Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, born Ishwar Chandra Bandyopadhyay, was a social reformist during the mid-19th century. He was born on 26 September 1820 to Thakurdas Bandyopadhyay and Bhagavati Devi and is most widely known for his endless work on social emancipation and the upliftment of women.
Vidyasagar was always vocal about the oppression that the society inflicted on women during that time.
He worked to uplift the status of women in India, especially from his native state of West Bengal. His efforts for the removal of social injustice and ending conservative practices like child marriage and those harming the livelihood of women are still known today.
His contribution towards the practice of widow remarriage and against polygamy is also said to be one of the most important actions to bring in key societal reforms in India.
He is also known to have bought major reforms in the outlook of the orthodox Hindu society from within.
Vidyasagar is also said to have continued the social reform movements that were started by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in the early 1800s.
He was given the title of Vidyasagar for his mastery over Sanskrit and philosophy. Vidyasagar is literal terms means an ocean of knowledge, which corroborated his title after he wrote nearly 10 books on Bengal’s history and literature.
The revolutionary is said to have brought major changes in the Bengali education system and refined the way the Bengali language was written and taught.
Some of his famous works include Bangala-r Itihaas (1848), Jeebancharit (1850), Bodhadoy (1851) and Upakramanika (1851).
For his 200th birth anniversary, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee plans to have a year-long celebration. She visited his native village Birsingha and paid her respects at his ancestral house.
"Vidyasagar inspired people to give up superstition and embrace the path of progress. He led the movement against child marriage and for institutionalizing widow-remarriage," she said.
She continued, saying, "We will develop Birsingha village as an educational and tourist hub, just like Santiniketan or Jorasanko."
The reformist married Dinamani Devi at the age of 14 in 1834 and died on 29 July 1891 due to liver cancer.
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Updated Date: Sep 26, 2019 11:55:24 IST