Saturday December 16, 2017

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar: Ocean of knowledge & compassion

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source: kolkatabookfair
source: kolkatabookfair

By Nithin Sridhar

Every Bengali worth his mettle got introduced to the language through ‘Barnaparichay’, the elementary Bengali textbook in two parts which has helped millions through the ages in recognizing and amalgamating the Bengali characters. The author, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was one of the foremost figures in Bengali Renaissance. He was an educator, philosopher, Sanskrit scholar, and a social reformer.

On this day, 195 years ago, he was born as Ishwar Chandra Bandopadhyay to Thakurdas Bandyopadhyay and Bhagavati Devi at Birsingha village of West Midnapore district, West Bengal. On his 195th birth anniversary let us briefly look into his life and legacy.

His Life: He was born in 1820 and his primary education was commenced at a pathshala (indigenous school) where he learned language, grammar, arithmetic, etc. Later, after moving to Calcutta (now Kolkata) he joined the Sanskrit College and mastered Sanskrit Vyakarana (grammar), Kavya (poetry), Smriti, Nyaya (Logic) and Vedanta among other subjects.

In spite of abject poverty, Ishwar Chandra studied very hard and excelled in academics. In 1839, he graduated in law examination. The college committee endowed Ishwar Chandra with the title ‘Vidyasagar’- ocean of knowledge, recognizing his expertise in various branches of knowledge.

He was married to Dinamani Devi at the age of 14 and at the age of 21 he joined the Fort William College as head of the Sanskrit department in 1841. He joined the Sanskrit college in 1846 and in 1851 he became its principal.

He worked for the upliftment of women and made significant contributions to Bengali language and literature. He finally passed away in 1891 at the age of 70 years.

His Legacy: He was one of the foremost champions of women’s upliftment. He championed the cause of widow remarriage and introduced the practice in the Bengali society. He studied the Hindu scriptures deeply and realized that there is nothing in the scriptures against widow remarriage. His efforts resulted in the passing of the Widow Remarriage Act in 1856.

He also fought against child marriages and unrestricted polygamy. He wrote various books on the issue of widow marriage and polygamy, and set up a Hindu Family Annuity Fund to help those widows who could not marry again.

He made important contributions to education sectors. He opened schools for providing education to girls. He also opened the education sector to lower caste students. Due to his immense compassion and generosity, people used to call him ‘Daya Sagar’– ocean of compassion.

In the field of languages, he made significant contributions to the Bengali language. He reconstructed the Bengali alphabets and restricted into 12 vowels and 40 consonants. He made extensive contributions to Bengali and Sanskrit literature.

Apart from his two volume books each on widow-remarriages and banning polygamy, and one volume on child marriage, he also translated the ‘Kathasaritsagara’ from Sanskrit into Bengali and called it ‘Betaal Panchavinsati’ – 25 tales of a Betaal. His other important works include ‘Banglar Itihaas’, ‘Jivancharita’, ‘Shakuntala’, ‘Seetar Vanavas’, and ‘Bhrantivilaas’.

After his death, Rabindranath Tagore wrote about him thus: “One wonders how God, in the process of producing forty million Bengalis, produced a man!”

On the birth anniversary of such a great man, one should remember that he was as much an ocean of knowledge as he was of compassion, and one should try to implement both these values in his/her life.

  • P G Kutty Nair

    Thank you Nithin for this timely article. While there is no shortage of critics of Hinduism for its so-called weaknesses and laxities, hardly anyone remembers the efforts by enlightened Hindus themselves to correct the flaws. The critics have nothing to contribute but criticism. Therefore, this is a timely reminder that we had great social reformers in earlier days too, who complained less and contributed more through their positive actions.

  • P G Kutty Nair

    Thank you Nithin for this timely article. While there is no shortage of critics of Hinduism for its so-called weaknesses and laxities, hardly anyone remembers the efforts by enlightened Hindus themselves to correct the flaws. The critics have nothing to contribute but criticism. Therefore, this is a timely reminder that we had great social reformers in earlier days too, who complained less and contributed more through their positive actions.

Next Story

No Diwali, Birthday Celebrations for Amitabh Bachchan This Year

The Bollywood took to Twitter to reveal his plans to his followers

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Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan. Wikimedia

Mumbai, October 8, 2017 : Megastar Amitabh Bachchan says this year he will not be celebrating the festival of lights Diwali or his 75th birthday, which falls on October 11.

Though Big B didn’t give the reason, his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s father Krishnaraj Rai passed away in March after several days of illness.

“India thrash Australia in T20, Pink Panthers’ extraordinary convincing win, thunderstorm cancels shoot, 30 million on Twitter, and just for your information… no Diwali celebration this year,” Amitabh tweeted on Saturday night.

Next Story

After 28 years, Gulzar’s unreleased Movie “Libaas” is all set to hit the Big Screen

Libaas features various veteran actors such as Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi

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Libaas
Gulzar's unreleased movie "Libaas" is all set to hit the theater. Wikimedia
  • Gulzar’s unreleased movie “Libaas” is all set to hit the theatre
  • The move is releasing after 28 years
  • It is released by Zee Classic’s brand proposition “Woh Zamaana Kare Deewana”

Mumbai, August 22, 2017: In a surprise for Gulzar’s fan on his 83rd birthday, his unreleased film “Libaas” is all set to hit the theatres this year.

Libaas was made in 1988. Due to some reasons, it has been not released till date. But now, its unreleased status is about to change.

On the maestro’s birthday on August 18- ‘Woh Zamaana Kare Deewana’, the brand proposition of Zee Classic, has announced the theatrical release of the movie “Libaas” by the end of this year, mentioned PTI report.

No one is unaware of Gulzar’s contribution to Hindi cinema. He is one of the prominent and prolific names in Hindi cinema. He had directed many classics such as “Prichay”, “Angoor”, “Maachis”etc., Later, he stopped directing movies and focused completely on being a lyricist. He has won the Oscar for “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire”. He is still a very active lyricist.

A still from Libaas. Youtube

Libaas features various veteran actors such as Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi. It also features Annu Kapoor, Raj Babbar, Sushma Seth, Utpal Dutt and Savita Bajaj. The music has been composed by one of Gulzar’s most frequent collaborators, RD Burman.

“Libaas” was screened at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa after a gap of 22 years on November 22, 2014. Earlier, it was also screened at the International Film Festival at Banglore in January 1992.

The plot of the movie is based on Gulzar’s own short story ‘Seema’ from his evergreen ‘Raavi Paar’ collection. The movie basically revolves around a theatre director Sudhir(played by Naseeruddin ShahShah) and his actor wife Seema(portrayed by Shabana Azmi). The movie revolves around the fact that wherein the world of showbiz life appears to be picture perfect, the appearances behind the scene are often deceptive.

“Libaas” was produced by Late. Vikas Mohan. His sons Amul Vikas Mohan and Anshul Vikas Mohan will make their father’s life -long dream come true by releasing “Libaas” by the end of this year.

Zee Studios will be distributing the film in India. The release date is yet to be announced.

prepared by a Shivani Chowdhary of NewsGram. Twitter @cshivani31

Next Story

Tamil Nadu Schools make Singing Vande Mataram Mandatory

The Madras court has announced that all schools throughout Tamil Nadu must make the singing of Vande Mataram mandatory

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Vande Mataram Mandatory
Students are to sing the national song twice as per the Madras High Court ruling. Wikimedia
  • Singing Vande Mataram is now mandatory in every school of Tamil Nadu after Madras high court announced its ruling
  • The students are to sing the national song twice every week
  • Given a valid reason, an individual or group may be exempted from the decision

July 29, 2017: Tamil Nadu school students are now compelled to sing Vande Mataram as per the Madras High Court’s recent ruling. The national song is to be sung twice a week.

Private as well as government schools have been instructed to comply with the ruling and confirm that it is implemented in their schools.

ALSO READ: First Clap: Short Film Fest to Unearth Budding Filmmakers from Tamil Nadu

The Madras Court’s ruling was the result of a petition filed by K Veeramani. Mr. Veeramani, interestingly, was unsuccessful in clearing the written test in the process of recruiting teachers because of a question related to the National song, mentioned PTI.

In an objective type question, K Veeramani selected Bengali as the original language in which national song was written. This answer was considered wrong by the board. Veeramani scored 89 while the cut off was 90. For this one mark and “wrongfully” missing the opportunity to work, he petitioned to the High Court.

And he was right. Advocate General R Muthukumarswamy agreed to K Veeramani’s claim. The National Song was originally penned in the Bengali Language.

[sociallocker][/sociallocker]

PTI reports Justice M V Muralidharan gave no actual reasons behind this verdict. The Justice also said that Monday and Friday should be the ideal days.

Justice M V Muralidharan’s ruling is backed by Article 226 of the constitution; The High court posses the power to pass orders within their juridicial territory upon any individual or group. The Judge also stated, “If people feel it is difficult to sing the song in Bengali or in Sanskrit, steps can be taken to translate the song in Tamil. The youth of this country are the future of tomorrow and the court hopes and trusts that this order shall be taken in the right spirit and also implemented in letter and spirit by the citizenry of this great nation.”

– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394