The title ‘Vidyasagar’ (ocean of knowledge) was given to him due to his vast knowledge in several subjects.
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s ideas were a happy blend of Indian and Western thought. Hence, he encouraged students to pursue these subjects and take away the best from both worlds.
In 1850, he became the principal of Sanskrit College. He introduced Western thought in Sanskrit College to break the self-imposed isolation of Sanskritic learning.
He was determined to break the priestly monopoly of scriptural knowledge, and for this he opened the Sanskrit College to non-brahmins.
Vidyasagar started a movement in support of widow remarriage which resulted in legislation of widow remarriage.
He was also a crusader against child marriage and polygamy.
He did much for the cause of women’s education. He helped organise thirty five girls’ schools, many of which he ran at his own expense. As secretary of Bethune School (established in 1849), he was one of the pioneers of higher education for women in India.
He challenged the Brahminical authorities and proved that widow remarriage is sanctioned by Vedic scriptures. He took his arguments to the British Authorities and his pleas were heard when the Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, 1856 or Act XV, 1856, was decreed in 1856.
He wrote two books ‘Upakramonika’ and ‘Byakaran Koumudi’, interpreting complex notions of Sanskrit grammar in easy legible Bengali language.
He was associated with prestigious journalistic publications like ‘Tattwabodhini Patrika’, ‘Somprakash’, ‘Sarbashubhankari Patrika’ and ‘Hindu Patriot’.
Michael Madhusudan gave him the epithet ‘Daya Sagar’ (ocean of generosity) for his selfless altruism.