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Posted at: May 22, 2019, 5:22 PM; last updated: May 23, 2019, 7:00 AM (IST)

Researcher discovers Vidyasagar’s Punjabi connection

Researcher discovers Vidyasagar’s Punjabi connection
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. File photo

Shubhadeep Choudhury                                                                    
Tribune News Service
Kolkata, May 22

The recent smashing of the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar during a clash between Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party workers in Kolkata has put the spotlight back on the revolutionary 19th century reformer.

Jagmohan Singh Gill, a researcher with roots in Punjab’s Moga district, who has devoted his life to seeking out footprints of Punjabis in the shaping of the history and culture of Eastern India, has discovered a link between Vidyasagar and Punjab.

According to Gill, Yogdhyan Misser (born 1797), who taught astronomy to Vidyasagar when the social reformer was a student in Kolkata’s Sanskrit College, was a Saraswat Brahmin from western Punjab. Gill’s article on Yogdhtan Misser has appeared in ‘Ayushman’, a multi-disciplinary research journal brought out by New Delhi’s Ayushman Publication House.

Gill wrote that at one point of time it was common among the Saraswat Brahmins to write ‘Misser’ as their surname, as in Misser Beli Ram, a revenue minister under Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Pandit Yogdhyan Misser was employed as a teacher of astronomy in Kolkata’s Sanskrit College in 1826. He taught there for the next 23 years. Astronomy was among the subjects Vidyasagar studied in Sanskrit College. He was, thus, a direct pupil of Yogdhyan Misser.

“Yogdhyan Misser mentored many renowned scholars and stalwarts of Bengal including the great Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, one of the leading luminaries of Bengal Renaissance,” says Gil quoting from Brajendra Nath Bandopadhyay’s Bengali book on history of the Sanskrit College.

According to Gill, who is also general secretary of Punjabi Sahitya Sabha, Kolkata, Yogdhyan Misser’s son Sadananda Misser was also well-known in the intellectual circle of Kolkata and was personally known to Vidyasagar, Rabindranath Tagore, Girish Chandra Ghosh (renowned playwright) and other intellectual luminaries of that time. Sadananda was called “thakurdada” by them.

“Yogdhyan Misser’s descendants, who live in Kolkata, proudly proclaim their being ‘Lahoris’ and can speak colloquial Punjabi language,” Gill told this reporter.

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