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Books > History > The History of Bengal (Set of 2 Volumes)
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The History of Bengal (Set of 2 Volumes)
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The History of Bengal (Set of 2 Volumes)
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Description

Volume I: Hindu Period

Volume II: Muslim Period

About the Book

This book The History of Bengal is presented in two volumes. Vol. I containing 17 chapters covers the Hindu Period and is profusely illustrated with maps and plates. This volume is edited by Prof. R.C. Majumdar who served as Vice-Chancellor of the Dacca University. Vol. II edited by Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Ex-Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University contains 26 chapters and covers the history of Bengal during 1200- 1757 A.D. starting from Muslim Conquest of Bengal and ending with the Rule of Siraj- ud-daulah.

In writing this book of history the authors have strictly confined themselves to the data definitely applicable to the geographical limits of Bengal.

This authentic reference book is extremely useful for the students and research workers in History.

Volume - I

Foreword

THE idea of writing a comprehensive History of Bengal on modern scientific lines may be traced back to 1912 when Lord Carmichael, the first Governor of the Bengal Presidency, took the initiative and invited MM. Haraprasad Sastri to prepare a scheme. It was pro- posed to publish the history in three volumes dealing respectively with the Hindu, Muslim and British periods. Several meetings were held in the Government House, Calcutta, but what became of this plan and how far it was matured are not definitely known. Some years later, the late Raja Prafulla Nath Tagore, the grandson of the famous Kali Krishna Tagore, volunteered to pay the entire cost of such a publication, and invited the late Mr. Rakhaldas Banerji to draw up a plan along with some other well-known scholars of his time. Several meetings were held in the house of the Raja, but ultimately nothing came out of it.

Ever since the foundation of the University of Dacca, it was felt that the University should take up the task of preparing a History of Bengal as early as practicable. This idea received an impetus from Sir Jadunath Sarkar, who. in the course of a lecture delivered at the University about the middle of July 1933. emphasised that a History of Bengal on modern scientific lines was long overdue. and that this University, standing as it does in the very heart of an ancient and important seat of Bengal culture. should in the fitness of things take up the work. Sir Jadunath promised his whole-hearted support and active co-operation in this enterprise.

The scheme received a new impetus from Mr. (now Sir) A. F. Rahman, when he joined the University as Vice-Chancellor in July 1934. In his first convocation address next month he emphasised the need of commencing the work, and in his second convocation speech, in July 1935; he announced that some preliminary work had. already been done.

By the end of August 1935, the scheme took a more definite shape, as Professor R. C. Majumdar, Head of the Department of History. who bad so long been pre-occupied with his own research work on the history of Ancient Indian Colonies in the Far East, was now free to take up the work.

On the 13th of September 1935, the Vice-Chancellor convened a general meeting at his house, of local citizens and University teachers interested in the subject, and a Committee called the History of Bengal Publication Committee was formed at the meeting composed of the following gentlemen:-

1. A. F. Rahman, Esq., Vice-Chancellor, Dacca University -Chairman 2. Dr. N. K. Bhattasali-Secretary 3. Dr. S. N. Bhattacharyya-Jt. Secretary 4. Professor R. C. Majumdar 5. Sir Jadunath Sarkar 6. Dr. K. R. Quanungo 7. Hakim Habibur Rahman 8. Mr. Sharafuddin

The Committee formally met immediately after the general meeting, and its first task was the framing of a tentative Scheme of Work for the consideration of the Executive Council of the University. Mr. (now Sir) A. F. Rahman very generously announced at the inaugural meeting of the Committee a donation of Rupees one thousand in memory of his deceased mother, and Dr. K. R. Quanungo, Reader in History, promised on behalf of the Friend's Library, Kanungopara, Chittagong, a contribution of Rupees fifty.

The Committee passed several resolutions one requesting the Executive Council to, undertake to find funds for the publication of the proposed History, and to make an initial grant of Rs. 1,000/- and another requesting Professor Majumdar to take the necessary steps for the furtherance of the scheme.

In pursuance of the latter resolution of the Committee, Professor Majumdar wrote to the Vice-Chancellor on the 14th September, 1935, requesting him to place the draft scheme before the Executive Council and to move the Council to provide the necessary funds for the publication of the proposed History, and to make an initial grant of Rupees one thousand for meeting the preliminary expenses.

The scheme was recommended by the Academic Council and in a meeting "held on 19th December, 1935, the Executive Council finally approved of the entire scheme, financial as well as administrative, and resolved as follows :-

"That the financial and administrative schemes for the publication of the History of Bengal as a Dacca University publication as per Appendix c be approved, that for the purpose of meeting preliminary expenses for the publication of the History, a grant of Rs. 1,000/- be now made out of the University funds and that the University undertakes to find funds that might be necessary, in addition to the donation raised, for the publication of the History on the definite understanding that the proprietary right of the History should solely vest in the University of Dacca."

It is not necessary to reproduce the entire scheme, but the following extracts may be quoted to give an idea of the administrative arrangement :

 

'SCHEME FOR A HISTORY OF BENGAL

1. It shall be published by and at the expense of the University of Dacca under its general superintendence and control.

2. The History shall be divided into three volumes as follows :-

Vol. I. The Hindu Period. Vol. II. Pre-Mughal Period (1200-1576 A.D.). Nol. III. Mughal Period (1576-1757 A.D.).

3. Dr. R. C. Majumdar shall be the editor of the first volume and Sir Jadunath Sarkar should be requested to edit the second and the third volumes.

4. The management of the preparation and publication of the proposed History shall be entrusted to a committee to be called 'History of Bengal Publication Committee' composed as follows :-

1. The Vice-Chancellor-Chairman. 2. Dr. N. K. Bhattasali -Secretary. 3. Dr. S. N. Bhattacharyya -Jt. Secretary.

Other members -4. Sir Jadunath Sarkar and 5. Dr. R. C, Majumdar, Editors; 6. Dr. K. R. Quanungo ; 7. Hakim Habibur Rahman; 8. Mr. Sharafuddin. The Committee shall have power to co-opt other members."

In the second meeting of the History Publication Committee held on 16th February, 1936, a fund called the History of Bengal Publication Fund was created with the nucleus grant of Rs. 1,000/- made by the Executive Council, and appeals for financial help were also made. In response to these appeals, Sir P. C. Ray made a donation of Rs. 1,000/- and the Government of Bengal offered a similar donation of Rs. 1,000/- to the Fund. Subsequently, the Executive Council sanctioned a sum of Rs. 10;000/- for the printing and publication of the work.

In course of the long period of composition and completion of the work, several noteworthy changes took place in the personnel of the Committee as well as in the scheme of the work. Dr. N. K. Bhattasali resigned the office of Secretary on 25. 5. 36 and Dr. S. N. Bhattacharyya was appointed in his place. Dr. A. F. Rahman resigned the office of Chairman on 8. 4. 37 and Dr. R. C. Majumdar was appointed in his place. Professor R. C. Majumdar resigned the office on 29. 6. 42 and Professor M. Hasan succeeded him. Mr. Sharafuddin ceased to be a number of the Committee, and Professor S. K. De, Dr. M. Shahidullah, Dr. M. I. Borah, and Dr. D. C. Ganguly were added as members to the Committee. Dr. D. C. Ganguly was appointed Joint Secretary on 19. 9. 40.

Some changes in the scheme of work, particularly in the distribution of chapters to different scholars, were also made from time to time. The names of the writers finally selected are mentioned in the Table of Contents under each chapter. The Committee convey their thanks to all of them for their valuable co-operation.

Though the work was initiated early in 1936, its progress was delayed for several reasons, to which reference has been made by the editor in the Preface. It is a matter of great satisfaction to all concerned that in spite of all difficulties and handicaps the first part of the work is at last completed and published.

The Committee take this opportunity of expressing their gratitude to Sir Jadunath Sarkar, C.I.E., for commending the work to the University and for accepting the onerous duties of editorship of Volumes II and III of the history. They desire to offer their grateful thanks to Sir A. F. Rahman, for his services in regard to the initiation and promotion of the work during the period of his Vice-Chancellorship. The Committee feel especially indebted to Professor R. C. Majumdar, who, in spite of his heavy administrative duties as Vice-Chancellor, accepted the editorship of Volume I. contributed to it so many chapters, and saw the book through the Press. His energy and enterprise alone have made the early publication of the work possible.

The Committee take this opportunity to convey their thanks to Sir P. C. Ray for his very generous donation for the publication of this work.

The thanks of the Committee are also due to various persons and institutions for the help rendered by them in the publication of this work. Rao Bahadur K. N. Dikshit, M.A., F.R.A.S.B., Director General of Archaeology in India has most generously lent free of charge the blocks preserved in his Department and also supplied prints of negatives at the usual cost. With his kind permission, the Superintendent, Archaeological Section, the Indian Museum and the Superintendent, Archaeological Survey, Eastern Circle, Calcutta, have rendered all facilities for the study of the sculptures and taking photos wherever necessary. We take this opportunity to offer the Director General and the members of his Department our most grateful thanks for the very valuable services rendered by them. The authorities ,of the Asutosh Museum of Indian Art, Calcutta University, Vangiya Sahitya Parishat, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, Indian Society of Oriental Art, Dacca Museum, Greater India Society and Indian Science News Association, and Messrs. O. C. Gangoly, N. K. Bhattasali, J. N. Banerjea and S. K. Saraswati have lent us free of charge blocks and photos in their possession and we offer our heartfelt thanks for the readiness with which they have offered their co-operation.

We wish we could say the same thing about the Varendra Research Society at Rajshahi, the only institution in the whole of India from which he have failed to receive the help and sympathy we had every reason to expect, in view of the past history of-the institution and its illustrious founder who has rendered yeoman's service to the advancement of the study of the History of Bengal. This Society alone possesses all the illustrated Buddhist manuscripts, definitely known to be written in Ancient Bengal, whose whereabouts are known at present. It is hardly necessary to point out that the coloured illustrations in these MSS. are necessary for a proper study of the art of painting in Ancient Bengal. In spite of repeated requests, the Society refused to lend them to us and only gave permission to consult them at Rajshahi, The Vice-Chancellor (who was also the Editor) personally saw the President of the Society and explained that it was impossible to' prepare tri-colour blocks at Rajshahi and offered the guarantee of either the Dacca University, or the University of Calcutta (which he hoped to secure from its Vice-Chancellor) for the safe-keeping and return of the MSS. if they were sent for a few days to Calcutta. This the Society persistently refused to do with the result that the History of Bengal, containing the first comprehensive treatment of the art of painting, had to be published without those illustrations which have not yet seen the light of the day although the Society has been in possession of the MSS. for a quarter of a' century. As regards photos of sculptures, the Society ,offered the use of eleven, already in their possession, only on payment of Rs. 50/- which amounted to the entire cost of their original preparation for the use of the Society. Without pursuing this unpleasant topic any further, it may be said that after prolonged correspondence two photos were lent free on condition that the "Dacca University would give to the Museum free of charge, in return, the blocks of these photographs prepared by them" and "acknowledge duly in the proposed work the courtesy thus extendeo.' While we take this opportunity to acknowledge the courtesy that we have received from the Varendra Research Society, Rajshahi, and thank them for their help, we cannot but regret that it was not forthcoming in a larger measure.

As it has not been possible to indicate under each illustration the source from which its photograph was obtained, a separate 'acknowledgement' list has been inserted for this purpose. It is to be definitely understood that the right of reproducing the illustrations is reserved by the persons, authorities and institutions who lent their blocks or photographs.

Finally, we wish to place on record our appreciation of the services rendered by the General Printers and Publishers Ltd., the printers of this volume. The Managing Director of this company Mr. S. C. Das, M.A., an .ex-student of the Dacca University, has taken special care to see this volume through the Press and has spared no pains to expedite the publication in the face of exceptional difficulties. Our special thanks are due to him and to Mr. R. K. Ghoshal. M.A. who has not only revised the proofs and prepared the Index, but also made many valuable suggestions for improvement.

Preface

THE genesis of the present work has been explained in the Foreword. The editor feels that he owes an explanation for the very long interval between the inception of the work and its publication. In view of the importance of the subject a few relevant facts may be mentioned which will also incidentally explain the changes made in the personnel of the writers referred to in the Foreword.

Shortly after the work was taken up we were denied the co- operation of Dr. N. K. Bhattasali, M.A., PH.D., who was the Secretary of the Publication Committee and had agreed to write the chapter on Art. It is unnecessary to discuss here the reasons which led Dr. Bhattasali to come to this decision, but the change of Secretary and the loss of a valuable contributor naturally caused dislocation of work and involved considerable delay in completing the preliminary steps. The chapter on Art was entrusted to the late Mr. N. G. Majumdar, who naturally desired to collect photos of select specimens of architecture and sculpture before commencing to write. This took up a long time as the specimens to be photographed were spread over a' wide area. At last the photos were prepared and he took them with him in his ill-fated journey to the Indus Valley, as he hoped to be able to write the chapter in his leisure hours while on tour. The tragic circumstances under which he met his end in Sind are known to all. His death dealt a severe blow to our scheme, as most of the photos together with the notes prepared by him were irretrievably lost. In this predicament the editor invited two young scholars-Dr. Niharranjan Ray and Mr. Sarasi Kumar Saraswati-to write the chapter on Art, and they readily agreed to take up the work. But the preparation of a new set of photographs took up much time and caused considerable delay. We take this opportunity to pay our tribute of respect to the gifted archaeologist who had readily volunteered his valuable co- operation which, alas, was denied us by his sudden and tragic death.

When the chapter on Art was assigned to the late Mr. N. G. Majumdar he had to be relieved of the work already allotted to him and this involved re-allocation of a number of chapters. The new arrangement did not prove at all satisfactory, and most of these chapters had to be written by the editor himself. The sudden departure of one of the contributors for Europe, without any previous intimation, also involved more work for the editor, as no competent scholar was found willing to take up the work at a short notice.

Even when most of the chapters were ready the editor was confronted with other difficulties. It was originally proposed to devote a whole chapter to the ethnology of Bengal, and a specialist on the subject was invited to write it. Repeated reminders, extending over a period of five or six years, were always followed by promises to send the contribution within a short period, but it was not received even when the printing of the volume had made considerable progress. As he never declined the task no substitute could be appointed. At last, in order to avoid the total suspension of the work at a time when in view of the abnormal circumstances every effort had to be made to expedite the printing, the editor had no other option but to write himself a brief note on the subject at the beginning of chapter xv. This chapter dealing with the social conditions of Ancient Bengal was also entrusted to -a specialist on the subject. After a great deal of delay the promised contribution was received, but it dealt with pre-historic anthropology only and did not at all touch the real subject. Again, in order to avoid further delay in the publication, the editor undertook to write it himself with the co-operation of Dr. D. C. Ganguly, M.A., PH.D. and Dr. R. C. Hazra, M.A., PH.D. The former worked on the epigraphic and the latter on the literary data, and the materials collected by them were co-ordinated and put into proper form by the editor with certain additions. Special thanks are due to both these scholars for having agreed to undertake the work at such short notice.

Thus more than five years had passed before the volume could be sent to the Press. But three months after the printing had begun the declaration of war by Japan upset the normal life in Calcutta and considerably dislocated her business and industry. The printing press was seriously affected by the panicky evacuation of the city, and there was considerable delay before satisfactory progress in the work of printing could be resumed. In view of the abnormal situation no efforts were spared to expedite the printing, lest any fresh wave of panic should again suspend the work. Unfortunately, the Japanese air-raids on Calcutta in December last year again dislocated the business life of Calcutta when only the last four chapters remained to be printed. It reflects great credit upon the custodian of the printing establishment that in spite of considerable difficulties, these chapters were at last printed off. Faced with the contingency of having to postpone indefinitely the publication of the volume over which he had worked for more than six years, the editor decided to push up the printing at any cost, even at the risk of sacrificing quality to a certain extent. The proofs could not be sent for final revision to the authors of the last three chapters and the editor had to undertake the sole responsibility of seeing them through the Press.

This somewhat long and tedious narrative is given here not only as an explanation of the long delay in the publication of the work, but also as an interesting record which might be of use to the future historian of the History of Bengal. For in view of the present state of our knowledge any exposition of the history of Ancient Bengal must be regarded as provisional ; and as new evidence is continually and rapidly accumulating, it may be confidently hoped that the present work would turn out to be merely a precursor of many similar volumes which would be written at no distant date. The editor does not pretend to do anything more than laying the foundation on which more competent hands will build in future, till a suitable structure is raised which would be worthy of Our motherland. The historian of that not very distant future may perhaps view with greater sympathy the pioneer efforts of his predecessor if he realises the difficulties under which the latter had to carryon his work, in addition to heavy administrative duties throughout the period.

The task of compiling a history of Ancient Bengal is by no means an easy one. The greater part of the subject is yet an untrodden field, and few have made any special study of such branches of it as art and religion, social and economic conditions, law and administration. These topics have been so far studied almost exclusively with reference to ancient India as a whole, but a regional study, strictly confined within the limits of the territory where the Bengali language is spoken, has not yet been seriously taken up by competent scholars. In respect of political history also, while much spade work has been done, no serious attempt has yet been made to reconstruct a continuous historical narrative as distinct from the collection and interpretation of a number of archaeological data. In many respects, therefore, the present volume breaks altogether new ground, and faults of both omission and commission are almost inevitable in such a case.

In writing this history we have strictly confined ourselves to the data definitely applicable to the geographical limits of Bengal, and any deviation from this rule has been duly noted.

An attempt has also been made to make the treatment as detached and scientific as possible. Where materials of study are lacking, we have chosen to leave a void rather than fill it up with the help of imaginary or unreliable matter. Many topics of interest and importance have, therefore, been altogether ignored or very imperfectly treated.

It is hardly necessary to recapitulate the difficulties which are inherent in a work of this kind or to explain the principles adopted in the preparation of this volume. The series of historical works published by the Cambridge University have been deliberately adopted as the standard and model of this work, and the following passage in the Preface to the First Volume of the Cambridge Ancient History admirably sums up our views and ideals

: "In a co-operative work of this kind, no editorial pains could avoid a certain measure of overlapping ; and in fields where there is so much uncertainty and such wide room for divergencies of views, as in the first two volumes, overlapping must mean that occasionally different writers will express or imply different opinions. It has not been thought desirable to attempt to eliminate these differences, though they are often indicated or discussed. Such inconsistencies may sometimes be a little inconvenient for the reader's peace of mind, but it is better he should learn to take them as characteristic of the ground over which he is being guided than that he should be misled by a dogmatic consistency into accepting one view as authoritative and final.

"It will easily be understood that it is not possible to give chapter and verse for every statement or detailed arguments for every opinion, but it is hoped that the work will be found serviceable to professional students as well as to the general reader. The general reader is constantly kept in view throughout, and our aim is to steer a middle course between the opposite dangers, a work which only the expert could read or understand and one so 'popular' that serious students would rightly regard it with indifference."

It is a source of great pleasure to us that in spite of delays and difficulties, it has been found possible to bring out the first volume. The printing of the second volume has already made some progress, though in view of the abnormal situation prevailing in Calcutta, it is difficult to say when it will see the light of day.

On behalf of the Dacca University, and the Editorial Board, we wish to express our indebtedness to the various contributors for their whole-hearted co-operation in this project, even at a considerable personal inconvenience.

The editor acknowledges with pleasure the help he has received from his many friends and old pupils. Dr. H. C. Raychaudhuri, M.A., PH.D., Carmichael Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Calcutta University, not only offered many valuable suggestions, but helped the editor to tide over many difficulties that confronted him from time to time. Mr. Sarasi Kumar Saraswati, M.A., Lecturer, Calcutta University, has regularly assisted the editor in seeing the volume through the Press and taken immense pains in preparing photos, blocks and maps, and properly arranging these materials for publication. Mr. Pramode Lal Paul, M.A., Mr. A. Halim, M.A., and Mr. Kshitish Chandra Ray, M.A. prepared a bibliography of articles, published in oriental journals, for the use of the contributors. Mr. Subodh Chandra Banerji, M.A., Keeper of Manuscripts, Dacca University Library, offered many valuable suggestions in writing the chapter on Social Conditions. Mr. Anil Chandra Mukherji has drawn the maps which are published in this volume. The editor conveys his thanks and expresses his indebtedness to these and all others who have helped him in any way in discharging his responsible duties.

The system of transliteration followed in the Epigraphia Indica has been adopted in this volume. In chapter XII i and ii have been used to indicate the vowels i and u, not joined with any consonant. As regards Indian place-names, the system of spelling adopted in the Imperial Gazetteer has been generally followed, though there are some deviations in well-known cases. In writing modern place-names vowels have not been as a rule accentuated except in cases of find-spots of images and inscriptions. In these and similar instances, such as English derivatives from Sanskrit words (like Tantric, Puranic, Brahmanical etc.) it has not been possible to maintain a rigid uniformity, for in view of the fact that different. practices are adopted even in standard works, and none of them can be regarded as definitely established, it has not been thought desirable or necessary to take meticulous care to change the spelling adopted by different contributors. Titles of books cited have been printed in italics, and a list of the abbreviations used for books, periodicals, places of publications etc. has been appended. Volumes have been indicated by Roman, and pages by Arabic, numerals, with a dot between the two, but without any words like Vol. or p ; pp. etc.

As copious footnotes giving full references to books and articles in periodicals have been added throughout the work, it has not been thought necessary to add a long bibliography at the end of the volume. Only a select bibliography is given containing a list of important works of a general nature and such other references as have been specially suggested by the writers of the different chapters.

Volume - II

Foreword

On behalf of the University of Dacca and of the History of Bengal Publication Committee, it is my privilege to offer my most sincere thanks to Sir Jadunath Sarkar through whose untiring efforts this volume is seeing the light of the day. But for the admirable promptness and skill with which he modified our old scheme to suit the altered conditions, the publication of this volume would have been indefinitely delayed. This achievement of Sir Jadunath is all the more creditable since he worked under conditions in which anyone who did not possess his indomitable courage would have broken down. Sir Jadunath suffered bereavement after bereavement while he was engaged in the preparation of this volume.

It is a great pity that before this volume. could be completed, two of the promoters of the scheme were taken away from us by the cruel hand of death. Shifaul-Mulk Hakim Habibur Rahman Khan who was the embodiment of all that is best in Muslim culture, died suddenly in the midst of his labours. He was engaged at the time of his death in collecting useful material for the social and cultural history of mediaeval Bengal intended for this volume. Equally sudden was the death of our indefatigable Secretary, Dr. S. N. Bhattacharyya of the Department of History, University of Dacca, who had been actively associated with the scheme from the very beginning.

I take this opportunity of thanking sincerely all the learned scholars without whose help this volume could not have been published.

 

Preface

The first volume of this History, containing the Hindu period, was published in May 1943. The second and third volumes, which were to cover the early Muslim and the Mughal periods respectively, were planned at the same time as the first in 1936, and should in normal circumstances have followed it in two to four years. But the times were not normal, and a number .of unforeseen difficulties have compelled the editor not only to delay their publication but also to alter their plan.

My first and most serious difficulty sprang from the insufficiently known fact that while the Hindu period of Bengal history, in almost every part of it has been worked over by a large number of modern scholars producing fruits of a high standard,-the Muslim period, except for a few reigns still remains unexplored ground, and we are still encompassed by almost the same mist of tradition and the deceptive light of pious frauds, which baffled Captain Charles Stewart when he attempted the first History of Bengal in English 130 years ago. Even the chronology of many of the early Muslim rulers of Bengal is still unsettled, as their coins are so few and so badly executed that their dates cannot be read with certainty. This want of modern research has been most acutely felt in respect of the social, economic and cultural history of mediaeval Bengal, the only exception being the studies in Vaishnavism, which, however, relate to the Mughal period. The students of our province's economic history have concentrated their attention on the British period and the late 17th century British trade in Bengal, while in respect of the rest of the country's history during the Muslim period, the surface has been hardly scratched.

Thus a history of Bengal under Muslim rule is bound to be a production of very uneven parts, being up to modern standards of scholarship and rich in accurate details in certain topics or reigns only, and totally dark or covered with the haze of loose tradition in all others.

It was originally intended to spread the political and cultural history evenly through these two volumes, one ending' with the Mughal conquest \ (1575) and the other with the downfall of Muslim rule (1757). But if this plan had been adhered to, the publication of each of these volumes would have been put off till a new generation of research students had arisen and lit up the dark places of our cultural and social history during the middle ages. Therefore, the first change that was forced upon me was to put all the political narrative of the projected two volumes in one and print it first, as the necessary contributors were available and they could be asked to supply their chapters in two years. The social and cultural history of the entire Muslim age was assigned to the final volume, which we could not hope to compile in the near future.

The' next hitch occurred after the chapters of this "political history" volume had been allotted to different scholars and they had been given two years' time to submit their work. Some of them, after wavering, declined the task, many others were found to be habitually incapable of writing their promised chapters within the time limit, or indeed ever at all. So, at last the painful truth dawned upon the mind of the Editor that he must personally shoulder the burden of writing the major portion of even the political history of Bengal during five and a half centuries, if this volume was to be completed in his lifetime. That, as will be remembered, was also the sad experience of Dr. R. C. Majumdar, the Editor of the first volume. As will be seen, I have had to write more than 200 pages in this volume of a little over 500 pages, besides revising and sometimes recasting the work of many of the other contributors.

After these preliminary troubles had been got over as best we could, we had hopes of the manuscripts for the different chapters being sent in to the Editor by the end of 1941 ; but just at that time came the war with Japan and the air raids on Bengal and Assam. The libraries of our Universities and learned Societies were closed and their most valuable books and journals were sent into storage in safer places far inland. Thus, our Bengali contributors could not consult learned works or verify references. This interruption lasted during the pendency of the war.

When the world war ended; our troubles instead of easing, became rather intensified. Political disorder, sectarian fights, and even common types of crime, raised their ugly heads all over the province on a scale unheard of before. The evil was aggravated by almost universal labour trouble, which interrupted postal and railway communications, and during several months the working of printing presses. Thus, though the first chapter of this volume was put in type as early as October 1944, its actual printing made very slow progress for over two years, for no fault of the printers. However, by intense activity during 1947, the book was completed and the printing nearly finished by the end of that year.

These troubles and the necessity of printing off the composed matter promptly during 1947, explain why the proofs could .not be sent to our distant contributors but had to be read in Calcutta. If any errors have crept in, the writers should not be held responsible for them.

This long delay has robbed one of our valued contributors, Dr. Sudhindra Nath Bhattacharya, Ph.D., of the pleasure of seeing his work in print; and it is now the Editor's painful duty to give him posthumous thanks for his excellent chapters (82 pages of print Chapters 13-16) relating to a period that he had made peculiarly his own. His intensive study of the history of Bengal's north-eastern frontier during the reign of Jahangir, his minute attention to topography, his gift of identifying even petty villages by ransacking the lists of villages in different districts compiled by Government for the use of post offices, and his acumen in correcting errors of date in accepted works, all lend a special value to the work of Dr. Sudhindra Nath Bhattacharya. He had written his contribution at much fuller length and requested the Editor to compress it to a size more in keeping with the general plan of this volume. The Editor has reduced it to half its original length, but nowhere has any of the author's opinions been altered.

The other contributors are happily still in our midst and to them I render my thanks for their valued assistance:

Dr. Kalika Ranjan Qanungo (91 pages, Chapters 1-3), Professor Nirod Bhusan Roy (38 pages, Chapters 4 and 8) , Dr. A. B. M. Habibullah (36 pages, Chapters 6 and 7), Dr. Jagadish Narayan Sarkar (7 pages, Chapter 18), Dr. Surendra Nath Sen (20 pages, Chapter 19) and Dr. Kali Kinkar Datta (33 pages, Chapters 22 and 23).

No attempt has been made to remove the minor differences of opinion or date between one contributor and another in their respective sections; and each of them must be judged in the light of the authority relied upon by him.

For the Editor's own portion of this volume (200 pages, Chapters 5,9-12,17,20,21,24-26, besides some sections of Chapters 14 and 18). his only apology is the nature of the raw material on which he had to work. He had to clear the jungle and break virgin soil in respect of certain periods in his share, such as the viceroyalties of Prince Muhammad Shuja', Shaista Khan, and Murshid QuIi Khan. In these, my predecessors, the Riyaz-us-salatin and its English version, Stewart's History of Bengal, had merely left to us an uncharted wilderness, and I had to construct their true story by piecing together a large number of stray hints in Persian manuscripts and letters and European traders' reports. A comparison of these chapters with the corresponding pages in Stewart will show how our knowledge of the history of Bengal has advanced beyond recognition in the century and a quarter that have followed the days of Stewart. No period of the history of mediaeval Bengal is now known even in half such fulness and accuracy of detail, supported by absolutely contemporary records, as the reign of Jahangir (1608-1627). But that was due entirely to my discovery of the Bharistan-i-Ghaibi (Mirza Nathan's personal recollections) in the Bibliotheque Nationale of Paris (in 1919) and the Ahom buranjis brought to light at Sir Edward Gait's initiative. These priceless materials have been exhaustively utilised through the long and devoted study of Professor Sudhindra Nath Bhattacharya.

In conclusion, I must thank the General Printers.& Publishers Ltd., for their patient care in printing what was often very badly typed and worse corrected manuscripts and keeping the composed matter standing for long periods of civil disturbance. Dr. Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, Ph.D., smoothed the launching of the scheme by making the preliminary arrangements and giving constant attention to the work to be done by the Dacca Committee, during his five years' Vice-Chancellorship of that University, till his retirement in 1942. The present Vice-Chancellor of the Dacca University, Dr. Mahmood Hasan, D. Phil, has made my work much easier by taking an unfailing interest in the book and solving every difficulty as it arose, so as to expedite its publication.

For the very detailed and helpful index, with its cross references and explanatory notes, we are indebted to the trained skill of Professor Nirod Bhusan Roy M.A. Sriyut Asoka K. Majumdar, M.A., has been very helpful to me in expediting the printing.

The cost of book production is now four times what it was in 1938 when the publication of this History was planned, and there is an acute shortage of skilled assistants. For this reason and also to avoid further delay in the publication of this volume, no map (except one), picture or coin plate could be included in it. The Editor's regret for this cruel necessity is no less keen than that of his readers, especially as all will miss the very necessary illustrations of the changes in the river-courses and land-routes during the six centuries covered by this volume. We can only hope that with better times this defect will be made good in Volume III.

 

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The History of Bengal (Set of 2 Volumes)

Item Code:
NAL517
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Edition:
1943
ISBN:
Volume I: 9788176462389
Volume II: 9788176462396
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English
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1395 (4 Color and 186 B/W Illustrations)
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Weight of the Book: 2.3 kg
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Volume I: Hindu Period

Volume II: Muslim Period

About the Book

This book The History of Bengal is presented in two volumes. Vol. I containing 17 chapters covers the Hindu Period and is profusely illustrated with maps and plates. This volume is edited by Prof. R.C. Majumdar who served as Vice-Chancellor of the Dacca University. Vol. II edited by Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Ex-Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University contains 26 chapters and covers the history of Bengal during 1200- 1757 A.D. starting from Muslim Conquest of Bengal and ending with the Rule of Siraj- ud-daulah.

In writing this book of history the authors have strictly confined themselves to the data definitely applicable to the geographical limits of Bengal.

This authentic reference book is extremely useful for the students and research workers in History.

Volume - I

Foreword

THE idea of writing a comprehensive History of Bengal on modern scientific lines may be traced back to 1912 when Lord Carmichael, the first Governor of the Bengal Presidency, took the initiative and invited MM. Haraprasad Sastri to prepare a scheme. It was pro- posed to publish the history in three volumes dealing respectively with the Hindu, Muslim and British periods. Several meetings were held in the Government House, Calcutta, but what became of this plan and how far it was matured are not definitely known. Some years later, the late Raja Prafulla Nath Tagore, the grandson of the famous Kali Krishna Tagore, volunteered to pay the entire cost of such a publication, and invited the late Mr. Rakhaldas Banerji to draw up a plan along with some other well-known scholars of his time. Several meetings were held in the house of the Raja, but ultimately nothing came out of it.

Ever since the foundation of the University of Dacca, it was felt that the University should take up the task of preparing a History of Bengal as early as practicable. This idea received an impetus from Sir Jadunath Sarkar, who. in the course of a lecture delivered at the University about the middle of July 1933. emphasised that a History of Bengal on modern scientific lines was long overdue. and that this University, standing as it does in the very heart of an ancient and important seat of Bengal culture. should in the fitness of things take up the work. Sir Jadunath promised his whole-hearted support and active co-operation in this enterprise.

The scheme received a new impetus from Mr. (now Sir) A. F. Rahman, when he joined the University as Vice-Chancellor in July 1934. In his first convocation address next month he emphasised the need of commencing the work, and in his second convocation speech, in July 1935; he announced that some preliminary work had. already been done.

By the end of August 1935, the scheme took a more definite shape, as Professor R. C. Majumdar, Head of the Department of History. who bad so long been pre-occupied with his own research work on the history of Ancient Indian Colonies in the Far East, was now free to take up the work.

On the 13th of September 1935, the Vice-Chancellor convened a general meeting at his house, of local citizens and University teachers interested in the subject, and a Committee called the History of Bengal Publication Committee was formed at the meeting composed of the following gentlemen:-

1. A. F. Rahman, Esq., Vice-Chancellor, Dacca University -Chairman 2. Dr. N. K. Bhattasali-Secretary 3. Dr. S. N. Bhattacharyya-Jt. Secretary 4. Professor R. C. Majumdar 5. Sir Jadunath Sarkar 6. Dr. K. R. Quanungo 7. Hakim Habibur Rahman 8. Mr. Sharafuddin

The Committee formally met immediately after the general meeting, and its first task was the framing of a tentative Scheme of Work for the consideration of the Executive Council of the University. Mr. (now Sir) A. F. Rahman very generously announced at the inaugural meeting of the Committee a donation of Rupees one thousand in memory of his deceased mother, and Dr. K. R. Quanungo, Reader in History, promised on behalf of the Friend's Library, Kanungopara, Chittagong, a contribution of Rupees fifty.

The Committee passed several resolutions one requesting the Executive Council to, undertake to find funds for the publication of the proposed History, and to make an initial grant of Rs. 1,000/- and another requesting Professor Majumdar to take the necessary steps for the furtherance of the scheme.

In pursuance of the latter resolution of the Committee, Professor Majumdar wrote to the Vice-Chancellor on the 14th September, 1935, requesting him to place the draft scheme before the Executive Council and to move the Council to provide the necessary funds for the publication of the proposed History, and to make an initial grant of Rupees one thousand for meeting the preliminary expenses.

The scheme was recommended by the Academic Council and in a meeting "held on 19th December, 1935, the Executive Council finally approved of the entire scheme, financial as well as administrative, and resolved as follows :-

"That the financial and administrative schemes for the publication of the History of Bengal as a Dacca University publication as per Appendix c be approved, that for the purpose of meeting preliminary expenses for the publication of the History, a grant of Rs. 1,000/- be now made out of the University funds and that the University undertakes to find funds that might be necessary, in addition to the donation raised, for the publication of the History on the definite understanding that the proprietary right of the History should solely vest in the University of Dacca."

It is not necessary to reproduce the entire scheme, but the following extracts may be quoted to give an idea of the administrative arrangement :

 

'SCHEME FOR A HISTORY OF BENGAL

1. It shall be published by and at the expense of the University of Dacca under its general superintendence and control.

2. The History shall be divided into three volumes as follows :-

Vol. I. The Hindu Period. Vol. II. Pre-Mughal Period (1200-1576 A.D.). Nol. III. Mughal Period (1576-1757 A.D.).

3. Dr. R. C. Majumdar shall be the editor of the first volume and Sir Jadunath Sarkar should be requested to edit the second and the third volumes.

4. The management of the preparation and publication of the proposed History shall be entrusted to a committee to be called 'History of Bengal Publication Committee' composed as follows :-

1. The Vice-Chancellor-Chairman. 2. Dr. N. K. Bhattasali -Secretary. 3. Dr. S. N. Bhattacharyya -Jt. Secretary.

Other members -4. Sir Jadunath Sarkar and 5. Dr. R. C, Majumdar, Editors; 6. Dr. K. R. Quanungo ; 7. Hakim Habibur Rahman; 8. Mr. Sharafuddin. The Committee shall have power to co-opt other members."

In the second meeting of the History Publication Committee held on 16th February, 1936, a fund called the History of Bengal Publication Fund was created with the nucleus grant of Rs. 1,000/- made by the Executive Council, and appeals for financial help were also made. In response to these appeals, Sir P. C. Ray made a donation of Rs. 1,000/- and the Government of Bengal offered a similar donation of Rs. 1,000/- to the Fund. Subsequently, the Executive Council sanctioned a sum of Rs. 10;000/- for the printing and publication of the work.

In course of the long period of composition and completion of the work, several noteworthy changes took place in the personnel of the Committee as well as in the scheme of the work. Dr. N. K. Bhattasali resigned the office of Secretary on 25. 5. 36 and Dr. S. N. Bhattacharyya was appointed in his place. Dr. A. F. Rahman resigned the office of Chairman on 8. 4. 37 and Dr. R. C. Majumdar was appointed in his place. Professor R. C. Majumdar resigned the office on 29. 6. 42 and Professor M. Hasan succeeded him. Mr. Sharafuddin ceased to be a number of the Committee, and Professor S. K. De, Dr. M. Shahidullah, Dr. M. I. Borah, and Dr. D. C. Ganguly were added as members to the Committee. Dr. D. C. Ganguly was appointed Joint Secretary on 19. 9. 40.

Some changes in the scheme of work, particularly in the distribution of chapters to different scholars, were also made from time to time. The names of the writers finally selected are mentioned in the Table of Contents under each chapter. The Committee convey their thanks to all of them for their valuable co-operation.

Though the work was initiated early in 1936, its progress was delayed for several reasons, to which reference has been made by the editor in the Preface. It is a matter of great satisfaction to all concerned that in spite of all difficulties and handicaps the first part of the work is at last completed and published.

The Committee take this opportunity of expressing their gratitude to Sir Jadunath Sarkar, C.I.E., for commending the work to the University and for accepting the onerous duties of editorship of Volumes II and III of the history. They desire to offer their grateful thanks to Sir A. F. Rahman, for his services in regard to the initiation and promotion of the work during the period of his Vice-Chancellorship. The Committee feel especially indebted to Professor R. C. Majumdar, who, in spite of his heavy administrative duties as Vice-Chancellor, accepted the editorship of Volume I. contributed to it so many chapters, and saw the book through the Press. His energy and enterprise alone have made the early publication of the work possible.

The Committee take this opportunity to convey their thanks to Sir P. C. Ray for his very generous donation for the publication of this work.

The thanks of the Committee are also due to various persons and institutions for the help rendered by them in the publication of this work. Rao Bahadur K. N. Dikshit, M.A., F.R.A.S.B., Director General of Archaeology in India has most generously lent free of charge the blocks preserved in his Department and also supplied prints of negatives at the usual cost. With his kind permission, the Superintendent, Archaeological Section, the Indian Museum and the Superintendent, Archaeological Survey, Eastern Circle, Calcutta, have rendered all facilities for the study of the sculptures and taking photos wherever necessary. We take this opportunity to offer the Director General and the members of his Department our most grateful thanks for the very valuable services rendered by them. The authorities ,of the Asutosh Museum of Indian Art, Calcutta University, Vangiya Sahitya Parishat, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, Indian Society of Oriental Art, Dacca Museum, Greater India Society and Indian Science News Association, and Messrs. O. C. Gangoly, N. K. Bhattasali, J. N. Banerjea and S. K. Saraswati have lent us free of charge blocks and photos in their possession and we offer our heartfelt thanks for the readiness with which they have offered their co-operation.

We wish we could say the same thing about the Varendra Research Society at Rajshahi, the only institution in the whole of India from which he have failed to receive the help and sympathy we had every reason to expect, in view of the past history of-the institution and its illustrious founder who has rendered yeoman's service to the advancement of the study of the History of Bengal. This Society alone possesses all the illustrated Buddhist manuscripts, definitely known to be written in Ancient Bengal, whose whereabouts are known at present. It is hardly necessary to point out that the coloured illustrations in these MSS. are necessary for a proper study of the art of painting in Ancient Bengal. In spite of repeated requests, the Society refused to lend them to us and only gave permission to consult them at Rajshahi, The Vice-Chancellor (who was also the Editor) personally saw the President of the Society and explained that it was impossible to' prepare tri-colour blocks at Rajshahi and offered the guarantee of either the Dacca University, or the University of Calcutta (which he hoped to secure from its Vice-Chancellor) for the safe-keeping and return of the MSS. if they were sent for a few days to Calcutta. This the Society persistently refused to do with the result that the History of Bengal, containing the first comprehensive treatment of the art of painting, had to be published without those illustrations which have not yet seen the light of the day although the Society has been in possession of the MSS. for a quarter of a' century. As regards photos of sculptures, the Society ,offered the use of eleven, already in their possession, only on payment of Rs. 50/- which amounted to the entire cost of their original preparation for the use of the Society. Without pursuing this unpleasant topic any further, it may be said that after prolonged correspondence two photos were lent free on condition that the "Dacca University would give to the Museum free of charge, in return, the blocks of these photographs prepared by them" and "acknowledge duly in the proposed work the courtesy thus extendeo.' While we take this opportunity to acknowledge the courtesy that we have received from the Varendra Research Society, Rajshahi, and thank them for their help, we cannot but regret that it was not forthcoming in a larger measure.

As it has not been possible to indicate under each illustration the source from which its photograph was obtained, a separate 'acknowledgement' list has been inserted for this purpose. It is to be definitely understood that the right of reproducing the illustrations is reserved by the persons, authorities and institutions who lent their blocks or photographs.

Finally, we wish to place on record our appreciation of the services rendered by the General Printers and Publishers Ltd., the printers of this volume. The Managing Director of this company Mr. S. C. Das, M.A., an .ex-student of the Dacca University, has taken special care to see this volume through the Press and has spared no pains to expedite the publication in the face of exceptional difficulties. Our special thanks are due to him and to Mr. R. K. Ghoshal. M.A. who has not only revised the proofs and prepared the Index, but also made many valuable suggestions for improvement.

Preface

THE genesis of the present work has been explained in the Foreword. The editor feels that he owes an explanation for the very long interval between the inception of the work and its publication. In view of the importance of the subject a few relevant facts may be mentioned which will also incidentally explain the changes made in the personnel of the writers referred to in the Foreword.

Shortly after the work was taken up we were denied the co- operation of Dr. N. K. Bhattasali, M.A., PH.D., who was the Secretary of the Publication Committee and had agreed to write the chapter on Art. It is unnecessary to discuss here the reasons which led Dr. Bhattasali to come to this decision, but the change of Secretary and the loss of a valuable contributor naturally caused dislocation of work and involved considerable delay in completing the preliminary steps. The chapter on Art was entrusted to the late Mr. N. G. Majumdar, who naturally desired to collect photos of select specimens of architecture and sculpture before commencing to write. This took up a long time as the specimens to be photographed were spread over a' wide area. At last the photos were prepared and he took them with him in his ill-fated journey to the Indus Valley, as he hoped to be able to write the chapter in his leisure hours while on tour. The tragic circumstances under which he met his end in Sind are known to all. His death dealt a severe blow to our scheme, as most of the photos together with the notes prepared by him were irretrievably lost. In this predicament the editor invited two young scholars-Dr. Niharranjan Ray and Mr. Sarasi Kumar Saraswati-to write the chapter on Art, and they readily agreed to take up the work. But the preparation of a new set of photographs took up much time and caused considerable delay. We take this opportunity to pay our tribute of respect to the gifted archaeologist who had readily volunteered his valuable co- operation which, alas, was denied us by his sudden and tragic death.

When the chapter on Art was assigned to the late Mr. N. G. Majumdar he had to be relieved of the work already allotted to him and this involved re-allocation of a number of chapters. The new arrangement did not prove at all satisfactory, and most of these chapters had to be written by the editor himself. The sudden departure of one of the contributors for Europe, without any previous intimation, also involved more work for the editor, as no competent scholar was found willing to take up the work at a short notice.

Even when most of the chapters were ready the editor was confronted with other difficulties. It was originally proposed to devote a whole chapter to the ethnology of Bengal, and a specialist on the subject was invited to write it. Repeated reminders, extending over a period of five or six years, were always followed by promises to send the contribution within a short period, but it was not received even when the printing of the volume had made considerable progress. As he never declined the task no substitute could be appointed. At last, in order to avoid the total suspension of the work at a time when in view of the abnormal circumstances every effort had to be made to expedite the printing, the editor had no other option but to write himself a brief note on the subject at the beginning of chapter xv. This chapter dealing with the social conditions of Ancient Bengal was also entrusted to -a specialist on the subject. After a great deal of delay the promised contribution was received, but it dealt with pre-historic anthropology only and did not at all touch the real subject. Again, in order to avoid further delay in the publication, the editor undertook to write it himself with the co-operation of Dr. D. C. Ganguly, M.A., PH.D. and Dr. R. C. Hazra, M.A., PH.D. The former worked on the epigraphic and the latter on the literary data, and the materials collected by them were co-ordinated and put into proper form by the editor with certain additions. Special thanks are due to both these scholars for having agreed to undertake the work at such short notice.

Thus more than five years had passed before the volume could be sent to the Press. But three months after the printing had begun the declaration of war by Japan upset the normal life in Calcutta and considerably dislocated her business and industry. The printing press was seriously affected by the panicky evacuation of the city, and there was considerable delay before satisfactory progress in the work of printing could be resumed. In view of the abnormal situation no efforts were spared to expedite the printing, lest any fresh wave of panic should again suspend the work. Unfortunately, the Japanese air-raids on Calcutta in December last year again dislocated the business life of Calcutta when only the last four chapters remained to be printed. It reflects great credit upon the custodian of the printing establishment that in spite of considerable difficulties, these chapters were at last printed off. Faced with the contingency of having to postpone indefinitely the publication of the volume over which he had worked for more than six years, the editor decided to push up the printing at any cost, even at the risk of sacrificing quality to a certain extent. The proofs could not be sent for final revision to the authors of the last three chapters and the editor had to undertake the sole responsibility of seeing them through the Press.

This somewhat long and tedious narrative is given here not only as an explanation of the long delay in the publication of the work, but also as an interesting record which might be of use to the future historian of the History of Bengal. For in view of the present state of our knowledge any exposition of the history of Ancient Bengal must be regarded as provisional ; and as new evidence is continually and rapidly accumulating, it may be confidently hoped that the present work would turn out to be merely a precursor of many similar volumes which would be written at no distant date. The editor does not pretend to do anything more than laying the foundation on which more competent hands will build in future, till a suitable structure is raised which would be worthy of Our motherland. The historian of that not very distant future may perhaps view with greater sympathy the pioneer efforts of his predecessor if he realises the difficulties under which the latter had to carryon his work, in addition to heavy administrative duties throughout the period.

The task of compiling a history of Ancient Bengal is by no means an easy one. The greater part of the subject is yet an untrodden field, and few have made any special study of such branches of it as art and religion, social and economic conditions, law and administration. These topics have been so far studied almost exclusively with reference to ancient India as a whole, but a regional study, strictly confined within the limits of the territory where the Bengali language is spoken, has not yet been seriously taken up by competent scholars. In respect of political history also, while much spade work has been done, no serious attempt has yet been made to reconstruct a continuous historical narrative as distinct from the collection and interpretation of a number of archaeological data. In many respects, therefore, the present volume breaks altogether new ground, and faults of both omission and commission are almost inevitable in such a case.

In writing this history we have strictly confined ourselves to the data definitely applicable to the geographical limits of Bengal, and any deviation from this rule has been duly noted.

An attempt has also been made to make the treatment as detached and scientific as possible. Where materials of study are lacking, we have chosen to leave a void rather than fill it up with the help of imaginary or unreliable matter. Many topics of interest and importance have, therefore, been altogether ignored or very imperfectly treated.

It is hardly necessary to recapitulate the difficulties which are inherent in a work of this kind or to explain the principles adopted in the preparation of this volume. The series of historical works published by the Cambridge University have been deliberately adopted as the standard and model of this work, and the following passage in the Preface to the First Volume of the Cambridge Ancient History admirably sums up our views and ideals

: "In a co-operative work of this kind, no editorial pains could avoid a certain measure of overlapping ; and in fields where there is so much uncertainty and such wide room for divergencies of views, as in the first two volumes, overlapping must mean that occasionally different writers will express or imply different opinions. It has not been thought desirable to attempt to eliminate these differences, though they are often indicated or discussed. Such inconsistencies may sometimes be a little inconvenient for the reader's peace of mind, but it is better he should learn to take them as characteristic of the ground over which he is being guided than that he should be misled by a dogmatic consistency into accepting one view as authoritative and final.

"It will easily be understood that it is not possible to give chapter and verse for every statement or detailed arguments for every opinion, but it is hoped that the work will be found serviceable to professional students as well as to the general reader. The general reader is constantly kept in view throughout, and our aim is to steer a middle course between the opposite dangers, a work which only the expert could read or understand and one so 'popular' that serious students would rightly regard it with indifference."

It is a source of great pleasure to us that in spite of delays and difficulties, it has been found possible to bring out the first volume. The printing of the second volume has already made some progress, though in view of the abnormal situation prevailing in Calcutta, it is difficult to say when it will see the light of day.

On behalf of the Dacca University, and the Editorial Board, we wish to express our indebtedness to the various contributors for their whole-hearted co-operation in this project, even at a considerable personal inconvenience.

The editor acknowledges with pleasure the help he has received from his many friends and old pupils. Dr. H. C. Raychaudhuri, M.A., PH.D., Carmichael Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Calcutta University, not only offered many valuable suggestions, but helped the editor to tide over many difficulties that confronted him from time to time. Mr. Sarasi Kumar Saraswati, M.A., Lecturer, Calcutta University, has regularly assisted the editor in seeing the volume through the Press and taken immense pains in preparing photos, blocks and maps, and properly arranging these materials for publication. Mr. Pramode Lal Paul, M.A., Mr. A. Halim, M.A., and Mr. Kshitish Chandra Ray, M.A. prepared a bibliography of articles, published in oriental journals, for the use of the contributors. Mr. Subodh Chandra Banerji, M.A., Keeper of Manuscripts, Dacca University Library, offered many valuable suggestions in writing the chapter on Social Conditions. Mr. Anil Chandra Mukherji has drawn the maps which are published in this volume. The editor conveys his thanks and expresses his indebtedness to these and all others who have helped him in any way in discharging his responsible duties.

The system of transliteration followed in the Epigraphia Indica has been adopted in this volume. In chapter XII i and ii have been used to indicate the vowels i and u, not joined with any consonant. As regards Indian place-names, the system of spelling adopted in the Imperial Gazetteer has been generally followed, though there are some deviations in well-known cases. In writing modern place-names vowels have not been as a rule accentuated except in cases of find-spots of images and inscriptions. In these and similar instances, such as English derivatives from Sanskrit words (like Tantric, Puranic, Brahmanical etc.) it has not been possible to maintain a rigid uniformity, for in view of the fact that different. practices are adopted even in standard works, and none of them can be regarded as definitely established, it has not been thought desirable or necessary to take meticulous care to change the spelling adopted by different contributors. Titles of books cited have been printed in italics, and a list of the abbreviations used for books, periodicals, places of publications etc. has been appended. Volumes have been indicated by Roman, and pages by Arabic, numerals, with a dot between the two, but without any words like Vol. or p ; pp. etc.

As copious footnotes giving full references to books and articles in periodicals have been added throughout the work, it has not been thought necessary to add a long bibliography at the end of the volume. Only a select bibliography is given containing a list of important works of a general nature and such other references as have been specially suggested by the writers of the different chapters.

Volume - II

Foreword

On behalf of the University of Dacca and of the History of Bengal Publication Committee, it is my privilege to offer my most sincere thanks to Sir Jadunath Sarkar through whose untiring efforts this volume is seeing the light of the day. But for the admirable promptness and skill with which he modified our old scheme to suit the altered conditions, the publication of this volume would have been indefinitely delayed. This achievement of Sir Jadunath is all the more creditable since he worked under conditions in which anyone who did not possess his indomitable courage would have broken down. Sir Jadunath suffered bereavement after bereavement while he was engaged in the preparation of this volume.

It is a great pity that before this volume. could be completed, two of the promoters of the scheme were taken away from us by the cruel hand of death. Shifaul-Mulk Hakim Habibur Rahman Khan who was the embodiment of all that is best in Muslim culture, died suddenly in the midst of his labours. He was engaged at the time of his death in collecting useful material for the social and cultural history of mediaeval Bengal intended for this volume. Equally sudden was the death of our indefatigable Secretary, Dr. S. N. Bhattacharyya of the Department of History, University of Dacca, who had been actively associated with the scheme from the very beginning.

I take this opportunity of thanking sincerely all the learned scholars without whose help this volume could not have been published.

 

Preface

The first volume of this History, containing the Hindu period, was published in May 1943. The second and third volumes, which were to cover the early Muslim and the Mughal periods respectively, were planned at the same time as the first in 1936, and should in normal circumstances have followed it in two to four years. But the times were not normal, and a number .of unforeseen difficulties have compelled the editor not only to delay their publication but also to alter their plan.

My first and most serious difficulty sprang from the insufficiently known fact that while the Hindu period of Bengal history, in almost every part of it has been worked over by a large number of modern scholars producing fruits of a high standard,-the Muslim period, except for a few reigns still remains unexplored ground, and we are still encompassed by almost the same mist of tradition and the deceptive light of pious frauds, which baffled Captain Charles Stewart when he attempted the first History of Bengal in English 130 years ago. Even the chronology of many of the early Muslim rulers of Bengal is still unsettled, as their coins are so few and so badly executed that their dates cannot be read with certainty. This want of modern research has been most acutely felt in respect of the social, economic and cultural history of mediaeval Bengal, the only exception being the studies in Vaishnavism, which, however, relate to the Mughal period. The students of our province's economic history have concentrated their attention on the British period and the late 17th century British trade in Bengal, while in respect of the rest of the country's history during the Muslim period, the surface has been hardly scratched.

Thus a history of Bengal under Muslim rule is bound to be a production of very uneven parts, being up to modern standards of scholarship and rich in accurate details in certain topics or reigns only, and totally dark or covered with the haze of loose tradition in all others.

It was originally intended to spread the political and cultural history evenly through these two volumes, one ending' with the Mughal conquest \ (1575) and the other with the downfall of Muslim rule (1757). But if this plan had been adhered to, the publication of each of these volumes would have been put off till a new generation of research students had arisen and lit up the dark places of our cultural and social history during the middle ages. Therefore, the first change that was forced upon me was to put all the political narrative of the projected two volumes in one and print it first, as the necessary contributors were available and they could be asked to supply their chapters in two years. The social and cultural history of the entire Muslim age was assigned to the final volume, which we could not hope to compile in the near future.

The' next hitch occurred after the chapters of this "political history" volume had been allotted to different scholars and they had been given two years' time to submit their work. Some of them, after wavering, declined the task, many others were found to be habitually incapable of writing their promised chapters within the time limit, or indeed ever at all. So, at last the painful truth dawned upon the mind of the Editor that he must personally shoulder the burden of writing the major portion of even the political history of Bengal during five and a half centuries, if this volume was to be completed in his lifetime. That, as will be remembered, was also the sad experience of Dr. R. C. Majumdar, the Editor of the first volume. As will be seen, I have had to write more than 200 pages in this volume of a little over 500 pages, besides revising and sometimes recasting the work of many of the other contributors.

After these preliminary troubles had been got over as best we could, we had hopes of the manuscripts for the different chapters being sent in to the Editor by the end of 1941 ; but just at that time came the war with Japan and the air raids on Bengal and Assam. The libraries of our Universities and learned Societies were closed and their most valuable books and journals were sent into storage in safer places far inland. Thus, our Bengali contributors could not consult learned works or verify references. This interruption lasted during the pendency of the war.

When the world war ended; our troubles instead of easing, became rather intensified. Political disorder, sectarian fights, and even common types of crime, raised their ugly heads all over the province on a scale unheard of before. The evil was aggravated by almost universal labour trouble, which interrupted postal and railway communications, and during several months the working of printing presses. Thus, though the first chapter of this volume was put in type as early as October 1944, its actual printing made very slow progress for over two years, for no fault of the printers. However, by intense activity during 1947, the book was completed and the printing nearly finished by the end of that year.

These troubles and the necessity of printing off the composed matter promptly during 1947, explain why the proofs could .not be sent to our distant contributors but had to be read in Calcutta. If any errors have crept in, the writers should not be held responsible for them.

This long delay has robbed one of our valued contributors, Dr. Sudhindra Nath Bhattacharya, Ph.D., of the pleasure of seeing his work in print; and it is now the Editor's painful duty to give him posthumous thanks for his excellent chapters (82 pages of print Chapters 13-16) relating to a period that he had made peculiarly his own. His intensive study of the history of Bengal's north-eastern frontier during the reign of Jahangir, his minute attention to topography, his gift of identifying even petty villages by ransacking the lists of villages in different districts compiled by Government for the use of post offices, and his acumen in correcting errors of date in accepted works, all lend a special value to the work of Dr. Sudhindra Nath Bhattacharya. He had written his contribution at much fuller length and requested the Editor to compress it to a size more in keeping with the general plan of this volume. The Editor has reduced it to half its original length, but nowhere has any of the author's opinions been altered.

The other contributors are happily still in our midst and to them I render my thanks for their valued assistance:

Dr. Kalika Ranjan Qanungo (91 pages, Chapters 1-3), Professor Nirod Bhusan Roy (38 pages, Chapters 4 and 8) , Dr. A. B. M. Habibullah (36 pages, Chapters 6 and 7), Dr. Jagadish Narayan Sarkar (7 pages, Chapter 18), Dr. Surendra Nath Sen (20 pages, Chapter 19) and Dr. Kali Kinkar Datta (33 pages, Chapters 22 and 23).

No attempt has been made to remove the minor differences of opinion or date between one contributor and another in their respective sections; and each of them must be judged in the light of the authority relied upon by him.

For the Editor's own portion of this volume (200 pages, Chapters 5,9-12,17,20,21,24-26, besides some sections of Chapters 14 and 18). his only apology is the nature of the raw material on which he had to work. He had to clear the jungle and break virgin soil in respect of certain periods in his share, such as the viceroyalties of Prince Muhammad Shuja', Shaista Khan, and Murshid QuIi Khan. In these, my predecessors, the Riyaz-us-salatin and its English version, Stewart's History of Bengal, had merely left to us an uncharted wilderness, and I had to construct their true story by piecing together a large number of stray hints in Persian manuscripts and letters and European traders' reports. A comparison of these chapters with the corresponding pages in Stewart will show how our knowledge of the history of Bengal has advanced beyond recognition in the century and a quarter that have followed the days of Stewart. No period of the history of mediaeval Bengal is now known even in half such fulness and accuracy of detail, supported by absolutely contemporary records, as the reign of Jahangir (1608-1627). But that was due entirely to my discovery of the Bharistan-i-Ghaibi (Mirza Nathan's personal recollections) in the Bibliotheque Nationale of Paris (in 1919) and the Ahom buranjis brought to light at Sir Edward Gait's initiative. These priceless materials have been exhaustively utilised through the long and devoted study of Professor Sudhindra Nath Bhattacharya.

In conclusion, I must thank the General Printers.& Publishers Ltd., for their patient care in printing what was often very badly typed and worse corrected manuscripts and keeping the composed matter standing for long periods of civil disturbance. Dr. Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, Ph.D., smoothed the launching of the scheme by making the preliminary arrangements and giving constant attention to the work to be done by the Dacca Committee, during his five years' Vice-Chancellorship of that University, till his retirement in 1942. The present Vice-Chancellor of the Dacca University, Dr. Mahmood Hasan, D. Phil, has made my work much easier by taking an unfailing interest in the book and solving every difficulty as it arose, so as to expedite its publication.

For the very detailed and helpful index, with its cross references and explanatory notes, we are indebted to the trained skill of Professor Nirod Bhusan Roy M.A. Sriyut Asoka K. Majumdar, M.A., has been very helpful to me in expediting the printing.

The cost of book production is now four times what it was in 1938 when the publication of this History was planned, and there is an acute shortage of skilled assistants. For this reason and also to avoid further delay in the publication of this volume, no map (except one), picture or coin plate could be included in it. The Editor's regret for this cruel necessity is no less keen than that of his readers, especially as all will miss the very necessary illustrations of the changes in the river-courses and land-routes during the six centuries covered by this volume. We can only hope that with better times this defect will be made good in Volume III.

 

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