Iswarchandra Vidyasagar is remembered as one of the most distinguished educators, writers, and social reformers of nineteenth-century India.
A unique combination of fearlessness, compassion, conformism, and crusading zeal, Vidyasagar was firmly convinced that the rational-scientific knowledge of the contemporary West would bring about a social and moral reordering of traditional Hindu society.
Vidyasagar: Reflections on a Notable Life takes a fresh look at the life of this well-known and revered figure to both re-establish Vidyasagar’s greatness and explore the multiple ways in which posterity has assessed his ‘greatness’.
This biography focuses on Vidyasagar’s lasting contributions to education and pedagogy, to the writing of highly popular school textbooks, his close friendships with some of the most prominent Indians and high-ranking British officials of the time; his humanism and his humanitarianism; and, of course, his social reform projects directed at improving the status of Hindu women—promoting female education, the abolition of child marriages, advocating marriage for upper-caste Hindu widows, and opposing multiple marriages among men.
Vidyasagar’s legacy continues to be important in the way it reveals the complex play of history, affect and memory, vitally shaping our attempts at understanding ourselves.Contents: Preface
2. A Luminous Life Lived in Full
3. Thoughts on Education
4. Vidyasagar and the Woman Question
Postscript: Was Vidyasagar an Atheist?
Appendix 1: Iswarchandra Vidyasagar: A Historical Chronology
Appendix 2: Works of Iswarchandra Vidyasagar
Appendix 3: Miscellaneous Information Related to the Number and Social Composition of Students at the Calcutta Sanskrit College, Metropolitan Institution, and Bethune School
Appendix 4: Three Letters from Vidyasagar in Translation on the Issues of Marriage and Conjugality