Autobiography of Raja Ram Mohan Roy


Let’s us learn how to write an autobiography of Raja Ram Mohan Roy! When we talk about the term “Modern,” very few names can truly be uttered simultaneously. Even among the great men in the history of time, not all of them were truly “modern” as far as their perspective is concerned.

But if we are to talk about the Indian eminent people, then one name can really do justice to the term “modern”. That name is Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Apart from just being the precursor of Brahmo Samaj, he was perhaps the most modern-minded man of his time, who took significant steps to eradicate several medieval customs such as Satidaha and child marriage.

autobiography raja ram mohan roy
Autobiography raja ram mohan roy

Even at that age, fighting against such social stigmas was quite difficult. But he was brave enough to face the wrath of society and emerge victoriously. He was a man of outstanding, almost unparalleled merit. 

But at the same time, he was stout and physically well-built as he used to indulge in physical exercises regularly. However, there was more to him beyond his physical strength and outstanding merit.

Who Was Raja Ram Mohan Roy?

To say briefly, Raja Ram Mohan Roy was an Indian reformer in the true sense of the term, and he was one of the founders of the Brahmo Sabha. This institution actually functioned as the precursor of the Brahmo Samaj, a social-religious reform movement in the Indian subcontinent.

Due to his outstanding contribution to India and its people, he was bestowed upon the title of Raja by none other than the Mughal emperor Akbar the second. His influence is present in a number of aspects concerning our society. His contribution is apparent in disciplines such as politics, public administration, education, and religion.

According to many historians, the Bengal Renaissance happened because of him, and thus he is considered by many as the “Father Of Bengali Renaissance.” He protested against the senseless and cruel practice of Sati and Child Marriage. 

And with the help of another eminent personality, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, he not only managed to abolish these customs but also made everyone realize the futility of these customs.

Writing the autobiography of such a personality is never easy. Through his long list of amazing feats, I have only tried to add the most significant parts of his life to this autobiography.

Why bow down to injustice?

Lowering my head to injustice was never my style. I was a stubborn kid as far as I can remember, and my parents were always in a fix and quarrel as to how to raise me up properly.

As I was told later, I was born on 22 May 1772 in Radhanagar, Hooghly District, Bengal Presidency. My family had the heritage of Kulin Brahminism. My great grandfather was a respected Brahmin of his time, and he was always strict with his ideals.

Later, I came to know about the various stigmas that were associated with Kulin Brahminism. Two of such conventions were polygamy and dowry. These were probably the two biggest reasons I wanted to denounce my ethnicity and campaigned against these conventions all my life. But those things took place later in my life.

When I was little, I was excellent in my studies, or at least that’s what everyone used to say. For me, well, I used to enjoy my studies and was always ready to learn about new things every day.

But at the same time, I was very keen on sports as well. Later in my life, I even practiced boxing; it was a sport in which I was pretty proficient.

Many have argued about the actual origin of my education. I believe some clarification is necessary for this matter. 

Like many children around that time, I also started my formal education in the village pathshala, where my teachers taught me Bengali and some Sanskrit and Persian. But afterward, as per the advice of my family, I continued to study Persian and Arabic in a madrasa in Patna.

But there also, I didn’t stay for long as very soon I was sent to Benares. There I continued learning the intricacies of Sanskrit and Hindu scripture as well as the Vedas and Upanishads. The things I had learned around this time had influenced me a lot, and they stayed with me for the rest of my life. For most people, the time period of my education turns out to be a mystery. In that case, I must say that, when I was nine years old, I was sent to Patna. Then after studying there for two years, I moved to Benaras.

When I had studied Persian and Arabic, the scriptures and their teachings influenced me a lot, and it was from there that I had learned about the concept of One God. Frankly, I was more influenced by the teachings of the Persian and Arabic scriptures than the studies of European deism. When I was writing my first scripture, I wasn’t aware of them at all. I believe around that time of my life; I couldn’t speak or understand English.

From an early age, I realized that one must train their minds as well as train their bodies to become stronger. I had read that the Greeks used to have debate societies where they could not just banter but have philosophical discussions to make their minds free from narrow thoughts and ideas. Instead, these philosophical debates could help one understand life better and have a clear perspective towards life.

With this same goal, I started Atmiya Sabha in 1815. It was originally a philosophical discussion circle in Kolkata where people could come together and exchange their views on life and society.

Later in my life, I had the chance to see the British Regime in Calcutta very closely. I could understand how they were functioning and also how the people of my country were suffering.

I was perhaps the first one to realize and estimate the kind of money the East India Company was draining money from India. Around that time, by my estimate, it was no less than three million pounds a year by 1838.

Not only I figured out how much money they were draining from the city, but I could also understand where it was disappearing. 

Just like most colonizers, one-half of all total revenue collected in India was sent out to England. Considering the massive population of India, the remaining money turned out to be a meager amount to maintain social well-being.

As a solution, I figured that the unrestricted settlement of Europeans in India, when governed under the free trade policy, might just help ease the economic drain crisis.

Thus began my quest for Social reformation. For the next two decades, I continued to attack the bastions of Hinduism of Bengal, and specifically my own Kulin Brahmin priestly clan. Around that time, they were in control of the many temples of Bengal. Plus, their priestly excesses were an issue as well.

But when I had targeted the Kulin excesses, it went beyond their lavish lifestyle and included many inhumane practices such as sati (the co-cremation of widows), child marriage, polygamy, and dowry.

I felt education is mandatory if I wish to eradicate these evil practices. And thus, I started working to promote women’s education as well. But how could they continue their studies if they were married off early or co-cremated with their old and dead husband? 

So, I had to stop these barbaric practices of marrying little girls with sickly and dying older men. And naturally, when their husbands used to die, they were forced to die with them in the same pyre and become “Sati,” a pious term for such an inhumane crime.

Since both of the practices were interconnected, I started campaigning against them and faced the wrath of the orthodox society, especially the Brahmins. But I didn’t stop, and my social reformation didn’t stop there either. After abolishing Child marriage and Sati by law, I went on with my religious principles and created the Brahmo Samaj.

We had separate ideals and principles of our own, but I had no interest in demeaning anyone’s belief at that time. This was actually the basis of much fierce criticism around that time. But I was glad to found some people who believed in my cause and action.

Conclusion

Raja Ram Mohan Roy had died of meningitis on 27 September 1833. At the time of his death, he was 61 years old. During his death, he was overseas, and he was buried on 18 October 1833, on the grounds of Stapleton Grove. This was the place where he was staying around the time of his death.

But he was actually buried twice nine and half years later, on 29th May 1843 at the new Arnos Vale Cemetery grave, in Brislington, East Bristol. This is currently serving as his final resting place.

Even after so many years of his death, he is still considered one of the greatest Bengalis to have ever lived and walked on this land.

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