In the current narrative of white-washed Indian history, colossal credit is given to Raja Ram Mohan Roy for starting reforms, particularly of Suttee in Hindu society of the nineteenth century. Hindus were projected as backward, rigid, practicing evil and regressive practices, and full of social ills at that time. Suttee or Widow burning was the cast as foremost among these.
In this article, let us investigate the antecedents of Raja Ram Mohan Roy based on British and western historians. In another article, we can review the reality of the custom of Suttee.
Ram Mohan Roy depended on the East India Company for his livelihood[i]. While on the company’s dependency, he was projected as a social reformer for these supposed evils.
Ram Mohan Roy studied Bible and published the book ‘The precepts of Jesus: The guide to peace and happiness[ii].
He had favored English education for Indians.[iii] His views were ‘the greater our intercourse with Europeans, the greater will be our improvement in literary, social and political affairs.’[iv]
He was not a real Raja, neither hereditary nor with an acquired estate. This was a title given to him by the Mughal ruler[v] – who himself had no estate or territory and was limited to being in Red fort and living on an allowance from the British.
Ram Mohan Roy had gone to England, and while there was to plead the case of the Mughal ruler for increased allowances[vi], the title had been bestowed so that he could negotiate the issue better.
The Mughal rule in India was over in 1804, and the Mughal was just a British pensioner since 1804. He was a figurehead, and his authority was limited to the walls of Red Fort in Delhi.[vii]
Many objections in London were raised regarding his representation of the Mughal, but finally, the company officials allowed him to present the case[viii].
While continuing to work for the company, he established Brahmo Samaj in 1828[ix] and left for England in 1831, and died while in England two and a half years later[x]. His co-founder was Dwarka Nath Tagore, an Anglicized Bengali Zamindar and ancestor of Rabindra Nath Tagore.
Brahmo Samaj was founded for the ‘calm worship of the deity and the practice of virtue and charity.’[xi].’Ram Mohan Roy was writing books in favor of Deism but wisely in Elphinstone’s opinion retaining the name and observances of a Hindu’.[xii]
The Brahmo Samaj did not make any headway in real life except in the projection of disinformation by the British to be used as a tool to beat Hindus with.
Ram Mohan Roy, it is therefore amply clear was one of the disinformation agents of the British.
[i] Barrow, Ian The East India Company @2017 P 108 and P 105
[ii] Moon, Sir Penderel, The British Conquest and dominion of India @1989
[iii] Moon P 465
[iv] James, Lawrence, Raj, The Making and Unmaking of British India @1997 P 346
[v] Moon P 475
[vii] Sarkar, Sir Jadunath,Fall of the Mughal Empire Book 4 PP281-284
[viii] Wilson, Jon, the Chaos of the Empire@2016 P 155
[ix] Moon P 469
[x] Wilson 154-155
[xi] Moon P 469
[xii] Moon P 468
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