Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar Birthday: Know why Vidyasagar is relevant even today

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It is said that a teacher can change society. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar is an excellent example in India, who did many such works in education, like making women’s education, widow marriage law in India, for which he is still remembered in Bengal. He was a great philosopher, polytheist, educationist, social reformer, and writer of the 19th century who is still remembered as an inspiration. His contribution is so significant and widespread that, he is relevant not only for Bengal but even today for the entire country. The country is celebrating its birthday on 26 September.

Vidyasagar was born in a Brahmin family on 26 September 1820 in the Medinipur district of Bengal. At the age of nine, he came to Calcutta with his father. Due to financial constraints in the family, he did his studies sitting under street lights. But these obstacles could not stop the education of the brilliant Ishwachandra.

Ishwar Chandra to Vidyasagar

His childhood name was Ishwarchandra Bandyopadhyay. But due to his expertise in Sanskrit and philosophy, he came to be called Vidyasagar in his student life. He completed his law studies at the age of 19 and began his work as the head of the Sanskrit department at Fort Lyme College at the age of 21. After this, he became a professor of Sanskrit in the Sanskrit College of Calcutta and later became the principal of the same college.

Contribution to Bangla Language
Vidyasagar is called the father of Bengali prose. His book ‘Varna Parichay’ is still recognized as the first book for Bengali children for 160 years. He gave the simplest form to the letters of the Bengali alphabet. Also, he promoted Bengali education by giving modern form to Bengali prose.

He was also a great translator
Vidyasagar translated many Sanskrit books into Bengali, in which Kalidasa’s translation of Shakuntala is prominently remembered. He wrote two books on atrocities against widows. He was a big advocate for girl’s education, and he established about 25 schools.

Believed in God or not

He did not believe in God, but still, he did a lot for the people. But the way he taught Sanskrit, translated Sanskrit literature and validated widow marriage with classical evidence. It is difficult to believe that he was an atheist. But it is also true that he supported modern education and was a staunch opponent of Hinduism’s rituals, traditions, and evils

For widow marriage
When Vidyasagar started raising his voice for widows, he had to face opposition from the fundamentalists. He scrutinized the scriptures to prove widow marriage valid. He successfully extracted arguments from Parashara Samhita, according to which ‘widow marriage was righteous.’ The Widow-Remarriage Act was passed in 1856 due to his efforts.

He had great sympathy for the widows. His efforts for the education of girls were remarkable, and he even opposed child marriage. Even after the widow-remarriage law, when people did not show seriousness towards it, he first got his friend married to a 10-year-old widow and then got his son married to a widow.