Four Social Reformers

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  • Topic: Brahmo Samaj, Bengal Renaissance, Ram Mohan Roy
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  • Published : January 17, 2011
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Raja ram Mohun Roy Born: May 22, 1772
Died: September 27, 1833
Achievements: Founded Atmiya Sabha and Brahma Samaj. He played a key role in abolition, and Sati. He fought for the rights of women.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy is known as the 'Maker of Modern India'. He was the founder of the Brahmo Samaj, one of the first Indian socio-religious reform movements. He played a major role in abolishing the role of Sati. 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 on May 22, 1772 in village Radhanagar in the District of Hooghly in Bengal. His father Ramkanto Roy was a Vaishnavite, while his mother, Tarini, was from a Shakta background. Raja Ram Mohun Roy was sent to Patna for higher studies. By the age of fifteen, Raja Rammohun Roy had learnt Bangla, Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was against idol worship and orthodox Hindu rituals. He stood firmly against all sort of social bigotry, conservatism and superstitions. But his father was an orthodox Hindu Brahmin. This led to differences between Raja Ram Mohan Roy and his father. Following differences he left the house. He wandered around Himalayas and went to Tibet. He traveled widely before returning home.

After his return Raja Ram Mohan Roy's family married him in the hope that he would change. But this did not have any effect on him. Raja Ram Mohan Roy went to Varanasi and studied the Vedas, the Upanishads and Hindu philosophy deeply. When his father died in 1803 he returned to Murshidabad. He then worked as a moneylender in Calcutta, and from 1809 to 1814; he served in the Revenue Department of the East India Company.

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 and the practice of polygamy.

He also supported education, particularly education of women. He believed that English-language education was superior to the traditional Indian education system, and he opposed the use of government funds to support schools teaching Sanskrit. In 1822, he founded a school based on English education.

In 1828, Raja Ram Mohan Roy founded the 'Brahma Samaj'. Through 'Brahma Samaj, he wanted to expose the religious hypocrisies and check the growing influence of Christianity on the Hindu society. Raja Ram Mohan Roy's efforts bore fruit when in 1929, the Sati system was abolished.

In November 1830 Ram Mohan Roy traveled to the United Kingdom as an ambassador of the Mughal emperor to plead for his pension and allowances. Raja Ram Mohan Roy passed away on September 27, 1833 at Stapleton near Bristol due to meningitis.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar Born: 26 September, 1820
Died: 29 July, 1890

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar is considered as one of the pillars of Bengal renaissance. In other words, he managed to continue the reforms movement that was started by Raja Rammohan Roy. Vidyasagar was a well-known writer, intellectual and above all a staunch follower of humanity. He brought a revolution in the education system of Bengal. In his book, "Barno-Porichoy" (Introduction to the letter), Vidyasagar refined the Bengali language and made it accessible to the common strata of the society. The title 'Vidyasagar' (ocean of knowledge) was given to him due to his vast knowledge in almost all the subjects. Poet Michael Madhusudan Dutta while writing about Ishwar Chandra said: "The genius and wisdom of an ancient sage, the energy of an Englishman and the heart of a Bengali mother".

Life & Education
Ishwar Chandra Bandopadhyaya was born in Birsingha village of Midnapore district, West Bengal. His father Thakurdas Bandopadhyaya and mother...
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