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PopULUMQUE FALS1s .
"To do something to instruct, but more to undeceive, the timid and admiring student;-
himself with error.”
Printed for the Editor, by George Smallfield.
An Account of the Life and horitings of RAM.Mohun Roy, a learned Brahmin, and of the New Sect in India, of which he is the Founder.
[WE have already introduced the Hindoo Reformer to our readers, XIII. 299 and 512, and XIV. 561–569. We now law before them a further account of this interesting man, translated from a French pamphlet, lately sent to us from Paris, by the Abbé Gregoire, formerly Bishop of Blois. This pamphlet has been since inserted in the Chronique steligieuse. The biographical part of the article is a communication to the Abbe from Bengal, drawn up in French by M. d'Acosta, an Asiatic well versed in the languages, history and antiquities of India, and the present Editor of The Times, at Calcutta: the concluding remarks upon Rammohun Roy's system and writings are by the Abbé himself. Our translation is literal, which we premise, as a matter of justice to ourselves, should any of the statements appear questionable. . We have reason to believe that the Monthly Repository is read in India, and we, therefore, take this opportunity of requesting communications from our readers in that part of the world on this subject, or any other within the province of our work. Ed.]
Roo ROY BANOUDo is the son of * Ho! Roy, and the dson of Row Biñad. The ls. resided at M. shedabad ; he filled some important offices under the Moguls, but was illused by those despots towards the end of his life, which circumstance led his son, Ram Hant Roy, to take up his abode in the district of Bordouan, where he rented land of the English government. Rammohun Roy was born in Bordouan about the year 1780. He there beneath his father's roof received the elements of education, and also acquired the Persian language; he was afterwards sent to Patna to learn the Arabic, and lastly to Calcutta to obtain a knowledge of the Sanscrit. His masters at Patna gave him Arabic translations of some of the writings of Aristotle and of Euclid to study. ProV () i. xv. rt
bably the nature of those works, and the intimacy which he formed at an early age with Mahometans whom he seems to have esteemed, contributed both to shake his faith in the Brahminical religion, and to lead him to the design and the means of examining other religious systems. It is not credible that his masters intended to give such latitude to his mind; for although there are in India many intelligent and well-informed Mahometans, yet there is not one of them who, with respect to religion, is otherwise than intolerant. At nineteen or twenty years of age, Rammohun Roy was not a believer in any one of the three religions which came under his observation; that is to say, the Mahometan, the Christian, or the Hindoo. At that time he knew very little of the English tongue, and that little he had taught himself. The awe with which his father inspired him revented the open acknowledgment of is scepticism; but from some indirect reproaches which he received, he imagines that he had fallen under his suspicion; the father, however, was too sincerely a Hindoo to conceive the extent or the cause of his son's incredulity, and he undoubtedly attributed the young man's apparent irregularities merely to the thoughtlessness of youth. We may here remark, that the education which he gave to his son was, for the country in which he lived, of a very superior kind. Brought up himself in the midst of a Mussulman court, he was inclined to give the young man those qualifications that would recoinmend him to the ancient conquerors of India, rather than to the more recent, in whose language even he did not have him instructed: the Sanscrit, which he caused him to learn, could be intended only to support his Brahminical rank. m Hant Roy died about the year 1804 or 1805, after having divided his property, two years before this period, among his three sons, in order to prevent all disputes on the subject. The eldest son died shortly after; Rammohun Roy then became the elder, and in a short time the only survivor. From this period, he appears to have conceived his plans of reform; he thought it expedient to quit Bordouan, where he had resided but little, and removed to Mourshedabad; he there published, in Persian, with an Arabic preface, a work, entitled Against the Idolatry of all Religions. No one o to refute this book ; but the host of enemies which it raised up against the author, among the Mahometans and Hindoos, obliged him to retire to Calcuttain the year 1814. This step points out the limit of British influence in India; for though all the places hitherto inhabited by him were equally under the authority of the Eol overnment, they were not coi. influenced by English manners. At Calcutta, Rammohun Roy applied himself more seriously to the study of the English tongue, both by reading and conversation. He learnt a little Latin of an English schoolmaster, named Pritchard; and a German, of the name of Makay, a man of a philosophic turn of mind, instructed him in the mathematics. He purchased a garden, with a house constructed in the European mode, in the Circular-Road, at the eastern extremity of the town. Rammohun Roy found means to recommend his religious opinions to a dozen of his countrymen, all distinguished for their rank and opulence ; and with their aid he has founded a sect, which may comprise a thousand disciples. To conciliate the Europeans, he has not only given the appellation Unitarian to this sect, but likewise declares, that his morality is no other than that of the gospel. The members of the sect unite every Sunday at the dwelling of Rammohun Roy, where they eat, drink, and sing hymns in Sanscrit and Bengalee to the honour Yof the only true God. Rammohun Roy is the most respectable individual amongst them; the only one, perhaps, who is really so: the rest are little known, with the exception of one named Kamo, a man of great wealth, and excessively fond of spirituous liuors. We may easily imagine, that the Hindoos, from their attachment to the Vedas, earnestly set themselves against innovation: Rammohun Roy has been attacked in various ways; but his intelligence, his firmness, his knowledge, joined to the affluence he enjoys,
have prevented his losing caste, a species of excommunication, that hi countrymen would gladly have subjected him to; which would be a dreadful punishment, since it would deprive him of the society even of his wife and his only son. To the causes enumerated for his exemption from this punishment, we should add the entertainment he gives daily (actuated by prudence, equal to his ardour for reform) to a certain number of Brahmins, who are thereby led to take a personal interest in the defence of him ; for if they had once eaten at his table, they would be all involved in the excommunication deserved by him. This proves how impotent, under certain circumstances, those institutions become which are not founded on nature and reason; and how their contrivances may be turned against themselves. . If this be true respecting the Hindoo system, which of all the ancient institutions has preserved most of its primitive harshness, how much more is it applicable to all the others Whatever be the abstract merit of Rammohun Roy, there is, probably, throughout India no Brahmin who is less a Brahmin and less a Hindoo than he ; and thousands of dupes who have suffered the loss of their caste have been less offenders against the peculiarities of their religion than he. Rammohun Roy, considering that youth is the period most adapted to the reception of novelties, either good or bad, has established a school at his own expense, where fifty children are taught Sanscrit, English and Geography. How slender soever these attempts at reform may appear, they will, probably, more or less rapidly attain their object; aided as they are by European influence, and, above all, by the art of printing. It is against the division of his countrymen into castes that Rammohun Roy's "...; hand is turned, and in that the *...". of his judgment is evinced. The distinction of castes may be regarded as the cement of the polytheism and the other errors prevalent in India : let that distinction disappear, and all the Hindoo superstitions will crumble beneath the touch of human reason. It is the division into castes, carried to a frightful excess, which consolidates the Hindoo system, by incorporating it with the daily habits of domestic life.