About the Book
“Indology and Its Eminent Western Savants” Contams life and bibliographical mention of the works of about three hundred eminent savants of Indologists of Europe and America belonging to diverse times. regions and speeches. These lives and their achivements weave a fabric which reveal India’s ancient past in full glory relating to its religion, philosophy, language, literature, Society, arts, architecture, positive sciences and culture in general. According to Prof. A.L. Basham it is difficult to find these elsewhere. The appendix portion of the book contains a brief description of the original works and authors of Ancient India: whose achievements formed the basis of Study and research of these Eminent western savants of Indology The book has been specially written to be utilized by all those who are interested in the study of Indology as a handy tool for the purpose of reference.
About the Author
Shri Gaurangagopal Sengupta was born on 20.10.1913. In a respectable and learned family of Bhabanipur Birbhum West Bengal (India) Passing the BA examination of the Calcutta University in 1936. with philosophy and Sanskrit he could not pursue post-graduate studies but had to join tile service He retired from service In October 1971 as a responsible Official of the Publicity and Public relations dept of one of the Zonal Railways of India Shri Sengupta since his early youth was drawn 10 serious study and through his ardent love for literature was promted to write, essays poems. short stories and novels which were published In the reputed Bengali Journals of the day During his late thirties Shri Sengupta was drawn to the study of Indology and published a large number of articles In English and Bengali which draw the attention of many scholars of International repute. Thereafter, he wrote a few works of Indology which established him as a distinguished Indologist Shri Sengupta is associated with many academic and learned institutions, including the Asiatic Society and Bangiya Sahitva Parisad Bengal Academy of Literature, Calcutta Shri Sengupta has recently been awarded a Certificate of honour and cash rewards as an eminent Sanskrit scholar by the Govt Sanskrit College of Calcutta.
Shri Sengupta has written a large number of books in Bengali which Include translation of English and Sanskrit works by distinguished authors.
Shri Sengupta has crossed his eighty second year of birth but has not given up his studies and research work.
In my early forties, I was drawn towards the study of Indology and came across the works of a number of Western Indologists. I was struck with wonder going through their works revealing their love and devotion towards Indian learning and culture. I could also imagine with what patience and perseverance, they had learnt Sanskrit and allied Indian languages before penning their works. Learning of Sanskrit, as we all know in our own country, is associated with poverty and in modern times, when material prosperity is being hectically pursued by the educated section of the society, few are drawn to Sanskrit learning, avenues of livelihood being too limited. It is imaginable how much it cost for the Sanskritists in the West especially upto the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Most of them had to live in obscurity and poverty in comparison with others of different pursuits.
I began to collect the life sketches and the works of the Western Indologists for paying the debt or gratitude devoting all the time I could spare after my normal duties for livelihood. Regular labour enabled me to write a few biographies in, Bengali, my mother tongue, which were published in a then prestigious Bengali monthly ‘Samakalin’ owned and edited by my youngest brother Shri Ananda Gopal Sengupta. These biographies drew the attention of many readers including illustrious scholars like Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, Dr. R. C. Mazumdar and M. M. Dr. Gopinath Kabirai (Varanasi). In 1965, I published my book in Bengali ‘Bideshiya Bharat Vidyapathik’ (Foreign Savants of Indology) with a long introduction from the pen of Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee hailing the book as a pioneering work. The book contained 25 biographies in details and about 200 in brief. The book was well-received by the Bengali readers and on demand a revised and enlarged edition had to be published later on. After publishing the above book, I engaged myself in writing a similar book on Indian Savants of Indology which took away a decade’s time. This book has also since been published.
In the meanwhile, my friends have been pressing me to bring out an English version of my book on Western Indologists. Some Indian Scholars from various parts of different states of India with knowledge of Bengali, unknown to me, also reciprocated the demand through their letters. They wanted this, to enable them to have the book translated into the languages of their own states, English being the common bond for all the states in India. After my retirement from service as a publicity official of one of the Zonal Railways of India, I set myself to the task of re-writing the book in English in an enlarged form with 30 biographies in details and about 250 in brief. In the meantime I negotiated with the present publisher M/s. Punthi Pustak on the recommendation of my esteemed friend Dr. Suresh Chandra Banerjee, a leading Sanskrit scholar of Calcutta with international reputation.
Fortunately, I struck acquaintance with Prof. A. L. Basham when he was serving in the faculty of Asian Studies at the Australian National University at Canberra during his frequent visits of Calcutta, after his retirement from the London School of Oriental and· African Studies. The acquaintance soon developed into a deep friendship and mutual regard. He was large hearted enough to treat this humble and obscure author as his equal and loving by accepted me as his ‘Dada’ ( elder brother), as he was a few months junior to me in age. Prof. Basham was one of those who encouraged me to write my works in English also. During January 1984, Prof. Basham came to Calcutta to join the bi-centenary celebrations of the Asiatic Society, and I took the opportunity of showing him the duplicate typed copy of this work and requested him to write a short introduction to the book, if it deserved his recommendation. Prof. Basham gladly went through the typed ‘Mss.’ appreciated it and inspite of his preoccupations wrote a short introduction, which has been used in the present work after a lapse of eleven years. When he wrote the preface, I could not’ imagine that Prof. Basham would pass away in Calcutta within, two years. At this time he had joined the Asiatic Society as Vivekananda Professor of Indology. I now bow down to the hallowed memory of Prof. Basham-not only a great scholar but also as a high minded man. May his soul rest in peace. In, this connection I also recall the memory of my beloved brother (cousin) late. Brojendragopal Sengupta who saw through the mss. of this work carefully correcting the errors and suggesting rewriting of some passages for the better. comprehension of the readers. May his soul rest in peace.
Unfortunately stated, the present work had to be printed when the mss. had gathered dust. The Press naturally had some difficulty at the composing stage. I was given the opportunity of going through the proof-sheets for one time only. Due to long distance of the press from my residence, old age and failing eye-sight, it was not possible for me to supervise the printing work at every stage, consequently the ‘printers’ devil’ has played its full role resulting in numerous printing mistakes. I sincerely apologise to the readers for the lapse on my part. I have tried to make amends by adding an ‘errata’ at the end of the book. I request the readers to consult the errata for proper perusal of the book. The book has not been written to be consulted as a biographical dictionary and as such, I have picked up more familiar names of the savants who have passed away. Therefore, the work should be treated as the lives of the dead Western Indologists representing their entire class. Names of some scholars have also been included, who died when the book was being printed.
I have collected the materials for my book mainly through study at the National Library and Asiatic Society of Calcutta. From time to time I have also gathered information from U.S.I.S. Library, Maxmueller Bhaban and Gorky Sadan in Calcutta. Sometimes, a few foreign embassies of New Delhi, have obliged me by attending to my queries. My grateful thanks are due to all of them.
Many friends have encouraged me fur the execution of the present work. In thinking all of them, I should make special mention of the names of Prof. R. K. Dasgupta (Ex-Director National Library of Calcutta), Prof. Suresh Chandra Banerjee (Ex-Secy., W. B. Sanskrit Association) and of Shri Chittaranjan Banerjee (Ex-Dy. Librarian, National Library and Ex-Librarian Central Reference Library, Calcutta) who is also a distinguished scholar.
My sincere gratitude is also due to Shri Sankar Bhattacharya for the great stake taken by him in publishing the present book by an humble octagenarian author for promoting the cause of Indological studies, international amity and understanding. Although I have contributed to various Journals in English and edited for many years Journals in English as also books, this is my first published work in English in book form. All other books of mine on Indological subjects have been published in Bengali.
I crave for indulgence of the readers for all the lapses in the book. In conclusion, I recall and reciprocate the following words from the poem of the celebrated English poet, Robert Browning “Look at the end of work/contrast/The petty done, the undone vast.”
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