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GREAT INDIAN PERSONALITIES : Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

A Picture of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

For more than a century, till now, one book that exists in every Bengali household is the "Barna Parichoy" for little children by pundit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. Vidyasagar was not just a writer of children books; he was an institution in a human form.

On one hand he protested against all the social evils to uplift the Bengali society and on the other hand he was the ultimate educationist that Bengal had. A philanthropist by nature, Vidyasagar funded Michael Madhusudan Datta, who later was highly acclaimed for his poetry. He revolutionized bangla 'gadya' or prose by converting it into a simple form and made it accessible to every body.

Born of poor Brahmin parents on 26th September, Ishwarchandra Bandopadhay completed his early studies in the village 'pathshala' & moved to Kolkata for higher studies. Under eminent professors he completed his graduation and earned the title 'Vidyasagar' or the ocean of knowledge. Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar studied further the classical languages like Persian and Sanskrit and then went on to become a professor himself.

An educationist par excellence, Vidyasagar wrote books for almost all age groups starting from "Bodhodoy", "Kathamala", and "Barna Parichoy" for the beginners, translated 'Raghuvangsa', 'Kumarsambhav', 'Kadambari', 'Meghdoot', 'UttarRamcharit' and 'Avigyana Shakuntalam' from Sanskrit to Bengali. In the period between 1854-55 he single-handedly wedged a battle against the extremist of the Hindu society and insisted in the implementation of the Widow-Remarriage Act in 1856.

Three images of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar

He became a founder-member when Calcutta University was established in 1857. Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar also founded the Calcutta Training School, which later was renamed as Vidyasagar College. Pundit Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar was an enigma who single-handedly reformed the Bengali society. Armed with futuristic views and farsightedness he implemented the best of the English culture in the Bengali society. Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar had the nerves of steel, which helped him to fight against the odds that came in his ways. The icon of Bengali culture breathed his last on 29th July 1891.