Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833) was the pioneer of modern thinking in India. A social reformer at heart, he greatly opposed orthodox practices that were prevalent in the Hindu society and relentlessly pursued progressive views. With a view to propagate his ideas and thoughts Roy founded the 'Brahma Samaj,' an organization dedicated to expose the hypocrisies of the practitioners of religion.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born in a wealthy Brahmin family, at Hooghly in West Bengal. Though belonging to an orthodox family, he held modern views. He did not approve of the superstitions existed in the society. He greatly supported the English and Western styles of education. Roy was interested in the positive aspects of the European societies. He held the philosophies of democracy, liberalism and humanism in high regard. Roy studied different religious systems including Christianity and Islam. The idea of monotheism preached by these religions greatly impressed him. He held the view that many practices followed by the Hindu society did not conform to the principles of real Hinduism. He attacked many of the evil practices in the Hindu society such as the caste system and child marriage. The most significant of his works, however, was the abolishment of Sati, a cruel practice of burning a widow in the pyre of her dead husband.
Apart from being a social reformer, Raja Ram Mohan Roy was also a scholarly person. He learned various languages such as English, Persian, Arabic, Latin, French and Hebrew. He was a master of his mother tongue Bengali. Roy translated the Vedas and Upanishads into Bengali. Also, he established several newspapers and schools in variuos parts of India.