Alexander Kinloch Forbes (1821-1865) is best known as the author of Ras Mala, a book on the history and culture of Gujarat. The people of Gujarat know him as an agent of change, a harbinger of modernity, a fountainhead of new ideas and institutions, and a promoter of all round efforts to rediscover the glorious past of Gujarat. He came to India in 1843 and spent most of his life in western India, mainly Gujarat. He was able to read and speak Gujarati with ease. He established three institutions that survive until today: Gujarat Vernacular Society (later renamed Gujarat Vidya Sabha) at Ahmedabad, Andrews Library at Surat, and Gujarati Sabha (later renamed Forbes Gujarati Sabha) at Mumbai. For a short period, he was one of the Vice Presidents of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (now, Asiatic Society of Mumbai) and Vice Chancellor of the University of Bombay. In addition to discussing his life, career, and work in detail, this monograph, for the first time, brings to light his English translations of Ratnamala and Prabandha Chintamani (two works dealing with the history of Gujarat), and his longish article on Prabhas Patan, based largely on his field study.
Deepak Mehta has more than twenty books to his credit, most in Gujarati. In 2014, he received the Life Time Achievement Award from the Maharashtra Rajya Gujarati Sahitya Akademi for his valuable contributions to Gujarati language and literature.
Deepak Mehta has more than twenty books to his credit, most in Gujarati. He was editor, Gujarati Section, Anthology of Modern Indian Literature; editor, Gujarati Section, Prateechi (a literary digest of western Indian languages); and contributed entries on Gujarati language and literature for the Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature; all three publications of Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. In 2014, he received the Life Time Achievement Award from the Maharashtra Rajya Gujarati Sahitya Akademi for his valuable contributions to Gujarati language and literature.
Alexander Kinloch Forbes (1821-1865) was one of those enlightened British civil servants who came to India to rule, but soon turned into an ardent student and researcher of Indian history, culture, language, and literature. His study of local resources, including manuscripts, inscriptions, monuments, arts, and architecture of Gujarat resulted in Ras Mala, a monumental two-volume history of Gujarat. Outside of Gujarat, he is mainly known as the author of this book. However, the people of Gujarat know him more as an agent of change, a harbinger of modernity, a fountainhead of new ideas and institutions, and a promoter of all round efforts to rediscover the glorious past of Gujarat.
Much more is written in Gujarati than in English about his life and work. No doubt, a lot of it is repetitive, but three works—written by Dalpatram Kavi, his son Nanalal Kavi, and Mansukhram Suryaram Tripathi—are extremely valuable. The author of this monograph is highly indebted to these three works, besides some others published in Gujarati as well as in English.
The most surprising and satisfying outcome of researching for this monograph is the 'discovery' of Forbes's English translation of Prabandha Chintamani, a fourteenth century Sanskrit work dealing with the history of Gujarat, by the Jain monk, Merutungacharya. In the preface to the first volume of Ras Mala, Forbes indirectly refers to this translation. The second reference to such a translation came from the Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Forbes's translation of Ratna Mala, a medieval Gujarati work, was published posthumously in vol. 9, 1867-70 of JBBRAS. In a note appended to it, Hon. Justice Henry Newton refers to the manuscript of the translation of Prabandh Chintamani. A search with local libraries, the British Library, the Library of Congress, and on the internet, did not yield any results. Ultimately, an extensive search at the archives of the Forbes Gujarati Sabha led to the unearthing of a handwritten manuscript of the translation. It was thrilling to even touch those light blue coloured pages bearing Forbes's handwriting. The entire translation has been carefully scanned now, and it may he published in the near future.
Primarily, I am thankful to the Asiatic Society of Mumbai and its former president, Dr. Aroon Tikekar, for assigning this monograph to me. B.K. Parekh, former president of the Forbes Gujarati Sabha, gave me permission to reproduce some very valuable documents from the archives of the institution. Navinbhai Dave, who succeeded him, has warmly encouraged my efforts. During my visits, the librarians of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai and the University of Mumbai, Gujarat Vidya Sabha and Gujarat Vidyapeeth (Ahmedabad), Barton Library (Bhavnagar) and Lang Library (Rajkot) extended full cooperation and provided valuable materials to me. Last, but not the least, my sincere thanks to Dr. Tikekar and Ms. Sonavi Desai of Indus Source Books for very meticulously going through my manuscript and making some very valuable suggestions.
31 August 2015 will be the 150'h death anniversary of Forbes. It is most satisfying for the author of this monograph that this humble tribute to him is being published on the eve of that event.
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Item Code: NAP563 Author: Deepak Mehta Cover: Paperback Edition: 2014 Publisher: Indus Source Books ISBN: 9788188569700 Language: English Size: 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch Pages: 189 (Throughout B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 130 gms