Vidyasagar was invited to a party. When he reached the venue, the person at the gate told him that guests had to come in formal European dress. Those were the days of the British rule in India. British manners were adopted by Indians with English education. Vidyasagar, however, had turned up in his usual spotless white dhoti and kurta.
Vidyasagar thanked the man at the gate and left. A little while later, he turned up at the venue again. The man at the gate was happy to see that Vidyasagar was now in a formal European attire. He announced his arrival. The host himself came out to receive Vidyasagar, who was highly respected in Kolkata as a scholar.
During dinner, Vidyasagar started pouring food on his clothes, one spoon at a time! The guests were taken aback to see Vidyasagar talk to his coat, asking it to have some more soup. The host rushed to the scene and demanded an explanation for this strange behavior.
Vidyasagar smiled, “It is clear the invitation to dinner is to the dress I am wearing and not to me. Therefore, I’m feeding the dress.” The host got the message and he apologized to Vidyasagar.
Vidyasagar had sent out a simple message — the British might have won Indian territory, but Indians could remain Indians taking pride in their tradition and culture.
Note: Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (1820–1891) was a reputed Sanskrit scholar, educationist and social reformer who advocated widow remarriage.