Born in 1772, in a conservative Brahmin family, Rammohan Roy is the pioneer reformer of modern India. He represented the real spirit of Indian renaissance at its beginning.
For his unparallel contribution he has been described as the father of Indian Nationalism. When India was passing in a critical time, Rammohan appeared in the scene who gathered in himself all the significant trends of his time.
Rammohan has a gifted brain with a remarkable knowledge of India’s cultural traditions.
He read the Upanishads in Sanskrit and translated them into Bengali. His theological treatises show his depth in Koran as well as in the commentaries of Sankara. He realized the importance of English as the gateway to modern knowledge. He acquired enough knowledge in English while working under the company administration. Besides he studied Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit. He understood the inner meaning of Hinduism and Islam. Coming in contact with the
Christian Missonaries, he also learnt the real meaning of Christianity. For his vast knowledge, he tried to bring the Indian society into order; thus became a rebel against many evils of the society. In a powerful way, he started writing on Indian religions, Indian economy and Indian education. In course of time, he started organized reform movement.
Rammohan stood against idol worship, beliefs in many Gods and Goddesses, meaningless ceremonies and unnecessary rituals. He Vehemently criticised the Hindu orthodox practices and religious dogmas present in his contemporary Indian society. He said that Hinduism as the most ancient religion on earth should rest on its inner spiritual vitality.
The Hindu Vedanta and Upanishad had described clearly about birth, life and death. According to him, there is the Creator who creates and describes everything on earth. He is the Supreme Being without any beginning and end without description or shape. Rammohan pointed out the value of those beliefs and wanted religion to rest on purity, virtues and ethics.
He openly declared, “My constant reflections; on the inconvenient, or rather injurious rites, introduced by the peculiar practice of Hindu idolatry, which more than any other pagan worship destroys the texture of society together with compassion for, any countrymen, have compelled one to use every possible effort to awaken them from their dream of error and by moving them acquainted with their scriptures, enable them to contemplate with true devotion, the unity and omnipresence of nature’s God.”
With these ideas he wanted to transform the Indian Hindu society with a new light. In 1928 Rammohan founded the Brahmo Sabha which was renamed as Brahmo Samaj in 1830. Brahmo Samaj became one of the most important agents of religious and social change in the nineteenth century India.
The main aim of the Samaj was to foster the idea of brotherhood of men since all men are the creation of the eternal Being. It advocated for the promotion of charity, morality, piety, benevolence, virtue and the strengthening of the bonds of union between man of all religious beliefs.
The immobile structure of the Indian society, with blind beliefs like Sati system, polygamy, caste excesses, untouchability and the oppression of women divided the Indian society and kept them from acting together as a united nation. Rammohan started Champaign against these wrong doings of the Hindu society.
Rammohan Roy openly said that Sati system was more than murders according to all Shastra as well as to the common science of every nation. He protested against the Sati system inside and outside his home. Consequent upon this the orthodox community rose up in protest and social boycott was organized against him. His life was threatened. On the support of Rammohan Roy, Lord Bentinck finally decided to abolish Sati system in 1929.
In the field of education, Rammohan was one of the first thinkers in India to realise the value of Western Science, and thought. He created major opinion in favour of the English education that could generate a sense of unity among the Indian educated youths. Rammohan’s idea of western education helped the Government of Lord William Bentinck to introduce European learning in India. Bentinck could ignore the group of orientalists of India who were pleading in favour of oriental languages to be used as medium of instructions in schools and colleges.
Rammohan also tried his best for the poetical awakening among Indians. He first realized the value of free press and free opinion. He first published a weekly to ventilate the views of the people on social, political, economic problems both national and international. Through the publication of a comparative study of national problem with international issues, Indians could understand their defects.
With the result they tried to work for the motherland jointly. Rammohan became the pioneer of Indian nationalism by preaching the sensitive value of unity among men. The aim of his reform movement was to liberate the individual from social tyranny and from mental ignorance.
Breaking the orthodox belief to cross the sea and to lose the caste, Rammohan Roy was the first Indian to go to England crossing sea in 1830. Fighting in favour of the abolition of Saji, the introduction of Western Education in India and to introduce measures to put an end to the false beliefs among Indians, he died there is 1833.
After the death of Rammohan Roy, the Brahmo movement continued to carry its mission under the leadership of Keshab Chandra Sen, Maharishi Debendranath Tagore and Akshaya Kumar Dutta etc. Thus in the growth of Indian renaissance the Brahmo movement played a very significant role in India.