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Dr. Sushil Rudra
We remember the great fearless Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, the Renaissance- man for his contributions in the society and in educational arena of Bengal. However, we are remembering him in his birthday. Obviously, he was a modern man in nineteenth century Bengal as well as India .
He was born in Birsingha village in Hooghly district of Bengal on September 26, 1820. He is famous by the name of “Vidyasagar”. Because he was an eminent intellectual and scholar of contemporary India.
Eshwar Chandra Vidyasagar belonged to a Hindu Brahmin family. He was born to Thakurdas Bandyopadhyay and Bhagavati Devi. His father was very poor. So Vidyasagar did not get privilege enough to have a gas lamp at his home and the desire to acquire knowledge made him study under the streetlights.
Through scholarships, he made a quick succession and joined Sanskrit College in Calcutta and graduated in the year 1841.
However, it took him 12 years to graduate from college. On the other hand, he was pursuing a part-time job while studying at the same time. He had a qualification in Sanskrit Grammar, literature, dialectics, Vedanta, smriti, and astronomy.
In true sense of the term, Vidyasagar was a renaissance -man. He was also a social reformer, philosopher, philanthropist, and educationalist with a modern vision. Eventually, he was a person with high morality, honest character, truthfulness, social reform, unselfishness, and liberalism.
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Contributions:The Great Fearless Reneissance Man Eshwar Chandra
He contributed to the removal of social justice, upliftment of women, allowing widow remarriage, and advocating against polygamy.
Moreover, he played a major part in being appointed as the Head Pandit of Fort William College on December 29, 1841. During that time he felt the need to publish books. Because there’s available no books for learning Bengali and other subjects.
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar is a distinguished Bengali educationist, social reformer and lyricist of the nineteenth century. He acquired the title of Vidyasagar in his early life for his profound erudition in Sanskrit language and literature. Therefore, he is stated to be the first successful shaper of Bengali prose. Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore called him the first artist of Bengali prose.
Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar became the chief scholar of Bengali language at Fort William College quickly after leaving the Sanskrit College in December 1841. He served as Assistant Secretary in Sanskrit College in April 1846.
Due to the conservative mindset of the teachers of the stated college, he resigned from the work of Sanskrit College in July 1847 and in January 1849 was appointed Head Writer and Treasurer of Fort William College.
In December 1850, he became a professor of literature in the Sanskrit College and was appointed the principal of the college the following month. In January 1855, he published the first book on whether or not widow marriage have to be in vogue.
However, in the month of April this year, the Bengali New Year’s Day, the progressive Bengali children’s text alphabet, the textbook Varnaprichaya was published. It is stated that whilst visiting the school in Mofswale, Vidyasagar sat in a palanquin and prepared the manuscript of Varnaprichaya.
On May 1, apart from the post of Principal of the Sanskrit College, he was appointed as an Assistant School Inspector in South Bengal with an extra salary of Tk 200 per month.
The second part of Varnaparichaya book was published in June. On July 17, he established a normal school in the morning department of the college under the Sanskrit College for the motive of Bengali teacher training.
However, ” Barnaporichay ” is ever remembered. We have read this book in our childhood. This was the only book in our childhood to be read for learning the Bengali alphabet, punctuation, meaning and so on.
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, the Renaissance- man opened schools for girls. He brought significant reforms in the education sector. He tried to bring justice and equality for women through education.
Besides, hee brought social reforms to change the orthodox Hindu society from within.
He was also a great intellectual activist of the 19th century. And he installed socio-religious reforms into modern history.
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar established a number of model schools in Hooghly, Midnapore, Burdwan, and Nadia.
He introduced monthly exams instead of annual ones. Moreover, he introduced supervision of schools and changed the syllabus.
He brought the study of English, Western Science, and Mathematics into the syllabus.
Changed Education Systems: The Great Fearless Reneissance Man Eshwar Chandra
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar also started the acceptance of tuition fees and admission fees .Moreover, he made Sunday a weekly holidjay.
However, Eshwar Chandra Vidyasagar entirely reshaped the education system in Bengal.
He requested Akshay Kumar Dutta to take the head teacher post in this school. He was intimate friend of Vidyasagar. Undoubtedly , Akshway Kumar was an eminent Bengali rationalist and writer. It was in this year that several model schools or Bengali schools were established in four districts of South Bengal.
Moreover, he established five Bengali schools in Nadia in August-September, five in Burdwan in August-October, five in Hooghly in August-September-November and four in Medinipur district in October-December.
In October, he published a second book – a proposal on whether widow marriage should be practiced with sufficient scriptural evidence to suppress the voice of anti-marriage views. Besides , he sent a multi-signature application to the British government in India to make widow marriage legal.
On December 27, he sent another application for polygamy prevention rules. On January 14, 1856, he established the fifth Bengali Vidyalaya in Medinipur.
However he continued to write school books and booklets . In the month of February, he published the story book based on Aesop’s story . Widow marriage became legal on July 16. Finally, He published Charitavali on this day.
This year on December 7, he organised the first widow marriage in Kolkata. It took place at 12, Sukia Street at the house of Vidyasagar Mahashay’s friend Rajkrishna Banerjee.
The bridegroom was the youngest son of Ramdhan Tarkabagish. He was a meritorious student and professor of Sanskrit College. His father , Srish chandra Vidyaratna,was a friend of Vidyasagar Mahashay.
The bride was Kalimati, the twelfth widowed daughter of Brahmananda Mukhopadhyay, a resident of Palash danga village in Burdwan district.
Books He Authored: The Great Fearless Reneissance Man Eshwar Chandra
Besides, Vidyasagar authored some books. His works involved Betaal Panchavinsati (1847), Banglar Itihaas (1848), Jivancharita (1849), Shakuntala (1854), Mahabharata (1860), Seetar Vanavas (1860), Bhrantivilaas (1869), Oti Alpa Hoilo (1873), Aabaar Oti Alpa Hoilo (1873), Brajavilaas (1884), Ratnopariksha (1886).
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s did some social reforms. It included ‘Bidhobabivah’ on the widow’s right to remarry (1855), ‘Bahubivah’ on the banning of polygamy (1871), and Balyabivah on the flaws of child marriage.
On June 15, 1872, he established a philanthropic financial institution called Hindu Family Annuity Fund for the help of Hindu widows. After the death of a low-income common Bengali, his wife and son’s family do not suffer extreme financial hardship, the purpose of this institution is to set up.
This year in May, in response to protests by anti-marriage scholars, he wrote two books under the pseudonym ‘Kasyachit Sashon Bhiposya’ called Athi Sach Holil and Again Athi Sach Holil. On August 16, Bengal Theater was inaugurated with Michael Madhusudan’s play Sharmistha.
Conclusion: The Great Fearless Reneissance Man Eshwar Chandra
However , he was a great person who revolted against all odds of the society. His name will be remembered ever in the history of Bengal Renaissance of 19th century. He would never die .
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