Raja Ram Mohan Roy was an Indian socio-educational reformer who challenged traditional Hindu culture and led conservative Indian society towards progressing India. He is also called the "Maker of Modern India" He founded the Brahmo Samaj at Calcutta in 1828, which was initially known as the "Brahmo Sabha." Raja Rammohan Roy was a great scholar and an independent thinker. He advocated the study of English, Science, Western Medicine and Technology. He was given the title 'Raja' by the Mughal Emperor.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born in a Bengali Hindu family in Radhanagore, Hooghly, West Bengal 1772. His family background displayed religious diversity; his father Ramkanto Roy was a Vaishnavite, while his mother Tarinidevi was from a Shaivite family. He was sent to Patna for higher studies. By the age of fifteen, he had learnt Bangla, Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit. He studied Hindu scriptures like the Vedas, the Upanishadas etc. and books of other religions. He joined the service of the East India Company in 1805 and gradually rose to high offices.
He left the Company to devote his time to the service of his people. Profoundly influenced by European liberalism, Ram Mohan came to the conclusion that radical reform was necessary in the religion of Hinduism and in the social practices of the Hindus.
In 1814, Raja Ram Mohan Roy formed Atmiya Sabha. Atmiya Sabha tried to initiate social and religious reforms in the society. Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned for rights for women, including the right for widows to remarry, and the right for women to hold property. He actively opposed Sati system. Roy demanded property inheritance rights for women.
At that time, only Sanskrit and Persian were taught in our schools. There were very few to tell us anything about Western Science. But even they were in English. And our people did not know English. It was the great Raja Rammohan Roy, who realized that India would be a backward country, if people did not learn English, Mathematics and Science. He advocated the study of English, Science, Western Medicine and Technology.
So, in 1815, Ram Mohan came to Calcutta and the very next year, started an English College by putting his own savings. He was well aware that the students should learn the English language and scientific subjects and that's why he criticized the government's policy of opening only Sanskrit schools. Government accepted this idea of Ram Mohan and also implemented it but not before his death.
In 1828, he set up the Brahmo Sabha, which was a movement of reformist Bengalis formed to fight against social evils. He attacked the caste system and campaigned to persuade the Government to abolish 'Sati' system and child marriage. He advocated equal rights for women, right of widows to remarry and right of women to property. It was as a result of his persistent campaign that the cruel custom of Sati, the practice of encouraging--and often forcing--widows to burn themselves alive on their husband's funeral pyres was declared illegal in 1829 A.D. by Lord William Bentick.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was the first social reformer of Modern India and he is rightly called the 'Father of Modern India'. He had a rational and scientific approach and believed in the principle of human dignity and social equality. He was a perfect combination of the East and the West.
He condemned polytheism and idol worship and propagated the concept of one God. His religious ideas had assimilated elements of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and modern European liberal philosophy. He translated ancient Indian works on religion and philosophy into Bengali.
He was internationalist and supported the cause of freedom everywhere. He celebrated the success of the 1830 Revolution in France and condemned the Britishers who were inflicting miseries on Ireland.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy, during his visit to United Kingdom as an ambassador of Akbar- the second, died of meningitis at Stapleton in Bristol on 27 September, 1833. At the time, Roy was an ambassador of the Mughal emperor Akbar II, who conferred on him the title of Raja to convince the British government for welfare of India and to ensure that the Lord Bentick's regulation banning the practice of Sati was not overturned.