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Raja Ram Mohan Roy: A Social Activist

May 22, 2018
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Raja Ram Mohan Roy is a great historical figure who put laudable efforts to transform India and dared to defy the age old Hindu traditions. He undertook a lot of social reforms to change the society and worked to uplift the status of women in India. Roy fought against Sati system. He was also a great scholar who translated many books, religious and philosophical work and scriptures into Bengali and also translated Vedic scriptures into English.

All about Raja Ram Mohan Roy

In the early nineteenth century, many educated Indians began to feel that western culture and the rising tide of Christianity posed a challenge to their age old traditions and beliefs. In their attempt to remedy the situation, many reformers became critical of the past and began to look for ways to rid the society of its evils, such as caste distinction, purdah system and the custom of Sati. They wanted a new social order in keeping with the traditional values and modern development. Many Indians were impressed by progress made by science as well as the doctrine of reason and humanism of the West. The social conditions of the 19th century led to socio-religious reform movements. One of them was Brahmo Samaj.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy is considered as the pioneer of modern Indian Renaissance for the remarkable reforms he brought in the 18th and 19th century India. Among his efforts, the abolition of the brutal and inhuman Sati Pratha was the most prominent. His efforts were also instrumental in eradicating the purdah system and child marriage. In 1828, Ram Mohan Roy formed the Brahmo Samaj, uniting the Bhramos in Calcutta, a group of people, who had no faith in idol-worship and were against the caste restrictions. The title ‘Raja’ was bestowed upon him by the Mughal emperor Akbar II, in 1831. Roy visited England as an ambassador of the Mughal King to ensure that Bentick’s regulation banning the practice of Sati was not overturned. He died of meningitis in 1833 while residing in Bristol, England.

Raja ram Mohan Roy

Childhood & Early Life

Ram Mohan Roy was born in Burdwan in Bengal. Raja Rammohan Roy served the East India Company for a number of years and became a revenue officer in 1809. His father Ramkanto Roy was a Vaishnavite, while his mother Tarinidevi was a Shaivite—this was very unusual during those times where marriages between different religious sub sects were uncommon. His family had been serving the imperial Mughals for three generations. He was born in an era which marked the darkest period in the history of India. The country was plagued by numerous socio-economic and political problems, the chaos created in the name of religions was aplenty. He received his basic education in Sanskrit and Bengali in the village school after which he was sent to Patna to study in a Madrasa where he learnt Persian and Arabic. Furthering his education, he moved to Kashi to learn the intricacies of Sanskrit and Hindu scriptures like the Vedas and Upanishads. He learnt the English language only when he was 22 years old.


He put remarkable efforts in the education system of India. To modernize the education system, Raja Ram Mohan Roy established many English schools. He set up the Hindu college at Calcutta in 1822. He assisted Alexander Duff to establish the General Assembly’s Institution. Roy promoted and urged that science, technology, western medicine and English should be taught at Indian schools. To politically educate people, Raja Ram Mohan Roy even published magazines in different languages including English, Hindi, Persian and Bengali. Noticeable magazines published by him were the Brahmonical Magazine, the Sambad KaumudiandMirat-ul-Akbar


He was honoured the title ‘Raja’ by the Moghul Emperor. Raja Ram Mohan Roy believed in the fundamental unity of all religions. In 1814, he founded, ‘Atmiya Samaj’ and in 1828, the ‘Brahma Samaj’. Through these organisations he wanted to expose the religious hypocrisies and to check the growing influence of Christianity on the Hindu society.

Interesting Facts

  • He translated the Vedas and Upanishads into Bengali, Hindi, and English and wrote summaries and treatises on them. For him, the central theme of those texts was the worship of the Supreme God who is beyond human knowledge and who supports the universe. In 1824, in appreciation of his translations, the French Societe Asiatique elected him to an honorary membership
  • He was a polyglot who had mastered various languages such as Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, English, Bengali and Hindi
  • He was the founder of the Brahma Samaj, which played a major role in reforming and modernizing the Indian society
  • He formed the Atmiya Sabha as a philosophical discussion circle to debate monotheistic Hindu Vedantism and similar subjects.
  • He was against idol worship and orthodox Hindu rituals
  • He denounced the caste system


[1] “Raja Ram Mohan Roy”, available online at:

[2] “Personalities”, available online at:

[3] “Reforms: Raja Rammohan Roy”, available online at:

[4] “Raja Ram Mohan Roy Biography”, available online at:

One Comment

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