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Goethals News Bulletin
Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, Kolkata
Vol. VI No. 3 Bulletin July-September 2003

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

News Update

The Goethals Library is hosting an exhibition of books and plates on "Indian Philosophy and Religion" from the 28th July to the 2nd of August. All are welcome.

The next exhibition on "Indian Art & Architecture" will be held in October.

The Project "Daniell’s Oriental Scenery for Public View" is in progress. it should be complete by mid-August.

New on our Website:

  1. Jesuit influence on Mother Teresa and Missionaries of Charity,

  2. Jesuit contributions to West Bengal, and

  3. Globalization and Plight of Tribals.


Researchers at Goethals

Aasheesh Pittie of Hyderabad is researching on Ornithology and joined the library as Life Member.

Dr. Bernard D’Samy, Head, Dept. of History at Loyola College, Chennai, did research on the history of the Catholic Church in Madras.

Fr. Francis George, SJ from Loyola College of Education, Sikkim is doing research on Christianity in India.

Fr. Santy Mathew from "Vidyajyoti", New Delhi did research on Tribal displacement in India.

Mr. Prasun Sardar of the Human Rights Institute is making a systematic summary of the profound religious thoughts of Indian civilization in general and Buddhism in particular.

Ms. Charlotte Simpson, Professor of the B. Ed. Department, St. Xavier’s College is currently doing research on the Vedanta and Jesuit Education in India.

Ms. Cheryl Francis conducted a survey in Lagan Jute Machinery Ltd, Kolkata, with the help of a group of SXC B.Com Students.

Student Researchers who visited the library are Ritapa Bhattacharjee, Probal Stephen Ghosh, Sukanta Hansda, Shyama Prasad Sarkar and others.


by Fr. Felix Raj

  1. Development Issues, The Statesman, May 10, 2003.
  2. Plight of Tribals. I & II, The Statesman, July 9 & 10, 2003.
  3. Globalization Drive, The Statesman, July 14, 2003.

History of St. Xavier’s
by (Late) Fr. Verstraeten, SJ

1881: The composition of the staff remains nearly the same, except for the departure of Fr A de Penaranda. The roll strength of the College is: College 84; School 449. At the Entrance examination 25 students passed out of 28 sent up, two passed in First Arts (FA) and two in the BA.

On January, Fr. A de Penaranda leaves for Mangalore to help in the starting of a new Jesuit College. This was a serious loss for St. Xavier’s Astronomical Observatory. Fr. De Penaranda contributed regularly to the IEC about his new station in the West.

At the end of January the death is announced of Fr. John de Vos, who was the second Rector of St. Xavier’s College, having taken over from Fr. Depelchin, only three months after the founding of the College.

On 15th April a tornado swept over Calcutta, the zinc roofing of the Observatory was thrown in the Bishop’s garden at No 12.

Several Fathers made regular contributions to the development of scientific knowledge in India. Even after his transfer to Mangalore, Fr. A de Penaranda continued his regular contributions to IEC on Astronomical Occurrences. In the same line, St. Xavier’s Observatory publishes weekly meteorological Reports in the IEC, this year under the signature of Fr. Seitz, a scholastic who joined St. Xavier’s in 1881.


Ancient, Medieval & Modern

The history of the Sinhalese monarchy is on the whole not very remarkable. Some kings were noted for saintliness or scholarship or both. Many of them, for instance Mahasen and Dhatusena, made notable contributions to the great irrigation systems, constructing new bunds or enlarging old ones; Parakramabahu I was particularly famed for this. A few of them were notoriously wicked; a reigning queen (there were few of them) poisoned several successive husbands. One fifth century king, Kassappa I, came to the throne after putting the king, his father, to death, as well as all the other members of his family on whom he could lay hands. The story is that one brother escaped- and that it was foretold to Kassappa that this brother would ultimately bring about his death. Be that as it may – and it worked out that way in the end – Kassappa quitted Anuradhapura and had built for him a new capital, which is one of the wonders of Ceylon. He had a palace constructed on top of a great rock 800 feet in height called Sigiriya, the lion rock, accessible by a narrow gallery and a perilous climb up a sheer rock face. Below the rock he laid out what must have been a series of beautiful water gardens. The remains of the palace still lie on top of the rock, the gallery is still there, and skilful archaeological work has discovered and restored the water gardens. The rock itself resembles a crouching lion, and Kassappa had it carved that way. It is held that one rock face was covered with paintings .........

Economically, a peasant economy, with the people living largely on rice as their staple food, the products of the coconut palm and some vegetables, and a rather thin, if profitable, trade on the west coast, carried on almost entirely by foreigners, some of whom – the Muslims (later called Moors) – settled in the island for trading purposes. Culturally, a tradition of learning derived from India, based on a classical language, Pali, and maintained largely by the order of bhikkhus, the Sangha; a tradition of craftsmanship, in relation to sculpture, decorative carving, painting and architecture, some of much merit, and greatly influenced through the centuries by the culture of the mainland, yet keeping its native characteristics.

- An extract from "Ceylon" by S A Pakeman. Published by Ernest Benn Ltd. London. 1964. Book No: 9S/102. Pages 38-39.


Poetical Compositions of Kashmir

India produced poetical compositions in abundance. To the inexhaustible fund of Sanskrit poetical compositions. Kashmir’s contribution is remarkable in bulk, variety and sometimes also in quality.

India is particularly grateful to this valley for two kinds of poetical compositions, viz. historical and pornographical. Even if Kashmir had not produced other species of Kavya, these two classes of compositions would have immortalised her. The historical poems of Kashmir, especially the one by Kalhana, have, to a considerable extent, removed the stigma that Indian writers lacked historical sense. Despite legendary accounts and exaggerations, Kalhana’s work contains materials that are indispensable for the political and social history of Kashmir.

The Kuttani-mata of the Kashmirian Damodaragupta is a unique work in which pornography, satire and the didactic element have been curiously blended. In this respect, Kashmir can be said to have created a literary genre.

Of the didactic and satiric poems, we have a lot of Kashmiri provenance. In this field Ksemendra’s name stands out prominently. This writer has none comparable to himself in the diversity of interests and in the number of works produced. As an epitomist he is unrivalled. He epitomised the epics and the Brhat-katha.

Many of the court-epics, produced in Kashmir, are written in glorification of Siva. Some of the poets, though dealing with other themes, pay homage to Siva in their works. This accords well with the fact that Saivism struck deep roots in the soil of Kashmir from the ninth century onward; no court-epic was composed in this region prior to this date.

The Kashmirian poem Caura-pancasika, dealing with the romantic theme of the love-affair between a teacher and his female pupil, is unique in the whole range of Sanskrit literature. It is the starting point of many versions of the story not only in Sanskrit literature but also in the present day regional literatures of India ….

- An extract from "Cultural Heritage of Kashmir" by Sures Chandra Banerji. Published by Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar. Calcutta. 1965. Book No: 9H/114. Pages 48-49.


The cost of living in Old Calcutta in the 1800s

Complaints are rife about high prices in Calcutta today. This is apparently no new complaint as we may see from the following entry:-

June 21, 1806 – Bailey, Curate of St. George’s called. Has had an offer from Dr. Glasse of Chapliancy to Bengal – Salary 1,200 pounds a year – and after 15 years if He comes home to have pension of 250 pounds a year – also 100 pounds for outfit- went with him to (Thomas) Daniell who told Him a single man might accept it and live upon it, but a married man could not. The House, Palanquin, etc., which a wife wd. require to make a suitable appearance could not be had for 100 pounds a month.

Money, however, could be saved then if it cannot be saved now, and the son of James Rennell is our authority on the point. Farington records:- October 31, 1804 – Rennel Junr. called on me, having returned from Bengal for his health. He told me that a writer on his arriving in India was allowed 300 rupees a month: about 500 pounds a year: and that He might if required have very great credit, some to the amount of 25,000 pounds: but they pay large interest from 8 to 12 per cent. He said a prudent young (man) might in 10 years realize 1,500 pounds a year.

He said. Lord Wellesley is very polite, - invites many, to his table, - dines at 8 O’clock or ½ after, - sits an hour and ½, then has Coffee, after which He retires, but leaves others to do as they please.

He (Rennel) said from the time of his leaving England, about 6 years ago, He had not cost His Father Six pence. Major Rennel authorized Him to draw for 100 pounds but He has not done it."

- An extract from "The Farington Diary" pp 33. Bengal Past & Present Vol. XXIV Jan-Dec, 1922.


Chinese Accounts of Medieval India

From Banaras going eastward we arrive at the town of Pataliputra again. The purpose of Fa-hian was to seek for copies of the Vinaya Pitaka; but throughout the whole of Northern India the various masters trusted to tradition only for their knowledge of the precepts, and had no originals to copy from. Wherefore Fa-Hian had come even so far as Mid-India. But here in the sangharama of the Great Vehicle he obtained one collection of the precepts, viz; the collection used by the Mahasanghika assembly. This was that used by the first great assembly of priests during Buddha’s lifetime. It is reported that this was the one used in the Jetavana vihara. Except that the eighteen sects have each their own private rules of conduct, they are agreed in essentials. In some minor details they differ, as well as in a more or less exact attention to matters of practice. But the collection (of this sect) is regarded as the most correct and complete. Moreover, he obtained one copy of precepts from dictation, comprising about 7000 gathas. This version was that used by the assembly belonging to the school of the Sarvastivadas; the same, in fact, as is generally used in China. The masters of this school also hand down the precepts by word of mouth, and do not commit them to writing. Moreover, in this assembly he obtained a copy of the Samyuktabhidharma-hridaya Sastra, including altogether about 6000 gathas. Moreover, he obtained a copy of the Nirvana Sutra, consisting altogether of 2500 verses. Moreover, he obtained in one volume the Vaipulya-parinirvana Sutra, containing about 5000 verses. Moreover, he procured a copy of the Abhidharma according to the school of the Mahasanghikas. On this account Fa-Hian abode in this place for the space of three years engaged in learning to read the Sanskrit books, and to converse in that language, and in copying the precepts. When To-Ching arrived in Mid-India and saw the customary behaviour of the Sramanas, and the strict decorum observed by the assembly of priests, and their religious deportment, even to the smallest matters, then sorrowfully reflecting on the meagre character of the precepts known to the different assemblies of priests in the border-land of China, he bound himself by a vow and said, "From the present time for ever till I obtain the condition of Buddha, may I never again be born in a frontier country." And in accordance with this expression of his wish, he took up his permanent abode in this place, and did not return. And so Fa-Hian, desiring according to his original purpose, to spread the knowledge of the precepts throughout the land of Han (China), returned alone.

- An extract from "Chinese Accounts of India" translated from the Chinese of Hiuen Tsiang By Samuel Beal. Vol. 1. Published by Susil Gupta. Calcutta. 1957. Book No IC/103. Pages 44-45.


Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore

Captain, the Hon’ble W. G. Osborne, Military Secretary to the Earl of Auckland, Governor-General of India (1836-42), who visited the Court of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Adinanagar in 1838 remarked: "The attention which is bestowed upon Indian politics and history is so rare and superficial, that there-are probably many persons to whom the name of Ranjit Singh is sufficiently familiar, who are very imperfectly acquainted with his origin, career and the nation which he ruled." In spite of the march of time and the growing thirst for historical research this observation holds good today. This monograph, based as it is, on unpublished records in the archives of the Government of India, should throw a new flood of light on the life and times of the "Lion of the Punjab."

There is, perhaps, no more notable and picturesque figure among the Indian Chiefs who rose to power and carved his way to eminence on the ruins of the once great and magnificent Mughal Empire than the Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the founder of the Sikh Kingdom of Lahore. In the beginning of the 19th century amidst the fierce conflicts and dissensions of the Sikh Chiefs and Sirdars he found his opportunity and seizing it with energy and promptitude weilded an unruly and disorganised people into a compact and powerful nation and converted them into a strong military body. "which" according to Hunter "for steadiness and religious fervour has had no parallel since the ‘Ironsides’ of Oliver Cromwell."

The great French traveller Victor Jacquemont, who visited Ranjit Singh’s Court at Lahore, remarked: "Ranjit Singh is an extraordinary man- ‘a Bonaparte in miniature.’ His conversation is like a night-mare. He is almost the first inquisitive Indian I have met and his curiosity balances the apathy of his nation. He has asked me a hundred thousand questions about India, the British, Europe, Bonaparte, this world in general and the next, hell, paradise, God, the devil and a myriad of others of the same kind."

Jacquemont’s comparison of Ranjit Singh with Napoleon is not as fanciful as it appears. From the records we find that Ranjit Singh had many similarities with Napoleon.

- From "Bengal Past & Present", Vol. XXXI, Jan-June, 1926 pp 42.


Mails & Emails

Thank you so much for sending me a copy of the newsletter. It is really good to read the history of St. Xavier’s College (1879) by late Fr. Verstraeten. I would be happy to get a personal copy (hard copy) of the study "the influence of the Jesuits on Mother Teresa".
Paritosh Majumdar, Parivartan, Kolkata

I would like to subscribe to this wonderful information and history of St. Xavier’s College, where I stayed many times during my stay in India and Bhutan from 1965-1990.
Br. Nick Johannesma, S.J.

Would you please help us locate which edition and the exact title of the article in which reference is made to an article by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy in The Poona Orientalist of April 1938 on the symbolism of the Wheel? BioDun J. Ogundayo, Ph.D.

I would like to receive the references of Jerdon T C from Madras Journal of Literature and Science.
Aasheesh Pittie, Hyderabad

I visited The Goethels library. It was a privilege. Mr. Brown assisted me to go through it. It seems to be a treasure trove. The collections ranging from the 16th century till date covering almost all the aspects of India - can be a very good inspiration for researchers on lndology. The way the books have been preserved and maintained deserves special mention. It is like a museum. I congratulate you for carrying on this arduous task of leading such a big affair. For me the experience is great.
Dr. Madhusree Mukherjee


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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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