Unseen Passage: Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Great people are born to produce an influence on society. One such personality, who was so humble and lived his complete life with determination and purpose to achieve certain aims was Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. He was a great social reformer, writer, educator and worked endlessly to transform society. He strongly protested against polygamy and child marriage. He favoured widow remarriage and women’s education in India. The Widow Remarriage Act was passed in 1856 making the marriage of widows legal because of his efforts to solve these problems.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar refined the way the Bengali language was written and taught. His book ‘Borno Porichoy’ (Introduction to the Alphabet) is still used as the introductory text to teach the Bengali alphabet. Thus, he brought about a revolution in the Bengali Education System. Vidyasagar is credited with the role of completely changing the old method of teaching which prevailed in Sanskrit College. As a professor in Sanskrit College, he brought a modern outlook into the method of teaching. He included English and Bengali as mediums of learning, besides Sanskrit. He, also, introduced courses in European History, Philosophy and Science alongside Vedic scriptures. He encouraged students to study these subjects and make the best of both worlds.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a strong advocate of women education. He rightly viewed education as the primary way for women to achieve emancipation from the society’s oppression they had to face at that time. He exercised his power to open schools for girls and even outlined suitable curriculum to educate them. He went from door to door, requesting heads of families to allow their daughters to be enrolled in schools.

Ishwar Chandra was a man who defined his own path of action. He never listened to what others said about his work and made decisions based on his own judgement. He was famous for all these qualities. He was also known for his great courage. Vidyasagar had a very soft heart that sympathized with those in trouble. He was easily moved to tears when he saw someone in pain and was always the first one to offer his help to colleagues and friends in distress. After his death, Rabindranath Tagore said, “One wonders how God, in the process of producing forty million Bengalis, produced a man!”

Q. Answer briefly the following questions:

  1. What kind of life did Ishwar Chandra lead?
  2. What changes did Vidyasagar bring about in the method of teaching at Sanskrit college?
  3. What was Vidyasagar’s contribution as a professor in the Sanskrit college?
  4. How did Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar promote women education?
  5. How can we say that Vidyasagar was a softhearted man?

Answers

  1. He lived a humble and purposeful life.
  2. He brought modern outlook into the method of teaching.
  3. He included English and Bengali as the medium of learning besides Sanskrit/ introduced courses of European History, Philosophy, Science, Vedic scriptures etc.
  4. He opened schools for girls, outlined suitable curriculum to educate them, went from door to door and requested heads of families to send their daughters to schools.
  5. As he always sympathized with those in trouble, we can say that Vidyasagar was a softhearted man.

Q. Answer the following questions:

  1. Why are great people born?
    1. to influence the society
    2. to bring peace to the world
    3. to unite the people
    4. to heal the society
  2. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a _________.
    1. painter, dancer, singer
    2. social reformer, writer, educator
    3. economist, freedom fighter, social reformer
    4. all of these
  3. ‘Bornoporichoy’ is a book on _________.
    1. Bengali history
    1. freedom fighters of Bengal
    2. introductory text to teaching Bengali alphabet
    3. Bengali writers
  4. What changes did Vidyasagar bring about in the method of teaching at Sanskrit college?
    1. started teaching with songs
    2. included Bengali and English as learning mediums
    3. taught through stories
    4. brought modern outlook into the method of teaching
  5. How did Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar promote women education?
    1. wrote books for girls
    2. opened schools for girls
    3. appointed women teachers
    4. all of these
  6. How can we say that Vidyasagar was a soft-hearted man?
    1. sympathised with those in trouble
    2. built hospitals for people
    3. engaged in charity
    4. looked after the old and sick
  7. “One wonders how God, in the process of producing forty million Bengalis, produced a man!”. These words were said for _________.
    1. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
    2. Rabindranath Tagore
    3. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
    4. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee
  8. Which of the following statement is true?
    1. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar always paid attention to what people had to say about his work.
    2. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar made decisions based on his own judgement.
    3. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was an idealist.
    4. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a great economist.
  9. The synonym of the word ‘impression’ in para 1 is _________.
    1. humble
    1. reformer
    2. polygamy
    3. influence
  10. The word which means the same as ‘change’ in para 1 is _________.
    1. transform
    2. favoured
    3. determination
    4. protested
  11. What does the word ‘advocate’ mean?
    1. caretaker
    2. promoter
    3. neighbour
    4. aggressor
  12. The word ‘emancipation’ in para 3 means?
    1. oppression
    2. control
    3. freedom
    4. contribution

Answer

  1. to influence the society
  2. social reformer, writer, educator
  3. introductory text to teaching Bengali alphabet
  4. brought modern outlook into the method of teaching
  5. opened schools for girls
  6. sympathised with those in trouble
  7. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
  8. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar made decisions based on his own judgement.
  9. influence
  10. transform
  11. promoter
  12. freedom

Q. Choose the meaning of the words given below with the help of the options that follow:

  1. Influence
    1. income
    2. inside
    3. impression
    4. attraction
  2. Transform
    1. improve
    2. change
    3. impresschange
    4. insist
  3. Advocate
    1. caretaker
    2. promoter
    3. neighbor
    4. aggressor
  4. Emancipation
    1. oppression
    2. control
    3. freedom
    4. contribution
  5. Distress
    1. unhappiness or pain
    2. safety
    3. calmness
    4. joy

Answer

  1. impression
  2. change
  3. promoter
  4. freedom
  5. unhappiness or pain.

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