Chests reveal treasures of Vidyasagar's life

Kolkata: A couple of locked iron chests, containing some rare documents that throw light on important episodes on the life of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, were found at Sanskrit College and University (SCU) on Friday.

Documents that were found bear testimony that the allowances were provided to widows when Vidyasagar was the principal of the institute and he initiated the move for women's empowerment. Vidyasagar was known as the man behind widow remarriage and had been a student of Sanskrit at the College and later served his alma mater as the principal from 1851 to 1858.

"The documents and articles that we have discovered have tremendous historical significance. We will speak to the state government and take steps for scientific preservation of all these documents," said Soma Bandyopadhyay, Vice-Chancellor of SCU.

The university had taken up a clean-up drive to find out archival objects in the varsity to display them at a museum, which will be set up on the campus to commemorate the 200th birth anniversary of Vidyasagar, who was associated with the institute for a long time. One of the chest was found fixed to a wall while the other one was in a godown. The keys of both chests could not be found and the lock of both the chests were broken .

The one that was inside the godown was broken by a locksmith after toiling for more than three hours. Among the articles found were eight sealed envelopes and cheque books of banks from the British period. Documents pertaining to Vidyasagar's attendance in the institute was also found.

"We have found three silver medals that throw light on the then Sanskrit College and its links with Presidency University (then College). These medals were perhaps not accepted by the recipients," a senior official of the varsity said.

The official further said the contents of the two boxes will be scrutinised by experts so that more information can be discovered about the life and activities of the Bengali polymath. Some of the articles could be older than 200 years.

The institute was founded on February 25, 1824, as a college on the basis of a recommendation by British officials — James Prinsep and Thomas Babington Macaulay.

The Mamata Banerjee government transformed Sanskrit College to Sanskrit College and University through a legislative act of 2015. On June 2016, the college started its journey as a university.

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