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Changing Lives of Widows in India

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  • Last Updated : 21 Jul, 2022

Two hundred years ago, women’s rights were drastically different. Many young children were getting married. In some areas of the region, women were forced to practice Sati. Additionally, women had limited property rights and little access to education. The “upper castes” were thought to be Brahmans and Kshatriyas. 

They were followed by others, such as traders and moneylenders (also known as Vaishyas). Then came farmers and skilled workers like Shudra weavers and potters. Finally, people on the bottom level worked for upper castes or to maintain the security of towns and villages. The higher castes saw these groups as “untouchable.”

Changing the Lives of Widows

Indian reformers and reform organizations frequently started these discussions. Raja Rammohan Roy was one of these reformers (1772-1833). In Calcutta, he established the Brahmo Sabha, a reform organization that would later become the Brahmo Samaj. 

People like Rammohan Roy are referred to as reformers because they believed that society needed to change and that unfair practices needed to end. They believed that convincing individual to abandon long-standing habits and take up new ones would be the most effective approach to bring about these changes.

Rammohan Roy was active in promoting Western education throughout the nation and developing women’s equality and independence. He talked about how women were expected to do domestic duties, kept inside and in the kitchen, and prevented from leaving the house and pursuing an education. Raja Rammohan Roy was responsible for bringing attention to the situation of widows in India. Let’s look at how Sati was eliminated and widow remarriage was supported:

The difficulties widows encountered in their life truly touched Rammohan Roy. He took the offensive against the sati culture. Sanskrit, Persian, as well as a number of other Indian and European languages, were among Rammohan Roy’s greatest strengths. Through his publications, he sought to explain that ancient literature did not support the practice of burning widows.

Many British authorities had already started to question Indian traditions and practices by the first decade of the nineteenth century. As a result, they were eager to hear Rammohan, who was thought to be a scholarly man. Sati was prohibited in 1829. Later reformers followed Rammohan lead and employed the same method. They searched the old sacred scriptures for a line or sentence that supported their position if they wanted to object to a behavior that sounded unpleasant. They went on to say that the current form of the practice was against ancient practice.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, one of the most well-known reformers, suggested that widows might remarry based on ancient literature. British officials followed his recommendation, and legislation allowing widow remarriage was approved in 1856. Vidyasagar was criticized by those who disapproved of widow remarriage, and some even blacklisted him. The campaign in favor of widow remarriage began to take hold in various regions of the nation during the second half of the nineteenth century. 

Veerasalingam Pantulu established an organization for widow remarriage in the Telugu-speaking regions of the Madras Presidency. At about the same time, young thinkers and reformers in Bombay vowed to support the same cause.  Swami Dayanand Saraswati, who established the reform group known as Arya Samaj in the north, backed widow remarriage as well. The number of widows who did, however, remarriage continued to shrink. Marriage was not fully recognized, and conservative organizations continued to criticize the new law.

Sample Questions

Question 1: What are Rammohan Roy’s strengths, and what was explained through his publications?

Answer:

Sanskrit, the Persian, as well as a number of other Indian and European languages, were among Rammohan Roy’s greatest strengths. Through his publications, he sought to explain that ancient literature did not support the practice of burning widows.

Question 2: How is Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar suggestion of widow marriage kept going?

Answer:

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, one of the most well-known reformers, suggested that widows might remarry based on ancient literature. British officials followed his recommendation, and legislation allowing widow remarriage was approved in 1856. Vidyasagar was criticized by those who disapproved of widow remarriage, and some even blacklisted him. The campaign in favor of widow remarriage began to take hold in various regions of the nation during the second half of the nineteenth century. 

Question 3: How was Sati was prohibited?

Answer:

Raja Rammohun Roy was responsible for bringing attention to the situation of widows in India.

Many British authorities had already started to question Indian traditions and practices by the first decade of the nineteenth century. As a result, they were eager to hear Rammohun, who was thought to be a scholarly man. Sati was prohibited in 1829.

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