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Friday 28 September 2012

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar : Ocean of Knowledge who famous around India , Sind river of Kindness, True friend of poor people

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar:

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (Born 26 September 1820 – 29 July 1891), was an Indian Bengali polymath and a key figure of the Bengal Renaissance.Vidyasagar was a philosopher, academic, educator, writer, translator, printer, publisher, entrepreneur, reformer, and philanthropist. His efforts to simplify and modernize Bengali prose were significant. He also rationalized and simplified the Bengali alphabet and type, which had remained unchanged since Charles Wilkins and Panchanan Karmakar had cut the first (wooden) Bengali type in 1780. He received the title "Vidyasagar" ("Ocean of learning" or "Ocean of knowledge") from the Calcutta Sanskrit College (where he graduated), due to his excellent performance in Sanskrit studies and philosophy. In Sanskrit, Vidya means knowledge or learning and Sagar means ocean or sea. This title was mainly given for his vast knowledge in all subjects which was compared to the vastness of the ocean.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar is considered as one of the pillars of Bengal renaissance

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar is considered as one of the pillars of Bengal renaissance. In other words, he managed to continue the reforms movement that was started by Raja Rammohan Roy. Vidyasagar was a well-known writer, intellectual and above all a staunch follower of humanity. He brought a revolution in the education system of Bengal. In his book, "Barno-Porichoy" (Introduction to the letter), Vidyasagar refined the Bengali language and made it accessible to the common strata of the society. The title 'Vidyasagar' (ocean of knowledge) was given to him due to his vast knowledge in almost all the subjects. Poet Michael Madhusudan Dutta while writing about Ishwar Chandra said: "The genius and wisdom of an ancient sage, the energy of an Englishman and the heart of a Bengali mother".

Early life and Education Career:


Picture of Father : Thakurdas Bandyopadhyay and Mother : Smt Bhagabati Debi of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Ishwar Chandra was born to Thakurdas Bandyopadhyay and Bhagavati Devi at Birsingha village, in the Ghatal subdivision of Paschim Midnapore District, on 26 September 1820.Thakurdas was employed in a shop in Burrabazar and had a meagre income of approximately eight rupees per month. The childhood days of Ishwar were hence spent in abject poverty. He joined a local school run by Kalikanta Chattopadhyay at the age of five. After a year he fell ill with chronic fever and inflammation of the spleen. When he didn't recover even after six months, his maternal grandfather took him for Ayurvedic treatment. He recovered completely within three months and subsequently returned to Birsingha. Thereafter he continued his studies in the same school till the age of eight.

Picture of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and His wife Smt Dinamayee Debi


After his grandfather's demise, Thakurdas decided to take Ishwar to Calcutta for further studies. They set forth on foot from Birsingha. Interestingly, he learned English numbers by following the mile-stones labels on his way to Calcutta.

In Calcutta, Ishwar started living in Bhagabat Charan's house in Burrabazar, where Thakurdas had already been staying for some years. Ishwar felt at ease amidst Bhagabat's large family and settled down comfortably in no time. Bhagabat's youngest daughter Raimoni's motherly and affectionate feelings towards Ishwar touched him deeply and had a strong influence on his later revolutionary work towards the upliftment of women's status in India.

His quest for knowledge was so intense that he used to study on street light as it was not possible for him to afford a gas lamp at home. He cleared all the examinations with excellence and in quick succession. He was rewarded with a number of scholarships for his academic performance. To support himself and the family Ishwar Chandra also took a part-time job of teaching at Jorashanko.

In the year 1839, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar successfully cleared his Law examination. In 1841, at the age of twenty one years, Ishwar Chandra joined the Fort William College as a head of the Sanskrit department.

Picture of Vidyasagar at Young Age with his Signature


After five years, in 1846, Vidyasagar left Fort William College and join the Sanskrit College as 'Assistant Secretary'. In the first year of service, Ishwar Chandra recommended a number of changes to the existing education system. This report resulted into a serious altercation between Ishwar Chandra and College Secretary Rasomoy Dutta. In 1849, he again joined Sanskrit College, as a professor of literature. In 1851, Iswar Chandra became the principal of Sanskrit College. In 1855, he was made special inspector of schools with additional charges. But following the matter of Rasomoy Dutta, Vidyasagar resigned from Sanskrit College and rejoined Fort William College,as a head clerk.

Teacher at Fort William College for civilians. Then at Sanskrit College. His strictness, fairness and enthusiasm for work. Became Principal of Sanskrit College and also Inspector of Schools. His spirit of independence: his minutes on education are documents of permanent value. Disagreement with the Director of Public Instruction led to his resignation. Thereafter earned economic independence as an author of educational textbooks in Bengali as also as printer and publisher.

Picture when Principal of Sanskrit College and also Inspector of Schools



Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar initiated the concept of widow remarriage and raised concern for the abolition of child-marriage and polygamy. He also opened the doors of the colleges and other educational institutions to lower caste students, which was earlier reserved only for the Brahmins. For his immense generosity and kind-heartedness, people started addressing him as "Dayar Sagar" (ocean of kindness).

With valuable moral support from people like Akshay Kumar Dutta, Vidyasagar introduced the practice of widow remarriages to mainstream Hindu society. In earlier times, remarriages of widows would occur sporadically only among progressive members of the Brahmo Samaj. The prevailing deplorable custom of Kulin Brahmin polygamy allowed elderly men -- sometimes on their deathbeds -- to marry teenage or even prepubescent girls, supposedly to spare their parents the shame of having an unmarried girl attain puberty in their house. After such marriages, these girls would usually be left behind in their parental homes, where they might be cruelly subjected to orthodox rituals, especially if they were subsequently widowed. These included a semi starvation diet, rigid and dangerous daily rituals of purity and cleanliness, hard domestic labour, and close restriction on their freedom to leave the house or be seen by strangers. Unable to tolerate the ill treatment, many of these girls would run away and turn to prostitution to support themselves. Ironically the economic prosperity and lavish lifestyles of the city made it possible for many of them to have quite successful careers once they had stepped out of the sanction of society and into the demi-monde. In 1853 it was estimated that Calcutta had a population of 12,718 prostitutes and public women.

Vidyasagar took the initiative in proposing and pushing through the Widow Remarriage Act XV of 1856 in India .

Alphabet Reform :

Vidyasagar was a first-rate linguist . He reconstructed the Bengali alphabet and reformed Bengali typography into an alphabet of twelve vowels and forty consonants.

Vidyasagar contributed significantly to Bengali and Sanskrit literature.

Rectitude and courage were the hallmarks of Vidyasagar's character, and he was certainly ahead of his time.

In the final years of life, he chose to spend his days among the Santhals, an old tribe in India .

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!"

A fair named Vidyasagar Mela which is dedicated to spreading education and increasing social awareness has been held annually in West Bengal since 1994. Since 2001, it has been held simultaneously in Kolkata and Birsingha. 

Book Cover of Collection of His Works

Books Authored By Vidyasagar:

Betal Panchabinshati (1847)

Page From His Book Kathamala

Jiban Charit (1850)
Akhayan Manjari (Part 1 to 3)
Bangala-r Itihaas (1848)
Shakuntala (1855)
Bidhaba Bibaha Bishayak Prostab (1855)
Upakramanika (1851)
Mahabharata (1860),
Seetar Vanavas (1860),
Bhrantivilaas (1869),
Oti Alpa Hoilo (1873),
Aabaar Oti Alpa Hoilo (1873)
 Brajavilaas (1884)
 Ratnopariksha (1886).

Text Books:

First Page of Vidyasagar`s Famous Book Barnaparichay


Barnaparichay (Part 1 and Part 2) (1855)
Sanskrit Byakaran Upakamanika
Byakaran Kaumudi

Sri Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was complete Educator, Reformer and great man of excellence. He not only gave easy and scientific form to modern Bengali Language Through his Great Children text Barnaparichay but also he was taken very major steps toward Women Education (He sponsored many Women education institution from his own Income). 

Vidyasagar was taken very major steps toward Women Education (He sponsored many Women education institution from his own Income).

He done many social Reforms like Widow Marriage after Raja Rammohon Roy. His immense love and respect towards his Mother Sri Bhagabati Devi inspired him for social reform for those helpless Women of  India.

His Text Books Like  Barnaparichay (Part 1 and Part 2) and Byakaran Kaumudi worked as a Mother`s Milk  for Bengali Mother Tongue. Barnaparichay (Part 1 and Part 2) and Byakaran Kaumudi  nourished and developed Bengali language to its modern scientific form. Every Bengali child who learned Bengali as Mother Tongue take some milk of knowledge from this unique and Beatiful Books.

Writing of Great Poet Rabindranath Tagore on Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar


Great Bengali Poet Rabindranath Tagore Mentioned him as a main Sculptor and Artist who shaped the modern form of Bengali Language.

Cover of Book On Vidyasagar written by Sankariprasad Basu

Sankariprasad Basu in his book Rasasagar Vidyasagar (Bengali) beautifully described the lighter sides of the great Man.

 Poet Michael Madhusudan Dutta wrote him as Ocean of Knowledge who famous around India , Sind river of Kindness, True friend of poor people.  Vidyasagar Helped the great poet during his needy days.

House of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar


  1. Hello,
    This is an urgent request from BBC Worldwide. I would like to speak to you about the images in your blog. I am hoping you can help me with a show we are producing.
    Please do let me know how I can contact you

  2. Hello,
    I hope you will answer my question soon... Do you have historical pictures of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar?



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