Women, Caste and Reform - Class VIII

Q. How did Raja Rammohan Roy try to stop the practice of sati?

Ans: Rammohun Roy began a campaign against the practice of sati. Rammohun Roy was well versed in several languages. He tried to show through his writings that the practice of widow burning had no sanction in ancient texts.
By the early nineteenth century, as many British officials had also begun to criticise Indian traditions and customs. They were therefore more than willing to listen to Rammohun who was reputed to be a learned man. In 1829, sati was banned.
Q. Discuss the role of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar as the social reformer.
Ans: One of the most famous reformers, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, used the ancient texts to suggest that widows could remarry. His suggestion was adopted by British officials, and a law was passed in 1856 permitting widow remarriage. By the second half of the nineteenth century, the movement in favour of widow remarriage spread to other parts of the country.
Vidyasagar in Calcutta and many other reformers in Bombay set up schools for girls
Q. How the Indian girls begin going to school?
Ans: Many of the reformers felt that education for girls was necessary in order to improve the condition of women.
Vidyasagar in Calcutta and many other reformers
in Bombay set up schools for girls.
In the latter part of the century, schools for girls
were established by the Arya Samaj in Punjab, and
Jyotirao Phule in Maharashtra.
Some reformers such as Mumtaz Ali reinterpreted verses from the Koran to argue for women’s education.
By the 1880s, Indian women began to enter
universities. Some of them trained to be doctors, some
became teachers. Many women began to write and
publish their critical views on the place of women in
Q. Write about few women who tried to spread women education.
Ans: ● Begums of Bhopal: From the early twentieth century, Muslim women
like the Begums of Bhopal played a notable role in promoting education among women. They founded a primary school for girls at
● Begum Rokeya: Another remarkable woman, Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain started schools for Muslim girls in Patna and Calcutta. She was a fearless critic of conservative ideas, arguing that religious leaders of every faith accorded an inferior place to women.
● Tarabai Shinde: Tarabai Shinde, a woman educated at home at Poona, published a book, Stripurushtulna (A Comparison between Women and Men), criticising the social differences between men and women.
● Pandita Ramabai: Pandita Ramabai, wrote a book about the miserable lives of upper-caste Hindu women.
Q. Discuss about the movement against caste discrimination and injustice during the second half of the 19th century in central India.
Ans: By he second half of the nineteenth century, people from within the Non-Brahman castes began organising movements against caste discrimination, and demanded social equality and justice.
The Satnami movement in Central India was founded by Ghasidas who worked among the leatherworkers and organised a movement to improve their social status.
In eastern Bengal, Haridas Thakur’s Matua sect worked among Chandala cultivators. Haridas questioned Brahmanical texts that supported the caste system.
According to Shri Narayana Guru, all humankind belonged to the same caste. One of his famous statements was: “oru jati, oru matam, oru daivam manushyanu” (one caste, one religion, one god for humankind).
Q. Discuss the role of Jyotirao Phule to promote so called lower castes.
Ans: One of the most vocal amongst the “low-caste” leaders was Jyotirao Phule (1827). On growing up he developed his own ideas about the injustices of caste society.
  1. He set out to attack the Brahmans’ claim that they were superior to others, since they were Aryans.
  2. Phule argued that the Aryans were foreigners, who came from outside the subcontinent, and defeated and subjugated the true children of the country – those who had lived here from before the coming of the Aryans. As the Aryans established their dominance, they began looking at the defeated population as inferior, as low-caste people.
  3. According to Phule, the “upper” castes had no right to their land and power: in reality, the land belonged to indigenous people, the so-called low castes.
  4. The Satyashodhak Samaj, an association Phule founded, propagated caste equality.

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