Statesman, theologian, philosopher. He was born into a family of orthodox Kulin Brahmins of the Vashnavite sect. As a child he studied Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit in preparation for an intended career with the court service. In his twenties he went on to learn English, Greek, Latin and Hebrew and produced a translation of the Bible. At age twenty-five he moved to Calcutta where he made his fortune as a businessman, using much of his wealth in the promotion of education and social reform. He edited and printed Persian and Bengali newspapers and campaigned against the British East India Company for the freedom of the press. He was the author of many books in English and Bengali, which he distributed free of charge in Calcutta. He also wrote volumes of suggestions and critiques for English readers and theological works for Muslims. He travelled to England in 1821, bringing with him his adopted Muslim son, Raja, two servants and two Brahmini cows. In 1828 he became one of the founders of a reformed sect of Hinduism, the Brahmo-Samaj, which worshipped without priests, idols or services and was open people from all faiths. He believed that a modern English education would unify and modernise India and so founded schools and colleges and promoted the teaching of the sciences, mathematics and English literature. In 1829 he supported attempts to outlaw the custom of Sati, the burning of widows on their husband's funeral pyres, and returned to Britain to ensure the prohibition was upheld after Hindu protests. While in England he gave evidence to the House of Commons on social and educational matters in Bengal and India, and drew attention to the exploitation of Bengal from taxation and commercial interests. He also argued for women's rights of inheritance and education. He was ambassador in Britain for the Mogul Emperor, and became a popular figure in Bristol society, giving lectures and interviews and attending many functions. He died from meningitis while living at Beech House, Bristol, and was buried in the grounds of his home before being transferred to Arnos Vale Cemetery when the house was sold ten years later. In 1998 a statue of Rammohun Roy was presented to the city of Bristol by the Indian government to celebrate fifty years of Indian indepenance.
Bio by: js
Arthur Elisha Henry Merton