Rammohun Roy (1772-1833) was born on May 22, 1772, to an orthodox and traditional Bengali Brahmin parents in the hamlet of Radhanagr in the Hooghly region of Bengal. His early life is not well documented. What is clear is that he received his primary education in Bengali, his mother tongue, at a local school. He left home at the age of twelve to enrol in a Muslim school in Patna to learn Persian and Arabic. This allowed him to read the Koran and Sufi saints in their native languages. He then educated himself the ideas of lslamic religion and culture with the help of these two languages. He began to criticise Hindu orthodoxies from this point as a substitute to Hinduism. His anti-Hindu rhetoric enraged his father to the point where he was expelled from the house when he was sixteen. Rammohun Roy took advantage of the chance to travel extensively. In his search for Buddhist understanding, he travelled to northern India and spent three years in Tibet. From there, he travelled to Benaras to study Sanskrit while also learning about many religions, particularly Hinduism, whose writings he researched in depth in Benaras. In 1803, he returned to Calcutta and took a job with the East India Company after reconciling with his father. In 1809, he was moved to Rangpur by the Company, where he met Marwari Jains and learnt about Jainism from them, as well as studying Jain writings. His conversion to Western ways of life reinforced not just his critical attitude toward Hindu traditions, but also motivated him to defend Hindu teachings that were frequently distorted by Hindu priests.
Rammohun Roy is best known as the founder of the Brahmo Samaj and the man who battled to abolish “Sati,” the Hindu social practise of a wife immolating herself on her husband’s funeral pyre in order for him to gain salvation. He has, nevertheless, made far more contributions. As previously said, Rammohun Roy had studied a number of religions, and his vision and comprehension of the many religions of the world enabled him to draw parallels between them and Hinduism’s Vedantic philosophy. He was able to sift through the positive parts of numerous religions due to his profound grasp of religions and his open mind. In 1815, Rammohun Roy quit from the East India Company and returned to Calcutta. He was disappointed with the Indian educational system and the technique of English instruction. With the support of Hindu and English experts, he founded an organisation. He also founded a school where he taught science, mathematics, political science, and English, among other “modern” disciplines.
A group of students studied at “Hindu College, Calcutta” had appeared on the scene of Indian English writing by the year of Raja Rammohun Roy’s death. These students, renowned as the “Young Bengal” group, founded the English journal “Pantheon,” in which they tackled difficult and divisive social problems such as Hindu society’s beliefs, women’s position, and India’s socioeconomic inequities. This went well beyond what could be described as “reform” in the nineteenth century. The youths of the day desired for their nation to adopt as many modern values as possible. This would serve as a stepping stone for a stronger India in the coming years. Indeed, people like Raja Rammohun Roy, Derozio, and Kashiprasad Ghosh contributed significantly to the Indian National Movement (1809-1 873). Some of them recognised English’s potential as a medium for artistic creation as well. The very charismatic English instructor at Hindu College, Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, was the most prevalent mentor of this radical group of pupils (1809-1831). Derozio, a revolutionary thinker and notable Anglo-Indian poet of the time, wrote in English as it was the only language he understood, but the topics he addressed were far distant from the concerns of current English literature. He, like Rammohun Roy, wrote on societal issues, although his preferred medium of expression was poems rather than prose. Thus, Derozio, like his classmate Kashiprasad Ghosh (1809-1873) and some of his Hindu College students after him, invented a new form of English poetry using his Indian English compositions. In terms of stylistics, these poems were mostly based on British models, but thematically, they were unmistakably Indian. The essential dilemma highlighted by the advent of these early Indian English writers has been perfectly described by Sisir Kumar Das.
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