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 the 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 Bengali language was written and taught. His book ‘Borno Porichoy’ (Introduction to the Alphabet) is still used as the introductory text to teach 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 bought 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 the 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. Vidayasagar 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. 1 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. 2 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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