Ishwar Chandra Death Anniversary: Remembering the social reformer through his contributions to society

Vidyasagar was a social reformer who greatly contributed towards betterment of women in society during the 19th Century.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Thursday, July 28, 2022, 04:30 PM IST
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Ishwar Chandra Death Anniversary: Remembering the social reformer through his contributions to society | Wikimedia Commons

Social reformer, writer, philosopher, educator and what not, Ishawar Chandra Vidyasagar in his lifetime achieved great feats. Vidyasagar, who was born as Ishwar Chandra Bandyopadhyay, passed away in Calcutta (now Kolkata) at the age of 70.

The septuagenarian educator was born to impoverished Brahmin family in West Bengal’s Paschim Midnapore district. Ishwar Chandra was given the name Vidyasagar which means “ocean of knowledge” by his villagers since he was expert in many subjects.

Vidyasagar who worked as a teacher, had cleared law exam and taught at Fort William College; he was the head of Sanskrit Department there.

Not many are acquainted with the reformer who greatly contributed towards betterment of women in society during the 19th Century. Ahead of his death anniversary, let’s take a look at contributions.

Contributions of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar to society

Vidyasagar championed the cause of education, especially for girls. He with other reformers—Ramgopal Ghosh, Madan Mohan Tarkalankar and others founded schools for girls in the 19th Century.

Vidyasagar who had also been faculty at Sanskrit College had opened up premises of the college to persons from lower caste; this hadn’t been done before and was one of the reasons of his discord with Rasomoy Dutta, head of the college.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was of the view that irrespective of one’s gender or caste, everyone had the right to received education which is now recognised as a Constitutional right.

He worked relentlessly for social emancipation; he contributed greatly towards women upliftment and also promoted widow remarriage. He was vocal about widow remarriage because young widows were mistreated and subjected to cruelty after their husbands’ demise.

Most of these young widows would flee from their homes and take up sex work to support themselves. In 1853 it was believed that Kolkata had around 12,718 sex workers.

Reportedly, he would use proceeds of his scholarships to buy medicines for sick and feed the impoverished. It is no surprise that after his house was sold by his kin eventually was used as school for girls and a homeopathic clinic was established there.

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