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Gupta, Ishwar Chandra (1812-1859) poet and journalist, was born on 25 Falgun 1218 (March 1812) at the Kanchanpolli or Kanchrapara village in 24-Parganas in west bengal. His father, Harinarayan Gupta, was an ayurvedic practitioner.

After his mother's death, Ishwar Chandra was brought up by his maternal uncle. Though not particularly studious, he was intelligent and learned Bangla, Sanskrit, and English as well as vedanta philosophy. He was inspired by Premchandra Tarkavagish, a professor of sanskrit college, and, helped by his friend Jogendra Mohan Tagore of Pathuriaghata, he started the weekly sangbad prabhakar from 28 January 1831. After about a year, however, the publication stopped for lack of finances. In 10 August 1836 the journal restarted publication, finally becoming a daily from 4 June 1839. Sambad Prabhakar played an important role in forming modern Bengali society.

Ishwar Chandra was initially a conservative, opposed to the young bengal movement as well as to the system of education of hindu college. He also opposed iswar chandra vidyasagar's movement for widow remarriage and wrote many satirical poems on the subject. Gradually his outlook changed and became more progressive. He began delivering speeches at the Hindu Philanthropic Society and in the tattvabodhini sabha. He started supporting the idea of the remarriage of virgin widows and women's education.

Ishwar Chandra is known as the poet of the transitional period of bangla literature. Though his language, rhythm, and figures of speech were medieval, his subjects were contemporary. He introduced the trend of writing short poems on different subjects. His writing, in which he was inspired by kaviyals or professional versifiers, is in the main satiric. In the Sambad Prabhakar, he published many short, satiric poems on contemporary events. He also wrote nationalistic poems. His play Bodhenduvikash (1863), which was published posthumously, shows his remarkable control over language and rhythm.

Ishwar Chandra was a nationalist, with strong feelings for his land and his language. He started a movement for the improvement of Bangla and also made it a point to use Bangla words unaffected by English.

Among his other important contributions are his biographies of Bharatchandra, Ramprasad Sen, Ramnidhi Gupta, Haru Thakur, and other poets. The credit for creating a proper climate for writers such as Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay, Dinabandhu Mitra, Rangalal Banerjee also goes to him.

Apart from Sambad Prabhakar, he also edited a number of other journals including Sangbadratnabali, Pasandapidan, and Sangbadsadhuranjan. He also edited Kalikirtan (1833) and Prabodh Prabhakar (1858) by Ramprasad Sen. Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay edited some of Ishwar Chandra's writings in Ishwar Chandra Guptar Kavita Sanggraha (Collected Poems, 1885) and Satyanarayan Vratakatha (1913).

Ishwar Chandra died on 10 Magh 1265 (23 January 1859). [Anirudha Kahaly]


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