One of India’s most celebrated social reformer, Raja Ram Mohan Roy completes his 246th birth anniversary on today, May 22. He is best known as the ‘Maker of modern India’ and is often hailed as the ‘Father of Indian Renaissance.’ Google is celebrating his birthday with a doodle – a tradition that company has perfected over the years.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a non-conformist and a supporter of monotheism. He stayed away from the orthodox Hindu rituals and idol worship, even though his own father was a staunch Hindu Brahmin.
Roy faced differences with his father over religion and left his home while he was still very young. He traveled to the Himalayas and upon his return, his parents insisted on a marriage, hoping it would change his beliefs. However, that did not help. Roy indeed explored his religion, but only to expose the practitioners who took advantage of it and whom he considered hypocrites.
Roy was the founder of a socio-religious movement known as the Brahma Samaj in 1828, which had a vital role in modernising the Indian society. Roy fought tooth and nail to abolish the age-old practice of Sati, which was a practice that forced women to jump into the funeral pyre of her husband, sacrificing her own life for her now dead husband. Raja Ram Mohan Roy championed equal rights for women, the right to remarry and also the right to hold property.
Roy had even established the Hindu College, the Vedanta College and a school in Kolkata (then Calcutta). He also started a journal known as Sambad Kaumudi. In 1830, he went to England as representative of the Mughal Empire and managed to convince the government to increase the Mughal Emperor’s stipends. He breathed his last in Bristol in 1833.The contributions of Roy to the society are huge. Along with Google, let’s remember the champion of women’s rights and the one who exposed the hypocrisy of blind faith in religious preachers.