posted by Oindrilla Bhowmick, last updated on August 18th, 2015 at 5:50 pm
Despite stepping into the 21st century, India still struggles to overcome the social taboos that prevent a large population of the country from enjoying the democratic rights guaranteed by the Indian constitution. Social stigmas like widow remarriage still dominate many parts of India where widows are ostracized from society and prevented from leading normal lives.
Social reformists have for long tried to do away with this practice. At a time when India was entrenched in such social dogmas, reformists like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar stood in the forefront of this battle. Here’s a look at some of the social reformists that have made their contribution towards eradicating this age-old tradition over the years.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy: One of the few social reformers of his time, Raja Ram Mohan Roy vehemently fought against the abolition of the sati system and spoke in favor of widow remarriage. Popularly known as the founder of Brahmo Samaj, Raja Ram Mohan Roy founded the Atmiya Sabha in 1814 that supported the idea of widow remarriage.
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar: A native of Bengal, Vidyasagar wasn’t just a reformer but also a great writer, philosopher, entrepreneur and philanthropist among other things. At a time when men and women did not enjoy equal rights, he fought for the education of girls and legalization of second marriages for widowed women. One of the most learned man of his time, he is considered to be the man who brought about the renaissance in Bengal.
Mahadev Govind Ranade: Known as one of the founding members of Indian National Congress, Justice Ranade greatly advocated social reforms like widow re-marriage and emancipation of lower classes. Born to an orthodox Brahmin family, Ranade while working as a judge for seven years worked for social reforms in the areas like women’s rights, child marriage and widow re-marriage.
Maharishi Karve: A socialist reformer, Dhondo Keshav Karve dedicated his life towards female education and upliftment of the status of widows in India. Ostracized for his reformatory activities by the dominant Brahmin community in Pune, Karve moved to the outskirts of Pune to set up a shelter and school for women including widowed women.
Swami Dayanand Saraswati: Founder of Arya Samaj, Dayanand Saraswati championed the cause of women. At a time when women weren’t allowed to be educated and widow re-marriage was restricted, Dayanand Saraswati fought against all these social evils. An advocate of the vedic philopshy, Dayanand cited the position that women enjoyed during the vedic period and argued in favor for equal rights for women.
The list of social reformers does not end just here. There are many more that have directly or indirectly participated in eradication of these social dogmas and continue to do so even today.
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