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Day 2 – Q 1.What role did Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, a key figure of the Bengal Renaissance, play for the emancipation of women? Discuss.

1. What role did Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, a key figure of the Bengal Renaissance, play for the emancipation of women? Discuss.

महिलाओं के उद्धार के लिए बंगाल पुनर्जागरण की प्रमुख शख्सियत ईश्वर चंद्र विद्यासागर ने क्या भूमिका निभाई? चर्चा करें।


Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a 19th century intellectual. He was a Sanskrit scholar, writer, academic educator, translator, humanist pundit, publisher, printer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and social reformer.He was a British Indian Bengali polymath and the main pillar of Bengali renaissance. He was perhaps the first Indian reformer to put forward the issues of women.


  • Education: He realized that the society could not develop if women denied the values of education. He personally met the parents of girls and requesting them to send their daughter to school for education. He donated his large portion of salary to educational reforms.
  • Schools: In 1855 he was made special inspector of schools, he opened a number of new schools, including girls’ schools, in the districts under his charge. He started the first school for girl’s education in Calcutta in 1849.
  • Widow Remarriage: He played a great role in the passing of the law which made the marriage of widows legal, The Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, 1856. He argued, on the basis of scriptures and old commentaries, in favour of the remarriage of widows in the same way as Roy did for the abolition of Sati. He showed that there was no prohibition on widows remarrying in the entire body of ‘Smriti’ literature (the Sutras and the Shastras).
  • 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.
  • Awareness: He wrote many articles for newspapers and associated with journalistic publications like Tattwabadhini Patrika, samprakash, sarbashubhankarr Patrika and Hindu patriot to bring social and educational reforms with regards to the women.
  • Vocational education: He lobbied hard for opening of school for girls and even outlined suitable curriculum that not only did educate them, but also enabled them to be self-reliant through vocations like needlework.
  • Social status: He campaigned against polygamy.
  • Tribal women: Vidyasagar spent the last 18 years of his life living among Santhal tribals in present day Jharkhand, where he started what is possibly India’s first school for Santhal girls.


Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a true reformer who contributed his whole life for the betterment of the society, especially women.

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