Students of history eager to learn about the past of Mithila, Muzaffarpur, Vaishali and Champaran regions would now be able to access a rare book that was last seen in print 40 years ago.
Maharajadhiraja Kameshwar Singh Kalyani Foundation has recently re-published Shyam Narayan Singh’s 1922 book History of Tirhut: From Earliest Times To The End of Nineteenth Century as part of its Bihar Heritage Series.
This was the first English book on the history of north Bihar and introduced the region to historical and Indilogical studies at the national and international level.
Singh, who joined the Bengal Civil Services in 1906 and held various administrative posts in Bihar, was encouraged to write the book by French orientalist and Indologist Sylvain Levi — a Sanskrit teacher at Sorbonne, Paris, and writer on books on Indian theatre, Hindu rituals and history of Nepal. He also visited India in 1897.
Singh, too, has a couple of other books to his credit — The Industries in Bihar and Orissa and Hindu- Muslim Unity.
Asked why it chose to publish this particular book, sociologist and the honorary managing trustee of Maharajadhiraja Kameshwar Singh Kalyani Foundation, Hetukar Jha, said: “Apart from being the first book in English providing details of then Tirhut region, the book also gives authentic information on political, cultural, social and economic history of the region.”
Jha, the author of a book on Maharaja Rameshwara Singh of Darbhanga (also published by the foundation) edits the books published under the Bihar Heritage Series. He said the text of Singh’s book had not been edited.
“The author had consulted almost all the documents available at that time. Tweaking the figures in the light of later developments and findings after the publication of the book in 1922 would have eroded its originality,” said Jha.
He added that the book would be very useful for those interested to study the history of north Bihar. At present, 500 copies of the book have been printed. Those interested to purchase it can visit website of the foundation www.kalyanifoundation.org.
Singh’s book is the 16th in the Bihar Heritage Series, which started in 1996. Jha said higher education institutions in India and abroad have shown interest in its publications. The foundation was set up in 1989.