Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar : biography
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar CIE ( Ishshor Chôndro Biddashagor 26 September 1820 – 29 July 1891), born Ishwar Chandra Bandopadhyay ( Ishshor Chôndro Bôndopaddhae), 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.
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!"
After death, he is remembered in many ways, some of them include:
- Vidyasagar Setu (commonly known as the Second Hooghly Bridge), is a bridge over the Hooghly River in West Bengal, India. It links the city of Howrah to its twin city of Kolkata. The bridge is named after Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.
- A fair named Vidyasagar Mela ( Biddashagor Mêla), 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.
- There is a reputed college named after him and it is located in College Street, Kolkata and a university named Vidyasagar University in Paschim Midnapore.
- Rectitude and courage were the hallmarks of Vidyasagar's character, and he was certainly ahead of his time. In recognition of his scholarship and cultural work the government designated Vidyasagar a Companion of the Indian Empire (CIE) in 1877 In the final years of life, he chose to spend his days among the "Santhals", an old tribe in India.
- There is Vidyasagar Street in Central Kolkata, which is named after him.
- The Paschimbanga State Government has established a stadium named after this great man (বিদ্যাসাগর ক্রীড়াঙ্গন- Vidyasagar Stadium) at Barasat, the district center of Uttar 24 Pargana.
Bengali alphabet and language reconstruction
Vidyasagar reconstructed the Bengali alphabet and reformed Bengali typography into an alphabet (actually abugida) of twelve vowels and forty consonants. Vidyasagar contributed significantly to Bengali and Sanskrit literature.Vidyasagar's "Barna Porichoy" is still considered a classic.
Books authored by Vidyasagar
- Betaal Panchabinsati (1847)
- Bangala-r Itihaas (1848)
- Jeebancharit (1850)
- Bodhadoy (1851)
- Upakramanika (1851)
- Shakuntala (1855)
- Bidhaba Bibaha Bishayak Prostab (1890)
- Barnaparichay (Parts I & II, 1855)
- Rijupath (Parts I, II & III, 1851–52)
- Sanskrita Byakaraner Upakramanika (1951)
- Byakaran Kaumudi (1853)
Vidyasagar in Calcutta and many other reformers in Bombay set up schools for girls. Vidhyasagar was associated with other reformers, who founded schools for girls like Ramgopal Ghosh, Madan Mohan Tarkalankar, Dakshinaranjan Mukherjee, John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune and others. When the first schools were opened in the mid nineteenth century, many people were afraid of them. They feared that schools would take away girls from home and prevent them from doing their domestic duties. Moreover, girls would have to travel through public places in order to reach school. They thought that girls should stay away from public spaces. Therefore, most educated women were taught at home by their liberal fathers or husbands.
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