Biography of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar - A Great Reformist of Bengal


Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar is not only a great writer but also a great reformist of Bengal in 19 the century. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar is considered as one of the spearhead of Bengal renaissance.

The man who wrote "Barnaparichay", a first ideal and composed books of Bengali Alphabets, born on 26th September, 1820 in Virsinghagram of Midnapore District in Bengal. His original name was Ishwar Chandra Bandhyapadhyay. "Vidyasagar" was the title which was conferred to him in later part of his life and he was popular among Bengalis as that title. His father Thakurdas Bandhapadhyoy was not so rich. Their family was a middle-class family. But that couldn't stop Vidyasagar to achieve education. His mother Mrinalini Devi was also a woman of high personality. Even his grandfather Ramjoy Tarkalankar was also highly educated man and use to possess high reputation in the society at his times.
Ishwar was so keen to read and study books that he used to learn even under the street-lights. Impressed by his talents, Thakurdas admitted him in Sanskrit College in Kolkata when he was eight years old for better education. He even satisfied his father by receiving good results and scholarships. Later, in 1839 he cleared the law examination when he was twenty-one years old. He could read, speak and learn Sanskrit, English and Bengali.
In 1841, Vidyasagar started teaching Sanskrit at Fort William College in Kolkata (Calcutta) as a pundit (professor). Later he joined the Sanskrit College as Assistant Secretary in 1846. After one year, he and his friend, Madan Mohan Tarkalankar set up a print shop and a bookstore named the Sanskrit Press and Depository.
Vidyasagar was known to Bengalis more as great reformist. At first Sanskrit college was only for Brahmins, a high caste of the society. But he opened the door for all cast to study there. He wanted study for all, irrespective of caste and class. He used to help a lot to poor people. For that he used to known as "Dayar sagar" which mean ocean of kindness. At that time widow couldn't marriage again and lead a disastrous life. They couldn't wear fashionable sarees, ornaments and used to have only fruits and spiceless boiled food. Vidyasagar fought for the rights of widow to remarry again, and he succeeded in attaining that rights when Widow Remarriage Act was passed. He also fight in favour of abolition of child-marriage and polygamy.
Vidyasagar was also a great writer. Some of his works are : Betaal Panchavinsati (1847), Banglar Itihaas (1848), Jivancharita (1849), Shakuntala (1854), Mahabharata (1860), Seetar Vanavas (1860), Bhrantivilaas (1869), Oti Alpa Hoilo (1873), Aabaar Oti Alpa Hoilo (1873), Brajavilaas (1884) and Ratnopariksha (1886). His " Barnaparichoy" was a first book of the Bengali alphabet to introduce children to the alphabetical letters of the Bangla Language. The term "Barna" means Letter (of the alphabets) and "Parichoy" means Introduction. Some of his Social Reform Monologues are: Bidhobabivah (Widow Remarriage – on widows' rights to remarry) the First Exposure (1855), Bidhobabivah – (Widow Remarriage – on widows' rights to remarry) the Second Book (1855), Bahubivah - (on Banning of Polygamy) the First Exposure (1871), Bahubivah – (on Banning of Polygamy) the Second Book (1873), Balyabivah (on the Flaws of Child Marriage).
This man who kept his marks in education, culture, religion, ethics or literature was passed away on one rainy night of 29th July, 1892. To describe this great loss Rabindranath Tagore said, "One wonders how God, in the process of producing forty million Bengalis, produced a man!"


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