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Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar Biography

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar Biography Prepared By Suresh Katta

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a famous Indian reformist and philanthropist, born on 26 September 1820 at Birsingha village, Paschim Midnapore District in Bengal province. His father was Thakurdas Bandyopadhyay and Mother Bhagavati Devi. They belonged to an orthodox Brahmin family. At an early age of 6, his parents sent him to Calcutta to live with Bhagabat Charan’s house. He started studies by joining in a local school. Ishwar Chandra influenced a lot by staying in Bhagabat Charan’s family. Especially, Raimoni the youngest daughter of Bhagabat Charan showed a lot of motherly affection towards the boy. This made a immerced influence on Ishwar and was the cause to fight for women’s equal status with the men in Indian society in further years. According to the Hindu customs in those days he married Dinamani Devi at the age of 14. They were blessed a son named Chandra Bandyopadhyaya.

He 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 also forced the British to pass the widow remarriage act.
He received the title "Vidyasagar" (in Sanskrit Vidya means knowledge and Sagar means ocean, i.e., Ocean of Knowledge) from Sanskrit College, Calcutta (from where he graduated), due to his excellent performance in Sanskrit studies and philosophy. Noted Bengali mathematician Anil Kumar Gain founded Vidyasagar University, named in his honour.
In 2004, Vidyasagar was ranked number 9 in BBC's poll of the Greatest Bengali of all time.

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