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An Account of the Districts of Bhagalpur in 1810-1811

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Item Code: HAQ629
Author: Francis Buchanan
Publisher: Bihar Museum, Patna
Language: English
Edition: 2013
Pages: 663
Other Details 9.5x6.3 inch
Weight 1.10 kg
Book Description

It is a matter of great satisfaction that the Reprints of much- demanded Buchanan's Reports are being published by the Department of Art, Culture & Youth, Bihar. In recent time, the Department has published a good number of books, coffee-table books, monographs and so on. The present publication, it is hoped, would serve the needs of important academic and research pursuits.

Francis Buchanan (1762-1829) was a British scientific explorer and surveyor who observed and recorded flora and fauna, ecology, society and economy of Bengal, which at that time included Bihar as well. Qualified as a surgeon by profession, Buchanan was posted in Bengal in 1793. From 1807 Francis Buchanan began his most memorable venture by undertaking a study tour through Northern Bengal and Bihar. Historians, social and natural scientists draw heavily on the reports of Buchanan for the first hand information on Bengal and Bihar of his time.

The original manuscript copies of these accounts are housed in the Oriental and India Office Collection in the British Library, London. Soon after Buchanan's death, these accounts, in addition to an account of Assam, were edited and published by R. Montgomery Martin under the title History, Antiquities, Topography, and Statistics of Eastern India. Martin has since been roundly criticized by students of the Buchanan manuscripts for his random and rather indiscreet editorial cuts of valuable material while preparing the volumes for publication. It failed to give Buchanan enough explicit credit as the sole author of the work. This was salvaged to some extent by the publication of the original accounts of the Bihar districts by the Bihar and Orissa Research Society between 1928 and 1939.

Now, the Department is going to publish four Buchanan's Reports related to Bihar, i.e. Accounts of Districts of Bhagalpur, Purnea, Shahabad and Bihar and Patna, which since long was awaited by historians, Indologists and scholars engaged in reconstructing the history of Bihar.


With the publication for the first time in its entirety of Dr. Buchanan's report for the district of Bhagalpur which he surveyed in 1810-11, the Bihar and Orissa Research Society brings to a successful close an endeavour initiated in 1916. On the recommendation of the Directors of the East Indian Company in 1807 to the Governor-General for a statistical survey of the presidency of Bengal, Dr. Francis Buchanan who had been employed in the survey of Mysore was directed by the Governor- General in Council on the 11th September of the same year to do the work. All the districts then forming part of the Presidency of Bengal were surveyed by Dr. Buchanan during the years 1807-14. The results of this survey were transmitted to England in 1816 and in 1838 appeared in an abridged form in the three volumes of Eastern India" by Mr. Montgomery Martin with Martin's name alone on the title-page.

The defects of Montgomery Martin's arbridgement of the Reports have been pointed out by Sir W. W. Hunter, Beveridge, Jackson, Oldham and James and readers may be referred to the Introduction to Jackson s edition of the Journal (1923), and James's edition of the Report (1936) for the districts of Patna and Gaya. The abiding value of the topographical and anti- quarian information in Buchanan's survey can be properly appreciated if his Journals and Reports are studied as a whole as prepared by him. At the instance of the late Mr. V. H. Jack- son, and owing to the interest taken in the matter, specially by Sir Edward Gait, Messrs. Oldham and McPherson, a proposal to publish the Journals through the agency of the Bihar and Orissa Research Society was sanctioned by the Secretary of State in 1916--just a hundred years after their actual compilation and submission to the authorities in England. The first volume of the series, Buchanan's Patna-Gaya Journal edited by Jackson, was published in 1923. To the Journals were added the Reports. The Journals published so far are-Bhagalpur (1810-11) Patna Gaya (1811-12), Shahabad (1812-13); unfortunately no Ms. of the Purnea Journal is available. The reports are for the districts of Purnea (1809-10), Bhagalpur (1810-11), Bihar and Patna (1811-12) and Shahabad (1912-13). These three Journals and four Reports complete all available matter regarding the Bihar districts in the original statistical survey of Bengal by Buchanan. The mutilated and garbled version of Martin appeared in 1838 containing an uncritical abridgement of the Re- ports. The Bihar and Orissa Research Society completes with the publication of the present volume its series reproducing the original Buchanan Mss. in 1938. During these hundred years, Dr. Buchanan's great survey remains a mine of information and a model for subsequent compilers of "statistical accounts" and gazetteers, and his amazing industry an inspiration for all.

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