Haridas Siddhantavagish, Mahamahopadhyay

Haridas Siddhantavagish, Mahamahopadhyay (1876-1961) sanskrit scholar and writer, born in the village of Unashia in faridpur district on 22 October 1876. His father, Gangadhar Vidyalankar, and grandfather, Kashichandra Vachaspati, were also Sanskrit scholars.

Haridas first studied kalapvyakaran with his father and grandfather, and got the title of 'Sabdacharya' for his performance in the grammar examination conducted by the Aryanshiksa Samiti of his village. He then studied verse, grammar, smritishastra, purana, palmistry, etc with Anandachandra Vidyaratna of Faridpur and Jibananda Vidyasagar of Kolkata. On passing different examinations of these subjects, he received titles of 'Vyakarantirtha', 'Kavyatirtha', etc. Later on, he received the titles of 'Sangkhyaratna', 'Puranshastri' and 'Siddhantavagish' from the purvavanga saraswat samaj of Dhaka. On completing his education, Haridas was appointed court scholar of Tripura, and later on, taught at Aryavidyalay in Kotalipara and the Nakipur Sanskrit school in Khulna. He also set up a printing press which was later transferred to Kolkata.

Haridas wrote in several genres. He wrote epics, Rukminiharan Mahakavya (1910) and Shivajicharita (1946), as well as plays, Vabgiyapratap (1917) and Mibarpratap. He also wrote many books in Bangla on different subjects: Smrtichintamani (memoirs, 1909) and Kavyakaumudi (rhetoric, 1951) etc.

Haridas edited fifteen important books in Sanskrit. His multi-volume edition of the mahabharata, in Bangla translation along with the original Sanskrit (1925-50), was his most impressive performance. The other books edited by him include Meghdut (1919), Raghubangsha (1924), Abhijnanshakuntal (1926), Sahityadurpun (1928), and Mudraraksas (1929), etc.

Haridas was elected vice-president of vangiya sahitya parishad in 1935-36. He presided over the main session of the All India Bengali Language Conference held in Muzaffarpur. He donated 3500 rupees to the university of calcutta in 1959 for awarding silver medals to the winners of the Smrti and Upadhi examinations in Sanskrit.

Haridas Siddhantavagish was honoured with many titles in recognition of his scholarship: the title of 'Mahopadeshak' by the Bharardharma Mahamandal of Benares, the title of 'Mahakavi' by the Bharatiya Panditmandal, the title of 'Bharatacharya' by Shantipur Purana Parishad, the title of 'Mahamahopadhyay' (1933) and 'Padmabhushan' (1960) by the Government of India and the 'Rabindra Puraskar' (1961) by the Government of West Bengal. Moreover, he was also awarded a civic reception (1960) by the calcutta corporation and an Order of Merit by the Central Government of India. [Kanailal Ray]