Thoughts on economics and liberty

Tag: Raja Rammohun Roy

England is amazed by the genius of Raja Rammohun Roy

"When we got within a few days’ sail of the Channel we fell in with a vessel only four days out, that brought us intelligence of the extraordinary circumstance of the second reading of the Reform Bill being carried in the House in which the Tories had so long commanded majorities, by a single vote! . . Rammohun Roy was again elated with the prospect."

"To hear a Brahman zealously advocating Reform, and, with an earnestness and emphasis that bespoke his sincerity, expatiating on the blessings of civil and religious liberty, of course amazed our countrymen; and perhaps they were not less surprised, if the discussion took a religious turn, to find him quoting text upon text with the utmost facility, and proving himself more familiar with their sacred books than themselves." 

"The scene at Manchester, when he visited the great manufactories, was very amusing. All the workmen, I believe, struck work, and men, women, and children rushed in crowds to see “the King of Ingee”. Many of the great unwashed insisted upon shaking hands with him; some of the ladies who had not stayed to make their toilets very carefully wished to embrace him, and he with difficulty escaped. . . The aid of the police was required to make way for him to the manufactories, and when he had entered, it was necessary to close and bolt the gate to keep out the mob. . . After shaking hands with hundreds of them he turned round and addressed them, hoping they would all support the King and his Ministers in obtaining Reform; so happily had he caught the spirit of the people. He was answered with loud shouts, “The King and Reform for ever!” On the road to London, wherever he stopped the inn was surrounded." 

"long after he had retired to rest, the venerable Bentham, who had not for many years called on anyone or left his house, I believe, except to take his habitual walk in the garden, found his way to the hotel, and left a characteristic note for him. This signal compliment from the leading British philosopher of the time must have greatly gratified the stranger." 

"Mr. Sutherland comments with surprise upon Rammohun’s being “for a considerable time much more in Tory than in Whig circles,” even being introduced into the House of Lords by the Duke of Cumberland. It was his urgent solicitations which prevented the Tory peers voting against the Indian Jury Bill. Considering the round terms in which he rated the Tories to their face for opposing the Reform Bill, their hospitable behaviour towards him does them no small credit.

"Mr. Sutherland remarks somewhat sardonically on the striking alteration in their demeanour to Rammohun Roy which his reception in England effected among the Anglo-Indian  officials. The very same men who had treated him with scorn in India now eagerly courted his acquaintance."

"It was only natural that the Select Committee of the House of Commons which was appointed in February and reappointed in June to consider the renewal of the Company’s Charter should invite him to appear before it."


"At a party at a friend of ours Captain Mauleverer, who had known the Rajah in India and was very much attached to him, we . . overheard one of the guests, an Indian officer of rank, say angrily “What is that black fellow doing here?” A shocking speech to those who loved and honoured him so much!"

(see the original text – p.181-198)


Raja Rammohun Roy was a genius and great fighter for liberty. I'll be posting a good amount about him in the coming days once I find time (and eye-capacity) to read his work.


Please download from LIFE AND LETTERS-RAJA RAMMOHUN ROY.doc. It makes for fascinating reading. The re-discovery of India's first great classical liberal.

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Raja Rammohun Roy insisted on equal regard from Lord William Bentick, Governor General

I've recently stumbled across THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF RAJA RAMMOHUN ROY. It is a shame how few of the works of India's great leaders of the past 200 years have been digitised so far (of course, Vivekananda's works and Gandhi's works are an exception). I'm converting this book into a readable Word document (the text file which is currently available is difficult to read since the footnotes are  with the main text) that I'll share with you when I'm finished (severe eyestrain continues to block my work quite siginficantly). 

I like this passage from the book that shows that Raja Rammohun Roy insisted on equal treatment from the British:


It is said that Lord William Bentick, the then Governor General, once had occasion to consult him on some important matter and so sent over one of his aides de camp for him. To this messenger from the Governor General Rammohun Roy made answer, “I have now given up all worldly avocations, and am engaged in religious culture and in the investigation of truth. Kindly express my humble respects to the Governor General and inform him that I have no inclination to appear before his august presence, and therefore I hope that he will pardon me.”

The aide de camp, wondering at the audacity of the man, reported the matter to Lord Bentick, who enquired what he had said to Rammohun Roy. The aide de camp replied. “I told him that Lord William Bentick, the Governor General, would he pleased to see him.” The Governor General answered, “Go back and tell him again that Mr. William Bentick will be highly obliged if he will kindly see him once.” This done, Rammohun Roy visited the Governor General, whose relations with him ever afterwards continued as respectful as they were cordial. 

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