Among the many illustrious sons of India, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar stands out as an inspiring figure who pioneered the cause of women's education and widow remarriage. Born on 26 September 1820, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a leading member of the cultural awakening in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Bengal, known as the Bengal Renaissance, and continues to inspire countless Indians even today.
Born into a middle-class Bengali family in Birsingha village in West Midnapore district, Ishwar Chandra's parents sent him to Kolkata to study when he was just 6 years old. Ishwar proved himself to be a bright and dedicated student who would pore over his books under street lamps since there were no gas lights in his modest home. Ishwar Chandra studied a wide range of subjects at the Sanskrit college in Kolkata including astronomy, Sanskrit literature, Vedanta philosophy, grammar, and rhetoric. He also taught at the north Kolkata neighbourhood of Jorasankho, an area known as the 'Cradle of the Bengal Renaissance' since it was where many leading lights of the cultural movement resided. Upon graduating in 1841, Ishwar Chandra was conferred the title Vidyasagar, which means 'Ocean of knowledge or learning' due the vast range and depth of his scholarship in various aspects of Sanskrit philosophy and learning.