Raja Ram mohan Roy, the pioneer of modern India was “The first man of new regenerate India” in the words of Rabindranath Tagore was born at Radhanagar in the district of Hooghly on 22 May 1772. He was the man who had brought India from the grasp of blind superstitions and ignorance to enlightenment as far as possible in the fabric of his time. Although born in an orthodox Hindu family, he was able to broaden his attitude and his vision with the help of the Vedic texts and Islamic culture as well as Western philosophy.
He was a natural linguist and had mastered the languages of Bengali, Sanskrit, English, French, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Latin and Greek and thus he was able to study the religious and literary texts of these languages.
Around his time, India had been suffereing from many social evils and religious complexities. These evil practices were just a mockery of humanism. In such a context, his role as a reformer was two-fold. He was a religious reformer as well as a social reformer. He revolted against idolatry and laid the stepstone for the Brahmo Samaj. On the other hand, he tried heart and soul to remove the evil customs of the society of his times, e.g. caste-preju- dice, child-marriage, widow-burning, female infanticide, prevention of female education and female inheritance etc. He was greatly shocked at the deplorable condition of the people as these evil customs were eating into the vitals of the society.
He was out and out a humanist. He ceaselessly challenged the ‘Satidaha’ system and, in the long run, achieved success in his attempt with the help of Lord William Bentinck. In fact, the name of Raja Ram mohan and the abolition of the cruel ‘Satidaha’ system are inseparable from each other. Although the orthodoxy of the Hindu religion raised its hydra-headed menace, Raja Ram mohan Roy vehemently criticised the priestly class and their biased attitude. We know he was condemned by the orthodox sections of the society, but they could not deter him from his reformative works and deeds.
His ardent zeal for freedom was expressed in his words, “Enemies of liberty and friends of despotism can never be and never will be ultimately successful”. Other than all these, he was a renowned educationist who
wished to spread modern culture and science-based education into the conservative fabric of Indian society. And through his own works, he had laid the foundations of a new style of Bengali prose, In fact, he was the first beacon (light) of renaissance in Bengal as well as in India. Though he breathed his last on 27 September in 1833, he is still regarded as the torch-bearer of the nation.