The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.
Success at England and Untimely Death of Ram Mohan Roy
Success at England
The time when Raja Ram Mohan Roy reached England the political life of the country was in a state of convulsion due, to the Reform Bill agitation. The first Bill was introduced in 1831 but was defeated. The second Bill introduced the same year was also defeated in the House of Lords. But finally the third Reform Bill was again placed before the House of Commons and passed by it in March 1832, and was then sent to the House of Lords.
The people of England were greatly agitated and awaited the decision of the Lords in a wild fever of excitement. This ‘ time the Lords yielded to the popular pressure and the Reform Bill was passed in June 1832. Similar measures were enacted * for Ireland and Scotland also. Raja Ram Mohan Roy was greatly delighted with the passing of the Reform Bill in England.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy had a great admiration for France, the land which had given the inspiring call for liberty, fraternity, and equality, and which in his own words was ‘so richly adorned by the cultivation of the arts and sciences, and above all, blessed by the possession of a free constitution’. His name was well-known in the cultured circles of France, as some of his writings had already reached the shores of France as early as 1818.
In 1818 when Raja Ram Mohan Roy was in France, he became famous through the writings of Bishop of Blois.
Bishop wrote :
“The moderation with which he repels the attacks on his writings, the force of his arguments, and his profound knowledge of the sacred books of the Hindus, are proofs of his fitness for the work he has undertaken; and the pecuniary sacrifices he has made show disinterestedness which cannot be encouraged or admired too warmly.”
Raja Ram Mohan Roy had an audience with the King of France on 14 October 1832. In 1832, an article by Monsieur Pauthier in Paris elaborated various aspects of Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s works.
In course of time the British government recognized the right of Raja Ram Mohan Roy to represent the emperor of Delhi as his special emissary and also recognized the title of ‘Raja’ conferred on him by the latter. At a levee held at the St James Palace Raja Ram Mohan Roy was granted an audience by King William IV on 7 September, 1831 and was later invited by the King to a banquet on the occasion of the opening of the London Bridge. The occasion was also graced by men of eminence such as Jeremy Bentham, and many others.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy replied to these felicitations in a speech which ended with these memorable words :
“There is a battle going on between Reason and Scriptures, common sense and wealth, power and prejudice. These three . have been struggling with the other three; but I am convinced that your success sooner or later is certain. Honour, that you have from time to time conferred on me, I shall never forget to the last moment of my existence.”
As the allowances of the Indian Emperor were ultimately not settled, it was then decided that he would be given rupees three lakhs annually. Roy’s efforts to abolish the Sati were also very successful. So when the bill was finally passed in the Parliament, happiness of Raja Ram Mohan Roy knew no bounds.
Pecuniary anxieties and the strain of overwork had wrought havoc with the otherwise superb constitution of Raja Ram Mohan Roy. After a point of time he fell ill and became bed-ridden. There were some who respected and loved him, actually took care of him during his bad days, like relatives. Doctors with great reputation treated him but his health did not improve.
He was persuaded by his friends to leave London and go to Bristol in early September, 1833, for change and rest in the house of Miss Castle who was a ward of his friend, Dr. Lant Carpenter, Pastor of Bristol’s Lewin’s Mead Chapel.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was greatly relieved in the company of this friend, but on 19 September, he suddenly fell ill with meningitis. He had high fever with severe headache. In the following days his condition worsened. Miss Hare, a sister of David Hare, nursed him during his illness. A number of eminent physicians attended on him, but all to no avail. His condition deteriorated rapidly. On the 27 September 1833, Raja Ram Mohan Roy passed away there only. He was buried at the Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol.
‘His utterance of the sacred “AUM”—one of the last words he was heard to utter—suggested that the solitary gate of death as well as in the crowded thoroughfare of life, the contemplation of Deity was the chief pre-occupation of his soul.’
Many years after, in 1842, when Dwarkanath Tagore, the friend and disciple of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, was in England, he had the coffin removed from Stapieton Grove to Arno’s Vale, the cemetery on the outskirts of Bristol where on 29 May, 1843, Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s mortal remains were interred and, in 1844, a beautiful structure in Indian style was erected over it.
There is also a blue plaque commemorating him on his house in Bedford Square, London.
In September 2006 representatives from the Indian High Commission visited Bristol to mark the anniversary of Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s death, during the ceremony Hindu, Muslim and Sikh women sang Sanskrit prayers of thanks.
Following on from this visit the Mayor of Kolkata, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, who was-amongst the representatives from the India High Commission, decided to raise funds to restore the tomb which was in need of restoration and repair.
In June 2007 businessman Aditya Poddar donated ₹ 50,000 towards the restoration of his grave after being approached by the Mayor of Kolkata for funding.
The epitaph on the late nineteenth century stone at the tomb reads:
“Beneath this stone rest the remains of Raja Ram Mohan Roy Bahadur, a conscientious and steadfast believer in the unity of Godhead, he consecrated his life with entire devotion to the worship of the Divine Spirit alone.”
“To great natural talents, he united through mastery of many languages and distinguished himself as one of the greatest scholars of his day. His unwearied labour to promote the social, moral and physical condition of the people of India, his earnest endeavours to suppress idolatry and the rite of Sati and his constant zealous advocacy of whatever tended to advance the glory of God and the welfare of man live in the grateful remembrance of his countrymen.”
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a major shaper of modern India. Consciously influenced by Christianity and by the social agenda of many missionaries as much if not more than by their religious ideas, he was convinced that India’s culture and religious tradition was rational and of profound spiritual value.
While he remained rooted in Hinduism, Roy admired much of what he saw in Islam, Christianity and in other religions which he studied, and believed that the same fundamental truths inform all of them. He held that the first principle of all religions is the “Absolute Originator.”
Against the criticism that it contained very little of lasting worth, he set out to retrieve from India’s heritage what could withstand the scrutiny of a rational mind. He went further than others in what he was prepared to abandon, which for him included the Vedas. For other reformers, such as Dayananda Saraswati, the Vedas contained all religious truth as well as ancient scientific knowledge, and were not to be thrown away.
The organization he founded, the Brahmo Samaj, was a pioneer of social reform, an important promoter of education and of India’s autonomy and eventual independence. Its basic ideals, including gender-equality and its rejection of class- based privilege, have become part of the social framework of Indian society, at least in theory.
It is around two hundred years since Raja Ram Mohan Roy died. But his memory is still green in the minds of Indians. He was an intellectual who tried to lead India to modernity. He taught the Hindus to give up meaningless beliefs and customs. He was the lamp that led Hindus to the essence of origin of Hinduism. His memory itself guides us to a noble life.