This book is a strikingly original work, the first of its kind on the social history of British, Orissa. Tracing the social condition of the period, it deals with the geography and topography of the region and the consequent nature of its habitats which made Orissa a land of superstitions customs. In those strange superstitions originated three horried practices which in their different ways resulted in the murder of innocent human beings. They were widow-burping, human sacrifice and infanticide. While the book reveals the origin and peculiar modes of the above-mentioned practices in Orissa, it elaborately narrates the suppression of the same by the British intervention. The consequent impact of the abolition of these practices on society has been highlighted which touches important issues like woman's seclusion, widow-remarriage, child-marriage, female education, and the progress of the tribal people of Orissa. The book also incorporates all such factors which facilitated not only the creation of a favourable situation for social change but also the prevention of the reoccurrence of these in human practices. They were the spread of Western influence, the impact of British rule, Missionary activities, spread of education, establishment of Printing Press and publication of books and periodicals, socio-cultural activities, and development of communication. Mainly based on primary sources, the structure of the work is clear, coherent and analytically conceived. This book is sure to fill up a vacuum in the study of modern Orissan history.
Dr. Nihar Ranjan Patnaik (b-1957), the Ithor, graduated from Bhadrak College and ok the M. A. degree from Utkal University in 077. Then he joined Orissa Educational Serce as Lecturer in History and has served in that apacity in different Government Colleges of Orissa over a decade. Meanwhile he took M. Phil. degree and Ph. D. degree from Utkal University in 1982 and 1987 respectively. This book is the research work on which he was warded the Ph. D. degree. Now he is engaged n a new post-doctoral project covering tribal istory of British Orissa. He is also the coiuthor of such books as World History', 'History of India', - History of Freedom Movement in India and National Integration', History of Ancient India'. Social and cultural History of India', and 'History of Medieval India'. A number of his research articles and creative writings have been published in various research journals, newspapers and magazines. He is a regular participant in national and state-level seminars, symposia and conferences. He holds the post of the 'Joint Secretary of Orissa History Congress. At present he is working as Lecturer in postGraduate Department of History, Ravenshaw College, Cuttack.
The nineteenth century in the pageant of Orissan history was a period of great academic and human intexest. It was with the departure of the Maratha rule and the ushering in of that of the British that in this century a veritable transition was found to have taken place. And it was most perceptible in the domain of social affairs. That was because the British, unlike the Marathas, were very much keen to civilise the people by effecting certain social reforms.
It was due to the geography and topography of the region and the consequent nature of its habitats that Orissa became a land of many superstitious beliefs. And from those beliefs originated several social customs out of which three were the most horrid and gruesome. These were concerned with the murder of innocent human beings. They were the Sati, Human sacrifice called Meriah and Infanticide. While Sati was found mostly in the families of the Rajas and the caste Hindus, Human sacrifice and Infanticide were prevalent among two different sections of the Khonds of the tribal community. However it was with the intervention of the British Government that all those practices were suppressed.
It is most unfortunate that no adequate light has yet been thrown on so agonising and sensational a chapter in the history of Orissa. There are found some passing references in respect of those practices in the works on the Political history of Orissa. The solitary work solely devoted to the social life of Orissa is A.P. Shah's Life in Mediaeval Orissa'. As such it does not deal with the facts of the nineteenth century. Scholars like Dr. K. K. Datta, writing on social history of modern India, have given a mere cursory reference to the social reforms of Orissa. There are yet a few other scholare like Dr. M. N. Das, Mr. P. Mukherjee, and Dr. Jagannath Patnaik who have brought certain aspects of those reforms under discussion in their scholarly works. But an exhaustive and analytical study complete in all respects pertaining to the social reforms in question still remains to be made. Hence an humble attempt is made in this work to furnish in the pages that follow a more or less complete picture of three social reforms of the nineteenth century in all perspectives so that the vacuum in the study of modern Orissan history is filled up. There were of course few other reforms in the nineteenth century Orissa, but three ghastly and heart rendering practices have been selected to show how pitiable was the condition of the victims and what amount of relief they had after the suppression of these cruel practices.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Art & Culture (792)
Emperor & Queen (493)
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