against Sati system, Roy also launched campaigns against child marriage, purdah system, the dowry system and polygamy. He was in favour of inter-caste marriages, women’s education and widow re-marriages.
- India’s first English medium school was started by him in 1816. He also launched the first Bengali language weekly newspaper, which was the first newspaper in Indian language. Roy published the journal Mirat-ul-Akbar in Persian in 1822 and founded the newspaper Sambad Koumudi, which helped people in forming opinions about the issues affecting their daily life in British India.
- He died of Meningitis in Stapleton near Bristol on September 27, 1833 while he was on his visit to Britain. He was buried at Stapleton Groves. In 1843, he was re-buried at the Arnos Vale Cemetery nearby, where his mausoleum still stands. Recently, the British government named a street in Bristol as ‘Raja Rammohan Way’ in the memory of Roy.