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Gleanings of the Past and the Science Movement

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Item Code: HAL406
Author: Arun Kumar Biswas
Language: English
Edition: 2021
ISBN: 9788195342822
Pages: 456 (With Color Illustrations)
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 620 gm
Book Description


Ever since 1960, the present author enjoyed the great privilege and opportunity to work on the theme of the founders of the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (abbreviated as IACS): Dr. Mahendralal Sircar (1833-1904) and Reverend Father Eugene Lafont (1837-1908). Father Lafont had taught young Jagadis Chandra Bose at the St. Xavier's College when the IACS was founded (1876), and encouraged, one year before his death, young C.V. Raman who worked at the IACS to become the first Indian scientist to win a Nobel Prize. Quite understandably. Sircar and Lafont were considered during the 1870-1895 period to be the foremost science pioneers in modern India.

Dr. Mahendralal Sircar had maintained his valuable diaries since 1873, and his son Amritalal (1860-1919) since 1884. These diaries were preserved in the Sircar family archives till long after Amritalal's death. Eventually, these were gifted away, probably in instalments, by Amritalal's wife Binodini, his second son Pramathalal and Pramathalal's wife Snehalata. Mahendralal's 1886 dairy, retained for some time by Swami Advayananda, and utilised by Swami Prabhananda for his research, is now preserved in the Belur Math Archives. The present monograph is based upon extracts from the IACS Collection of the Diaries.


The Asiatic Society had instituted a HISTORY OF SCIENCE programme under the leadership of Professor Sushil Kumar Mukherjee. One of his ex-students, Professor Arun Kumar Biswas was invited, on his retirement from I.I.T. Kanpur in 1995, to join our Society as the Mahendralal Sircar Research Professor in History of Science. It was hardly anticipated at that time that one of his early research projects would be related to Mahendralal himself!

Dr Mahendralal Sircar (1833-1904) founded the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) in 1876, and the IACS Collection of the Sircar family diaries starts with the date 1873. The collection was made available to Professor Biswas who made a prompt and Judicious use of it. Consequently, the Society is now able to publish in a very short time Gleanings of the Past and the Science Movement, based on the diaries of Mahendralal and his son Amritalal (1860-1919). As a matter of fact, the six sections of this monograph have already been presented in the various issues of the Journal of the Asiatic Society between the years 1997 and 1999.

We are very grateful to the Director of the IACS and his staff for their unstinted assistance rendered to Professor Biswas who has also received splendid co-operation from the staff of our Society.

The IACS was started by Dr Sircar and his life-long colleague, Reverend Father Eugene Lafont (1837-1908), and both of them were active members of The Asiatic Society which itself played a vital role in the science movement launched by two of its members. It was in the Journal of the Asiatic Society that the first few scientific papers of young Asutosh Mookerjee. Jagadis Chandra Bose and Prafulla Chandra Ray were published, after these were formally endorsed and forwarded by Sircar, Lafont and Pedler. Quite naturally. Mahendralal's diaries contain many references to our Society.

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