World Rivers Day

Rivers – The major source of Water

Rivers are a major source of water for any civilization. Many rivers flow through India, most of them flowing through India alone – rising in its hills and joining the seas around it. This land thus, consists of a large network of rivers and water bodies.

One of the yardsticks of measuring prosperity is how a country or a civilization is able to harness and use its waters.

India – A Prosperous civilization

India had been a prosperous and continuous civilization for over 5000 years, primarily because it knew how to harness its waters.

The records of the British and pre-British days, show India’s play in the world market, in the fields of food grains, mainly rice, sugar and spices, in the field of steel and other metals such as zinc and copper, in the field of textiles and dyes, especially indigo, in silk, in gems, in particular diamonds, in tobacco, in tea, in opium, among others.

A basic need for all these industries to survive and flourish, is water.

Rivers – Nerves of the Country

Until as recent as 150 years ago, our rivers, along with small water bodies, catered to the water requirements of the whole country. These rivers were verily the nerves of the country feeding life sustaining water to all parts of the land.

Water shortage was unknown. Every village in this land got water irrespective of whether it had rained there or not. India used to consistently have three harvests every year. Rivers brought fertility to the land.

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The major hills and rivers of India through times

Rivers – A Punya Tirtha

As the river waters flowed across different lands, connecting the people, they also brought in a sense of harmony among the people. Hence, they became worthy of being venerated. The local people considered every river, every stream as a Punya Tirtha, water that is benevolent and took the effort to keep every river clean.

Bharat – A Punya Bhumi

Further more, the existence of many such Punya Tirtha was facilitated by the land, a Punya Bhumi. For,

  • the Himalayan range in the north of India,
  • Aravali, the hard rock, oldest hills of India, that delineate northwestern parts of India from much of Central India
  • the range of mountains which run north – south, along the sides of India, namely the Western and the Eastern Ghats, as well as
  • the Vindhyas, the range of mountains that runs right across the land,

together give rise to a labyrinth of rivers that course across the length and breadth of the land.

This land has thus evolved into an intricate mesh of rivers, tributaries and distributaries that carry waters, all across the land. While many of these are monsoon fed rivers, many also are perennial in nature.

With all these waters to irrigate it, this land Bharat, was regarded as a Punya Bhumi too, a land where one can reap the fruits of a bountiful Nature.

The last 100 years

In the last 100 years, somehow we have ceased to relate to such a notion of Punya Tirtha and Punya Bhumi, because of which, we ourselves have dirtied our rivers, our streams and our ponds.

Pollution

Pollution is an issue that has been affecting our major rivers like Yamuna and Ganga, leave alone the smaller rivers.

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Polluted Ganga River

The Rise of Concrete Jungles

The rise of concrete jungles in place of natural vegetation cover and the exploitation of natural resources have killed many of these small rivers which have been a primary source of water for many millennia. This has diminished the flow of waters in bigger rivers too.

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The state of our rivers

Need to clean up Rivers – The Benefits

Today, we need to take it upon ourselves to clean and maintain our rivers. The restoring of our rivers will increase fertility, boost industry and production, propel tourism and can even bring us an important medium for internal navigation.

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An Inland Navigation Boat

World Rivers Day

The last Sunday of September is observed as World Rivers Day across the globe. As a civilized society, our focus on this day should be on cleaning our rivers and rejuvenating them. If we can rejuvenate our rivers that Nature has created for us, we can again be prosperous and harmonious for centuries to come.

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Brand Bharat

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Bharatha – A land of people who relish knowledge

India had a pride of place in the ancient and medieval world. This land was called Bharatha, Bha meaning light and Ratha meaning ‘to relish’. Bharatha was the land of people who relished knowledge.

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Indian Prosperity

The Indian literature, right from the Veda, to the Tamil Sangam literature, speak of India as a land of prosperity. These bodies of literature describe a civilization that was prosperous. They present a picture of a society that was rich in material, cultural and spiritual wealth. The economy of the land was thriving. There was wide spread trade. Arts and culture were patronized and well established.

The testimony to this prosperity is given by Marco Polo, a Venetian visitor to India in 1290 CE. He describes India in his writings as “the most prosperous of all, in the world he had seen.”

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Marco Polo

What gave India such a Brand Image of the most prosperous land, a sone ki chidiya?

Some are brands of goods that went from India, world over.

Some are brands of thoughts and practices, with roots in India.

Some are brands created by the image of India, for the world.

These brands of yore created openings, not just in the field of trade but also in the very spread of thought and thought process. This is something that India can be rightfully proud of.

For, it is thought process that shapes the evolution of thought, sciences, practices and lifestyle, which in turn, have a bearing on the pace of evolution of mankind.

If there are a few civilizations or nations that can proudly say that it has offered something to the evolution of the thought process of humanity, then the Indian civilization does earn a pride of place, perhaps right on top.

Roots In India

The major aspects that make a prosperous civilization such as Education, Maths, Sciences, Languages, Music and Lifestyle, had their roots in India. They went on to create the Brand Bharat in the eyes of the world.

Signs of Brand Bharat

Some of the other signs of Bharat which became a brand, include

  1. Plentiful and Varieties of Food
  2. Abundance of Water and Water Harnessing
  3. Ganga
  4. Knowledge
  5. Kama Sutra
  6. Yoga
  7. Sports – Chess, Polo, Snooker, Badminton,

to list just a few.

Trading Giant

India was a leader in trade, having 25 % to 30 % share in World Trade in Ancient and Medieval times all the way upto 1800s.

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Made in India – The Big Five

India had many produces to its credit that made it an economic powerhouse. The 5 main products that were manufactured in India were Iron and Steel, Zinc, Cotton, Indigo, Sugar and Spice.

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The Five Ts – The Principles

They were able to sustain the brands, through many centuries and millennia, with the diligent practice of the 5Ts.

T Principles
Tradition Understanding and Following Tradition
Talent Skilled along with Quest and Innovation
Technology Producing but Sustaining Nature
Trade Trading, but not for Greed
Truth Living with Truth – The Cosmic Principle, Dharma

Lost to Plunder

Unfortunately, India lost its prosperity to wave after wave of plunder, first from near west and later from the far west in the name of colonisation, which destroyed Brand Bharat.

But all is not lost.

India may have lost a lot of wealth she had generated. But she has not lost the grace of Nature that can help her build similar wealth in no time, the way the earlier generations had done.

All India needs, is to understand her strengths and deploy them suitably.

More on Prosperity, Plunder and Rejuvenation of India, in our book ‘You Turn India’.

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Bharath Gyan

Bharath Gyan is an endeavour to bridge the old and the new worlds through knowledge from the past, for the present and future.

Founded by the couple, D.K.Hari and D.K.Hema Hari and disseminated by The Art of Living of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Bharath Gyan is a compilation from the year 2000, of the knowledge and ethos of India from an interdisciplinary and wholistic perspective.

“Brand Bharat”, as conceptualized by the Hari couple, paints the true picture of India and the pride of place India held among the comity of civilizations. It delves into the brands that had kept it so, for millennium after millennium.

Brand Bharat leaves us with a new image of India, a new outlook on prosperity and a new sense of pride at being an Indian.

We had the opportunity to give a Multimedia talk on “Brand Bharat” on Pravasi Bharatiya Divas of 2015, at Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

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D K Hari and D K Hema Hari giving a Multimedia talk on Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015

More, in our work, ‘Brand Bharat’ from the ‘Autobiography of India’ series.

Surgical Strike Day

India under Modi government of 2014 carried out two surgical strikes, to send a strong message to terrorists and to let people know that the country can defend itself.

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Surgical Strike At Indo-Myanmar Border

On 10th June 2015, Indian Army conducted surgical strikes against the terrorist camps along the Indo-Myanmar border and killed around 158 terrorists. This was after the terrorists had martyred 18 Army Jawans. This was the first time that India showed that it could respond effectively to the enemy and strike them right at their den.

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Surgical Strike At Pak Occupied Kashmir (PoK)

After this, came the Surgical Strike in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) in September 2016. Pakistan, from its militant launch pads, across the Line of Control, had been sending terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir, for many years now. These terrorists used to sneek into the Indian Territory and carry our terrorist attacks on the civilians and the Army. One such major terrorist attack was on the Uri Camp of Indian Army in September 2016, martyring many Indian soldiers.

Indian Army decided to respond appropriately and carried out surgical strike in POK on 29th September 2016, by crossing over into the enemy territory and destroying many terrorist launch pads.

The option of surgical strike was resorted to in the wake of increase in infiltration attempts.

In this Surgical Strike, carried out by the Indian Army, 38 terrorists were annihilated and their camps destroyed.

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Indian Soldiers in Action during the Surgical Strike

Leaving aside reactive rhetoric, New India has shown that it can respond effectively to terrorism.

Military Strength, Political Will and Moral Character

The difference in New India, is

  • the manner in which it has gone ahead and carried out such Surgical Strikes and
  • the manner in which it has acted, post these Surgical Strikes.

All along from 1947, when Pakistan separated from India, it has been a well-known fact across the globe that Pakistan has been trying to instigate and cause disturbances in India.

Israel too has been facing similar situations from its neighbours from a similar period of time. Isreal is known for having carried out repeated surgical strikes to handle their issue, including the famous Operation Entebbe, a successful counter-terrorist and hostage-rescue mission carried out by commandos of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) all the way, at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on 4 July 1976, when Uganda openly offered support to the hijackers of the Air France plane carrying 98 Jews and Israelis.

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Entebbe Strike

In Pakistan itself, when USA was sure of the hiding location of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, they carried out a surgical strike as a war on terror.

Despite having a lot of proof, while India had the military capacity, India had refrained all along from launching Surgical Strikes near its borders.

With these 2 Surgical Strikes, India in a decisive and bold manner cleansed India’s North West and North East borders of frequent terror attacks that India has had to suffer for so long.

However, after carrying out the strike at PoK, India informed the Pakistani authorities through proper channel about the strike, before informing the world.

Likewise, in the case of the Myanmar strike, after the event, India took care to have a joint meeting with the Myanmar authorities.

Thus India demonstrated

  1. military strength and political will to carry out the strikes and
  2. character to follow due processes with the other nation, post the strike.

These highlight the strength of character which is becoming the hallmark of the emerging New India.

More on Surgical Strike, in our book, Knowing New India.

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Parakram Parv

We need to celebrate this day of Surgical Strike every year as Parakram Parv, to remind us of this successful valiant action of our soldiers, and support that the government of the day provided to their soldiers.

The youth should be encouraged to write articles, enact skits in schools, conduct special NCC and NSS programs in schools, create paintings of our soldiers, compose poems and so on to express solidarity with our soldiers.

That will be an apt way of showing our gratitude to our Army, who have always stood forth in protecting our territory.

World Heart Day

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Lohini, Loha, Haem, Haemoglobin

The blood is continuously circulated in our body by our heart, hrdayam. Blood is known by the name Raktha in Samskrt. Raktha means nourishment, desire, red and blood. Blood is also called lohini in Samskrt, for, it contains loha, iron. In the Greek language it is referred to as haem for iron. It is from the word “haem” that we get the word “haemoglobin”.

Heart – “Hrdayam

The very word “heart” traces its etymological roots to the Smskrt word “hrdayam”.

The word “hrdayam” itself is a technical word based on the functionality of the heart.

“Hrdayam”-Give, Take, Circulate

Harathi, means “to take” and from which is taken the syllable “Hr”.

Dadathi means “to give” from which is taken the syllable “da”. The word “Dhana”, meaning “donation”, comes from the same root.

Yathi, Yam means to circulate. The activity of circulation is called Yam.

When we join the syllables, Hr+ Da+ Yam, we get the technically coined word “Hrdayam”, which brings to us the functioning aspect of the heart.

‘Heart to donate blood’

But for the continuous circulation of blood in the body, life would come to a halt.

While the heart represents the aspect of circulation of blood in the body for the life to live, we need to have the heart in us to give dhana, to donate our blood and ‘circulate’ it among the needy in the society.

In other words, yathi, yam means “to circulate”, for which, “we get in return” harathi, satisfaction and heartful gratitude.

So, hrdayam, heart circulates the blood in our body to rejuvenate us. Those of us who have a heart, hrdayam need to donate, circulate blood and gain satisfaction, gratitude.

 A beautiful blend of hrdayam, both for oneself and the society at large!

With this thought in mind on this World Heart Day, let us donate blood as frequently as medically permitted, to give life, to rejuvenate our society.

World Tourism Day

India is a vast country with diverse terrain, from the Himalayas in the North to the Indian Ocean in the South, to the Thar Desert in the West to Arunachal in the East. The diverse landscape, seascape and snowscape make India a distinct Tourist destination.

India is also an ancient, continuously living civilization where there is no dearth of ancient temples, palaces and other structures built in an intricate and distinct style. These add to the beauty of the landscape and enhance its tourist appeal.

The land of India also abounds in Natural Wonders. From the majestic Himalayas in the North to the Seas in the South, India is a land filled with Natural Wonders.

The flora and fauna of this land are very distinct too and held as exotic by Indians and other civilizations as well.

The scope for Tourism in this country is thus diverse indeed.

However, tourism is not a newfound potential of India. India has not suddenly become a tourist destination because of the few monuments that are much touted in the Golden Triangle of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur.

Know More: WorldTourismDay e book:

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International day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

A nuclear war looms large, as tensions grow between the major world powers. There is also the danger of the nuclear weapons falling in the hands of terrorists. Will third world war be a nuclear conflict? Do we even understand the adverse consequences that a nuclear war would bring? The fallout of the fallout!

International Day for Nuclear Disarmament

After a high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament on 26th September 2013, the UN General Assembly’s designated 26th September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. This Day provides an opportunity to highlight the need to eliminate nuclear weapons and the social and economic costs of perpetuating them.

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Logo of International Day for Nuclear Disarmament

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima during World War II, are the nuclear bomb drops, we have encountered in the modern world till date. Until then, descriptions of such bombs and their destruction were unheard of and would have been passed off as a figment of imagination.

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Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Photos courtesy: US National Archives and Records Administration

Did the ancient world and India have the nuclear capability? Were there a nuclear wars in ancient time? Were nuclear arsenal used during the war?

The knowledge about any such war from ancient times will help understand the universal holocaust that a nuclear conflict could bring, and thereby make us more serious about disarmament of these destructive weapons.

Dr. Robert J. Oppenheimer and the Bhagavad Gita

Dr. Robert J. Oppenheimer, the nuclear physicist of America, responsible for the development of the first Atomic Bomb in the modern world, while witnessing the first nuclear test explosion in 1945, in New Mexico Desert quoted from the verse 11.32 of the Bhagavad Gita

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Dr. Robert J Oppenheimer

Photos courtesy US National Archives and Record Administration

“I am become death, destroyer of the worlds”.

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“The Supreme Lord said: I am death, the mighty destroyer of the world, out to

destroy. Even without your participation all the warriors standing arrayed in

the opposing armies shall cease to exist.”

(Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 11 verse 32)

The Upadesa. – Bhagavad Gita, got the Kurukshetra war of Mahabharata underway and this particular phrase which Dr. Oppenheimer quoted, speaks of the power to destroy.

Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project, learned Sanskrit in 1933 and read the Bhagavad Gita in the original. He has cited it as one of the most influential books to shape his philosophy of life.

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Manhattan Trinity Project – The Explosive Gadget

Photo courtesy Los Alamos National Laboratories

The quoting of the Bhagavad Gita verse 11.32 by Dr. Oppenheimer does not seem to be a one off statement. There are pointers that make one wonder whether Dr. Oppenheimer was quoting the Gita at the moment of the first nuclear test explosion of the modern world, from a philosophical perspective or whether he was perhaps quoting it to imply some other connection or similarity.

Was he of the opinion that the Kurukshetra war of the Mahabharata, which brought forth the Bhagavad Gita, too had nuclear arsenal in it and was he aware of the same?

Dr. Oppenheimer conveys a plausible connection, when he articulates his view on the nuclear capability of an ancient civilization.

Shortly after the first nuclear test explosion, called the Manhattan Project, Dr. Oppenheimer, addressed the students of the Rochester University. Here one of the students asked him a pointed question, if his experiment was the first nuclear explosion of the world. He responded thoughtfully as “Well …. Yes, in modern times ofcourse …”.

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University of Rochester

This cautious, measured, response of Dr. Oppenheimer, which has been recorded for posterity, makes one wonder if Dr. Oppenheimer believed that in an earlier civilization, there could have been nuclear capability. By earlier quoting the Bhagavad Gita during the test explosion, was he perhaps pointing to the Indian civilization as having had that capability?

In Mahabharata

This thought is further substantiated by the Indian text Mahabharata and the adjunct text Purana, which give a vivid description of the Asthra or missiles and their capabilities.

The description of the special manner in which these Asthra were invoked, the number, colour, shape and the rapid speed of individual discharges from each Asthra, the extent of destruction they had caused and the awe in which they were held as compared to the regular bow and arrow, make them appear to be special weapons of mass destruction, beyond our comprehension today.

Were they based on nuclear technology or something even beyond?

It is to be noted from the account in the texts, that not everyone who took part in the war had the Asthra. The common soldier used only Shasthra. Very few persons seemed to have had Asthra.

Notable amongst them, on the Pandava side, Arjuna had such asthra and on the Kaurava side, Karna had them.

Both Arjuna and Karna are described in the text as level headed warriors with great will power, patience, tolerance and sagacity. They had obtained these asthra weapons, only after great penance and austerities.

Is there any ground proof of an atomic war in the past?

Ground Proof

All pointers so far, make us ponder if really a limited nuclear war was fought at the Kurukshetra battle. Many have commented for and against on this aspect.

But all studies seem to have halted at a superficial level, leaving this as a still unanswered question.

The maximum one is able to trace, is upto the work by two European researchers David Davenport and Ettore Vincenti, who seem to have done some ground work in and around MohenjoDaro. Not many details can be found of their work or its acceptance, but their findings seem to be very interesting and plausible, warranting further attention.

In one of their excavation sites, they claim to have found evidences that suggest that the ancient town may have been ruined by a powerful blast.

Ruined town

They found big stratums of clay and green glass crystallised, fused or melted at its identified epicentre and bricks around this epicentre were melted on one side, characteristic of an explosion.

It is obvious that not much ground research has been done to validate these statements of the Mahabharata text or that of these 2 research scholars.

There are over 2600 archaeological sites around the Kurukshetra region.

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Hardly a handful of them have been excavated and worked on by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Need to check for remnant signs

Just as Archaeo-Astronomy is bringing about a new revolution in history, we need a revolution in our ground Archaeology as well. The services of IAEA (Indian Atomic Energy Agency), the National Physical Laboratory and similar such research institutions with expertise in nuclear sciences and other intra disciplinary subjects, may also have to be enlisted to check for remnant signs of any nuclear explosion in the Kurukshetra war theatre area.

In parallel, if the texts are studied seriously, it can yield a wealth of information on the weaponry, army formations and other details of the Kurukshetra war to give us better insights into this war and the fallout of the war.

A short in the arm to disarm

If it does turn out to be a major war fought with all those advanced technologies, then it is indeed a wake up call for all of us, in this age of nuclear armaments to study and understand this war and draw lessons from it.

It will be a shot in the arm for the nuclear disarmament and global peace program. This is especially because the current generation seems to be slowly forgetting the long lasting impact and sufferings of the people post the bomb droppings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, having not seen it firsthand.

More on this in our book, “Triple Eclipse”, which can be read online at www.bharathgyan.com

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Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

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One of the key figures for Renaissance in Bengal was Ishwar Chandra. Due to his contribution as a thought Leader, he came to be known as Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.

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Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Ishwar Charan Bandopadhyay was born on 26 September 1820 in Paschim, Mednapur, West Bengal. He grew up to be a philosopher, academician, reformer, and philanthropist and received the title Vidyasagar, from the Calcutta Samskrit College, from where he had graduated. Vidya stands for knowledge and Sagar for ocean. He was given the title Vidyasagar, ocean of knowledge, in recognition of his yeoman services to the field of education. He thus came to be called popularly as Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.

He rationalized and simplified the Bengali alphabet script called abugida. It has been used since his times as the type set of the Bengal script.

Vidyasagar threw open the doors of Samskrit College in Calcutta for students from all castes. He took initiative to push through the Widow Remarriage Act of 1856.

An interesting incident happened in Bengal when Sri Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and his few friends were busy collecting donations to start Calcutta University.

One day Vidyasagar stopped at the door of the palace of the Nawab of Ayodhya. The Nawab was not exactly known to be a generous person and many people tried to dissuade Vidyasagar from taking up this mission. Vidyasagar however met the Nawab and presented his cause. On hearing Vidyasagar’s plea, Nawab got up, pulled off one of his shoes and dropped it in Vidyasagar’s bag as donation.

Next day Vidyasagar organized an auction of the Nawab’s shoe in front of his palace. Many of Nawab’s knights, Jahagirdars, court members, who wanted to impress the Nawab started bidding. By mid-afternoon the shoe had been sold for Rs 1000. The Nawab, happy to hear that his shoe had fetched Rs 1000, matched the auction money. He added his own Rs.1000 as donation.

Ishwar Chandr rose above his personal feelings and ego when the shoe was dropped by the Nawab in his bag and exploited the situation creatively, converting it into the biggest donation for the university then.

The Vidyasagar Setu, second largest bridge across the Hoogly River in West Bengal, was named after this Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, in recognition of the thought leadership he had provided.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a social leader, who gave the modern script for the Bengali literature, worked for a casteless society and empowered the hapless women. He developed Calcutta University and gave impetus to usage of Samskrit as a scientific language. He was a true leader of his times. A Prajapathi.