History of Orissa is a reprint from the selected works of three famous Orientalists-stirling, Hunter and Beames. These three British Scholars, inspite of their limitations and prejudices, have given a very faithful picture of the development of history and culture of Orissa based on the materials then available to them, and their writings have made the glories of Orissa known to the outside world.
A History of Orissa is a reprint from the selected works of three famous Orientalists-Stirling, Hunter, and Beames. These three British scholars, inspite of thir limitations and prejudices, have given a very faithful picture of the development of history and culture of Orissa based on the materials then available to them, and their writings have made the glories of Orissa known to the outside world.
Andrew Stirling, son of Admiral Stirling was born some-times in 1793 and was educated at Haileybury, after which he came to India in 1813. At first he became the Persian Secretary to the Government of India, and then Deputy Secretary in the Political Department. In 1828 when WB. Bayley was acting as the Governor-Genereral, Stirling worked as his Private Secretary. He was one of the distinguished scholars of his times and his famous work An Account, Geographical, Statistical and Historical of Orissa poper, or Cuttuck was published in the Asiatic Researches Vol. XV in 1825. This was the first systematic exposition of the history of Oris sa, and as a product of laborious researches, it formed the foundation on which the superstructure was built by Hunter and other in later times. Stirling died a premature death at Calcutta on the 23rd may 1830.
Sir William Wilson Hunter was more profound as a scholar and vigorous and prodigious as a writer. He was the son of Andrew Galloway Hunter and was born on the 15th of July, 1840. Educated at Glasgow, Paris and Bonn, he came to Calcutta in 1862 and at once set himself to the task of Indological researches. His Comparative Dictionary of the Non-Aryan Languages of India and High Asia was published in 1868 and that very 'year also witnessed his famous publication The Annals of Rural Bengal. By these scholarly works he could draw the attention of Lord Mayo and was chosen by him in 1869 to organize a statistical survey of the Indian Empire and subsequently became the Director General of Statistics in 1871. While in this capacity he completed his famous work Orissa which was published in two volumes from Great Britain in 1872. The Statistical Account of Bengal was published in 20 volumes by him during the years 1875-77, and side by side this work he supervised publication of 128 volumes of local Gazetteers out of which he prepared his famous compilation The Imperial Gazetter of India, 23 volumes of which were published by the year 1887, the year of his retirement from service. His Life of Lord Mayo published in 1875 and Brief History of the Indian Peoples, published in 1883, were widely appreciated. As a recognition of his talent he was made the additional Member of the Governor General's Legistative Council from 1881 to 1887, and while in that capacity he worked as President of the Education commission in 1882-83, as a Member of Indian Finance Commission in 1886 and as Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University in 1886.
After his retirement in 1887 he settled very close to Oxford and regularly contributed weekly articles to The times on various problems of India. With much enthusiasm he started the publication of the Rulers of Indian Series in which he himself wrote the biographies of Lords Dalhousie and Mayo. His other works are Bombay. The Thackerays in India, Art Introduction to Bengal Manuscripts Records, and the Growth of British Dominion. Throughout his life Hunter remained a sincere student of Indian history and culture and inspired and encouraged many scholars to study and. work on Indology. He died at the age of sixty on 7th February 1900.
John Beames, the son of Rev. Thomas Beames, was a contemporary of W. W. Hunter and was born on June 21, 1837. He was educated at Merchant Taylors, school and at Hailey bury and came to India in 1858. At first he served in the Punjab for about three years and then in Bengal as collector and also as Commissioner of Balasore and was then the Commissioner of Orissa Division wherefrom he was transferred to Sylhet. He was subsequently made a member of the Board of revenue and retired in 1893.
Beames was great Oriental scholar and possessed sound knowledge of Oriya, Bengali and Sanskrit languages. While in Orissa he patronized with great zeal Oriya language and literature and brought to light many palm- leaf manuscripts of Oriya works. It was his generous support and encouragement that paved the path of the rise of Fakir Mohan, who is regarded as the Vyasa Kavi of Orissa and the father of Oriya novel. Beames was contributing at regular intervals learned articles to the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and to the Indian Antiquary and some 0 f his writings viz. Altai hill, published in the JA.S.B. Vol XLIV, Prt. I, No. I, and more Buddhist Remains in Orissa published in the same Journal Vol. XLI Prt. I No. I, are highly appreciated by scholars. He was an earnest student of Indian Grammar and Philology and wrote many famous works on these subjects during his stay in India. His Outlines of Indian Philology was published in 1867, after which he edited Sir H. Elliot's, Supplemental Glossary of Indian Terms and published it in 1869. The masterpiece of his works is A Comparative Grammar of the Arayan Languages which was published during 1872-79 and greatly enhanced his reputation as an Orientalist. He also published a Bengali Grammar in 1891 and even after retirement continued with un flagging zeal researches on Oriental learning and wrote some talented articles in the Imperial and Asiatic Quarterly Reviews. He died on May 24, 1902.
These three famous scholars did valuable researches on History of Orissa throughout the 19th century and placed the history of this territory on systematic and solid foundation. Other European scholars also attempted during the early 19th century at contributing to the study of History and Culture of Orrissa, prominent among them being Ewer, whose Khurdha Settlement Report, published in 1818, throws a flood of light on the then economic condition of Orissa; Toynbee, whose History of Orissa, published in 1828, gives a vivid picture of the early British administration of this land and Kittoe, whose explorations during 1836-'38 bring obscure Orisson antiquities to the knowledge of the scholar. During the 60s of the last century, Beglar, the assistant of Sir Alexander Cunningham, conducted archaeological explorations in various parts of Orissa, including the Garjat Tracts, and opened up new avenues of further exploration and researches for unraveling the glorious past of Orissa. It may, however, be said that among this group of European scholars Stirling, Hunter, and Beames, whose works are reprinted in this publication remain outstanding because of their through and systematic researches in depicting and linking together the dynastic, political and cultural movements in Orissa. These three luminaries are mostly responsible for inspiring a host of Indian historians during the 19th and the early 20th century. Scholars like Raja Rajendralala Mitra, M.M. Chakravarty, Pyarimohan Acharya, and others carried on patient and laborious work to produce comprehensive works on Orissan History and Culture. The 20- century opened with the accumulated experience and knowledge of all these scholars and provided invaluable materials for the work of celebrated scholars like N. N. Basu, M. M. Ganguli, B. C. Mazumdar, Krupasindhu Misra, R. D. Banerji, R. P. Chand, Jagabandhu Simha, K. P. Jayaswal and many other. With them the History of Orissa made rapid strides and in the middle of the present century, Dr. H. K. Mahatab, now Governor of Bombay, culled together all the facts and finds then known to scholars and wrote a History of Orissa in a comprehensive and presentable form. But in recent times many copper plates, stone inscriptions and valuable documents have come to light as a result of which the admirable work of Dr. Mahatab requires further revision and addition of facts. Still, Orissan history is replete with many conflicting and even irreconcilable problems. The periods between Mohapadma nanda and Asoka, between Asoka and Kharavela, as well as between Kharavela and Samudra Gupta are yet to be bridged; the find of the large hoards of Kushan coins throught Orissa has not been satisfactorily explained; the initial years of the Ganga and the Bhauma eras are not yet settled beyond dispute; and the accounts of various dynasties viz. the Matharas, Vigrahas, Manas, Sulkis, Tungas, Nandas, Barahas, Bhanjas etc. remain yet imperfect.
If so, it is idle to expect authoritative history from the writers of the 19th century who had to labour under manifold disadvantages. At a time when communication and means of conveyance were still in the mediaeval stage, when printed books on Indological subjects were very rare, when the science of photography was quite undeveloped and Archaeological sciences like Epigraphy, Numismatics, Iconography and Architecture were in their infancy, the pioneer scholars-Stirling, Hunter and Beames-had to carry out their researches with patience and determination. They had to learn Sanskrit, as well as Oriya and had to study local chronicles, legends and traditions, and move from place to place on horse back or on palanquins to study monuments scattered throughout the territory. No doubt, their accounts are sometimes inaccurate and unhistorical, at times distorted by the mendacious information of the local Pundits and occasionally blurred by their sense of superiority complex which leads to wrong conclusions. But notwithstanding these limitations, their works present striking exposition of Orissa's past and depict faithfully important features of her history and culture. These are still fountainhead of historical inspiration and a solid foundation for building further superstructures. In fact these are illuminating as works of history and are honoured to-day as classics.
Out of their voluminous works care has been taken to select important historical and cultural chapters for the present publication. Thus, while reprinting the monumental work of Stirling entitled An Account, Geographical Statistical and Historical of Orissa proper, or Cuttack only Part II-Chronology and History and Part Ill-Religion, Antiquities, Temples and civil Architecture are selected and Part I including General description, Boundaries, Soil, Productions, Geology, Rivers, Towns, Commerce, Population, Revenues, Political Institutions and Land Tenure etc. are not given place in the present publication. The whole account is to be found in the Asiatic Researches Vol xv, 1825 from pages 163 to 338. In the case of Hunter's Orissa (2 volumes), the lengthy Statistical Accounts and the Geographical and descriptive portions of the work are avoided and only historical and cultural chapters are edited for publication. Out of various scholarly articles of Beames, published in different cultural Journals of India, only one article entitled Notes on the History of Orissa under Mahammadan, Marhatta and English rule, printed in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. LII Parts III & IV, is selected because of its accuracy and comprehensiveness and incorporated here.
While editing these works proper care has been taken not to make any material change in the body of the original writing and views and comments in the light of modern researches have been provided in the running footnotes. He original views of the writers expressed in the first person, are given proper respect and are noted verbatim in the third person. No pain's have been spared to make this publication handy and up-to-date for the readers interested in the history and culture of India in general and of Orissa in particular. But inspite of all precautions and care the book may not be found adequate and accurate at places and to make good this apprehension an outline of the political history of Orissa from the earliest times to the present day, based on up-to-date researches is provided in a companion volume to be shortly published.
This book endeavours to delineate the inner life of an Indian Province ... The narrative is embellished by no splendid historical characters, nor does it possess the interest which belongs to striking crimes. To the world's call-roll of heroes it will add not one name the people of whom it treats have fought no great battle for human liberty, nor have they succeeded even in the more primary task of subduing the forces of nature to the control of man. To them the world stands indebted for not a single discovery which augments the comforts or mitigates the calamities of life. Even in literature-the peculiar glory of the Indian race-they have won no conspicuous triumph. They have written no famous epic; they have struck out no separate school of philosophy; they have elaborated no new system of law.
Yet if I have in any degree done justice to my materials, these pages can well dispense with the plots and scenic effects of history. Nature, long grown cold and inert in Europe, here toils as wildly at her primeval labour, as if the work of Creation still lay before her. She discloses her ancient secrets of land-making, and admits us as spectators to the miracle of the Third day. We see the dry earth in the act of standing forth from the water, peering about the surface of once deep lakes, and pushing itself out as blunt headlands into the sea. Nor does she hide her more terrible aspect, destroying and reproducing with an equal balance; wrenching great rivers from their courses ; and by the same series of acts, providing fresh land for a thousand new homesteads, and perpetrating tragedies as appalling as the desolation of the Palatinate. Within the single province of Orissa, she has brought together, as in a great museum, specimens of all her handicrafts, from the half-formed amphibious region around the river-mouths, to the chaos of primitive rock which walls out the seaboard from the inner table-land.
Nor is the province less rich in organic remains. Upon the delta, and among the mountains which rise behind it, we come upon endless strata of races, dynasties, and creeds, from the latest alluvial deposit of Bengalis, with their soft Hinduism, to the aboriginal peoples and their hard angular faith. In Europe, the primeval tribes have disappeared from the range of observation into the twilight of hypothesis. Scholars stand like Hamlet in the Elsinore Grave-yard, and see the bones of forgotten nations thrown up at their feet. They muse over the hollow skull, measure the facial angles, and labour to recon-struct the lost speech. But the tongue less jaw and empty socket yield to them much the same conclusion as they did to the moralizing Prince: that here has been a fine revolution, if we had but the nick to know it. Orissa exhibits a profusion of such primitive races, not in a fossil state, but warm' and breathing, living apart in their own communities, amid a world of suggestive types and links that have elsewhere disappeared. The aboriginal peoples of India have, as it were, been hidden away in hill-caves, until the great ethnical movements subsided, beneath which they would otherwise have been submerged.
I have dwelt at unusual length on the historical aspects of the principal Indian creeds. For the history of religion is in India, the history of the people. The ethnical revolutions which brought in new ruling races, ceased in very ancient times; and during the last 1500 years, the rise and fall of the Orissa dynasties have been connected not with tribal movements, but with religious reformations. Each new line of kings represents a new era of worship and of spiritual belief. Its elevation to power takes place amid the birth-thrones of a fresh popular creed; its decay is contemporaneous with the decline of the national religion; and its fall is consummated amid the extinction of the old rites and the coming in of new. The reader may perhaps think that I have given too frequent prominence to the religious side of Orissa history. But I have done so, from a firm belief that it forms the key to the right under-standing of the people. Throughout all Northern India, not less than on the remote Orissa shore, dynastic revolutions and religious reformations have for centuries gone hand in hand. Buddhism and Hinduism, the Muhammadans and the Sikhs, represent a conflict of creeds not less than a struggle of races ....
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