Ishwar Chandra was born on 28 September, 1820 in a village named Birsingha in Midnapore district of Bengal. His father was Thakurdas Bandyopadhyay, and his mother was Bhagwati Devi. ‘Vidyasagar’ is an academic title in Sanskrit, meaning ‘the Ocean of Learning’, which used to be awarded to the outstanding scholars by the Government Sanskrit College of Calcutta. Out of the few learned men of repute, the term ‘Vidyasagar’ is generally referred to by the people of India for only one person who is Pandit Ishwar Chandra, whose surname is ‘Bandyopadhyay’. Thus, Vidyasagar has, in course of time, become his personal name.
From his childhood, Vidyasagar was very brilliant. In a short time, he could quickly grasp things; and at a very tender age, he completed his college education. As a student, he had always earned highest marks in the examinations and obtained scholarships, with which he managed to meet his educational expenses, because his father was a poor gentleman who worked in a private firm on a petty salary.
Vidyasagar worked as a School Inspector with a handsome salary. Besides, he earned some extra money by writing a number of text books. In 1850, Vidyasagar was offered the post of Professor of Literature in the Sanskrit College in Calcutta. Soon he became the Principal of the college.
Vidyasagar was a kind-hearted man. He always helped the poor and the sick. He found that the Hindu girls were given in marriage at a tender age, and sometimes they soon became widows. Hence the rest of their life was wasted. So he went against the orthodox Brahmins of the Hindu Society, and became the instrument to get the Hindu Widow Re-marriage Bill passed by the Government. Thus many young lives of Hindu women were saved by him.
Vidyasagar worked hard to establish girls’ schools in India for the education of girls, who were in those days not allowed by their parents to go to school.
In this way, Vidyasagar did many social reforms for the welfare of the Indian society. His name is remembered by his countrymen respectfully even this day.
Vidyasagar pressed away on 29 July, 1891 at the age of 71 years. There is a college and a university after his name in West Bengal.