THE HISTORY OF BENGAL PUBLICATION COMMITTEE
The idea of writing a comprehensive History of Bengal on modem 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 proposed 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 the result of this plan and how far it was matured are not definitely known, to me 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 bouse of the Baja, 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 on impetus from Sir Jadunath Sarkar, who, in the course of a lecture delivered at the University about the middle of July 19S3, emphasised ‘that a History of Bengal on modem 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 was so busy with his own research
work (m Ae history of Ancient Imfian Colonies in the Far East, was now free to take up the world.
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 ealled 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 Friends’ 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.
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 op 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.) .
Vol. m. 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 — i. 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 the 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 Fond was created with the nucleus grant of Rs. 1000/- 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. 1000)/- to the Fund. Subsequently, the Executive Council sanctioned a sum of Bs. 10,000/- for the printing and publication of the work.
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, Vahgiya 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.
University of Dhaka