Niharranjan Ray’s highly acclaimed magnum opus, Bangalir Itihas: Adi Parva, translated here as History of the Bengali People is a seminal work on the history of the Bengalis from the earliest times to the beginning of the Muslim rule in India.
As much a work of literature as of history, this book is not a story of kings and the extension of their power but of the life of ordinary people. Thus, through detailed, methodical discussions on origins of the various peoples, their language and literature, science, trade and commerce, religious practices and rituals, there emerges a vivid picture of society and its development through the passage of time.
This able translation by J. W. Hood has retained the vibrancy and subtle nuances of the Bengali original. In his Foreword to this edition of the translation, Sumit Sarkar writes: ‘Niharranjan Ray was, indeed, a towering figure among my generation of historians. But not many scholars are familiar with his writings these days. The new edition of the English translation, which has done full justice to the original version, hopefully will rectify this.’
Niharranjan Ray (1903-1981), renowned historian, was one of India’s last great polymaths. He has written extensively and authoritatively on a vast range of subjects including art, classical and modern literature, history, religion, politics and biography.
John W. Hood (trans.) obtained his PhD in Bengali vernacular historiography from the University of Melbourne and has spent most of his life studying and writing about Indian—especially Bengali—culture. In addition to his Niharranjan Ray published in the Sahitya Akademi''s ''Makers of Indian Literature'' series, he has written a number of books on Indian art cinema and has translated a variety of Bengali poetry and fiction into English.
Foreword to this edition by Sumit Sarkar
Foreword by Sir Jadunath Sarkar
Preface to the original edition
Preface to the abridged edition
1. The Argument
2. The Origins
3. The Land
4. Economic Life
5. Land Systems
6. Caste Patterns
7. Class Patterns
8. Villages and Towns
9. Administrative Patterns
10. The Dynastic Round
11. Everyday Life
12. Religious Thought and Practice
13. Language Literature and Learning
14. The Fine Arts and Music
15. Some Implications