Lot 120: Rare Letter by Ram-Mohun Roy, 19th Century Indian Social and Religious Reformer
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: Rare Autograph Letter by Ram-Mohun Roy, 19th Century Indian Social and Religious Reformer ********** ROY, RAM-MOHUN. (1772-1833). Indian social and religious reformer called the Father of the Indian Renaissance. ALS. (“Rammohun Roy”). 1p. 8vo. London, January, 1832. To British philanthropist and leader of the High Church party JOSHUA WATSON (1771-1855). ********** “I have now had time to look into part of the Sanscrit book which you sent me entitled Christa Sangita & I have no hesitation in saying that in my humble opinion it reflects the highest… on its learned author. I hope to be able to give you a more detailed account of it when I can spare time to go through it leisurely…” ********** Born into a Brahman family in Bengal, then under British rule, Roy worked for the East India Company while studying languages and Western literature. After becoming frustrated by the division between different sects of Hinduism and between Hinduism and other religions, he advocated monotheism, controversially authoring the Maha Nirvana Tantra or Book of the Great Liberation, which he claimed to be an ancient sacred text. With proceeds from the publication of the book as well as such essays as “A Gift to Monotheists” he funded his Atmiya Sabha, a society which debated monotheistic Hinduism and the foundation of which is considered the beginning of the modern age in Calcutta. His interest in Christianity prompted him to learn Hebrew and Greek, and in 1820, he published Precepts of Jesus, the Guide to Peace and Happiness. As a leader in the Hindu reform movement Brahmo Samaj, Roy helped end the practice of sati, the immolation of widows; advocated against child marriage and polygamy; and denounced the caste system. Swayed by his arguments, the British East India Governing Council prohibited sati in 1829. In 1831, Roy moved to London as an ambassador of the Mughal Empire charged with ensuring that the ban on sati was not overturned. He was well received by English Unitarians, who took a particular interest in his writings, but he contracted meningitis and died in Bristol in 1833. ********** Our letter refers to the 1831 book Christa-Sangita, Or the Sacred History of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in Sanscrit Verse by the Rev. W.H. Mill, Regius professor of Hebrew at Cambridge and principal of Bishop’s College in Calcutta. ********** Known as “the best layman in England,” Watson was a successful businessman who devoted himself to charity, founding the National Society for the Education of the Poor and the Church Room Society, and was active in such organizations as the Society for Propagation of the Gospel, the Clergy Orphan School and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. He counted among his close friends the Bishop of Calcutta. ********** Elegantly written on a blank sheet. Folded with some slight show through from prior mounting on the verso. In very good condition and rare.