Short Biography of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a towering personality that still shines bright. He was a far-sighted social reformer, philosopher, philanthropist, and educationalist with a modern vision. Throughout his long life he stood for morality, honest character, truthfulness, social reforms, unselfishness, and liberalism. He had a heart of Himalayan magnanimity. A son of the soil, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was, with a vast career of learning the first modernly refined man not only of Bengal but also of India.
Birth, Education & Activities
In the history of enlightened personalities, Vidyasagar finds a unique niche. He was born on 26th day of September, 1820. He was known as Ishwar Chandra Bandopadhyay.
The rustic boy of Thakurdas Bandopadhyay and Bhagabati Devi of Birsingha, Midnapore rose to inimitable eminence through hazards of poverty.
He was an obstinate boy. He had turned his obstinacy into rock-like strength of character that would not stoop to any adverse state of affairs.
During the period from 1829 to 1841, Ishwar Chandra studied Vedanta, Vyakaran, Literature, Rhetoric’s, Smriti and Ethics in Sanskrit College. And in 1839 the title ‘Vidyasagar’ was conferred on him for his unusual talent.
He was appointed as the Head Pandit of the Fort William College on 29th December, 1841. Soon he learnt English and Hindi.
In 1846 Vidyasagar was employed to grace the chair of the assistant secretary of the Sanskrit College. Although a Sanskrit scholar he had a remarkable proficiency in English and very few people could recite Shakespeare like him.
His first books ‘Betal Panchabingsati’ saw the light of the day in 1847. In 1851 Vidyasagar became a professor and later on the Principal of the Sanskrit College.
Vidyasagar came of an obscure orthodox Brahmin family in Midnapore. Yet he won the heart of the Bengali people by dint of his versatile activities. He roused the Bengali people from the caves of idleness and ignorance.
In his character of extra-ordinariness were reconciled the opposite: love and heroism, tenderness and manliness, precept and practice, action and contemplation.
His contribution in the field of education, particularly modern education and women’s education is great. His was one the most important personalities of Bengal Renaissance. The efforts of Vidyasagar in reforming the society is praiseworthy.
He did much to improve the low status and position of women in India. No parallel could be found to match his humanly kindness with which Vidyasagar carried on a lifelong crusade against polygamy and a campaign for widow-remarriage. Earlier in the society, the widowed women were forced to lead a poor life. But, with the introduction of widow-remarriage in the society, there was an overall improvement in the life of women at large.
He strongly protested against polygamy. He tried to prove that polygamy was against the ancient scriptures of the Hindus. His social awareness campaigns persuaded the people to lead a moral life.
The old and the new, tradition as well as modernity combined to produce this great sentinel of the last century.
Vidyasagar tried to make people rational, bold and fearless. Vidyasagar invented Bengali prose through translation as well as own writings. His translations are actually trans-creations.
Sakuntala is a facile prose translation of Kalidas.
He died on July 29, 1891.
We get the opportunity to re-estimate Vidyasagar in a new light and arrange for seminars and debate-societies for disseminating Vidyasagar’s thoughts and ideas among the rising generation.
Various organizations must hold a mirror before the degenerating society so that it could re-think and re-establish the relevance of the mighty son of Bengali prose.