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Goethals News Bulletin
Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, Kolkata
Vol. IV No. 2 Bulletin April - June 2001

News Update | Articles | Researchers | New Arrivals | Mails & Emails

From the Director I am back at St. Xavier’s in good health and have resumed my normal work. But for your prayers things would have been different. I thank all of you for your concern and support during the last three months of my illness. Be assured of my prayers. God bless you.
Fr. Felix Raj, SJ

News Update

  • Three students from the Mass Communications Centre of St. Xavier’s College visited the Library. They did filming of the "Empress Magazine", which had the special feature on Fr. Lafont SJ.

  • The Library receives many email enquiries from all around the world, on a wide variety of topics. Researchers who have worked at the Research Centre also keep in touch through email.

  • Special thanks to Dr. Josep Alay from Spain who donated his book "The Secret of Tibet" in the Catalan language to the library.

  • Latest issues of the Goethals Bulletin can be viewed Online at www.goethals.org.

  • Director’s personal Email address: felixrajsj@yahoo.com

  • Foreign donations to GILRC and payments for materials sought from the Library are to be made in favour of "Catholic Mission of Western Bengal" and sent to the Director, GILRC, St. Xavier’s, 30 Park Street, Calcutta - 700 016, India.


Annual Journal

GILRC will be publishing an Annual Journal - 2001. Articles on current and relevant topics are welcome. They should reach the director by October 15, 2001.

Fr. Lafon and J. C. Bose from the Novel First Light by Sunil Gangopadhyay

"Sitting in the first row Colonel Alcott and Father Lafon watched the play entranced, not at the glory of Hinduism, but the acting ability of Binodini. ‘I’ve seen performances in England by the best of actresses,’ Colonel Alcott murmured in his companion’s ear. I’ve seen Ellen Terry in the roles of Portia and Desdemona. But I’ll say, without prejudice, that this actress’ performance is not a whit inferior. I hadn’t expected anything like this. Most amazing!’ Father Lafon did not reply but his eyes shone with pride. He loved India and Indians. Triumph surged within him at the thought that the much despised natives had proved themselves equal to the British in one field at least. And, that too, in the highly sensitive, creative field of the theatre."......................

"At the end of the first act, when the curtain had descended for a brief interval, a man came huffing and puffing up to Mahendralal. ‘Would you come to the green room for a moment Daktar Babu,’ he whispered urgently. Mahendralal rose to his feet instantly and followed him. As soon as they were out of earshot the man hissed in his ear, ‘Binod has fainted Daktar Babu. She came tottering out of the stage after the Hari Bol sequence and fell down in a heap. We’ll have to stop the play if you can’t revive her in a few minutes.’

‘But I haven’t brought my box of medicines,’ Mahendralal exclaimed. ‘And the shops must have shut by now. It’s past eleven o’clock.’ Then, seeing the stricken look on the man’s face, he added quickly, ‘Take me to her, anyway, and let me see what I can do.’

Binodini lay in a dark passage behind the stage her head cradled in the lap of a white man in a cassock whom Mahendralal recognized instantly as Father Lafon. Binodini’s cheeks were pale and marked with tears. Her hair spilled out of the priest’s lap and fell to the floor in rich curls as he massaged her head vigorously with long white fingers. Lying like that she looked young and vulnerable and every inch a woman. Even as the eyes of the two men met, Binodini’s lips trembled into life. ‘Ha Krishna! Ha Krishna!’ she muttered. Mahendralal smiled wryly. The crisis was over. Father Lafon had done whatever there was to be done and his presence was not required. He knew what had gone wrong of course. The girl had pitched her emotions too high and had cracked under the strain. Anyway, she would recover very soon now and the play could go on............

‘Do hear the rest Dada. Then deliver your verdict. Jagadish couldn’t become a doctor but he’s become a scientist. He got his degree in Physics from Cambridge University. And, while in England, he recovered from kala azar. The air in that part of the country is extremely healthy. He’s back now with a teaching assignment in Presidency College.’

‘Aaah!’ Mahendralal’s eyes nearly bulged out of his head. He stood up in his excitement, ‘A Bengali boy teaching Physics in Presidency College! That’s a white man’s aakhra. How did they allow an infiltrator?’

Astute lawyer that he was, Durgamohan knew how to build up a case. The trump card had to be hidden in the sleeve to be brought out with a flourish right at the end. Smiling at the older man he said gently, ‘Consider the boy’s calibre Dada. Has any Bengali achieved what Jagadish has? You are doing so much for the spread of science in the land. Have you received any recognition? Yet, do you know who recommended Jagadish for the post? Lord Ripon himself.’

‘What!’ Mahendralal almost screamed the question. He started pacing feverishly up and down the room. ‘You know Father Lafon, don’t you Dada?’ Durgamohan went on. ‘Jagadish was his favourite pupil in St Xavier’s College. When Jagadish left for England Father Lafon gave him some letters of introduction one of which was for Mr Fawcett - the famous economist and now Post-Master General of England. Mr. Fawcett helped the boy in many ways. Just before Jagadish was to return to India Fawcett sent for him and said, ‘You’ve done exceedingly well, my boy, and I’m proud of you. I would like to make sure that you get the job you deserve." Then, handing him a letter he added, "The Viceroy is a friend of mine. Go to him as soon as you reach India and give him this." Jagadish did as he was told. Lord Ripon examined his papers and interviewed him for over and hour. He was obviously impressed because he sent a communication to the Education Secretary to find suitable employment for the boy.’

I’ve never heard of the Viceroy recommending a native. It’s unbelievable!’

It happened, nevertheless. But there is more to come. The Education Secretary, Sir Alfred Crawford, was of the view that a native had no head for science. He might be allowed to teach Bengali or Sanskrit or Philosophy at the most. But Physics was out of the question. Charles Tawney, Principal of Presidency College, was of the same opinion. Yet they couldn’t ignore the Viceroy’s recommendation either. Crawford offered Jagadish a job in the Provincial Service on the pretext that there was no vacancy in the Imperial Service. But why should Jagadish, with all his qualifications, accept a post in a lower service? He turned down the proposal.’

He was right. Absolutely right!’

But Lord Ripon had remembered his promise. When, on examining the Gazette, he found the boy’s name missing he sent for Crawford and demanded an explanation. Crawford hastened to make amends. He offered Jagadish a teaching assignment in Presidency College.


The Mind of A Judge
by Jawaharlal Nehru

The days when I practiced at the Bar as a lawyer seem distant and far-off, and I find it a little difficult now to recapture the thoughts and moods that must have possessed me then. And yet it was only sixteen years ago that I walked out of the web of the law in more ways than one. Sometimes I look back on those days, for in prison one grows retrospective and, as the present is dull and monotonous and full of unhappiness, the past stands out vivid and inviting. There was little that was inviting in that legal past of mine and at no time have I felt the urge to revert to it.

But still my mind played with the ifs and possibilities of that past- a foolish but an entertaining pastime when inaction is thrust on one-and I wondered how life would have treated me if I had stuck to my original profession. That was not an unlikely contingency, though it seems odd enough now; a slight twist in the thread of life might have changed my whole future. I suppose I would have done tolerably well at the Bar and I would have had a much more peaceful, a duller, and physically a more comfortable existence than I have so far had. Perhaps I might even have developed into a highly respectable and solemn-looking judge with wig and gown, as quite a number of my old friends and colleagues have done.

- From "The Modern Review", January 1936. Volume LIX., No.1. Page 8.



Goethals website is starting a page vibrations for viewers expression of ideas and thoughts. Visit our site and send your views on suggested topics to be webbed on our site.

New Arrivals

  • Changing Land Systems and Tribals in Eastern India in the Modern Period, edited by T. Banerjee. Published by Subarnarekha. Calcutta. 1989.

  • Cultural Pasts- Essays in Early Indian History by R. Thapar. Published by OUP. New Delhi. 2000.

  • Gandhi and Ambedkar by S. Chavan. Published by Authors Press. New Delhi. 2001.

  • India and her Himalayan Neighbours by A. Bagchi. Published by Subarnarekha. Calcutta. 1999.

  • A Source Book of Indian Civilization edited by N. Ray, B. D. Chattopadhyaya, R. Chakravarti and V. R. Mani. Published by Orient Longman. Calcutta. 2000.

  • The Totos by B. Majumdar. Published by Academic Enterprise. Calcutta. 1998.

  • The Uttarakhand Movement by P. Kumar. Published by Kanishka Publishers. New Delhi. 2000.


The City of Jinji at the end of the 16th Century
by Rev. H. Heras, S.J., M.A.

It is well known that in the days of its glory the old fortress of Jinji, in the South Arcot District, was one of the strongest and most impregnable in the whole of Hindustan. It rightly deserved to be called "The Troy of the East", a name given it by European travellers.

To one of these travellers, Fr. Nicholas Pimenta, S.J., we are indebted for an account of the whole city, which will repay careful study. This Portuguese Jesuit was appointed Visitor of the Missions of the Society of Jesus in India by the Most Rev. Fr. Claudius Aquaviva , Superior General of the Society. In the course of his travels he spent a few days at Jinji, in the year 1597. There were no Jesuits then at the Court of Jinji Nayak, but he wanted to pay his respects to Krisnappa Nayaka (1580-1620), the then ruling chief, and to thank him for his hospitality to several of the Jesuit Missionaries who had visited his Court on business.

- From "The Indian Antiquary: A Journal of Oriental Research". Volume LIV.1925. Page 41.


Researchers at Goethals

  1. Dr. Kapil Raj from the "Ecole Des Hautes Etudes En Sciences Sociales, Paris", visited the Goethals Research Centre in January and did research on the History of the Field Sciences from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries.

  2. Mr. Lauwaert Wim from the University of Amsterdam did research on the History of the Armenian Community in Calcutta.

  3. Mrs. I.L.Wilson-Deroze visited the Centre in February and did research on Anglo-Indian History.

  4. Fr. Tanghe and Fr. Ionckheere from Belgium and Ranchi respectively did a joint research on Fr. Lievens s.j. in February.

  5. Fr. William Bourke s.j. from St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling visited the Library in February. He was very interested in the Preservation work done at the Library. Fr. William did research on the History of Darjeeling. He was especially pleased when he saw several rare and old Photo Albums on Darjeeling.

  6. Mr. Aditi Nath Sarkar from the Ray Society visited the library in February. He was interested in the "Catalogue Cards" used at the Goethals Indian Library and Research Centre.

  7. Mr. Suniti Kumar Chatterji, an Advocate at the High Court and an Old Boy of St. Xavier’s College, visited the Goethals Research Centre in February. He did research on the History of St. Xavier’s College.

  8. Fr. James Kurikilamkatt from Deepti Bhavan, Kerala, visited the Library in March and did research on the Beginning of Christianity in North Western India.

  9. Fr. Francis Pereira SVD from St. Albert’s College, Ranchi, visited the Goethals Library in March. and did research on the Religious Beliefs of the Uraons.

  10. Mr. Francis Emmanuel from the "Institute Orientaliste", Belgium visited the Library in March and did research on South Indian Kingship Ideology. Mr. Emmanuel was visibly impressed with the collection of books at the library and he appreciated the ambience at the Library and said that it was congenial for research purposes.

  11. Three students from the St. Xavier’s College, Mass Communication Centre did research on the Observatory Room of St. Xavier’s College and on Fr. Lafont as well. The students were Aditi Deorah, Abhyuday Khaitan and Anirudh Shrinivas Bhat. They visited the Library in the month of March.

  12. Mr. Mrinal Kanti Chanda visited the Library in March and he did research on the English Press in Bengal from 1780 to 1880.He came to know about the Library after having read an article in "The Statesman".

  13. Fr. Sunil Rosario, Parish Priest of Sacred Heart Church, Chandannagar visited the Library in March and his interest was in the History of the Church and Theology.

  14. SXC Students who visited the Library were Amit Barla, Pankaj Kumar Mahato, Moti Mondal, Sharath Hari, Rahul Prakash Das and Rajesh Singhi.


Mails & Emails

Dear Father,
We are bringing out reprints of many classics of the history of Bengal. If you think that your members will be interested we may give you a set free. For further information I would request you to get in touch with Shri Tarun Pain, our man in charge of our library.

Dear Father,
I acknowledge with thanks the receipt of the Goethals News. The Chamber is much obliged to you for sending a copy, which will be a valuable addition to the Chamber’s library.
P Ray Chaudhuri, The Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industry


Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, St. Xavier’s, 30 Mother Teresa Sarani, Kolkata-700 016, India.
Tel: 0091-33-2280 1919; email: goethals@vsnl.com  Web-site: www.goethals.in 
Director: Fr. Felix Raj, SJ; Library Asst: Mr. Warren Brown; Computer Asst: Mr. Sunil Mondol



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