Birth and Early Years:
Iswar Chandra Bandopadhaya was born at Birsingha in Midnapur on September 26, 1820. Son of poor Brahmin parents, Thakurdas Banerjee and Bhagabati Devi. The iron discipline of the father; the large-hearted charity of the mother. The boy was not only remarkably intelligent but full of determination.
The trek to Calcutta, 1827. The painful journey: the learning of English numerals from the milestones. Hard life in Calcutta: admission to Sanskrit College, school department. How his mind developed-wins prizes and scholarships and all titles or tirthas in Sanskrit. Given the title ‘Vidyasagar’ in 1840.
Teacher at Fort William College for civilians. Then at Sanskrit College. His strictness, fairness and enthusiasm for work. Became Principal of Sanskrit College and also Inspector of Schools. His spirit of independence: his minutes on education are documents of permanent value. Disagreement with the Director of Public Instruction led to his resignation. Thereafter earned economic independence as an author of educational textbooks in Bengali as also as printer and publisher.
His social works:
His fearless championing on behalf of widow re-marriage ends in success. His services to and sacrifice for this cause. He failed to get the abolition of polygamy though succeeded in the imparting female education. First Secretary of Bethune School. The founding of Metropolitan (now Vidyasagar) College: A member of the Senate the newly founded University of Calcutta.
Death and Character:
Died July 29, 1889; his learning, his sprint of independence; his boundless charity made him a legendary man in his life time. But forced to leave his native village. He spent the last years of his life in Karmatola—Santal village. But he never yielded his stand; large-heartedness; perseverance; his strength of character and uncompromising spirit and determination.