Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar


Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was born in the Ghatal subdivision of Paschim Midnapore District, on 26 September 1820.He was an Indian Bengali polymath and a key figure in the Bengali Renaissance. He received the titleVidyasagar from the Calcutta Sanskrit College(where he graduated), due to his excellent performance in Sanskrit studies and philosophy. In the year 1839, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar successfully cleared his Law examination. In 1841, at the age of twenty one years, Ishwar Chandra joined Fort William College as head of the Sanskrit department and soon became the principal. He was known to be a very kind hearted man and a humanist  He was also known for his charity and philanthropy as “Daya-r Sagar” or “Karunar Sagar” – ocean of kindness, for his immense generosity. His contributions are:

  1. He was a pioneer in women’s upliftment.
  • He along with other reformers started girl’s schools in bombay and Calcutta.
  • He also encouraged women to study in colleges and personally saw to this.
  • Vidyasagar took the initiative in proposing and pushing the Widow Remarriage Act XV of 1856 (26 July) in India. He also demonstrated that the system of polygamy without restriction was not sanctioned by the ancient Hindu Shastras.
  • Also instrumental in passing of the Special Marriages Act of 1872.

2.Vidyasagar vigorously promoted the idea that regardless of their caste, both men and women should receive the best education. His remarkable clarity of vision is instanced by his brilliant plea for teaching of science, mathematics and the philosophies of John Locke and David Hume, to replace most of ancient Hindu philosophy.   He also set up the Sanskrit Press and Depository, a print shop and a bookstore for this purpose.

  1. A Bengali Connoisseur.Vidyasagar reconstructed the Bengali alphabet and reformed Bengali typography into an alphabet and thus modified the Bengali language. Vidyasagar contributed significantly to Bengali and Sanskrit literature.Vidyasagar’s “Barna Porichoy” is still considered a classic.
  2. He also inspired nationalism through his poetry and was closely acquainted with other reformers such as Prof Madhusudan Dutt, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.

Shortly after Vidyasagar’s death, Rabindranath Tagore reverently wrote about him: “One wonders how God, in the process of producing forty million Bengalis, produced a man!”


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