Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar born as Ishwar Chandra Bandyopadhyay was a British Indian Bengali polymath and a key figure of the Bengal Renaissance.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 British to pass widow remarriage act(1856). 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.
His quest for knowledge was so intense that he used to study under a street light as it was not possible for him to afford a gas lamp at home. He cleared all the examinations with excellence and in quick succession. He was rewarded with a number of scholarships for his academic performance.
Vidyasagar championed the uplift of the status of women in India, particularly in his native Bengal. Unlike some other reformers who sought to set up alternative societies or systems, he sought to transform orthodox Hindu society from within. With support from people like Akshay Kumar Dutta, Vidyasagar introduced the practice of widow remarriages to mainstream Hindu society.
One of the important events in the life of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was his meeting with Ramakrishna(paramahamsa). Ramakrishna visited Vidyasagar at his (Vidyasagar’s) residence. They had a nice relation between them. When Ramkrishna met Vidyasagar, he praised Vidyasagar as the ocean of wisdom. Vidyasagar joked that Ramkrishna should have collected some amount of salty water of that sea. But, Ramakrishna, with profound humbleness & respect, replied that the water of general sea might be salty, but not the water of the sea of wisdom.