Where Is the Resting Place of Raja Ram Mohan Roy?
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was originally buried on 18 October 1833, in the grounds of Stapleton Grove where he had died of meningitis on 27 September 1833. Nine and a half years later he was reburied on 29 May 1843 in a grave at the new Arnos Vale Cemetery, in Brislington, East Bristol. A large plot on The Ceremonial Way there, had been bought by William Carr and William Prinsep, and the body in its lac and lead coffin was placed later in a deep brick-built vault, over seven feet underground.
Two years after this, Dwarkanath Tagore helped pay for the chattri raised above this vault, although there is no record of his ever visiting Bristol. The chattri was designed by the artist William Prinsep, who had known Ram Mohan in Calcutta. There is a 1933 Brahmo plaque on the outside west wall of Stapleton Grove, and his first burial place in the garden is marked by railings and a granite memorial stone. His tomb and chattri at Arnos Vale are listed Grade II* by English Heritage, and attract many admiring visitors today.
The Indian High Commission often comes to the annual Commemoration of the Raja in September, whilst Bristol’s Lord Mayor is always in attendance. The Commemoration is a joint Brahmo-Unitarian service for about 100 people. Brahmo and Unitarian prayers and hymns are sung before the tomb, flowers are laid, and the life of the Raja celebrated in a service. In 2013 a recently discovered ivory bust of Ram Mohan was displayed, in 2014 his original death mask at Edinburgh was filmed and its history discussed.
In September 2008, representatives from the Indian High Commission came to Bristol to mark the 175th anniversary of Ram Mohan Roy’s death. During the ceremony Brahmo and Unitarian prayers were recited and songs of Ram Mohan and other Brahmosangeet were performed. Following on from this visit the Mayor of Kolkata, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya (who was amongst the representatives from the India High Commission) decided to raise funds to restore the mausoleum.
In 1828, Raja Ram Mohan Roy founded the Brahmo Samaj movement, which engendered the Brahmo Samaj, an influential social-religious reform movement. His influence was apparent in the fields of politics, public administration and education as well as religion. He was known for his efforts to abolish the practice of sati, the Hindu funeral practice in which the widow was compelled to sacrifice herself in her husband’s funeral pyre in some parts of Bengal.