Why was roy opposed to the creation of this school?
Here is the letter he sent to Prime Minister William Pitt._____________________________________________________________
His Excellency the Right Hon'ble WILLIAM PITT,LORD AMHERST
MY LORD,I HUMBLY reluctant as the natives of India are to obtrude upon thenotice of Government the sentiments they entertain on any publicmeasure, there are circumstances when silence would be carrying thisrespectful feeling to culpable excess.
The present Rulers of India, coming from a distance of many thousandmiles to govern a people whose language, literature, manners, customs,and ideas are almost entirely new and strange to them, cannot easilybecome so intimately acquainted with their real circumstances, as thenatives of the country are themselves. We should therefore be guiltyof a gross dereliction of duty to ourselves, and afford our Rulersjust ground of complaint at our apathy, did we omit on occasions ofimportance like the present to supply them with such accurateinformation as might enable them to devise and adopt measurescalculated to be beneficial to the country, and thus second by ourlocal knowledge and experience their declared benevolent intentionsfor its improvement.
The establishment of a new Sangscrit School in Calcutta evinces thelaudable desire of Government to improve the Natives of India byEducation, - blessing for which they must ever be grateful; and everywell wisher of the human race must be desirous that the efforts madeto promote it should be guided by the most enlightened principles, sothat the stream of intelligence may flow into the most usefulchannels.When this Seminary of learning was proposed, we understood that theGovernment in England had ordered a considerable sum of money to beannually devoted to the instruction of its Indian Subjects. We werefilled with sanguine hopes that this sum would be laid out inemploying European Gentlemen of talents and education to instruct thenatives of India in Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry,Anatomy and other useful Sciences, which the Nations of Europe havecarried to a degree of perfection that has raised them above theinhabitants of other parts of the world.
While we looked forward with pleasing hope to the dawn of knowledgethus promised to the rising generation, our hearts were filled withmingled feelings of delight and gratitude; we already offered upthanks to Providence for inspiring the most generous and enlightenedof the Nations of the West with the glorious ambition of planting inAsia the Arts and Sciences of modern Europe.
We now find that the Government are establishing a Sangscrit schoolunder Hindoo Pundits to impart such knowledge as is already current inIndia. This Seminary (similar in character to those which existed inEurope before the time of Lord Bacon) can only be expected to load theminds of youth with grammatical niceties and metaphysical distinctionsof little or no practicable use to the possessors or to society. Thepupils will there acquire what was known two thousand years ago, withthe addition of vain and empty subtilties since produced byspeculative men, such as is already commonly taught in all parts ofIndia.
The Sangscrit language, so difficult that almost a life time isnecessary for its perfect acquisition, is well known to have been forages a lamentable check on the diffusion of knowledge; and thelearning concealed under this almost impervious veil is far fromsufficient to reward the labour of acquiring it. But if it werethought necessary to perpetuate this language for the sake of theportion of the valuable information it contains, this might be muchmore easily accomplished by other means than the establishment of anew Sangscrit College; for there have been always and are now numerousprofessors of Sangscrit in the different parts of the country, engagedin teaching this language as well as the other branches of literaturewhich are to be the object of the new Seminary. Therefore their morediligent cultivation, if desirable, would be effectually promoted byholding out premiums and granting certain allowances to those mosteminent Professors, who have already undertaken on their own accountto teach them, and would by such rewards be stimulated to stillgreater exertions.
From these considerations, as the sum set apart for the instruction ofthe Natives of India was intended by the Government in England, forthe improvement of its Indian subjects, I beg leave to state, with duedeference to your Lordship's exalted situation, that if the plan nowadopted be followed, it will completely defeat the object proposed;since no improvement can be expected from inducing young men toconsume a dozen of years of the most valuable period of their lives inacquiring the niceties of the Byakurun of Sangscrit Grammar. Forinstance, in learning to discuss such points as the following: Khadsignifying to eat, Khaduti, he or she or it eats. Query, whether doesthe word Khaduti, taken as a whole, convey the meaning he, she, or iteats, or are separate parts of this meaning conveyed by distinctportions of the word? As if in the English language it were asked, howmuch meaning is there in the eat, how much in the s? and is the wholemeaning of the word conveyed by those two portions of it distinctly,or by them taken jointly?
******Why was Roy opposed to the creation of this school? They are spreading knowledge that is already known. ****What does this letter reveal about Roy's attitude toward Indian and European cultures? The government's desire to improve the natives of India by education.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy FRAS (22 May 1772 – 27 September 1833) was an Indian reformer who was one of the founders of the Brahmo Sabha in 1828, the precursor of the Brahmo Samaj, a social-religious reform movement in the Indian subcontinent. He was given the title of Raja by Akbar II, the Mughal emperor. His influence was apparent in the fields of politics, public administration, education and religion. He was known for his efforts to abolish the practices of sati and child marriage. Roy is considered to be the "Father of Indian Renaissance" by many historians.
In 2004, Roy was ranked number 10 in BBC's poll of the Greatest Bengali of All Time.
Ram Mohan Roy was born in Radhanagar, Hooghly District, Bengal Presidency. His great grandfather Krishnakanta Bandyopadhyay was a Rarhi Kulin (noble) Brahmin. Among Kulin Brahmins – descendants of the six families of Brahmins imported from Kannauj by Ballal Sen in the 12th century – those from the Rarhi district of West Bengal were notorious in the 19th century for living off dowries by marrying several women. Kulinism was a synonym for polygamy and the dowry system, both of which Rammohan campaigned against. His father, Ramkanta, was a Vaishnavite, while his mother, Tarini Devi, was from a Shaivite family. He was a great scholar of Sanskrit, Persian and English languages and also knew Arabic, Latin and Greek. One parent prepared him for the occupation of a scholar, the Shastri, while the other secured for him all the worldly advantages needed to launch a career in the laukik or worldly sphere of public administration. Torn between these two parental ideals from early childhood, Ram Mohan vacillated between the two for the rest of his life.
During his childhood Ram Mohan Roy witnessed death of his sister in law through sati. The seventeen year old girl was dragged towards the pyre where Ram Mohan Roy witnessed her terrified state. He tried to protest but to no avail. She was burned alive. The people chanted "Maha Sati! Maha Sati! Maha Sati!" (great wife) over her painful screams.
Ram Mohan Roy was married three times. His first wife died early. He had two sons, Radhaprasad in 1800, and Ramaprasad in 1812 with his second wife, who died in 1824. Roy's third wife outlived him.
The nature and content of Ram Mohan Roy's early education is disputed. One view is that Ram Mohan started his formal education in the village pathshala where he learned Bengali and some Sanskrit and Persian. Later he is said to have studied Persian and Arabic in a madrasa in Patna and after that he was sent to Benares to learn the intricacies of Sanskrit and Hindu scripture, including the Vedas and Upanishads. The dates of his time in both these places are uncertain. However, it is believed that he was sent to Patna when he was nine years old and two years later he went to Benares.
Ram Mohan Roy's impact on modern Indian history was his revival of the pure and ethical principles of the Vedanta school of philosophy as found in the Upanishads. He preached the unity of God, made early translations of Vedic scriptures into English, co-founded the Calcutta Unitarian Society and founded the Brahma Samaj. The Brahma Samaj played a major role in reforming and modernizing the Indian society. He successfully campaigned against sati, the practice of burning widows. He sought to integrate Western culture with the best features of his own country's traditions. He established a number of schools to popularize a modern system of education in India. He promoted a rational, ethical, non-authoritarian, this-worldly, and social-reform Hinduism. His writings also sparked interest among British and American Unitarians.
During early rule of the East India Company, Ram Mohan Roy acted as a political agitator while employed by the company.
In 1792, the British Baptist shoemaker William Carey published his influential missionary tract, An Enquiry of the obligations of Christians to use means for the conversion of heathens.
In 1793, William Carey landed in India to settle. His objective was to translate, publish and distribute the Bible in Indian languages and propagate Christianity to the Indian peoples. He realised the "mobile" (i.e. service classes) Brahmins and Pandits were most able to help him in this endeavour, and he began gathering them. He learnt the Buddhist and Jain religious works to better argue the case for Christianity in a cultural context.
In 1795, Carey made contact with a Sanskrit scholar, the Tantric Saihardana Vidyavagish, who later introduced him to Ram Mohan Roy, who wished to learn English.
Between 1796 and 1797, the trio of Carey, Vidyavagish, and Roy created a religious work known as the "Maha Nirvana Tantra" (or "Book of the Great Liberation") and positioned it as a religious text to "the One True God". Carey's involvement is not recorded in his very detailed records and he reports only learning to read Sanskrit in 1796 and only completed a grammar in 1797, the same year he translated part of The Bible (from Joshua to Job), a massive task. For the next two decades this document was regularly augmented. Its judicial sections were used in the law courts of the English Settlement in Bengal as Hindu Law for adjudicating upon property disputes of the zamindari. However, a few British magistrates and collectors began to suspect and its usage (as well as the reliance on pandits as sources of Hindu Law) was quickly deprecated. Vidyavagish had a brief falling out with Carey and separated from the group, but maintained ties to Ram Mohan Roy.
In 1797, Raja Ram Mohan reached Calcutta and became a "bania" (moneylender), mainly to lend to the Englishmen of the Company living beyond their means. Ram Mohan also continued his vocation as pandit in the English courts and started to make a living for himself. He began learning Greek and Latin.
In 1799, Carey was joined by missionary Joshua Marshman and the printer William Ward at the Danish settlement of Serampore.
From 1803 until 1815, Ram Mohan served the East India Company's "Writing Service", commencing as private clerk "Munshi" to Thomas Woodroffe, Registrar of the Appellate Court at Murshidabad (whose distant nephew, John Woodroffe—also a magistrate—and later lived off the Maha Nirvana Tantra under the pseudonym Arthur Avalon). Roy resigned from Woodroffe's service and later secured employment with John Digby, a Company collector, and Ram Mohan spent many years at Rangpur and elsewhere with Digby, where he renewed his contacts with Hariharananda. William Carey had by this time settled at Serampore and the old trio renewed their profitable association. William Carey was also aligned now with the English Company, then head-quartered at Fort William, and his religious and political ambitions were increasingly intertwined.
While in Murshidabad, in 1804 Raja Ram Mohan Roy wrote Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhidin (A Gift to Monotheists) in Persian with an introduction in Arabic. Bengali had not yet become the language of intellectual discourse. The importance of Tuhfatul Muwahhidin lies only in its being the first known theological statement of one who achieved later fame and notoriety as a vendantin. On its own, it is unremarkable, perhaps of interest only to a social historian because of its amateurish eclecticism. Tuhfat was, after all, available as early as 1884 in the English translation of Maulavi Obaidullah EI Obaid, published by the Adi Brahmo Samaj. Raja Ram Mohan Roy did not know the Upanishad at this stage in his intellectual development.
In 1814, he started Atmiya Sabha (i.e. society of friends) a philosophical discussion circle in Kolkata (then Calcutta) to propagate the monotheistic ideals of the vedanta and to campaign against idolatry, caste rigidities, meaningless rituals and other social ills.
The East India Company was draining money from India at a rate of three million pounds a year by 1838. Ram Mohan Roy was one of the first to try to estimate how much money was being taken out of India and to where it was disappearing. He estimated that around one-half of all total revenue collected in India was sent out to England, leaving India, with a considerably larger population, to use the remaining money to maintain social well-being. Ram Mohan Roy saw this and believed that the unrestricted settlement of Europeans in India governing under free trade would help ease the economic drain crisis.
During the next two decades, Ram Mohan along with William Carey, launched his attack at the behest of the church against the bastions of Hinduism of Bengal, namely his own Kulin Brahmin priestly clan (then in control of the many temples of Bengal) and their priestly excesses. The Kulin excesses targeted include sati (the co-cremation of widows), polygamy, child marriage, and dowry.
From 1819, Ram Mohan's battery increasingly turned against William Carey, a Baptist Missionary settled in Serampore, and the Serampore missionaries. With Dwarkanath's munificence, he launched a series of attacks against Baptist "Trinitarian" Christianity and was now considerably assisted in his theological debates by the Unitarian faction of Christianity.
In 1828, he launched Brahmo Sabha with Devendranath Tagore. By 1828, he had become a well known figure in India. In 1830, he had gone to England as an envoy of the Mughal Emperor, Akbar Shah II, who invested him with the title of Raja to the court of King William IV.
This was Ram Mohan's most controversial period. Commenting on his published works Sivanath Sastri writes:
"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:
He publicly declared that he would emigrate from the British Empire if Parliament failed to pass the Reform Bill.
In 1830, Ram Mohan Roy travelled to the United Kingdom as an ambassador of the Mughal Empire to ensure that Lord William Bentinck's Bengal Sati Regulation, 1829 banning the practice of Sati was not overturned. In addition, Roy petitioned the King to increase the Mughal Emperor's allowance and perquisites. He was successful in persuading the British government to increase the stipend of the Mughal Emperor by £30,000. He also visited France. While in England, he embarked on cultural exchanges, meeting with members of Parliament and publishing books on Indian economics and law. Sophia Dobson Collet was his biographer at the time.
The religious reforms of Roy contained in some beliefs of the Brahmo Samaj expounded by Rajnarayan Basu are:
Having studied the Qur’an, the Vedas and the Upanishads, Roy's beliefs were derived from a combination of monastic elements of Hinduism, Islam, eighteenth-century Deism, Unitarianism, and the ideas of the Freemasons.
Roy founded the Atmiya Sabha and the Unitarian Community to fight the social evils, and to propagate social and educational reforms in India. He was the man who fought against superstitions, a pioneer in Indian education, and a trend setter in Bengali Prose and Indian press.
Roy's political background and Devandra's Christian influence influenced his social and religious views regarding reforms of Hinduism. He writes,
Roy's experience working with the British government taught him that Hindu traditions were often not credible or respected by western standards and this no doubt affected his religious reforms. He wanted to legitimise Hindu traditions to his European acquaintances by proving that "superstitious practices which deform the Hindu religion have nothing to do with the pure spirit of its dictates!" The "superstitious practices", to which Ram Mohan Roy objected, included sati, caste rigidity, polygamy and child marriages. These practices were often the reasons British officials claimed moral superiority over the Indian nation. Ram Mohan Roy's ideas of religion actively sought to create a fair and just society by implementing humanitarian practices similar to the Christian ideals professed by the British and thus seeking to legitimise Hinduism in the eyes of the Christian world.
He died at Stapleton, then a village to the northeast of Bristol (now a suburb), on 27 September 1833 of meningitis or a chronic respiratory ailment.
Ram Mohan Roy was originally buried on 18 October 1833, in the grounds of Stapleton Grove, where he had lived as an ambassador of the Mughal Empire and died of meningitis on 27 September 1833. Nine years later he was reburied on 29 May 1843 in a grave at the new Arnos Vale Cemetery, in Brislington, East Bristol. A large plot on The Ceremonial Way there had been bought by William Carr and William Prinsep, and the body in its lac and a lead coffin was placed later in a deep brick-built vault, over seven feet underground. Two years after this, Dwarkanath Tagore helped pay for the chhatri raised above this vault, although there is no record of his ever visiting Bristol. The chhatri was designed by the artist William Prinsep, who had known Ram Mohan in Calcutta.
Bristol Arnos Vale cemetery have been holding remembrance services for Raja Ram Mohan Roy every year on a Sunday close to his death anniversary date of 27 September. The Indian High Commission at London often come to Raja's annual commemoration and Bristol's Lord Mayor is also regularly in attendance. The commemoration is a joint Brahmo-Unitarian service, in which, prayers and hymns are sung, flowers laid at the tomb, and the life of the Raja is celebrated via talks and visual presentations. In 2013, a recently discovered ivory bust of Ram Mohan was displayed. In 2014, his original death mask at Edinburgh was filmed and its history was discussed. In 2017, Raja's commemoration was held on 24 September.
Roy's commitment to English education and thought sparked debate between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. Gandhi, objecting to Roy's devotion to English education and thought and disallowing independent thinking by being overly supportive of the Western philosophical discourses. Tagore wrote a letter rejecting Gandhi's view, saying " had the full inheritance of Indian wisdom. He was never a school boy of the West, and therefore had the dignity to be a friend of the West."
In 1983, a full-scale Exhibition on Ram Mohan Roy was held in Bristol's Museum and Art Gallery. His enormous 1831 portrait by Henry Perronet Briggs still hangs there and was the subject of a talk by Max Muller in 1873. At Bristol's centre, on College Green, is a full-size bronze statue of the Raja by the modern Kolkata sculptor Niranjan Pradhan. Another bust by Pradhan, gifted to Bristol by Jyoti Basu, sits inside the main foyer of Bristol's City Hall.
A pedestrian path at Stapleton has been named "Rajah Rammohun Walk". There is a 1933 Brahmo plaque on the outside west wall of Stapleton Grove, and his first burial place in the garden is marked by railings and a granite memorial stone. His tomb and chhatri at Arnos Vale are listed as a Grade II* historic site by English Heritage and attract many visitors today.
A 1965 Indian Bengali-language film Raja Rammohan about Roy's reforms, directed by Bijoy Bose and starring Basanta Chowdhury in the titular role.
In 1988 Doordarshan Serial Bharat Ek Khoj produced and directed by Shyam Benegal also Picturised a Full One Episode on Raja Ram Mohan Roy. The titular role was played by Noted TV actor Anang Desai with Urmila Bhatt, Tom Alter and Ravi Jhankal as Supporting Cast.
Post-1991, as India liberalized its economy and integrated itself with the world, the service sector has emerged as one of the success stories of India. Service sector forms the bulk of India’s exports and also earns the valuable foreign exchange for the country. Service sector, especially, Information Technology (IT), have also allowed many Indians to experience rapid social mobility and foreign travel. Over the years, Indian engineers have proven their capacities in diverse fields such as IT and financial services. Two core skills have provided advantages to Indian engineers in establishing pre-eminence in the international service sector: mathematics and command over the English language. For both of these, Indians of today should thank Ram Mohan Roy.
Roy himself was educated in late 18th century and in those days, although, East India Company was ruling Bengal, English education was not available. Moreover, due to the prevalence of caste system and restrictions imposed by it, only a small section of population was allowed access to education. Therefore, only the upper strata of society could educate themselves and the education was devoid of any modern subjects. In pathashalas, Sanskrit language was taught and knowledge of Persian and Arabic was considered desirable as these languages were used for running the affairs of state. For Muslims, education in madarasa was the only option. This education system was not just inadequate but it was also of no use in the changing circumstances of India.
Therefore, when Roy learned in 1823 that the rulers were opening a new Sanskrit college, he was dismayed. He felt that he should express his thoughts to the British authorities and make them reconsider their decision. He had opened a school for boys in 1816 in which the medium of instruction was English. He knew that modern education will be useful in uplifting Indian society from its state of backwardness. It was unusual in those days to open such a school and even more uncommon to argue against Sanskrit college. In this context, he wrote a letter to Lord Amherst, the then Governor-General, arguing in favour of English education and benefits that would come from such education.
The government was going to spend ‘a considerable sum of money’ for Sanskrit college. Roy writes that ‘we were filled with sanguine hopes that this sum would be laid out in employing European gentlemen of talent and education to instruct the natives of India in Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Anatomy and other useful sciences’. However, the Sanskrit college ‘can only be expected to load the minds of youth with grammatical niceties and metaphysical distinctions of little or no practical use to the possessors or to society’. He was quick to point out that if the government wanted to promote Sanskrit, there are other ways of doing so than spending so much money on establishing a separate college devoted to it.
Roy knew how to communicate his point of view to the British rulers. To drive home the benefits of modern education, he reminds the Governor-General to ‘compare the state of science and literature in Europe before the time of Lord Bacon’. Although Roy himself was fluent in Sanskrit, he was clear that Sanskrit education cannot help in the improvement of the situation in India and that modern education is the only way forward. He felt that it was his ‘solemn duty’ to convey his thoughts to the ‘enlightened sovereign and legislature’.
In early years of the nineteenth century, India’s encounter with modernity had begun. It must be kept in mind that through his actions and writings, Roy was responding to a very different situation than India had experienced before. The new rulers were not just militarily superior but also had advanced techniques in administration, social life and education. He understood it and was convinced that India had to reform itself. However, Roy was not a mindless supporter of anything that the new rulers were doing. He was watchful of effects of these changes on the Indian society. In this context, his opinion about the settlement of Europeans in India is worth examining.
Roy had gone to England in 1830 as an envoy of the Mughal emperor. He stayed there till 1833. In England, in 1832-33, the question of allowing Europeans to settle in India was being debated. He was asked to put forth his views on the subject. He was balanced in his views and looked at this issue on the basis of advantages and disadvantages that would result from it for India. Roy thought that settlers would bring their superior knowledge of agriculture to India and farmers would benefit from the introduction of newer techniques. Moreover, peasants would be freed from the oppression of landlords and superior authority. He also felt that, due to the contact with Europeans, minds of Indians would be liberated from superstitions.
Roy was aware that European settlers will be equal to the rulers and therefore because of them, ‘many necessary improvements in the laws and judicial system’ would come to India. It would eventually prove beneficial to Indians as well. Similarly, he had hoped that settlers; ‘from motives of benevolence, public spirit and fellow-feeling’ will open educational institutions in India and would educate Indian society. Roy foresaw improvement on the quality of legislation on Indian affairs owing to the contact of settlers with Indians and the resultant knowledge out of it. He also went on to the extent of arguing that settlers will prove useful to the defence of India in case of an invasion as they would be ‘closely connected by national sympathies with the ruling power’. Moreover, it would be easier to get support from the settlers as they will depend on ‘stability for the continued enjoyment of their civil and political rights’.
Roy believed that settlers would also help in cementing the connection between India and Britain. However, if any break takes place between the two nations, the presence of settlers would prove useful in still maintaining the relationship. Close relationship between South Africa and Britain, France and its former colonies could be considered here. He was also aware that presence of European settlers will also have its own set of disadvantages. Settlers may ‘aim at enjoying exclusive rights and privileges’. Therefore, to avoid this problem, Roy suggested that ‘higher and better-educated class of Europeans’ should first be allowed to settle in India. The second disadvantage would be that Europeans may have ‘readier access to persons in authority’. There could be social tensions between Indians and Europeans as well.
Roy was clearly ahead of his time when he suggests that if the mixed population in India attains ‘wealth, intelligence and public spirit’, they might ask for independence as it happened in case of the United States of America. But he is quick to suggest that despite a similar situation, it has not happened in Canada as yet. He is also aware that Europeans will find weather in India too hot and humid and therefore, the settlers should first be settled in ‘cool and healthy spots’. He ends by saying that the experiment of settling Europeans should be undertaken and based on its results, the final decision should be taken.
It is clear that several themes underlying Roy’s thinking became relevant in the context of India and other colonies. Hopes regarding the landlords and favourable judicial system were bellied. Settlers enjoyed greater access to power, different rules were framed for them and an entire edifice was structured to protect the interests of settlers. African colonies such as South Africa and Zimbabwe could be cited here as cases in point. Presence of settler population and policies enacted by colonial rulers for settlers; in these countries led to the social and political unrest, inequality, massive oppression and exploitation of the local population. These countries suffered and are still suffering from the effects of settler population. Roy’s views become important in this context.
From Roy’s views on education and European settlers, it is evident that Roy was clearly ahead of his time. Before the era of railways and telegraph, when the world was not so close, he was aware of the world around him and was in fact actively applying lessons learned from other colonies to India. His forceful advocacy of English and balanced thinking about the effects of settler populations on local society has certainly stood the test of time.
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