A Sourcebook of Indian Civilization aims at familiarizing its readers with the various aspects that go into the making of the history of Indian civilization. These aspects include material life, technology, economic and social organization, polity, religion and philosophy, literature and art. The arrangement of the material in the chapters and selections conforms to a rationally conceived and planned scheme of history. The content of the book present sand extensive view of Indian life and thought.
Niharranjan Ray (1903-1981) was one of the outstanding art historians of India. He is the author of many books and essays, including Maurya and Post-Maurya Art, Approach to Indian Art, and Idea and Image in Indian Art and Eastern Indian Bronzes. Bangalir Itihas, his celebrated book in Bengali, is now available in an English translation as A History of the Bengali People. Niharranjan Ray was Bagiswari Professor in Calcutta University; Director, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla and Chairman, Indian Council of Historical Research.
B D Chattopadhyaya is internationally acclaimed as a leading expert on the history of early medieval India. He is the author of Coins and Currency System in South India A.D. 225-1300; the making of Early Medieval India; Aspects of Rural Settlements and Rural Society in Early medieval India; representing the other? Sanskrit Sources and Muslims. At present he is Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Ranabir Chakravarti specializes in the economic and social history of early medieval India with particular focus on the history of the Indian Oceantrade prior to AD 1500. he is the author of Warfare for Wealth: Early Indian Perspective and Prachin Bharater Arthanaitik Itihaser Sandhane (Economic History of Early India). He is, at present, Head of the Department of Ancient Indian History and Culture, University of Calcutta.
V R Mani was associated with the Union Public Service Commission.
This volume is the outcome of a project which envisaged the selection and classification of important source material pertaining to Indian history and civilization and its publication in three volumes. The fulfilment of at least a part of the project, years after it was first planned, calls for some explanation. Conceived during 1969-70, this project was first entrusted to the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, by the Ministry of Education, government of India. Tentatively titled 'A Sourcebook of Ancient Indian and Asian Civilizations', its publication was planned to coincide with the Silver Jubilee year of India's Independence. In a seminar held at the Shimla Institute in 1970, the structure and modalities of preparation of the sourcebook were discussed and finalized. With the establishment of the Council in 1972, this project got transferred at some stage of which details the records in the Council are silent from the Shimla Institute, and the late Professor Niharranjan Ray was named as the Project Director. A series of meetings deliberated upon a number of points pertaining to both the nature and the personnel to be involved in it, and finalized under the supervision of Professor Ray.
In its scope, this sourcebook is substantially different from what was planned in Shimla. Chronologically, it was to cover the whole of Indian history and civilization, and, for the purpose of convenience, the conventional scheme of periodization, with separate volumes on Ancient, Medieval and Modern periods, was to be followed. The sources to be selected were to reflect the perspective of the project. Instead of underlining culture and civilization in the restricted sense of these terms (dwelling entirely upon art, literature and philosophy), the volumes were to project as wide a range of Indian life and thought as possible. Sources were thus to cover material life, including technology, economic and social organizations, polity, religion, ideas relating to philosophy, literature and art, and so on. The accent on historical perspective implied that the sources were to be arranged by taking their chronology into account. For written texts whose chronology could not be ascertained with certainty, the criterion of comparative chronology, in so far as the comparative chronology of the texts could be ascertained, was to be followed.
Constraints of time and resources put certain limitations on the manner in which the sourcebook was to be planned; this, to an extent, determined its format as well. First, the sources to be incorporated in the volumes were to be limited to extracts from English language publications. In the case of archaeological reports, suitable extracts were to appear as sources; for written records such as texts, inscriptions, and so, on, available English translations alone were to be used. This principle was generally followed making occasional exceptions, when excerpts were translated from other languages into English. However, this limitation meant bypassing sources in Sanskrit, Pali-Prakrit, Persian, Arabic and regional languages not available in English translation. Second, it was decided to drop the illustrative material; this meant that extracts from archaeological reports wouldn't be accompanied by illustrations and the sourcebook had to leave out the visual material altogether from its scope. The format o all the three volumes was to be identical, with one exception: the introductory Chapter of Volume One, on the Ancient Period, was to be a general chapter on Land and People with appropriate excerpts from sources of different periods, bearing on concepts of India, its regions, its climate and soil types, it flora and fauna, and other relevant aspects. Along with an introduction written by the Director and General Editor of the entire project, this chapter was to serve as a common backdrop, as it were, for all the three volumes.
The format of each chapter was decided to be as follows: it was to begin with a short introduction by the editor of the volume outlining the theme and scope of the chapter and referring to the nature of the sources included in the chapter; each extract was to be followed by bibliographical reference to the publication from which the excerpt was taken; where necessary, a short commentary by the editor on the significance of the excerpt, in relation to the theme and the chronology of the chapter, was to be provided. In cases of hitherto untranslated sources appearing in a chapter, due acknowledgement is to be given to the translator commissioned for the purpose. The chapters were to follow a chronological sequence and were not to be separated by thematic distinctivencess; the excerpts included in each chapter, therefore, were designed to highlight different aspect of life and culture of the historical period covered.
The responsibility of editing the first volume-the present one-was entrusted to Professor B D Chattopadhyaya. He was to go through, select and edit the excerpts with the help of two research fellows, appointed by the Indian Council of Historical Research. However, the task of copying the excerpts at various libraries was shoulderd by Shri V R Mani, who was brought to the ICHR on deputation from the Union Public Service Commission. He did his best to give a shape to this volume within the stipulated period of two years. The introductions and notes, written by Professor Chattopadhyaya, were vetted by the Project Director and the General Editor, Professor Niharranjan Ray.
The Manuscript, which was submitted in 1975, and revised subsequently by the volume editor with the assistance of Sri P K Basant, shows that it had an inexplicably chequered history of about a quarter century. The lapse of all these years meant that it had to be further revised and at least some of the important discoveries of the intervening years had to be incorporated. Dr Ranabir Chakravarti, volunteered to prepare an Appendix to this volume; he made selections from a wide variety of new discoveries- archaeological, epigraphic, numismatic etc., and prepared a detailed commentary on them.
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