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Chris Harlow

History 391
September 22, 2010
Dr. Deborah L. Hughes

A Father for Modern India

The opening of India to the West can be mainly attributed to Indias founding father,
Rammohun Roy. Roy, born of a high ranking Brahman family, helped bring India into the
modern era. Throughout his life time, Roys accomplishments and contributions slowly helped
lead India into a new direction. Roy directed India into a new era, through his contributions in
reforms in religion, journalism, education, and womens status.
At a young age, Roy seemed to have conflicting interests over which religion he would
practice. He and his family feuded over his denial of images in worship; therefore, they ordered
him to leave. After he left home, Roy studied the religion of Buddhism, which he would later
criticize their religious practices. Around 1815 to 1830, he established a way to enlighten and
improve the minds of his fellow people. In doing so, Roy campaigned against the images of
gods and goddesses and emphasized the power and unity of one God. This belief in a
monotheistic god, lead to much religious reform during this era.
In the 1820s Roy became very active in the educational conditions in Calcutta, the
capital of the East India Company. Rommonhun helped establish schools, write textbooks, and
publish newspapers. The book states, He took great interest in the spread of constitutional
liberty in the United States, post Napoleonic Europe, and Latin America, and looked forward to
Indias gradual evolution in this direction.(p. 16) This influence on education was a key factor
in Indias evolution because it was established in Calcutta. At this time, Calcutta was the main
center for power and cultural influence, therefore, influencing education at Indias heartland.
Roy was always trying to improve the religious society during this era, so he also formed
the Brahmo Sabha. The Brahmo Sabha was an organization on worshipers of the one God. He
also tried to improve the Indian government, by submitting new ways on how to run it properly.
The book states, Rammohun was the first Indian scholar to probe deeply into religious and
political foundation of British culture and society.(p.17)
Rammohun Roy was also a very passionate defender of the rights of women. Hindu
women that were widowed during this time must burn themselves to death. Roy helped convince
the British that old customs were a way of the past, therefore allowing widows a right to live. In
Roys letter to the British, he states, As to their inferiority in point of understanding, when did
you ever afford them a fair opportunity of exhibiting their natural capacity? How then can you
accuse them of want of understanding? If after instruction in knowledge and wisdom, a person
cannot comprehend or retain what has been taught to him, we my consider him a deficient; but as
you keep women generally void of education and acquirements, you cannot, therefore, in justice
pronounce on their inferiority.(p. 26-27) Roy simply states that women are not inferior to men
and they are being held back due to their lack of education.
In conclusion, Rommohun Roy helped lead Indian out of the abyss and into the modern
world of today. Through his much needed accomplishments in education, religion, and womens
rights, Indian is now open to the west. He has allowed people to see things in a different light,
due to his adequate and precise teachings. This is why Rommohun Roy is deemed, The Father
of Modern India.