Saumyendranath Tagore's deep study of and penetration into the variegated activities of Raja Rammohun Roy were truly reflected in a thought-provoking lecture delivered at the Asiatic Society on March 17, 1972. The interpretation of Rammohun's contribution to Indian Renaissance as made by Sri Tagore had impressed the academic circle to such an extent that there was a great demand to publish the lecture in a book form. It was done In 1975. all copies of the book are exhausted for a long time, but the demand renews again. So we have taken steps to republish the book during this centenary year of Saumyendranath. We believe that teachers, students and research scholars in the field of the socio-political history of 19th Century Bengal will be much benefited by the reprint-edition of the 'Rammohun Roy: His role in Indian Renaissance' where in the strong and challenging personality of a great man has been evaluated by our author's deep insight assisted by the lucidity of his style.
The 18th century was, perhaps, the darkest age in Indian history. An old, decadent polity was crumbling engulfing the entire society in darkness, and no light of hope was visible anywhere. The Muslim rule was disintegrating, and that of the East India Company had not yet established itself. The result was an unprecedented political chaos and confusion.
The political disorder was not the only catastrophe that had befallen India. Of immeasurably greater consequence was the tragic fact that at this fateful hour, India had lost her links with her own supreme realisation, her universal and eternal thoughts. Indeed, all the vital links of the society lay paralysed. Urban and rural life, religious and educational institutions, law and administration, agriculture and industry, trade and commerce-all these were in a state of complete prostration. Dead, meaningless habit and decadent tradition stifled all creative efforts in the fields of art and culture, religion and politics. The stream of ancient Hindu ideals based on the original scriptures-the Vedas and the Upanishads-had lost its way in the arid desert of superstition, bigotry and perversions. In place of critical analysis, there flourished unreasoned acceptance; instead of deference to authority after judgment, there ruled blind acceptance; where the torch of adventure had lighted the spirit, there reigned formal dogmatism. The Indian mind had become both lethargic and fearful. India had lost her youth.
At this crossroad of history, what India needed most was the advent of a man who would with one mighty sweep clear away the accumulated debris of orthodoxy and unreason, who would rediscover India's imperishable thoughts and who, by dong so, would rekindle the spirit of the whole nation. This historical need was served by the emergence of the man who can truly be called the father of modern India-Rammohun Roy.
It was Renan who called Petrarch "the first modern mark and by "modern man" he meant the freed individual who had achieved full emancipation of his spirit. Swami Vivekananda, another maker of modern India, attributed to Rammohun the same quality when he described him as "the first man of new, regenerate India"
The foundation of modern India that Rammohun laid was a great synthesis-a synthesis among the there conflicting cultures, three conflicting civilizations-the Hindu, the Muslim, and the Christian. Rammohun was the fist to evolve a concord and convergence among the three, thus ushering in the modern age which is characterized by the evolution of a composite nationality and a synthetic civilization in India. Indeed, he went further. On the same lines of convergence, and through the experiences of his universal personality, he saw in the clarity of international culture and civilization. Rammohun understood as nobody else had done before him, that human progress lies not in separation among nations but in the fraternity of interdependence of individuals and nations evolved through rational synthesis of cultures and civilizations. To this synthetic vision of Rammohun in the spheres of religion and culture, the Indian Renaissance of the 19th century owes its origin and birth. Indeed, there was not a single aspect of India's life-political, social economic, religious, and cultural-which was not shaken out of stupor, and rendered dynamic by the touch of this mighty personality.
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