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Goethals News Bulletin
Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, Kolkata
Vol. IV No. 1 Bulletin January - March 2001

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

News Update

  1. The Library will host an Exhibition on Old Bengal and Calcutta in the month of February, this year. A number of Plate-books as well as old and rare books on the History of Bengal and Old Calcutta will be put on display, souvenirs on the topics will also be available. All are invited to attend.

  2. The library has got a number of email inquiries on various topics from researchers and scholars from all over the world.

  3. Dr. Arun Kumar Biswas, Professor of History and Science, from the Asiatic Society, visited the library in the month of December 2000 to do research on the life of Father Lafont. He took a number of copies of photographs of Fr. Lafont, for inclusion in his book, which will be released soon.

  4. Fr. Robert F. Drinan, S.J., Professor of Law, Georgetown University, visited the Library and was impressed with the collection.

  5. The Goethals Web site has helped a number of researchers all over the world in finding useful information on several Indological topics.

  6. Fr. Felix Raj, our Director has been suffering from chest trouble: pleurisy combined with a fractured rib. He was hospitalized in Woodlands Nursing Home for six days from 08.01.01. Doctors have ordered a month’s rest.


Exogamous groups and caste Endogamy

Though the word used by the five castes of exogamous divisions within a caste, is identical, the actual structure and function of the group called gotra, differs from caste to caste, as will be seen from the analysis below.

It may be mentioned here that exogamy as it exists in Hindu society has two aspects. One forbids marriage between persons connected to each other within certain generations (cf. Chap.1), and the other bars marriage between members belonging to the same gotra. As regards endogamy it may be stated that there is scarcely a single caste in India whose members as a whole intermarry. Each caste is divided into a number of smaller groups who marry only among themselves. These endogamous groups are known as sub-castes. There are thus two opposing tendencies. The consciousness of caste status restricts marriage territorially and genealogically within a group, while taboo on the marriage of near Kin extends the affinal group.

Dr. Karve in her book has defined caste as an extended family or an extended Kinship group. In the same context gotra may be defined as extended patrilineage. It is stated therein that Gotra is the whole group of persons descended from any one of the "seven sages" or Agastya . All those who belong to one Gotra are supposed to have descended from one Vedic Rishi whose name is given to that gotra. Thus the circle of affinity which each gotra encloses is an extremely wide one and includes persons whose relationship cannot be traced through genealogies.

- Book Extract from "Marriage Regulations among certain Castes of Bengal" by Mrs. Bela Gangopadhyay. Deccan College Dissertation Series:25. Poona 1964. pp.39


The duel between Hastings and Francis

The day came that might decide the fate of India. Colonel Pearse called for Hastings soon after four. It was early, and Hastings lay down again for half an hour; then he arose, dressed, and went with him in his carriage. They arrived at Belvidere at five-thirty, and found Francis and his second, Colonel Watson, awaiting them. They had some difficulty in finding a solitary spot, and could not escape the embarrassing attention of a small audience of natives, including an old woman whose eager curiosity especially disturbed Hastings. A distance of fourteen paces was measured, and the two took station. It was arranged that each should take his own time to fire. According to Colonel Pearse, Hastings was " in a state of such perfect tranquillity that a spectator would not have supposed that he was about an action out of the common course of things." He evidently meant business, as he observed that fourteen paces was a great distance for pistols. Francis was equally determined. Neither of them knew anything about duelling or the use of pistols. Hastings said he had only fired one once or twice.

Francis at once took aim and snapped, but his pistol missed fire and had to be recharged. Hastings had resolved to defer his shot, but after Francis had twice aimed and withdrawn, he waited no longer. Taking careful aim he fired and hit his opponent, who fired simultaneously and missed. Francis staggered and fell, crying out, "I am dead."

"Good God, I hope not," muttered Hastings in a shocked voice, as he and the seconds ran to his assistance.

They found that he had been struck on the right side, but he was able to sit up and shake hands with the victor, who expressed his regret at what had happened. A stretcher was brought, and the wounded man was carried to Belvidere House, while Warren Hastings hurried back to the city to send medical assistance. The wound on examination proved not to be dangerous; the ball had entered a little below the shoulder and lodged on the other side, without touching either the heart or the backbone. But before this was known the Governor-General, Hastings had sent his secretary to the Chief Justice to inform him of what had passed. If the wound proved fatal, he said he would immediately surrender himself and let the law take its course against him.

-The above Account has been taken from the Book "Warren Hastings-Maker of British India," by A. Mervyn Davies. Published by Ivor Nicholson and Watson in London. 1935. Page 273 to 274.


Turkish attacks on Hindustan in the 12th and 13th centuries

The victory of Muhammed b. Sam over Prithviraja Chauhan in the plains of Tarain in 1190 was a great event in Indian History. The route to Hindusthan now lay open, and within ten years the Turks spread over the entire Gangetic valley and established what may be described in modern military jargon as "pockets". These pockets were gradually expanded into military strongholds and eventually into provinces....

Muhammed b.Sam’s victory, however, was not, as is generally supposed, an isolated personal triumph, nor was it an accident. It was on the one hand, the execution of a deliberate military plan by a resolute conqueror, and on the other, the fulfillment of a process which extended over the whole of the 12th century.....

- An extract from the article by A.B.M. Habibullah published in the Journal New Indian Antiquary. Volume VI.1943-44.pages 25 to 28.

The History of Jalebi

A systematic history of Indian Dietetics is still a desideratum. Such a history should include among other things the history of each article of Indian diet, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, reconstructed on the strength of materials found in special works on Cookery or in the works on Indian Medicine and corroborated by references to it in Jain, Brahmanical or Buddhist works, not to say the literature in the Indian vernaculars as also Persian and other foreign literature that may have been produced after their contact with Indian life and literature.......

Presented here is the history of one of the richest and the most favourite dishes in Maharashtra and especially in Poona. This dish is no other than jilalbi or jililbi which MOLESWORTH calls a "sweetmeat" but records no details about it in his celebrated Dictionary. In the Hobson-Jobson we find the following information about the dish:- "JELAUBEE S. Hind. jalebi [which is apparently a corruption of the Arabic word zalabiya,P. zalabiya]. A rich sweetmeat made of sugar and ghee, with a little flour, melted and trickled into a pan so as to form a kind of interlaced work, when baked.

[The poison is said to have been given once in sweetmeats, JELABEES" - Chevers, Medical Jurisprudence. 178].

If the Marathi Jilabi has its origin in the Arabic word zalabiya as mentioned in the above extract the early history of this popular dish can be easily supplied by Arabic scholars.......

- The above extract is from the article "Some notes on the History of Indian Dietetics with special reference to the history of Jalebi" by P.K, Gode. Published in the Journal New Indian Antiquary. Volume VI.1943-1944. Pages 169 to 181.


Old-Time Conveyances in Calcutta

The mahannah, meeana or myana, has been described as "a long Palankeen in which we lay full length with a support for the head and shoulders."

There is little doubt about the palki, which was carried by four coolies, is the oldest type of closed, or "bund", gari. They were used principally for zenana purposes, although they were still on hire in the Calcutta streets as late as 1900. The equivalent for the men-folk, apart from those who rode on horse-back was the tonjon, which was a kind of open chair with poles extending at the back and front and carried by four coolies in the same way as the palki. In the palki the occupant had nearly always to recline: and when used by the women in the hot weather, these conveyances must have been very stuffy, as when the doors were closed there were no means of ventilation. The tonjon went out of use very many years ago.

Then came the palki gari, for the better classes who could afford horses. It was probably so named from the fact that it was a palki on wheels, although to my mind the Brownberry, which was much later in design, more nearly resembles the old-time palki, on account of its sliding doors.

The office gari or jaun was practically the same as the Brownberry except that it had no bottom door, and it was necessary to step over the "bottom side", or framing of the body, into the well. It was lighter in weight and cheaper to build than the Brownberry, and as the name implies, was used almost exclusively by brokers and businessmen.

The Greenfield was merely a glorified Brownberry- a cross between it and the palki gari, with deeper doors and blinds in the place of the panels in the sliding doors....

I should estimate that practically seventy per cent of the vehicles turned out by Steuart and Co. would be either Brownberrys or office garis. Both types in later years had double roofs, with an air space in between, for the sake of coolness. Rubber tyres were not put on any vehicles before 1900.

- An extract from the article written by Frank E. Bushby and published in the Journal Bengal Past and Present, Volume XLI. January to June 1931.Published by the Calcutta Historical Society. Calcutta. Pages 138-140.


New Arrivals

  • Encyclopedia of Indian Tribes by C. Sahu. Published by Sarup and Sons. New Delhi. 2000.

  • India after Independence by B. Chandra, M. Mukherjee. Published by Penguin Books. New Delhi. 1999.

  • Representations of India, 1740 to 1840, by Amal Chatterjee. Published by St. Martin’s Press. USA. 1998.

  • I Pravir-the Adivasi God by P. Bhanjdeo. Published by P.Bhanjdeo.Bastar.1965.

  • Catalogue of Publications-bi-centenary 1784-1984. Published by The Asiatic Society. Calcutta. 1984.

  • Lord Chaitanya-biographical, Vol. 3, by B. B. Majumdar. Published by K. P. Bagchi & Co. Calcutta. 1999.

  • India’s struggle for Independence by B. Chandra. Published by Penguin Books. New Delhi. 1999.

  • Colonialism....Political Discourse by B. Parekh. Published by Sage Publications. New Delhi. 1999.

  • Nation and National Identity in South Asia by S. L. Sharma and T. K. Oommen. Published by Orient Longman. New Delhi. 2000.

  • Human Rights by N. Jayapalan. Published by Atlantic Publishers. New Delhi. 2000.

  • History of the Freedom Movement 1857-1947 by N. Jayapalan. Published by Atlantic Publishers. New Delhi. 2000.

  • Home Remedies with Materia Medica. Published by Fr. Meloo sj. Published by Prabhat Prakashan.Patna. 2000.

  • New Perspectives on Advaita Vedanta by B. J. Malkovsky. Published by Brill. Leiden. 2000.


Mails & Emails to the editor

Dear Father,
Fr. Gregory Naik sent you recently a letter regarding my research work on the XVIth c. Jesuit Antonio de Monserrate. we started a new exhibition in Barcelona about Tibetan Culture where I included a homage to Antonio de Monserrate since he was a pioneer in the exploration of the Himalayas. I’ve been quite busy trying to recuperate the figure of this excellent explorer in his home country. For this reason I traveled in September 2000 to Rome to visit the Jesuit General Archives and obtain more information. So far I’ve been able to collect his original letters. Soon we will be receiving the MEMOIRS OF THE ASIATIC SOCIETY OF BENGAL, vol. III, n.9 (Calcutta 1914) as a loan from Cambridge University. unfortunately we couldn’t find in Europe some issues of THE CATHOLIC HERALD OF INDIA which contain the best English translation of Monserrate’s manuscript. I would like to ask you if it is possible to borrow those issues from Goethals Library (or if not, if it is possible to get a copy of them). The issues are: THE CATHOLIC HERALD OF INDIA, between August 11, 1920 and November 30, 1921. We would appreciate very much if you could help us. I am looking forward to receiving some news from you. Best regards,
Dr. Josep, Barcelona, Spain

Dear Father,
I am seeking information for a school project involving Eastern religions and customs. One bit of information I seek is as regards the meaning of the marking on the forehead of many Indian women. Is there a name for this marking? Is it permanent or temporary? Is this common only to Hindus, and if so what is the significance? Is it societal and does it span religious groups, i.e. common to Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, etc. Is it a caste marking or does it denote marital status, etc?
KC Myers

Dear Father,
I am looking to conduct some research on the Lohana Tribe/Community of North West India/Gurarat. In particular I am interested in their origins. Do you have anything in your library which could be of use?
Baiju Vasani

Dear Father,
I am planning a visit to India and Nepal from 22 February to 20 March. I hope to arrive in Calcutta by Air on 5 March. That would give me all day of 6 March to visit the Goethals Library, of which I’ve read so much in your newsletter. Thank you for your help, and I look forward to seeing the Goethals Library that I have come to know through your newsletters.
Mark A. Lewis, S.J. Director, IHSI, Roma, ITALY


Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, St. Xavier’s, 30 Mother Teresa Sarani, Kolkata-700 016, India.
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Director: Fr. Felix Raj, SJ; Library Asst: Mr. Warren Brown; Computer Asst: Mr. Sunil Mondol



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