M. N. Roy

M. N. Roy books and biography

Manabendra Nath Roy

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Manabendra Nath Roy (March 21, 1887 – January 25, 1954) was an Bengali Indian revolutionary, philosoper, political theorist and activist as well as the exponent of the philosophy of Radical Humanism. He was also an international Communist leader and theorist, though, later, he denounced communism.


Early Days

Born as Narendra Nath Bhattacharya, Roy joined the revolutionary underground movement for Indian national liberation at the age of 18. He was an associate of the legendary Indian revolutionary, Jatindranath Mukherjee or Bagha Jatin. He attempted, in 1915, an armed insurrection against the British, which was crushed. In April 1915, during the First World War, Roy (by using the fictitious name Charles A. Martin) left for Batavia, and then to Shanghai, seeking German arms for Indian revolutionaries. But the intended delivery of the arms was not a success. Not losing heart, Roy, during the next two years, toured in search of armed assistance for Indian revolution in Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Philippines, and the USA. While in Palo Alto, Roy changed his name from Charles A Martin to Manabendra Nath Roy to evade British intelligence.

International Revolutionary

Like Marx he was both and activist and a philosopher; in fact Lenin called him "the Oriental Marx".

Roy played a leading role in revolutionary movements in Mexico, the Middle East, the Soviet Union, Indonesia and China apart from playing a crucial role in forming the emigre Communist Party of India in Tashkent (1920).

In Mexico, Roy made friends with Mexican and American political activists and intellectuals, including the then Mexican president, Venustiano Carranza. Roy later became the General Secretary of Socialist Party of Mexico. In March 1919, he also became close to Michael Borodin, Comintern's emissary to Mexico and founded the Communist Party of Mexico.

In May 1920, he went to Moscow at the invitation of Lenin to attend the second congress of Comintern. There he presented a Supplementary Thesis to Lenin's Theses on The National and Colonial Question. Though initially created a stir, his supplemntary thesis was accepted along with the main thesis presented by Lenin.

Roy rose to occupy the highest offices of the Communist International and led the Commintern's delegation to China (1927). At the same time he authored such Marxist classics as India in Transition (1922), The Future of Indian Politics (1926) and Revolution and Counter-revolution in China (1930); and founded the organ of the emigre Communist Party of India, The Vanguard (and later The Masses) and edited it for seven years (1922-28).

Denouncing Communism

Roy broke with the Communist International in 1929 having publicly opposed the line adopted by the Comintern at its Sixth Congress. Returning to India he spent six years in various prisons during which he wrote a 3000-page draft manuscript provisionally titled The Philosophical Consequence of Modern Science. On his release he campaigned against every variety of authoritarianism, supported the anti-fascist war, drew up a Draft Constitution for free India and the outlines of a decentralist people's plan for economic development.

Radical Humanism

Disillusioned with both bourgeois democracy and communism, he devoted the last years of his life to the formulation of an alternative philosophy which he called Radical Humanism and of which he wrote a detailed exposition in Reason, Romanticism and Revolution.

In his biography, Sibnarayan Ray writes

"If Nehru had his problems, so had Roy. From early life his sharp intellect was matched by a strong will and extra-ordinary self-confidence. It would seem that in his long political career there were only two persons and a half who, in his estimate, qualified to be his mentors. The first was Jatin Mukherji (or Bagha Jatin) from his revolutionary nationalist period; the second was Lenin (...) The half was Josef Stalin..." (In Freedom's Quest: Life of M.N. Roy, Vol. III (Part-I), 2005, p320).

Roy and Second World War

On the onset of the Second World War he asked the people to stand behind the British to fight against fascism. His line was clearly different from the of the mainstream of the national liberation movement, that was launching the Quit India movement at that juncture. According to Roy, a victory for the Germany and the Axis powers would have resulted in the end of democracy worldwide and India would never be independent. In his view to him India was to win her freedom in a free world only. He foresaw that India would attain independence following the defeat of the Axis powers and weakening of the economic base of the British Imperialism.


Roy has been criticized by Koenraad Elst for downplaying and distorting the negative effects of the Islamic conquest of India. [1]


  • Historical Role of Islam
  • India in Transition (1922)
  • The Future of Indian Politics (1926)
  • Revolution and Counter-revolution in China (1930)
  • India and War
  • Alphabet of Fascist Economy
  • Draft Constitution of Free India
  • People's Freedom
  • Poverty or Plenty
  • The Problems of Freedom
  • INA and the August Revolution
  • Jawaharlal Nehru: The Last Battle for Freedom
  • The Scientific Politics
  • New Orientation
  • The Russian Revolution
  • Beyond Marxism
  • New Humanism
  • Reason, Romanticism and Revolution

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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