Raja Rammohan Roy and the Brahmo Samaj

Raja Rammohan Roy and the Brahmo Samaj

Raja Rammohan Roy was the founder of Brahmo Samaj. The contributions of Raja Rammohan Roy and his ‘Brahmo Samaj’ to the social reform movement of India is immense.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy is called ‘the first modern man of India’. In every sphere of modern life – literature, religion, education, science, social ethics and politics it was he who set the modern trend. On the basis of monotheism of Vedanta, he founded the ‘Brahma Samaj’ (1830) which later became the focal point of the socio-religious movement of the Indians.

Rammohan Roy denounced the social abuses of the Hindu society like child marriage, polygamy, dowry system, kulinism, caste system, untouchability, infanticide or sacrifice of child, etc.

Rammohan carried on vigorous propaganda against these social abuses through newspaper. He made loud protest against the practice of ‘Sati’ or self-immolation of widows.

He sought to educate public opinion against this inhuman practices. In his essays and treatises he successfully established the fact that the practice of ‘Sati’ was not based on any injunction of the Hindu Shastras. Rammohan started agitation against the practice of ‘Sati’ at the risk of his life.

He had to face the strong opposition of the Orthodox Hindus. The public opinion against the practice of ‘Sati’ made things easy for Governor-General Lord Bentinck who abolished this infamous practice by enacting Regulation XVII in 1829. Rammohan also made serious effort to ensure social prestige for the womenfolk. He demanded right of the female to their ancestral property. The question of female education also engaged his attention.

After Rammohan Roy, the ‘Brahmo Samaj’ was led by able personalities like Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905 A.D.) and Keshab Chandra Sen (1838-1884 A.D.). After them Pandit Sivnath Shastri and Anandamohan Basu took the readership of the ‘Samaj’.

The Brahmo movement had left a deep impress upon the Hindu society. It played a vital role in liberalizing the Hindu Society. It had great contribution in the introduction of widow remarriage, inter-caste marriage, and spread of female education, abolition of early marriage of girls, purdah system and untouchability.

It was due to the movement of the Brahmo Samaj that the government was compelled to enact Regulation III, prohibiting child-marriage and polygamy, and sanctioning widow-remarriage and inter-caste marriage. Under the influence of these liberal movements, the social evils of the Hindu society gradually disappeared. They also tried to improve the lot of the laborers and the common masses. Although the Brahmo movement was confined to the educated class only, its contribution to the national awakening was immense.

By Amit Agarwal