ishwar-chandra-vidyasagar

In News: The giant statue of Ishwar Chandra was recently vandalized by some political goons in Kolkata.

About Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar:

  • He was the 19th century intellectual who was perhaps one of the first Indian reformers to put forward the issues of women.
  • He spent his life’s energies trying to ensure an end to the practice of child marriage and initiate widow remarriage. 
  • Vidyasagar’s Bengali primer, Borno Porichoy, till date remains the introduction to Bengali Alphabets for the majority of children. 
  • He was a polymath who reconstructed the modern Bengali alphabet and initiated path breaking reform in traditional upper caste Hindu society.
  • He studied Sanskrit grammar, literature, Vedanta philosophy, logic, astronomy, and Hindu law for more than 12 years at Sanskrit College in Calcutta, and received the title of Vidyasagar — Ocean of Learning — at the age of just 21.
  • Privately, he studied English literature and philosophy and was appointed principal of Sanskrit College in 1851, at just 31 years of age.

His Contribution towards Social Reform:

  • Child Marriage: He launched a powerful attack on the practice of marrying off girls aged 10 or even younger, pointing to social, ethical, and hygiene issues, and rejecting the validity of the Dharma Shastras that advocated it. 
  • Widow Remarriage: He showed that there was no prohibition on widows remarrying in the entire body of ‘Smriti’ literature (the Sutras and the Shastras).
    • He campaigned vigorously and played a pivotal role in getting The Hindu Widows Remarriage Act passed in 1856. 
    • He also campaigned against polygamy.