Contribution of Raja Ram Mohan Roy: Biography of Social Reformer, Brahmo Samaj Founder

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a brilliant intellectual and genuine philosopher who established the Brahmo Samaj, one of the first socio-religious reform groups in India. He is typically known as the “Father of the Bengal Renaissance” or the “Father of Modern India” and was a holy and social reformer. Akbar II, the Mughal emperor, awarded the title “Raja” to him. His influence could be felt in politics, government, education, and religion.

Rajaram Mohan Rai was well-known for his efforts to end child marriage and the Sati customs. Many historians regard Roy as the “Father of the Bengal Renaissance”. This article talks about the Contribution of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, why is he said to be a social reformer, his political thoughts, and his path towards founding Brahmo Samaj, among other relevant things.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy

In addition to being a learned man of Sanskrit, Persian, and English, Raja Ram Mohan Roy was well-versed in Arabic, Latin, and Greek. The Shastri profession was prepared for him by one parent. At the same time, the worldly advantages required to begin a career in the Laukik, or sophisticated field of public administration, were obtained for him by the other.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy UPSC Notes

Ram Mohan spent the remainder of his life vacillating between these different parental values after being torn between them since he was a little child. Ram Mohan Roy saw his sister-in-law die via Sati while he was a little boy. Ram Mohan Roy saw the terrified 17-year-old girl as she was being led toward the fire. However, his protests were ineffective.

Contribution of Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Some key facts about him have been listed below:

  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born into a traditional Bengali Hindu family in Radhanagar of the Hooghly District, Bengal Presidency, in May 1772.
  • Ram Mohan’s education included Persian and Arabic study at Patna, where he was moved for further instruction.
  • He read the Qur’an, the Arabic translation of Plato and Aristotle’s writings, and the poetry of Sufi mystics.
  • He had mastered Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, and Bangla by age 15. He was also proficient in Hindi and English.
  • He travelled to Varanasi and absorbed a great deal of Hindu philosophy, the Upanishads, and the Vedas. Along with Islam, he also studied Christianity.
  • When he was sixteen, he published an intelligent condemnation of Hindu idol worship.
  • He worked for the East India Company’s Revenue Department from 1809 to 1814. He also served as Woodforde and Digby’s personal Diwan during that time.
  • He devoted his career to religious, social, and political reforms in 1814.
  • As the “Inaugurator of the Modern Age in India,” he said in his speech. Tagore described Ram Mohan as “a luminous star in the firmament of Indian history.”
  • As an emissary for the Mughal king Akbar Shah II (the father of Bahadur Shah), he travelled to England and succumbed to illness.
  • In Bristol, England, in September 1833, he passed away.
  • The Mughal Emperor of Delhi, Akbar II, bestowed upon him the title “Raja,” and he brought his problems before the British king.


Ideologies of Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a pioneer who brought about the Indian Renaissance with his social vision and modern thinking inspired by the west. As an independent thinker, Ram Mohan Roy helped shape the path for a modern India. Here are some of his ideologies that set the stage for his social reforms.

  • Ram Mohan Roy was attracted by the idea of monotheism followed in the Islamic religion.
  • He believed in a single unitarian God, which he thought was the critical message of Vedanta.
  • He firmly believed that the Hindu civilization could not progress unless women were treated equally and were freed from inhumane actions such as Sati Pratha, child marriage, and purdah.
  • As a reformer, he stressed the importance of rationalism and a scientific approach and believed in social equality for all humans.
  • Roy defined Sati Pratha as a violation of humanity and an indicator of the moral debasement of the human race.
  • Ram Mohan Roy also advocated for self-purification and repentance instead of performing any sacrifices and ceremonies.
  • He believed that an offender must atone for his sins through self-purification.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy Social Reforms

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a visionary fueled by the personal tragedy of losing his sister to the practice of Sati. He was a revolutionary who changed society more than we can ever list. However, we have compiled a comprehensive list of Raja Ram Mohan Roy Social Reforms and the efforts made by him.

  • Political and Economic Contributions
  • Social Reforms
  • Educational Reforms
  • Religious Reforms

Raja Ram Mohan Roy Political Thought and Economic Contributions

The civic liberties provided to citizens under the British System of Constitutional Government impressed and inspired Raja Ram Mohan Roy. He wished to make the Indian people eligible for the advantages of that form of governance.

He proposed a reformation of taxing systems, i.e., denounced Bengali zamindars‘ repressive methods, requested that minimum rents be fixed, advocated for the elimination of tariffs on tax-free territories and the decrease of export taxes on commodities made in India, and shouted out in support of eliminating the trading privileges of the East India Company.

  • He spoke out against the British government’s unfair policies, particularly its limitations on press freedom.
  • His writings and other endeavors contributed to India’s fight for a free press.
  • After Lord Hastings lifted press restrictions in 1819, Ram Mohan founded three publications: the Bengali weekly Samvad Kaumudi (1821), The Brahmanical Magazine (1821), and the Persian weekly Mirat-ul-Akbar (1821).
  • He advocated that Europeans and Indians be treated equally.
  • He favored the independence of the executive and judicial branches of government and the Indianization of superior services.

Social Reforms by Raja Ram Mohan Roy

He saw reforming religious organizations as tools for social and political change. He founded the Calcutta Unitarian Association in 1821, the Atmiya Sabha in 1814, and the Brahmo Sabha or Brahmo Samaj in 1828. He advocated for women’s rights, such as the freedom to own property and the ability for widows to remarry.

Due to his efforts, polygamy was outlawed, and Sati was abolished in 1829 by Lord William Bentinck, the Indian governor-general at the time. Raja Ram Mohan Roy ran an anti-caste, anti-untouchability, anti-superstition, and anti-alcohol campaign.

  • He denounced child marriage, women’s illiteracy, polygamy, and the inferior treatment of widows.
  • He emphasized rationalism and the application of modern science
  • He campaigned against the perceived flaws of his era’s Hindu society.
  • He founded the Bengali weekly journal Sambad Kaumudi, which frequently attacked Sati as barbaric and opposed Hinduism’s core principles.

Educational Reforms by Raja Ram Mohan Roy

He established numerous schools to impart English-language Western scientific knowledge to Indians. He thought the conventional Indian educational system was inferior to schooling in the English language. In 1817, he helped David Hare establish the Hindu College while Roy’s English school offered mechanics and Voltaire’s philosophy classes.

He established a school with an English-based curriculum in 1822. He founded Vedanta College in 1825, offering studies in Indian learning and Western physical and social sciences.

Religious Reforms by Raja Ram Mohan Roy

In 1803 Raja Ram Mohan Roy released his first book, Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhiddin (a gift to deists), highlighting illogical religious ideas. He condemned Hindu idolatry and immoral activities, such as their faith in revelations, prophets, miracles, and other things.

  • He objected to Hinduism’s alleged polytheism and promoted monotheism as described in the Bible.
  • To combat idolatry, needless rituals, oppressive caste structures, and other societal issues, he founded the Atmiya Sabha in Calcutta in 1814.
  • He disapproved of Christianity’s ritualism and denied Christ as God in the flesh. Precepts of Jesus (1820), which he praised, he made an effort to separate the miracle stories from the philosophical and moral lessons of the New Testament.
  • He rendered into Bengali the Vedas and five Upanishads.

Brahmo Samaj and Raja Ram Mohan Roy

The social aspect of Brahmoism, which emerged as a reformist monotheistic movement of Hinduism during the Bengal Renaissance, is called the Brahmo Samaj. It was one of India’s most potent religious movements and significantly influenced the development of modern India.

It was started in Calcutta on August 20, 1828, by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Dwarkanath Tagore as a reform of the then-prevailing Brahmanism prevalent at that time (particularly Kulin practices).

  • It marked the commencement of the Bengal Renaissance in the 19th century, which pioneered all social, educational, and religious advancements of the Hindu community.
  • A Trust Deed was formed in 1830 to launch it formally, and the first place of worshipping, known popularly as the Adi Brahmo Samaj, was publicly reserved in January 1830.
  • The newest officially recognized religion in India and Bangladesh, Brahmoism, which has its roots in reformed spiritual Hinduism and incorporates significant components of Judeo-Islamic doctrine and practices, is a product of the Brahmo Samaj.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy Literary Works

Raja Ram Mohan Roy made essential contributions to Indian society through his modern independent thinking and scientific approach. He rallied against inhumane practices that were followed in the Hindu religion and established several schools that focused on Western scientific education. Furthermore, he published his revolutionary ideas in the form of literary works such as:

  • Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhidin
  • Vedanta Gantha
  • Kathopanishad
  • Mundaka Upanishad
  • Gaudiya Vyakaran
  • A Conference between the Advocate for and an Opponent of the Practice of Burning Widows Alive
  • The Precepts of Jesus – The Guide to Peace and Happiness, A Defence of Hindu Theism

Brief Note on Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Ram Mohan Roy’s resurrection of the ethical and pure Vedanta school of philosophy’s teachings from the Upanishads significantly influenced contemporary Indian history. He shared his message of the oneness of God, contributed to the first English translations of Vedic texts, co-founded the Calcutta Unitarian Society, and established the Brahma Samaj. He waged a successful effort to end the burning of widows, or sati. He aimed to combine the most significant aspects of his customs with Western civilization.

To popularise a modern educational system in India-one that effectively replaced Sanskrit-based schooling with English-based schooling, founded several institutions. He advocated for a logical, moral, non-authoritarian, earthly, and socially progressive type of Hinduism. His works also piqued the curiosity of American and British Unitarians.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy UPSC

Aspirants preparing for the IAS exam must learn vital facts about Indian Social Reformer, Raja Ram Mohan Roy. He was a prominent personality in Indian History and was the founder of the Brahmo Samaj. Aspirants need to comprehend Raja Ram Mohan Roy contribution and why is he said to be a social reformer. Read about his ideologies, reforms, and literary works with the help of History Books for UPSC.

Students must download Raja Ram Mohan Roy UPSC notes as it is a crucial sub-topic that comes under Important Personalities, Contribution of Moral Thinkers (GS-1, and GS-4) of Indian History. You can also check out Indian History Notes which covers all crucial topics from where questions are asked in the exam.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy Sample Questions

2009 Question: In collaboration with Alexander Duff and David Hare, who established Hindu College at Calcutta? – Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Raja Rammohan Roy, Keshab Chandra Sen, Henry Louis Vivian Derozio
Answer: Raja Rammohan Roy

2012 Question: Which of the statements regarding Brahmo Samaj are correct? (1) It popularized doctrine that the Vedas are infallible, (2) It denied the need for a priestly class for interpreting religious texts, (3) It opposed idolatry – 2 and 3 only, 3 only, 1 only or 1, 2 and 3.
Answer: 2 and 3 only

Question: Consider the statements about Raja Rammohan Roy and choose the correct option(s): (1) Raja Rammohan Roy was supported by Governor General William Bentinck, (2) Raja Rammohan Roy published tracts condemning social evils, (3) Raja Rammohan Roy encouraged idolatry, (4) Raja Rammohan Roy preached monotheism.
Answer: 1, 2, 4

Question: Ram Mohan Roy was given the title of Raja by: (1) Intellectuals opposing the custom of Sati, (2) Followers of Brahma Samaj, (3) Akbar II, (4) Lord William Bentinck
Answer: Akbar II.

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