The publication of this volume completes" THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE INDIJ\N PEOPLE" Series published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay. It was originally planned to consist of only ten volumes; and the first six volumes, ending with the history of the Delhi Sultanate, were published between 1951 and 1960.
In the meanwhile the idea had gradually gained ground that the British period of Indian history ending with the independence of India. was so important both from practical and sentimental points of view that it must take precedence over the other volumes and should be dealt with in three volumes instead of two, assigned to it. So Volumes IX, X and XI, dealing with the British rule in India, were published between 1963 and 1969. Volume VII dealing with the Mughul period was then taken up and published in 1974. The present Volume VIII, dealing with the period from 1707 to 1818, completes the scheme, initiated in 1944, of writing the history and culture of the Indian people from the earliest times.
The project of writing this history was conceived by Dr. K. M. Munshi and the idea lying behind it is stated by him in the following words in the Foreword to Vol. I of this series:
"In the course of my studies I had long felt the inadequacy of our so-called Indian histories. For many years, therefore, I was. planning an elaborate history of India in order not only that India's past might be described by her sons, but also that the world might catch a glimpse of her soul as Indians see it. The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, an educational society which 1 founded in 1938, took over the scheme. It was; however, realized only in. 1944, when my generous friend Mr. G.D. Birla, one of India's foremost industrialists, lent me his co-operation and the support of the Shri Krishnarpan Charity Trust of which he is the Chairman. As a result, 'The Bharatiya Itihas Samiti', the Academy of Indian History, was formed with the specific object of preparing this series, now styled" THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE INDIAN PEOPLE. "
In the same Foreword Dr. Munshi defined the scope and object of history (quoted again in Vol. VII, p. vii) which have always been kept in view by the Editor in preparing this series:
When, in 1944,' Munshiji conceived the project of writing this his- tory, there were two other schemes of writing such a history of India, respectively,' in twenty and twelve volumes. Only two volumes of each of these projects have been so far published. This clearly indicates the handicaps under which such projects have to be carried out in this country and is cited here not as an excuse or explanation of the long period of thirty-two years required for, the completion of this series of eleven volumes, containing about 9,000 pages, 283 plates and 20 maps.
When I naturally feel a sense of relief and exaltation that I have lived long enough to see the completion of the hardest and most arduous and ambitious literary work in my life, I cannot but recall without deep. sorrow that Munshiji is no longer with me to share this emotion. Fortunately, Gunanidhi Shri Ghanshyamdas Birla, whose munificent donation enabled Munshiji to start this project, as mentioned above, is still with us to see the completion of the project.
I take this opportunity to offer my heart-felt thanks to the scholars -about seventy-five in number-who have enriched this series by their contributions. Many of them, alas! are no longer with us to share our joy. To this category belongs Dr. A. D. Pusalkar, the Assistant Editor of the first six volumes. I cannot express in words the deep obligations I owe to him for helping me in various ways in preparing the first six volumes. I take this opportunity to place on record my deep obligations to the other Assistant Editors who rendered very valuable service in preparing this series. These are Dr. A. K. Majumdar, Dr. J. N. Chaudhuri, Dr. D. K. Ghose, Dr. S. Chaudhuri and Dr. V. G. Dighe, who are all happily alive to share my joy at the completion of this series of, eleven volumes.
I also convey' my thanks to the editors of the various journals whose favourable reviews of the different volumes proved to be a great source of inspiration and enthusiasm that sustained me in carrying on this arduous task of editing the eleven volumes. I still remember how encouraged I felt when I read the review of the Five Volume in the Times Literary Supplement containing the following appreciative remarks: “This history, unlike its predecessors, is first and foremost a history of India and of her people, rather than a history of those who have invaded her from time to time. The standard, in a word, is very high...”
Today, when this 32-yearold scheme has had a successful completion, the 88 year old Editor considers it as the proudest day in his life and takes leave of the readers of this series by uttering Nune Dimittis, Oh my Lord, let me die in peace.
This volume deals with the history of India from the death of Aurangzib (1707) to the Third Maratha War (1818). It was an eventful period that witnessed the end of Muslim rule, the rise and fall of the Maratha Empire and the foundation of the British Empire in India.
The period began with political disintegration leading to struggle for power, not only among the Indian States but also between the French and the British trading companies in India. This chaotic political situation facilitated, if not invited, foreign invasions, notably those of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali, which, bear comparison, both in nature and effect, with those of Sultan Mahmud and Tamerlane.
But there is no cloud without a silver lining. This period of political disruption leading to great disasters also witnessed the rise of great personalities-not less than ten within a century'-that shed lustre on the age. These were Balaji Vishwanath, Baji Rao I, Nana Phadnis, Mahidji Sindia, Haidar 'Ali, Ranjit Singh, Robert Clive, J. F. Dupleix, Warren Hastings, and Marquess Richard Colley Wellesley.
But the political history, highly important though it was, was not the only important feature of the period. It paved the way for India's transition from the Medieval to the Modem Age in the nineteenth century. It was during this period that India first came into close contact with the Western World-Europe and America- which was big with future consequences so far as Indian culture is concerned. It brought about those remarkable changes' in almost all aspects of Indian culture "in the nineteenth century, which is generally referred to as Indian Renaissance. It was during' the period under review that the Indians first learned the English language, which may be regarded as the most important single factor that brought about those far-reaching changes in Indian life, thought and education as well as social and- religious concepts in the course of one hundred years in the 19th century, such as were not noticed during the previous thousand years. That the nineteenth century India was a New India was mainly due to those forces and factors which began to influence India during the period under review. To realise this truth, it "is only necessary to point out that the Fort William College was founded in 1800 and the Hindu College was established in Calcutta in 1817. The Pandits of the Fort William College laid the foundation of modem Bengali language and literature, which served as the model ,or the rest of India, while at the Hindu College the young generations of Bengalis imbibed the ideas of free thinking and social and political reforms. And these formed the foundation on which New India was built.
Against this background of all-round signs of progress must be seen the deterioration in the economic condition to such an extent that it would be hardly an exaggeration to say that India, which was one ·of the wealthiest countries in the world, sank to the position of one of the poorest in the world during the period under re- view; This was as much due to the British rule in India as the brighter features of cultural regeneration noticed above. The ruthless economic exploitation of India by the British was undoubtedly the cause of the deplorable poverty in India following the ruin of trade and industry by the unfair competition of British merchants and manufacturers aided by the political power of Britain.
Many of the chapters were written long ago, and the Editor places on record his deep regret at the death of Prof. C. S. Srinivasachari, Prof. S. V. Puntambekar, Prof. Biman Behari Majumdar, Dr. N. K. Sinha and Prof. D. N. Banerjee who contributed scholarly chapters to this volume.
My special thanks are due to Dr. V. G. Dighe not only for his contributions to this volume but also for the valuable service he rendered as Assistant Editor. Owing to my serious illness while this volume was in the press, the editorial work had mainly to be carried on by him, and t am deeply grateful to him for his ungrudging per- formance of this duty with conspicuous success.
I also convey my sincere thanks to Dr. C. M. Kulkarni for the help I received from him and to the several contributors for the services Tendered by them in the preparation of this volume.
There is no separate Chapter on Art in this volume as the art of this period has already been dealt with in Chapter XLV of Vol. XI of the Series.
Before I take leave of this stupendous project, it is my pleasant duty to thank the staff of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for the devotion they have shown in this work throughout the long period of thirty-two years. I· would specially like to mention the very capable Executive Secretary, Shri S. Ramakrishnan, whose sustained interest in this project made it possible to complete the History Series. The former Production Manager Shri S. G. Tolat and his successors Shri M. K. Rajagopalan (who died prematurely in 1975), and Shri B. Srinivasa Rao, the present holder of the post, have all bestowed great care in the printing and publication of the present as well as the earlier volumes, for which I am much indebted to them. i also take this opportunity to thank the Library authorities of the University of Bombay and the Director of Archives, Government of Maharashtra, for granting facilities to our contributors and editors to use their vast treasure-houses.
The printing of this History Series was made possible because the Bhavan has behind it the experience and willing help of the Associated Advertisers and Printers, and my thanks are also due to the staff of the Press.
Item Code: NAI198 Author: R.C. Majumdar Cover: Hardcover Edition: 2001 Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Language: English Size: 9.5 inch x 6.5 inch Pages: 880 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 1.3 kg