In the field of medieval Indian historiography, an eight-volume magnum opus, History of India as Told by Its Own Historians, by Sir Henry Myers Elliot (1808-53) and the editor-compiler of his posthumous papers, John Dowson (1820-81), was published from London between 1867 and 1877. These landmark volumes continue to retain their popularity even nearly hundred and fifty years later, and scholars still learn from and conduct their research on the basis of this work. However, an enterprise of this scale and magnitude was bound to suffer from some serious shortcomings.
An eminent Indian scholar, S.H. Hodivala undertook the daunting task of annotating Elliot and Dowson's volumes and worked through all the new material, selecting or criticizing and adding his own suggestions where previous comments did not exist or appeared unsuitable. The first volume of Hodivala's annotated Studies, was published in 1939, while the second was published posthumously in 1957.
Over the years, while the work of Elliot and Dowson has seen many reprints, and is even available online now, Hodivala's volumes have receded into obscurity. A new edition is presented here for the first time. Hodivala also published critical commentaries on 238 of about 2000 entries included in another very famous work, Hobson-Jobson (London, 1886) by Sir Henry Yule (1820-89) and Arthur Coke Burnell (1840-82). These have also been included in the present edition.
These volumes are thus aimed at serving as an indispensable compendium of both, Elliot and Dowson's, and for Yule and Burnell's excellent contributions of colonial scholarship. At the same time these would also serve as a guide for comparative studies and critical appreciation of historical texts.
Shahpurshah Hormasji Dinshahji Hodivala (1867-1944), is an iconic figure in the fields of medieval Indian numismatics and historical studies. He made unequalled contribution to the study of Mughal numismatics and his seminal work, Historical Studies in Mughal Numismatics (Calcutta, 1923) has been serving as a beacon of light to the students of Mughal numismatics for close to a century now. He had the honour of becoming the first Indian President of the Numismatic Society of India (Delhi Session, 1922). Besides, he is also well known for his Studies in Parsi History.
Sanjay Garg (b. 1965) is a numismatist and economic historian of international repute. He has extensive research experience in history of South Asia, with specialization in economic and monetary history, currency and coinage, historical architecture, and archival studies. His research findings have been widely published in print and multimedia, and include an edited volume of S.H. Holdivala's numismatic contributions, Studies in Mughal Mint-Towns & Other Essays (2014). At present Dr. Garg is posted as the Director, Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre, Astana (Kazakhstan).
Professor Hodivala won the gratitude of all students of Indian numismatics by his constructive Studies in Moghul Numismatics based on wide reading and collation of original sources and careful reasoning from the facts. Those Memoirs have also helped historians to verify, correct or supplement the statements of the Persian writers of Indian History.
He has now undertaken the more onerous task of annotating Sir Henry Elliot's History of India as Told by its Own Historians, and he brings to this the ripest fruits of life-long scholarly studies. In the sixty old years which have elapsed since the last volume appeared, new texts or better manuscripts have been discovered and Indian, European and American writers have produced many important works. Professor Hodivala has worked through all the new material, selecting or criticising and adding his own suggestions where previous comments do not exist or appear unsuitable. Though all these may no prove acceptable, as the author himself would be the first to admit, the book is one which every student of Elliot should be glad to refer to, and is intelligent use will prevent the repetition of early errors which are still being copied in modern books and articles.
Elliot and Dowson's work was published about sixty years ago and its value has only grown with the lapse of time. It is still indispensable to every serious student of the Muhammadan period of Indian History. It is universally quoted, and deservedly too, as an authority of the first class and even regarded by many readers as the very last word on the subject. It is true that several scholars have casually drawn attention to its errors and shortcomings, but these scattered criticisms and casual animadversions have had little or no influence on the general opinion in favour of its infallibility. It has continued to be followed in spite of them and it cannot be denied that his universal vogue and reputation has been responsible for misleading many modern authors, the dissemination of not a few inexactitudes and the circulation of some false and distorted history. It seemed, therefore, necessary in the interests of sound scholarship, to undertake a systematic and exhaustive review of its contents and rectify its errors of interpretation, as well as transliteration. The writer has ventured to undertake this laborious and difficult task and has, at the same time, availed himself of the opportunity to discuss and elucidate questions which were ambiguous or controversial. He has also devoted considerable attention to the restoration of the names of persons and the identification of toponyms which had been left in obscurity. An attempt has been also made CO determine the chronology in disputed cases by the application of the week-day test, where it was available. He ventures to think that no one who glances through these pages will declare that such a critical and explanatory commentary was uncalled for and he trusts that his labours will make it possible for students to make a more .intelligent and more profitable use of the original work. He lays no claim to be an historian. His object has been merely to investigate, ascertain and verify facts, to reject statements which were inaccurate or without adequate proof and to place the subject on a sounder critical footing.
It is seventy years since Blochmann remarked that our knowledge of the Muhammadan period of the history of this country was very limited and inaccurate in regard to details. It is true that much useful work has been done since he wrote, that many original sources have been more or less carefully edited and correctly translated, but these pages should convince any one that there is still considerable room for intensive critical labour and research in this field. Many points are still so obscure and incomprehensible that there is no prospect of arriving at an opinion in regard to them. They have had to be passed over in silence, as it was not possible to say anything useful about them.
But there are other problems which are not so hopelessly intractable and the reader will come across this volume, several attempts to find new answers to questions which have exercised the ingenuity of previous inquirers have been left untouched by them. Some of these suggestions and identifications are admittedly hypothetical or tentative and the writer begs that they may not be taken for more than they are worth and that they will not be supposed to have anything definitive about them. They have been put forward only for provoking discussion or stimulating research and eliciting more satisfactory solutions. It will be seen that a few have been already modified in the Corrections, and no one will be more ready to accept more convincing explanations.
Lastly, the writer would like to say that no one could entertain greater or more sincere admiration for the stupendous labours, either of Sir Henry Elliot, who collected, with astonishing ardour and perseverance for forty years, a prodigious quantity of manuscript material, or of Professor Dowson, who worked hard for more than twenty, in arranging, sifting and translating it.
Nothing could be further from his thoughts or more remote from his wishes than the intention to say anything to disparage or detract from the merit of their monumental performance. His only object has been to enhance the usefulness and value of their work and to bring it up to the standard of modern knowledge. He will think himself amply rewarded, if he is thought to have cleared some of the ground and facilitated, even in a small measure, the compilation of a more accurate and scientific history of the Muhammadan Period than any which we possess at present.
The indulgence of the reader is craved for the long list of Errata and typographical imperfections. All these have been done away with in the present edition. Ed.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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