After his return from his travels, which seem to have occupied three or four years, he settled down in Benares for a number of years, devoting his time, it is supposed, to the study of the Sanskrit language and of the sacred literature of the Hindus.
It seems that during this period of his residence at Benares some sort of reconciliation took place between him and his father, and he was allowed to have his family by his side or to visit them occasionally; for, his eldest son Radhaprasad was born in the year 1800 during his residence at Benares. It was also during this period that he began to acquire the knowledge of the English language by self-study and extraordinary diligence.
Soon after the death of his father, which occurred in 1803, Ram Mohun Roy seems to have moved down to Murshidabad, whence he published a Persian treatise with an Arabic preface, entitled Tuhfat-u1-211uwahhiddin, or 'A Gift to Monotheists', a work protesting against the idolatries and superstitions of all creeds and trying to lay a common foundation of universal religion in the doctrine of the unity of the God-head. We also find the mention of another work in Persian called Illanazaratu 1 Adyan, i.e. Discussions on various Religions, published about this time. In it Ram Mohun Roy is said to have used some sarcastic expressions against Mahomet, which gave great offence to orthodox Mussulmans. But Mr. W. Adam, the Raja's friend, assures us that he was always respectful to the Prophet and had actually commenced to write his biography, which, however, he could not finish, It seems that at this time he secured an appointment under the East India Company in the Revenue Department and after serving in several capacities at Ramgarh, Bhagal pur and other places under Mr. Digby, the revenue officer, finally accompanied that officer to Rangpur in 1809 as the sheristadar, or native assistant to the Collector of Revenue.
The duties of a native assistant of a Collector of Revenue in those unsettled times were very heavy. The state of things in the northernmost districts of Rangpur, Dinajpur and Purnea, included in the jurisdiction of Mr. Digby, the Collector, was specially complicated, Here, there were many powerful landlords, who had a large number of unsettled disputes, and almost every individual case of settlement involved the examination of a variety of records and documents and the consideration of conflicting claims. In many cases there were no documents whatsoever to substantiate the claims of actual owners of land, and they required personal attendance and local enquiry by the settlement officer. In all settlement work, in those days, the trusted sheristadars were, as a rule, the chief agents employed by the English Collectors, who were guided to a large extent by their decisions and counsels. Ram Mohun Roy had all this fatiguing work to go through every day; but so great was his eagerness for the investigation of religious truth, that he devoted the few hours of his hard-earned leisure, in the evenings, to holding discussion- meetings with representative men of various sects, such as Hindus, Mahomedans and Jainas. Indeed, the period of his residence at Rangpur was a fruitful one. On the one hand, during his residence there, he improved his own mind by acquiring varied knowledge, and, on the other, by his religious discussions, he tried to disseminate his principles among all classes of people. In addition to a knowledge of the old Vedantic literature of the country, he is said to have made a careful study of modern Tantric works with the aid of men like Hariharananda Tirthaswami, a Bengali. Tantric mendicant whose acquaintance he made there, and also to have mastered the contents of the Kalpa Sutra and other works of the Jaina religion. Something like an informal club used to meet every evening at his residence after office work, which attracted all classes of people and gave rise to earnest discussions on various religious topics, These discussion-meetings raised up an agitation among the people of Rangpur and a hostile party was created under the leadership of Gourikanta Bhattacharya, a learned Brahmin, versed in Persian and Sanskrit, who was also sheristadar of another local Court and who also got up counter-meetings and upheld orthodox Hinduism. A treatise called Jnan Chandrika was composed at this time by Gourikanta, controverting Ram Mohun Roy's aims and views, which was subsequently published in Calcutta after the death of the latter.
In the midst of his arduous duties and his freAquent discussion-meetings, Ram Mohun Roy found 9--rtime to improve his knowledge of English by private study commenced in his twenty-second 1144 year. It is also stated by Mr. Digby that, with the progress of his knowledge of the English language, Ram Mohun Roy began to take, while at Rangpur, a keen interest in European politics, specially in the course of the French Revolution. At first he became a great admirer of Napoleon, and followed his career of conquest with great enthusiasm, which however suffered partial decline after his abdication. But his sympathy with the cause of freedom ever remained warm, and week by week he devoured the contents of Mr. Digby's Mail papers and ,whenever he found the cause of freedom losing, big drops of tear were seen trickling down his cheeks. Thus it will be seen that though employed in some of the most engrossing secular duties during these years, Ram Mohun Roy never lost sight of the grand mission of his life, the religious reformation of his country, and was in fact preparing himself all the time for his great life-work. After the death of Ram Mohun's father, the paternal estates came down to Jagamohun Roy, the elder brother of Ram Mohun Roy, who managed them till the year 1811, when he himself died, apparently leaving Ram Mohun Roy as the principal heir. But he could not get an easy access to his paternal inheritance.
His own revered mother, under the instigation of his disaffected relations, stood in his way, and instituted law-suits both in the King's and the Company's Courts to contest his claims, which were ultimately decided in his favour after legal proceedings of many years. In the year 1814 Mr. Digby left for England on leave and the same year Ram Mohun Roy retired from Government Service, mainly to commence his life-work, but also partly because his presence was needed in Calcutta to watch the course of the law-suits pending. He settled down in Calcutta in 1814. The next year saw the publication of his translation of the Vedanta and the foundation of the Atmiya Sabha, an association for the dissemination of religious truth and the promotion of free discussions of theological subjects.
But who were those that constituted the AtInya Sabha? By the time Ram Mohun Roy settled down in Calcutta his reformatory doctrines were pretty well known to the educated portion of his countrymen in the metropolis. Many reports of the meetings held at Rangpur and of his sayings and doings there must have reached them, and he was already an interesting personality to many. As fame travelled from north to south, he found many sympathisers among that class of his countrymen who were acquainted with Persian and who also secretly felt in their hearts that the idolatry of the orthodox Hindus was an error. This sympathy with his principles, though confined to a limited circle, was nowhere so strong as in Calcutta, for here, in addition to a common Persian education, men's minds were considerably unhinged by the new contact with European civilization. Consequently, when Ram Mohun Roy arrived on the scene of his future labours, a coterie of sympathetic souls naturally gathered round him. Several of them belonged to some of the richest and most influential families of Bengal. Amongst the rich and influential men who gathered around him at that time may be mentioned Babu Dwaraka Nath Tagore of jorasanko, Babu Prosanna Kumar Tagore of Patharia-ghata, Babus Kali Nath and Baikunta Nath Munshi of Taki, Babu Brindaban Mitra, grandfather of Dr. Rajendra Lala Mitra, Babu Kasi Nath Mullick of Calcutta, Raja Kali Sankar Ghosal of Bhukailash, Babu Annada Prosad Bannerji of. Telinipara, and Babu Baidya Nath Mukerji, the grandfather of Justice Anukul Mukerji. Besides these, there were many others, such as Brojo Mohun Mozumdar, Haladhar Bose, Nanda Kishore Bose, the father of Raj Narain Bose (subsequently, President of the Adi Brahmo Samaj), who sought the Raja's company and frequented the meetings of the Atmiya Sabha.
All of these men, however, had not the same motives in approaching Ram Mohun Roy. Some sought his company from a sense of the great honour done to themselves by association with one so distinguished; others frequented his house for the wise counsel and ready help that he always rendered in all their temporal embarrassments; whilst a few were actuated by a genuine sympathy with his principles. With these last he chiefly established the Atmiya Sabha. The majority of them were middle-aged men, men experienced in the ways of the world, whom he regarded as his friends and equals in life and delighted to call " brothers." But there were also others, not very many, who were younger in age and who approached him as disciples approach their master, amongst whom were the last mentioned.
Amongst the learned associates of Ram Mohun Roy at this time, who materially helped him in quoting and expounding ancient scriptures, were two well-known Sanskrit scholars. The first. was Pandit Sivaprasad Misra, who signed some of the Raja's controversial books, and the second, Hariharananda Tirthaswami, already mentioned in connection with Ram Mohun's work at Rangpur. This mendicant-friend of Ram Mohun Roy deserves special notice. His original name was Nandakumar. He was born at Malpara, in the Hugli district, where he had received a good Sanskrit education; but he early adopted the habit of a mendicant and withdrew from the world, devoting most of his time to visiting places of pilgrimage and leading a sort of wandering life. In the course of one of these wanderings he must have come to Rangpur where he formed a friendship with Ram Mohun Roy, spending a longer time than usual in his company, and ultimately accompanied him to Calcutta. The Swami, during his frequent travels, often visited Calcutta and spent several months at a time, in the company of Ram Mohun Roy. During one of these peregrinations he brought his younger brother Ram Chandra from his village home and placed him under the care of Ram Mohun Roy, who subsequently appointed him to the post of the minister of the Brahmo Samaj. He was the first minister of the Brahm6 Samaj and afterwards became well-known as Pandit Ram Chandra Vidyabagish.
But the meetings of the Atmiya Sabha were not the only means of propagating his doctrines. For the first two years the Atmiya Sabha held its weekly meetings in the garden house of Ram Mohun Roy, at Manicktola, where Sivaprasad Misra used to recite and expound texts from the Hindu scriptures, and a well-known musician of the town, called Govinda Mala, used to sing hymns composed by Ram Mohun Roy and his friends. After two years the Society was removed first to Ram Mohun's Simla house, now situated on the Amherst Street, and subsequently to other places, finally finding shelter at the house of Behari Lal Chaubay at Barabazar, where in 1819 there took place a celebrated debate between Ram Mohun Roy and Subrahmanya Sastri, a Madras Brahmin, on the subject of idol-worship, in the presence of the leading citizens of Calcutta, including Radhakanta Deb, a leader of the orthdox Hindus at that time. In this debate, by a rare display of erudition and forensic skill, Ram Mohun Roy is said to have vanquished his adversary. After 1819, the meetings of the Atmiya Sabha seem to have been discontinued for some years, partly on account of a harassing law-suit brought against him by his nephew and subsequently of another brought by the Raja of Burdwan, and partly on account of his absorption in organising the work of a Unitarian Congregation with Mr. Adam as its pastor, which we shall notice hereafter. After having laid his battery well in Calcutta, Ram Mohun Roy began to publish in quick succession his celebrated tracts. The following is the chronological order of his publications during the first five years:—Translation of the Vedanta in 1815; Abridgment of the Vedanta in Bengali, Hindustani and English; and also the translation of the Kena and Isha Upanishads into Bengali and English in 1816; translation of Katha and Mundaka Upanishads into Bengali and English, and translation of Mandukya Upanishad into Bengali, a defence of Hindu Theism (parts I and II) in Bengali and English, and also a letter to Mr. Rigby in 1817; a Bengali tract against the custom of Suttee, the substance of a discussion with a Vaishnava Goswami and a tract explaining the meaning of the Gayatri, and English translation of the Suttee tract, all during 1818; the great meeting of the Atiniya Sabha already alluded to and discussion with Sub rahmanya Sastri in I80; and an English version of his second Bengali tract on Suttee in 182o. The fact that many of these publications were issued in more than one language at the same time will give the reader some idea of his literary and propagandist activity during this period.
Many of these works, as is manifest from their titles, were translations of a number of sacred books of the Hindus, called Upanishads, books of uncertain date and origin, generally considered by European scholars as not later than six centuries before Christ, but ascribed by local tradition to remoter antiquity, and revered by the people as forming part of their sacred writings called the Vedas. During the course of his researches into the \f domain of Sanskrit literature, Rani Mohun Roy was struck by the purity of the monotheistic doctrines of the Upanishads as contradistinguished from the prevailing corruptions of Hindu idolatry, and at once decided to publish some of them with his preface and translations. This he considered to be the most effective means of rousing his countrymen to a sense of the superiority of the monotheistic creed. Nor were his expectations disappointed. Their publication, as also that of the other books mentioned in the list, soon pro- duced an intense and wide-spread agitation in Indian society the like of which had seldom been witnessed in Bengal. Its effects extended to the southernmost Presidency of Madras and even reached the shores of England. All the engines of social persecution were set in motion against him. Many of his first followers deserted him and he was left single-handed to fight his battles. The hostile feeling against him grew so quickly that, in 1817, when the first committee of management of the proposed Hindu College was in the course of formation, the leading men of the orthodox Hindu community of Calcutta refused to sit in it; though earnestly requested to do so by no less an authority than Sir Hyde East, the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, simply because the obnoxious reformer was connected with it. How Ram Mohun Roy behaved on the occasion will be told under the head of his doings in connection with the introduction of English education. The spirit in which he bore all this persecution will be best illustrated by the following extract from the preface to his English edition of the Abridgment
of the Vedanta:
6, By taking the path which conscience and sincerity direct, I, born a Brahmin, have exposed myself to the complainings and reproaches, even of some of my relations whose prejudices are strong and whose temporal advantage depends upon the present system. But these, however accumulated, I can tranquilly bear, trusting that a day will arrive when my humble endeavours will be viewed with justice, perhaps acknowledged with gratitude. At any rate, whatever men may say, I cannot be deprived of this-consolation: my motives are acceptable to that Being who beholds in secret and compensates openly l"
In the year 182o, Ram Mohun Roy startled his friends as well as his enemies by a departure from the old line of his publications. Up to that time he had chiefly confined himself to the old Hindu scriptures as his authority in appealing to his countrymen, But this year he published a novel book with a novel title, " The Precepts of Jesus, the Guide to Peace and Happiness." It was a collection of all the moral and spiritual precepts of ,3 Jesus, as recorded in the four Gospels, without 'k the narratives of the miracles. This step, as I have said above, took his friends as well as his enemies by surprise. The prejudice against Christianity was very strong at the time. Some idea of its violence can be formed from the fact that In 183o, when Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Alexander Duff, the celebrated Scotch missionary, arrived in Calcutta and wanted to open his first missionary school, so great was the national prejudice against the Christian missionary, that, in spite of a popular, demand for English education, it required all the influence of Ram Mohun Roy, to whom Mr. Duff had applied for help, to secure the first batch of half a dozen students with whom to open the school, Ram Mohun Roy published the " Precepts of Jesus " in the face of this strong national prejudice, and what induced him to do so is best narrated by himself in the following lines:--
" This simple code of religion and morality is so admirably calculated to elevate men's ideas to high and liberal notions of one God, who has equally subjected all living creatures, without distinction of caste, rank or wealth, to change, disappointment, pain and death; and has equally admitted all to be partakers of the bountiful mercies which he has lavished over nature, and is also so well fitted to regulate the conduct of the human race in the discharge of their various duties to God, to themselves and to society, that I cannot but hope the best effects from its promulgation in the present form."
" The Precepts of Jesus " called forth hostile criticism from an unexpected quarter. The Baptist missionaries of Serampore, Messrs. Carey and Marshman, vigorously assailed it in their weekly paper, " The Friend of India," as a tampering with what they believed to be God's word, contemptuously stigmatizing the compiler as a " heathen." The moral and spiritual portions of the Gospels alone, divested of the miraculous portions, were in their estimation insufficient for the purpose of human salvation. This gave rise to a controversy which finally turned upon the doctrine of Trinity, and Ram Mohun Roy successively published three appeals to the Christian public, the last appearing in 1823, in which by a rare display of polemical skill, as well as of profound Biblical learning, he tried to uphold his favourite doctrine of the unity of the Godhead. It is evident that during the course of his researches into , the Christian Scriptures he had not confined himself to the English rendering of the Bible alone, but had acquired Hebrew and Greek in 'order to be able to refer to the originals.
In the meantime an important event had happened which attracted considerable public notice. Mr. William Adam, a young Baptist missionary, who had come out from England a few years earlier to join the Serampore Mission, openly professed, in 1821, his conversion to Unitarian doctrines through the influence of Ram Mohun Roy. This great change in the life of Mr. Adam took place in the following manner:—Along with Ram Mohun Roy and Mr. Yates, another Christian missionary, Mr. Adam had undertaken to translate the four Gospels into Bengali. As the translation went on, many discussions incidentally arose on several points of doctrine relating to the divinity of Jesus Christ. Ram Mohun Roy naturally defended the doctrine of the unity of the Godhead, and brought his vast scholarship and logical acumen to bear upon the points of contention. As these discussions grew in point of intensity and concentration, Mr. Yates found his position in the translating committee uncomfortable and early withdrew from it, leaving Ram Mohun Roy and Mr, Adam to carry on the work. The latter in his turn also found his position untenable and ultimately gave up his faith in the doctrine of the Trinity and made a public avowal of his conversion. The conversion of Mr. Adam, who was henceforward called by his Christian critics " the second fallen Adam," naturally gave rise to great scandal among the orthodox Christian community of the country; and we can thus easily account for the great violence with which the Serampore missionaries attacked the Hindu reformer. From the columns of The Friend of India they descended into those of the Samachar Ourpan, their Bengali organ, and indulged in very severe criticisms. Ram Mohun Roy, a valiant controversialist as he was, promptly replied to them. But the common courtesy of publishing his replies in the Durpan having been denied him, he was driven to the necessity of starting a magazine, called the Brahmanical Magazine, in which he vigorously assailed Trinitarian Christianity and tried to prove that it was no better than Hindu polytheism. He further challenged Christian theologians to defend their Trinitarian and Calvinistic doctrines and offered to print and circulate them at his own expense, of course with his rejoinders. This challenge drew into the field a new and unexpected combatant.
There was at that time an erratic and eccentric Englishman in Calcutta, Dr. Tytler by name, a man with- some pretensions to scholarship, a professor of the Hindu College, and the Superintendent of the Medical School. His brother took up the challenge and sent in apaper defending orthodox Christianity, which Ram Mohun Roy refused to publish unless countersigned by a professed and accredited theologian. This incensed Mr. Tytler highly, and he rushed to the pages of the Harkara with his defence of orthodox Christianity. Under the name of Ram Doss, Ram Mohun assumed the roll of a sincere. Hindu, and wrote satirical letters in reply to Mr. Tytler, proposing to join him in exposing the hateful reformer who was a common enemy to their common polytheistical faith. This incensed Mr. Tytler still more. He could not brook the idea of Christianity being classed with polytheistic Hinduism and gave vent to furious abuse, which Ram Mohun Roy took very coolly.
New responsibilities now devolved upon Ram Mohun Roy. The connection of Mr. Adam with the Baptist Mission soon ceased, and Ram Mohun had to help him in organising a Unitarian mission in Calcutta soon afterwards. By 1823 the feelings of the Serampore missionaries were so far embittered against Ram Mohun Roy that they refused to print his " Final Appeal to the Christian Public"
in the Baptist Mission Press, where the first two appeals had been printed. Consequently he had to go through the trouble and expense of starting a new printing establishment, called the " Unitarian Press," to enable him to publish his appeal.
Thus, at the commencement of 1824, we find Ram Mohun Roy entering upon a new sphere of activity with Mr. William Adam as his colleague and with a new organisation of which he was the principal supporter. From this time to August, 1828, when the Brahma Sabha was started, Rain Mohun Roy delighted to call himself a Hindu \- Unitarian and his followers also imitated him in this. After the cessation of his connection with the Baptist Mission, Mr. Adam was provided with a hall in the buildings then occupied by the Bengal Ilarkara Office, where he used to hold Unitarian service every Sunday morning, which Ram Mohun Roy regularly attended with some members of his family and a number of disciples. The fact of his attending a Unitarian place of worship gave rise to public criticism, and his enemies, who were on the alert, used it as a weapon against him. In reply to these Ram Mohun Roy published in 1827, in the name of Chandra Sekhar Deb, one of his disciples, a tract called " The answer of a Hindu to the question: Why do you frequent a Unitarian place of worship instead of the numerously attended Established Churches?", in which, amongst other reasons, he advanced the following:
" Because I feel already weary of the doctrine of Man-God or God-man frequently inculcated by the Brahmans in pursuance of their corrupt traditions: the same doctrine of Man-God, though preached by another body of priests, better dressed, better provided for, and eminently elevated by virtue of conquest, cannot effectually tend to excite my anxiety or curiosity to listen to it."
" Because Unitarians believe, profess, and inculcate the doctrine of the divine unity, a doctrine which I find firmly maintained both by the Christian Scriptures, and by our most ancient writings commonly called the Vedas."
Thus it will be seen that the secret cord that bound him to Mr. Adam and the new organization was the doctrine of one God, which for many years had been something like the passion of his life.
It seems that the meetings of the Atmiya Sabha had been discontinued during the years that Ram Mohun Roy attended Mr. Adam's Unitarian services. Partly by his own contributions and partly by collections amongst his friends, Ram Mohun Roy raised a large sum to start and maintain the William Adam Establishment Fund and was himself steadfast in his adherence to the cause. But somehow or other the Unitarian Mission of Mr. Adam did not prosper. It failed to evoke on the one hand the sympathy of the
European residents of the town and on the other hand the co-operation of many among the educa- ted natives. Mr. Adam's congregation slowly melted away, leaving him almost alone in the field of labour. Before finally giving up the Unitarian propaganda Ram Mohun Roy tried to utilize Mr. Adam in other ways. In 1823 he had opened a ." school called the Anglo-Hindu School, of which Mr. Adam was made a visitor, a post which the latter resigned on account of some difference with Ram Mohun Roy. Here a course of lectures by Mr. Adam on the principles of liberal religion was organised, which failed to attract audi- ences and had to be finally given up. At last Mr. Adam proposed to go out as a missionary to Madras, at least to make an honest use of the Unitarian Mission Fund, a large part of which was contributed by the Unitarians of England and America. This the Calcutta Committee did not like. Renewed efforts were made to resuscitate the Unitarian Mission; a Unitarian Association was established, a room in the Harkara Office was rented, and Mr. Adam went on holding his Unitarian services, but it again dwindled away by the time the Brahmo Samaj was established in August, 1828.
There are two accounts current about the establishment of the. Brahmo Samaj. One is that, seeing the failure of his Unitarian Mission,
Mr. Adam himself suggested it as a substitute; the other is that one day while Ram Mohun Roy was returning home in his carriage from the service of Mr. Adam, his young disciples, Tarachand Chakravarti and Chandra Sekhar Deb, who were with him, complained of the necessity of attending a Unitarian place of worship, in the absence of one entirely suited to their views and principles. Ram Mohun Roy took this complaint to heart and forthwith proceeded to call a meeting of his friends, at which it was decided to open a place for the unsectarian worship of the One True God. Many of his rich friends came forward to meet the expenses, and a house, ever since knOwn in Brahmo history as the memorable Feringhee Kamal Bose's house, was rented to accommodate the first theistic congregation. Here on the 6th of Bhadra, corresponding to the 2oth of August, 1828, the first Samaj was opened with Tarachand Chakravarti as its Secretary. Meetings of the Samaj were held every Saturday evening and the following order of service was observed:—Two Telugu Brahmins used to recite the Vedas in a side-room, screened from the view of the congregation, where non-Brahmins would not be admitted; Utsavananda Vidyabagish would read texts of the Upanishads, which were afterwards explained in Bengali by Pandit Ram Chandra Vidyabagish ;
thirdly, a sermon would be preached or read by Ram Chandra Vidyabagish, followed by the singing of Govinda Mala. Some of these sermons, several of which were written by Ram Mohun Roy, have been recently published and are very interesting as giving some idea of the exact nature of the spiritual struggle that was then going on. The house in which the Samaj was opened had been previously occupied for sometime by the newly established Hindu College, and it was this house that Ram Mohun Roy secured in 183o for Mr. Alexander Duff, the Scotch Missionary, for opening his English School.
The opening of the new theistic service, which the common people of the time called the " Brahma Sabha," or the " One God Society," once more roused the enmity of the orthodox Hindu community of Calcutta. Their feelings of hostility were further aggravated by the rumour that now became current, and which soon proved to be too well-founded, that Lord William Bentinck meditated the abolition of the custom of burning Hindu widows. The decree of abolition of the Suttee was promulgated on 4th December, 1829. As they justly attributed the anti-Suttee agitation to Ram Mohun Roy, their resentment against him knew no bounds.
Since the inauguration of the " Brahma Sabha" on the loth August, 1828, its services began to attract increasing numbers, and it secured new sympathisers. In this, it presented a contrast to Mr. Adam's declining congregation, so much so that within two years Ram Mohun Roy was enabled to raise sufficient funds for the purchase of a house on the Chitpur Road, to be a permanent place of worship for the members of the Society. The purchase was effected before January, 1830. In the middle of that month, only six days before the public consecration of Ram Mohun Roy's church, Ram Mohun Roy's adversaries called a meeting of all the leading men of Calcutta and organised a rival association called Dharma Sabha, with Bhowanicharan Banerji, a learned Brahmin, as its President, and Radha Kanta Deb (subsequently knighted and made Raja) as its Secretary,
Thus two influential factions arose in the Hindu society of Calcutta, the one led by Ram Mohun Roy, followed by a number of rich families whose position and influence were unquestioned, and the other led by Radha Kanta Deb, the recognized leader of orthodox Hinduism, followed by an imposing array of big names.
The "Dharma Sabha" began to use as its organ the Samachar Chandrika, which daily poured 1, abuse on the reforming party, to which the latter retorted in the Kaumudi with equal energy. The common people became participators in this great conflict; for the tracts of the reformers, mostly written in the simplest Bengali, appealed to them as much as to the enlightened classes. In the bathing ghats at the river-side, in market places, in public squares, in the drawing-rooms of influential citizens, everywhere the rivalry between the two associations became the subject of talk. Lines of comical poetry, caricaturing the principles of the great reformer, were composed by the wags of the time and passed from mouth to mouth, till the streets rang with laughter and ridicule. The agitation spread from Calcutta to the interior, and everywhere the question was discussed between the two parties. A large number of Brahmins who had accepted presents from the members of the " Brahma Sabha " on the occasion of the consecration ceremony, were excommunicated by the other party on that account, and the duty of supporting them devolved upon the rich amongst Ram Mohun Roy's friends, who cheerfully undertook it. Prominent amongst the Raja's co-adjutors at this time were Babus Dwarka Nath Tagore of Jorasanko, Kali Nath Munshi of Taki, and Mathuranath Mullick of Howrah. They bore the principal part of the expenses and formed a sort of Samaj triumvirate, as it were, pledging themselves to carry on the Samaj work after the Raja's departure for England.
It was in the midst of these furious party contests that Ram Mohun Roy opened his church on the 1 ith of Magh, the 23rd of January, 183o, and left it in the hands of a few Trustees1 for a visit to Europe. But previous to the establishment of the Brahmo Samaj, there was another step taken by Ram Mohun Roy for the propagation of Hindu Theism which is worthy of notice. In the year 1825 he had established a college called the Vedanta College, for the teaching of the monotheistic doctrines of the Vedanta. Ram Mohun Roy founded this institution because, to use the language of one of his biographers, " he saw in the Vedanta, rightly handled and rightly explained, a means for leading his countrymen out of their prevailing superstitions and idolatry into pure and elevated theism." What became of this Vedanta College in after years is not known. It seems to have ceased to exist by the time the Brahmo Samaj was formally opened in 1830.
The opening of the Theistic Church was the ideal for which he had striven throughout his life, That was the one thing for which he had incessantly laboured. Indeed, his passion for universal religion was so great that there goes a local tradition that tears would trickle down his cheeks, when his friends would draw his attention to the idols carried in procession through the streets of Calcutta, and he would say—"Brother, brother, ours is universal religion; it is far superior to idolatry." And it is also said that in order to carry out practically the idea outlined in the Trust Deed of the new Church, which he meant to be a meeting ground of all sects for the worship of the One True God, in whom they all believed, he would periodically collect children of other sects, such as the Christian and the Mahomedan, in the Samaj Hall and make them sing theistic hymns, and give instruction about universal religion; a rude beginning of the present Sunday School system, so to say.
The period between 1820 and 1830 was also eventful from a literary point of view, as will be manifest from the following list of his publications during that period: Second Appeal to the Christian Public, Brahmanical Magazine, Parts I, II and III, with Bengali translation and a new Bengali newspaper called Sambad Kaumudi, in 1821; an Urdu paper called Ill irat-ul- A khbar, a tract entitled Brief Remarks on Ancient Female Rights and a book in Bengali called Answers, to Four Questions, in 1822; third and final appeal to the Christian public, a memorial to the King of England on the subject of the liberty of the press, Ramdoss papers relating to Christian controversy, Bra hmanical Magazine, No. IV, letter to Lord Amherst on the subject of English education, a tract called " Humble Suggestions" and a book in Bengali called " Pathyapradan or Medicine for the Sick," all in 1823; a letter to Rev. H. Ware on the " Prospects of Christianity in India" and an "Appeal for famine-smitten natives in Southern India "in 1824; a tract on the different modes of worship, in 1825; a Bengali tract on the qualifications of a God-loving householder, a tract in Bengali on a controversy with a Kayastha, and a Grammar of the Bengali language in English, in 5826; a Sanskrit tract on ‘` Divine worship by Gayatri " with an English translation of the same, the edition of a Sanskrit treatise against caste, and the previously noticed tract called " Answer of a Hindu to the question &c.," in 1827; a form of Divine worship and a collection of hymns composed by him and his friends, in 5828; " Religious Instructions founded on Sacred Authorities" in English and Sanskrit, a Bengali tract called "Anusthan," and a petition against Suttee, in 1829; a Bengali tract, a grammar of the Bengali language in Bengali, the Trust Deed of the Brahmo Samaj, an address to Lord William Bentinck, congratulating him for the abolition of Suttee, an abstract. in English of the arguments regarding the burning of widows, and a tract in English on the disposal of ancestral property by Hindus,—in 183o. It is indeed a matter for wonder how, in the midst of so much active work and such furious contests, Ram Mohan Roy could make time to write such masterly treatises on such a variety of subjects !
But we must not close this period of his career without briefly noticing his labours in other directions. Though occupying the foremost place in his endeavours to uplift his people, religious reformation did not absorb his whole attention. His exertions in other departments of reform were no less incessant and arduous.
First in order comes social reform. Allusion has already been made to the condition of the womanhood of Bengal at the time. They were living under the most abject form of social slavery. A young woman, the most virtuous wife, if she happened to incur the displeasure of her husband, could be cast aside by him any moment in favour of a more fortunate rival. The law afforded no protection against such a fate. Thus the position of every married woman in the family was, as it is even now, insecure. This was during the continuance of married life; but their condition was still more deplorable when that life ceased. I need not repeat what is well-known to most readers.
Suffice it to say that as many as 309 widows were burnt alive with their husbands within the jurisdiction of Calcutta in the year 1828, the year in which the," Brahma Sabha" was established. It was but natural that the misery and degradation of womanhood should have strongly appealed to the sympathetic heart of Ram Mohan Roy. His earnest pleadings on their behalf form an important feature of his writings. The women of India have found no greater defender of their rights than the founder of Brahmoism. He defended the legal rights of females, advocated their right to education and enlightenment, and, above all, devoted all the energies of his noble soul to save them from a cruel death. The custom of burning widows with their husbands first roused his horror before he was much known. While he was at Rangpur in 181 I, his brother Jagamohan died, when one of his widowed wives was burnt alive with him. Ram Nfohun held this lady in high esteem, and the news of her cruel death gave such a shock to his feelings that he took a secret vow never to rest till this inhuman custom was abolished, and he was faithful to his vow throughout his life. Soon after his settlement in Calcutta, along with his efforts 'for religious reform, he kept up a parallel agitation for the abolition of the custom of Suttee and did ngt stop till it was abolished by law.
On reference to the history of the abolition of Suttee we find that the custom attracted the attention of the English rulers as early as January 1789, when a British Magistrate of Shahabad, a district in Behar, refused to permit the performance of a Suttee within his jurisdiction. The case was referred to Lord Cornwallis, the Governor-General, for his decision. In reply to the referring magistrate, Lord Cornwallis laid down the policy of noninterference with Hindu religious customs as the principle to be followed in such cases. Sixteen years later, in the year 1805, another British Magistrate made a similar reference to Lord Wellesley's Government, whereupon the Governor-General moved the Nizamat Adalat, the chief judicial authority in India at that time, to ascertain the exact teaching of the Hindu Shastras upon the subject. The Nizamat in due course sent in the results of its investigation, but no practical measures came out of it till the year 1812, when a magistrate of Bundelkhund again made a reference to the Nizamat and through it to Lord Moira, the Governor-General, which fortunately led in 1813 to the issue of a number of regulations partially restricting the custom. These regulations were further strengthened by important additions in 1815 and were finally issued in a collected form in 1817. From the statistics that the Government collected in 1818, it was found, that within the short period.of three years, between 1815 and 18'8, no less than 2,365 widows had been burnt alive in different parts of the country, 1,528 of whom belonged to Calcutta and its surrounding districts alone. The publication of these regulations seems to have created some agitation in orthodox Hindu; society, and a petition was sent up to the Govern- ment praying for their repeal. This petition evoked a counter-petition from Ram Mohun Roy and his friends which was submitted in August, r818, and in which we find the following description of the cruel practice of Suttee:
"Your petitioners are fully aware from their own knowledge, and from the authority of credible eye-witnesses, that cases have frequently occurred where women have been induced by the persuasions of their next heirs, interested in their destruction, to burp themselves on the funeral pile of their husbands; that others who were induced by fear to retract a resolution rashly expressed in the first moments of grief, of burning with their deceased husbands, have been forced upon the pile and there bound down with ropes and pressed with green bamboos until consumed with the flames; that some, after flying from the flame, have been carried back by their relations and burnt to death. All these instances, your petitioners humbly submit, are murders according to every Shastra, as well as to the common sense of all nations."
The agitation called forth Ram Mohun Roy's tracts on Suttee, one of which was concluded with the following passionate appeal on behalf of the female sex:—
" Women are in general inferior to men in bodily strength and energy; consequently, the male part of the community, taking advantage of their corporeal weakness, have denied to them those excellent merits that they are entitled to by nature, and afterwards they are apt to say that women are naturally incapable of acquiring those merits. But if we give the subject consideration, we may easily ascertain whether or not your accusation against them is consistent with justice. As to their inferiority in point of under. standing, 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 him, we may consider him as deficient; but as you keep women generally void of education and acquirements, you cannot, therefore, in justice, pronounce on their inferiority. On the contrary, Lilavati, Bhanutnati, the wife of the prince of Kamat, and that of Kalidas, are celebrated for their thorough knowledge of all the Shastras: moreover, in the Vrihadaranyak Upanishad of the Yajur Veda it is clearly stated that Yagnavalkya imparted divine knowledge of the most difficult nature to his wife Maitreyi, who was able to follow and completely attain it !
Secondly. You charge them with want of resolution, at which I feel exceedingly surprised: for we constantly perceive, in a country where the name of death makes the male shudder, that the female, from her firmness of mind, offers to burn with the corpse of her deceased husband; and yet you accuse those women of deficiency in point of resolution.
Thirdly. With regard to their trustworthiness, let us look minutely into the conduct of both sexes, and we may be equally enabled to ascertain which of diem is the most frequently guilty of betraying friends. If we enumerate such women in each village or town as have been deceived by men, and such men as have been betrayed by women, I presume that the number of the deceived women would be found ten times greater thar?that of the betrayed men. Men are, in general, able to read and write, and manage public affairs, by which means they easily promulgate such faults as women occasionally commit, but never consider as criminal the misconduct of men towards women. One fault they have, it must be acknowledged, which is, by considering others equally void of duplicity as themselves, to give their confidence too readily, from which they suffer much misery, even so far that some of them are misled to suffer themselves to be burnt to death.
In the fourth place, with respect to their subjection to the passions, this may be judged of by the custom -of marriage as to the respective sexes; for one man may marry two or three, sometimes even ten wives and upwards; while a woman who marries but one husband, desires at his death to follow him, forsakhig all worldly enjoyments, or to remain leading the austere life of an ascetic. .
Fifthly. The accusation of their want of virtuous knowledge is an injustice, Observe what pain, what slighting, what contempt, and what afflictions their virtue enables them to support! How many Kuhn Brahmins are there who marry ten or fifteen wives for the sake of money, that never see the greater number of them after the day of marriage, and visit others only three or four times in the course of their life. Still amongst those women, most, even -without seeing or receiving any support from their husbands, living dependant on their fathers or brothers, and suffering much distress, continue to preserve their virtue; and when Brahmins, or those of other tribes, bring their wives to live with them, what misery do the women not suffer? At marriage the wife is recognised the half of her husband, but in after conduct they are treated worse than inferior animals. For the woman is employed to do the work of a slave in the house, such as, in her turn, to clean the place very early in the morning, whether cold or wet, to scour the dishes, to wash the floor, to cook night and day, to prepare and serve food for her husband, father and mother-in-law, brothers-inRW, and friends and connections (for, amongst Hindus more than in other tribes relations long reside together, and on this account quarrels are more common amongst brothers respecting their worldly-affairs). If in the preparation or serving up of the victuals they commit the smallest fault, what insult do they not receive from their husband, their mother-in-law, and the younger brothers of their husband! After all the male part of the family have satisfied themselves, the women content themselves with what may be left, whether sufficient in quantity or not, Where Brahmins or Kayasthas are not wealthy, the women are obliged to attend to their cows and to prepare cowdung for firing. In the afternoon they fetch water from the river or tank; and at night perform the office of menial servants in snaking the beds. In case of any fault or omission in the performance of those labours, they receive injurious treatment. Should the husband acquire wealth, he indulges in criminal amours to her perfect knowledge, and almost under her eyes, and does not see her perhaps once a month. As long as the husband is poor she suffers every kind of trouble, and when he becomes rich she is altogether heart-broken. All this pain and affliction their virtue alone enables them to support. Where .a husband takes two or three wives to live with him, they are subjected to mental miseries and constant quarrels. Even this distressed situation they virtuously endure. Sometimes it happens that the husband, from a preference for one of his wives, behaves cruelly to another, Amongst the lower classes, and those even of the better classes who have not associated with good corn. pany, the wife, on the slightest fault, or even on bare suspicion of her misconduct, is chastised as a thief Respect for virtue and their reputation generally makes them forgive even this treatment. If, unable to bear such cruel usage, a wife leaves her husband's house to live separately from him, then the influence of the husband with the magisterial authority is sufficient to place her again in his hands; when, in revenge for her quitting him, he seizes every pre. text to torment her in various ways, and sometimes even puts her privately to death. These are facts occurring every, day, and not to be denied. What I lament is, that seeing the women thus dependent and exposed to every misery, you feel for them no compassion that might exempt them from being tied down and burnt to death."
Rani, Mohun Roy, however, did not confine himself to mere literary controversy on the subject. He forthwith organised his friends into something like a Vigilance Committee, whose members never failed to be present whenever there was a case of Suttee in or near Calcutta, to see that no force was employed, and that the other requirements of the law, as laid down in the regulations, were fulfilled. Thus the fight was carried on in an acute and concentrated form till Lord W. Bentinck appeared on the scene and earnestly took up the question for its final decision in December, 1829, as already noticed.
It is worthy of mention that Ram Mohun Roy also carried on an agitation on the subject in the pages of his Bengali journal, the Kaumudi, and in 1822 published a tract on " The Modern Encroachments on the Ancient Rights of Females according to the Hindu Law of Inheritance," in which he decried polygamy and showed the abject misery in which widows live, indirectly proving thereby that their self-immolation in many cases was an escape from greater misery. On the subject of polygamy his contention was that every man desirous of taking a second wife during the life-time of the first should be obliged by law to prove before a Court of Justice, or some other suitable legal authority, that one of the causes for polygamy, authorised by the Hindu Shastras, existed in his case. Even this modicum of reform, if enforced at the present time, would save hundreds of women from a miserable lot.
The service that Ram Mohun Roy rendered to the cause of the suppression of Suttee lay in strengthening the hands of the Government, by proving from ancient Hindu Scriptures that self-immolation of a widow is nowhere enjoined as a duty, and that a life of piety and self-abnegation was considered more virtuous, points on which the Governor-General based the preamble of the anti-Suttee decree.
But his labours in that connection did not terminate with the passing of Lord W. Bentinck's decree. His adversaries roused themselves up once more and, as early as the 14th January, 183o, presented to Lord William Bentinck a petition, signed by Boo inhabitants of Calcutta and backed by the opinions of 120 Pandits, in which they tried to show that the position taken up by the Governor-General was an untenable one. Another petition with a similar import, signed by 34o persons from the mofussil, was also submitted at the same time. Ram Mohun Roy was on the alert,
Two days after, i.e., on the i6th January, a congratulatory petition signed by 30o native inhabitants of Calcutta and another signed by 800 Christians, thanking the Governor-General for his humane measure, were sent in. The very next day, i.e., the 17th of January, the opponents of the measure held a public meeting and resolved to appeal to the authorities in England. At this meeting they also established the Dhanna Sabha, already referred to, with an initial fund of Rs. 11,260, subscribed on the spot, for counteracting the influence of Ram Mohun Roy's movement,
Ram Mohun Roy was not to be dismayed by the opposition thus set up. He soon published a tract called " The Abstract of the Arguments regarding the Burning of Widows considered as a Religious Rite," in which he tried to meet the arguments of the 120 pandits. And one of the reasons which influenced him to undertake a voyage to England was to be able to thwart the efforts of his adversaries for the repeal of Lord W, Bentinck's abolition decree. Thus, to the last, he fought for his Hindu country-women.
Ram Mohun Roy's contribution to the cause of English education was no less remarkable. He was first trained as a Persian scholar, to which he subsequently added an intimate knowledge of Sanskrit. Very few men of his time could claim a more intimate acquaintance with the ancient learning of his people than he; yet by his genius and foresight he could see that the future regeneration of his country lay in a due cultivation of the Western sciences. Accordingly; from the very first, he became a strong advocate of English education. In 1816, in consultation with Mr. David Hare, his friend and fellow-worker, he formed the plan of opening an educational institution for the instruction of the youth of his country in the science and literature of Europe. The report of this conference, it seems, was carried by Baidyanath Mukerji, a member of the Atmiya Sabha, to Sir Hyde East, the Chief Justice of the Suprerrie Court, who earnestly took up the proposal and sent round Baidyanath to sound the Hindu citizens of the town. Within a few days a meeting of the leading members of the Hindu community was convened at the house of the Chief Justice, The connection of Ram Mohun Roy with the scheme was not discovered in the beginning, but when it came to be generally known that he was one of the promoters of the scheme and was likely to be associated with the committee, his Hindu adversaries held back, urgently demanding the removal of his name from the list. Ram Mohun Roy, apprised, by David Hare of the difficulty, at once wrote to Sir Hyde East resigning his connection with the committee, thus removing an obstacle from the way of the immediate working out of the scheme. He also started in 1823 and maintained with his own funds an English School in another part of the town, where Maharshi Devendra Nath Tagore, the second great leader of the Brahmo movement, received his first education.
In 1823, the first Council of Education was appointed, and the lakla, of rupees that had been Set apart from 18'3- for the encouragement of learning among the native races was placed in the hands of the Council for the furtherance of educa= tion. But the English gentlemen who formed that Council were, many of them, oriental scholars and several of them held very high posts under Government. The policy of Lord Amherst, the Governor-General of that time,"tbtok-its colouring from these orientalists, and it was decided to open a college in Calcutta for the teaching of the Sanskrit language. Ram Mohun Roy took this decision as a move in the wrong direction and at once addressed a letter of protest to the Governor-General, from which the following extracts are made:—
" If it had been intended to keep the British nation in ignorance of real knowledge, the Baconian philosophy would not have been allowed to displace the system of the schoolmen, which was the best calculated to perpetuate ignorance. In the Same mariner the Sanskrit system of education would be the best calculated to keep this country in darkness, if such had been the policy of the British legislature. But as the improvement of the native population is the object of the Government, it will consequently promote a more liberal and enlightened system of instruction embracing Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Anatomy, with other useful sciences, which may be accomplished with the sums proposed by employing a few gentlemen of talent and learning, educated in Europe and providing a college furnished with necessary books, implements and other apparatus."
When we reflect that these lines were penned by a native of Bengal at a time when the current ideas of education were low and old-fashioned, our wonder knows no bounds, and we feel them to be characteristic of the great man whom Providence had designed to be the maker of New India.
His help towards the promotion of the cause of English education was ever ready. Shortly before his departure for England in 183o, when the Rev. Alexander Duff, the Scottish Missionary, arrived and wanted to open an English school, Ram Mohun Roy secured the first house for him and also the first batch of half a dozen students, as has been noticed before.
His exertions for the introduction of English education were not however crowned with success till two years after his death, when in March, 1835, Lord William Bentinck, backed by Lord Macaulay, issued his famous Education Decree, which formally inaugurated the policy of English education, which has borne such signal fruits.
His exertions in another direction were equally vigorous. He found that there was no literature of the people. All that existed of that -kind were a few poetical works of the preceding two or three centuries. There were no prose works, at least not any popularly known, and people knew not how to read or write prose. The Serampore missionaries and the Fort William College Pandits had been trying for some years past to remove that want, but the glory of having firmly laid the foundations of modern Bengali literature belongs to Ram Mohun Roy. For the first time in the history of the country, Ram Mohun Roy departed from the old method of carrying on learned discussions in a learned language and he wrote his tracts in the common language of the people. Thus an impetus was given to national literature which has produced in later times such marvellous results. He wrote a grammar and a geography in the Bengali language at the instance of the School Book Society, for the education of the common people, and always made it a point to communicate useful knowledge to his countrymen through the columns of his Bengali newspaper, the Sambad Kaumudi, started in 1821 and his Persian journal, the Miras-ul-Aabar started in /822. The examples of the Katcruudi and the Mira were soon followed by his adversaries in starting the Samachar Chandrika and the Jamsfehannus to carry on the agitation against the Suttee and other controversies with the reforming party. But the good days for native journalism inaugurated by Lord Hastings, the Governor-General, by relaxing the severe press restrictions of former times, were soon clouded by the temporary accession to the post of Governor-General in 1823 of Mr. John Adam, a member of the Civil Service. Under the influence of his bureaucratic advisers, Mr. Adam took stringent measures for the suppression of the liberty of the press, For the fault of criticising an administrative measure of the Government, Mr, Buckingham, the editor of the Calcutta Journal, was deported from India at two months' notice; and Mr. Sanford Arnot, his assistant, was arrested in his office for a similar offence and was put on board an England-going vessel. And to put a finish to such arbitrary proceedings, a Press Ordinance was passed by the Governor-General's Council whfch imposed the severest censorship upon the entire Press, both Anglo-Indian and Indian, and made it obligatory on the part of intending proprietors and publishers of newspapers or other periodicals to obtain a license from the Governor-General. This Ordinance was passed without notice on the 14th of March, 1823, and was pushed through the Supreme Court, according to the law then existing, after only twenty days' publication in that Court, Ram Mohun Roy tried to rouse his countrymen to a sense of the seriousness of the Government measure, got up a memorial for the repeal of the Ordi- nance, engaged the services of two lawyers and fought an earnest battle in the Supreme Court before that Ordinance could receive the sanction of that Court and thereby assume the authority of a duly enacted law. He was defeated in his object, but did not stop there, and got up a public petition to the King of England, in which he tried to prove by a rare display of sound judgment and logica reasoning that, in a country situated like India, thr. liberty of the press was an essential condition for good government, This document has been justly styled the "Areopagitica" of modern Indian History. Unfortunately his appeal to the King of England also was fruitless, though it must be admitted that the steps he took on this occasion and the discussions he started paved the way for the liberal measure of Sir Charles Metcalfe which liberated the Indian Press in 1835. But it was not only political or polemical discussions for which Ram Mohun Roy used his papers. He looked upon them as means of popular education and through them always tried to convey useful knowledge to his countrymen; and it was for this reason that he fought so hard to save his papers from the threatened extinction. The lifirat had to be given up after a short career of i6 months in consequence of the new Ordinance, but the Kaumudi was kept up till some years after the death of its founder.
It should also be mentioned in passing that there were other spheres of his activity. He wrote tracts for the vindication of the legal rights of the people, and got up an agitation for the protection of their political interests. So great was his love of liberty that he followed with intense interest the course of the French Revolution and is said to have given a public dinner in the Town Hall of Calcutta as a mark of his joy at the establishment of constitutional government in Spain.
Ram Mohun Roy closed his remarkable career of almost superhuman activity with a visit to Europe, which also was pregnant with important results. After the opening of the Brahmo Samaj, he proceeded to make provision for the management of its affairs, published his second English tract on Suttee, and began to make preparations for his voyage to Europe. The immediate object of his visit to that country was to plead before the authorities of the East India Company the case of the ex-Emperor of Delhi, with which he was entrusted as his ambassador. But his real object was twofold: first, to baffle the efforts of his adversaries to get Bentinck's Suttee enactment repealed, and secondly, to be present in England during the deliberations of Parliament on the occasion of the renewal of the East India Company's Charter.
The project of visiting Europe was an old one in the mind of Ram Mohun Roy, at least as old as his settlement in Calcutta in 1814; for we find it mentioned in a letter of Rev. Mr. Yates of the Baptist Mission in Calcutta, written in 1815, that Ram Mohun Roy had expressed to him in that year his intention of visiting England to study at one of the Universities. He carried out his project of a European visit after so many years. He started for Europe on the rgth November, 183o, and arrived at Liverpool on the 8th of April, 1831, voyaging round the Cape of Good Hope, as was the custom with sailing vessels in those days. Some idea of his love of liberty may be formed from the fact that at the Cape of Good Hope, though seriously injured and made lame for several months by an accident, he insisted upon being carried to a French vessel where he saw the flag of liberty flying, so that he might be able to do homage to that flag. The sight of the glorious tri-colour kindled his enthusiasm and made him for the time being insensible to pain. The French received him warmly and he was conducted over the vessel beneath the revolutionary flag. When returning he shouted, unmindful of his pain, " Glory, glory, glory to France !"
After his arrival in England he met, amongst others, William Roscoe, the historian of the Medicis, and Jeremy Bentham, the utilitarian philosopher. During his stay in London he was publicly received at the Annual Meeting of the Unitarians of *- England; he was honoured with a public dinner by the East India Company in September; and as part of his public activities, he submitted three papers on the Revenue System of India, the Judicial System of India and the Material Condition of India before a Committee of the House of Commons. At the Coronation of George IV, he was honoured with a place amongst Foreign Ambassadors and was personally presented to the King. In 1832 when the Reform Bill came up for discussion, he threw himself entirely into the spirit of that Bill and went so far as to make a public declaration that, in case the objects of that Bill were defeated, he would give up his residence in the dominions of England and would settle down in America. During this year also he republished some of his Indian Tracts for the information of his English friends and visited France towards the end of the year, where he had the honour of dining with the French King more than once. In the beginning of 1833 he returned to England, was present at the first sitting of the reformed Parliament and had the satisfaction of seeing the appeal of his adversaries against the abolition of Suttee rejected by that body. It was in this year also that the East India Company's charter was renewed, conferring solid privileges on the Indian people, a result towards which the Raja had earnestly worked.
In the beginning of September of that year he visited Bristol at the urgent invitation of his Unitarian friends, with a view to give his fatigued constitution a much-needed rest previous to his return to his native land. But alas I Providence had ruled otherwise. Within a few days of his arrival he was attacked with a fatal malady which terminated his noble career on the 27th of September. Miss Hare, the niece of his friend, Mr. David Hare of Calcutta, who attended during his last moments, says, that he finally closed his lips with the word, the Well-known Vedic syllable meaning the Supreme Being. His remains were followed to the grave by his Indian attendants and a few Unitarian friends. His mortal remains now rest in the Arno's Vale Cemetery at Bristol, over which his friend and disciple, Dwaraka Nath Tagore, during his visit to England, built a beautiful mausoleum.
During the absence of Ram Mohun Roy in England, his eldest son Radha Prasad Roy, who was one of the Trustees, managed the affairs of the Samaj, aided by the munificent support of Babu Dwaraka Nath Tagore. But soon after the death of the Raja, he was called away to Delhi to settle certain disputed pecuniary claims of his father. After his return from Delhi he ceased to take an active interest in the new Church. Tara Chand Chakravarti and Chandra Sekhar Dev, the most zealous supporters of the new Church, Ieft Calcutta during the Raja's absence and went to Burdwan, where they secured some employment in the Burdwan Raja's estate. Many of Ram Mohun Roy's friends, mentioned previously, who had been drawn into the movement more by his personal influence than by any genuine sympathy, fell off one by one, till at last within a few years none remained excepting Babu Dwaraka Nath Tagore, whose manager was also the manager of the Sainaj, and Pandit Ram Chandra Vidyabagish, the chosen friend and disciple of Ram Mohun Roy, who was the minister appointed by him.
Before we finally part with Ram Mohun Roy, let us try to form some idea of the motives that actuated him and also of the main features of his work. As to his leading motive in launching into a career of reform, we have his own testimony. In the preface to his translation of the Vedant, he says:--
“My constant reflections on the inconvenient or rather injurious rites, introduced by the peculiar practice of Hindu idolatry, which more than any other pagan worship, destroys the texture of society, together with compassion for my countrymen, have compelled me to use every possible effort to awaken them from their dream of error."
But he met at the outset with a serious difficulty. How was he to awaken them? He felt, as many preachers of a reformed doctrine have felt ever since, that the mass of his countrymen had fallen into such a state of abject mental and spiritual slavery, that a simple appeal to their reason and common sense would be ineffectual, and that they would not pay heed to anything unsupported by the authority of what they considered to be their sacred books. Accordingly, he fell back upon the monotheistical writings of the Vedant, which were of unquestionable authority in matters of Hindu theology. With the general decline of learning these writings had fallen into disuse in the province of Bengal and there were very few men even amongst those who were reputed to be learned at that time, who were familiar with their contents. Ram Mohun Roy believed that the translation and publication of these books would arouse public attention and would lead his countrymen to examine the nature of the current forms of their idolatry, Accordingly, he undertook the arduous task of translating these difficult books into a vernacular which was till then crude and undeveloped and publishing them at a tremendous cost to himself. It was not his intention to appeal to the learned few; his great and generous heart yearned to communicate light to all classes of his countrymen. Consequently, he translated the most important of his tracts into two and sometimes three of the current languages of the people and distributed all his publications free of charge.
The first feeling of his adversaries was one of surprise. He spoke of things they had long forgotten. But they soon recovered from their first' amazement and within a short time a class of intelligent defenders of the current system of idolatry appeared, who tried to meet him on his own ground. The old controversy between knowledge and ceremonialism, which in the present case meant idolatrous worship, was once more revived.
The orthodox adversaries alleged: First, "men must perform without omission all the rites and duties prescribed in the Vedas and Smritis before acquiring knowledge of God." To which. Ram Mohun Roy replied:—" We admit that it is proper in man to observe the duties and rites prescribed by the shastra for each class according to their religious order, in acquiring knowledge respecting God. But we can by no means admit the necessity of observing those duties and rites as indispensable steps towards attaining divine knowledge."
Secondly they said: "the difficulty of attaining a knowledge of the Invisible and Almighty Spirit is evident from a large number of verses." The following was the reply:—" I agree with them in that point; that the attainment of the perfect knowledge of the nature of the Godhead is certainly difficult, or rather impossible; but to read the existence of the Almighty Being in His works of nature is not, I will dare say, so difficult to the mind of a man possessed of common sense, and unfettered by prejudice." Thirdly, they continued: " The worship of the Divine attributes under various representations, by means of consecrated objects, is prescribed by scrip- ture to the human race, by way of mental exercise". The answer was:—"I cannot admit that the worship of these attributes under various representations, by means of consecrated objects, has been prescribed by the Vedas to the Human race; as this kind of worship of consecrated objects is enjoined by the Shastra to those only who are incapable of raising their minds to the notion of an invisible Supreme Being".
Fourthly, his adversaries held:—"That which cannot be conceived cannot be worshipped."
He said in reply:—" Should the learned Brahmin consider a full conception of the nature, essence or qualities of the Supreme Being, or a physical picture truly representing the Almighty Power, with offerings of flowers, leaves and viands, as essential to adoration, I agree with the learned Brahmin with respect to the impossibility of the worship of God. But, should adoration imply only the elevation of the mind to the conviction of the existence of the Omnipresent Deity, as testified by His wise and wonderful works and continual contemplation of His power as so displayed, together with a constant sense of the gratitude which we naturally owe Him, for our existence, sensation and comfort, I never will hesitate to assert that His adoration is not only possible, and practicable, but even incumbent on every rational creature."
Fifthly, they took objection to the mode of congregational worship by saying:—`'But the holding of meetings, playing music, singing songs, and dancing, which are ranked among carnal pleasures, are not ordained by scripture as mental purification."
Ram Mohun Roy replied:—" The practice of dancing in divine worship, I agree, is not ordained by the scriptures, and accordingly never was introduced in our worship; any mention of dancing in the Calcutta Gazette must, therefore, have proceeded from misinformation of the editor. But respecting the propriety of introducing monotheistical songs in the divine worship, I beg leave to refer the gentleman to the texts 114th and 115th of the 3rd chapter of Yajnavalca, who authorizes not only scriptural music in divine contemplation, but also the songs that are composed by the vulgar. It is also evident that any interesting idea is calculated to make more impression upon the mind, when conveyed in musical verses, than when delivered in the form of common conversation."
Sixthly, they advanced:—" It appears from the perusal of the Vedant Shastra, that God is one eternal and the soul is not different from him, nor is there any other real existence besides him
The visible world is, as it says, created by Maya alone." To which the answer was:—."The term Maya implies primarily the power of creation, and secondarily, its effect, which is the Universe. The Vedant by comparing the world with the misconceived notion of a snake, when a rope really exists, means that the world like the supposed. snake has no independent existence, that it receives its existence from the Supreme Being ":
"and in declaring that God is all in all and that there is no other substance except God, the Vedant means that existence in reality belongs to God alone. He is consequently true and omnipresent, nothing else can bear the name of true existence. We find the phrase, God is all in all, in Christian books, and I suppose they do not mean by such words that pots, mats, &c., are Gods. I am inclined to believe that by these forms they mean the omnipresence of God."
Another point which was stoutly urged by his opponents and as persistently denied by him was that the life of a householder was not favourable to a true knowledge of God. The controversy on the above subject occupies many pages of his Bengali tracts, in all of which he uniformly pointed out that such a knowledge is attainable; and in support of his position adduced authority from the texts of well-known scriptures and also cited the example of Janaka and others who attained to the true knowledge of God, though living surrounded by all the comforts of life.