Redeeming archaeologist?s legacy
BIPIN GHOSHAL?S name should have been proudly and prominently associated with the world heritage site of Sanchi. Instead it remained buried in an old trunk inside a dusty attic of his family home for almost seven decades, thanks to the typical British bureaucratic highhandedness.india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 01:35 IST
BIPIN GHOSHAL’S name should have been proudly and prominently associated with the world heritage site of Sanchi. Instead it remained buried in an old trunk inside a dusty attic of his family home for almost seven decades, thanks to the typical British bureaucratic highhandedness.
But the granddaughter of this great archaeologist is now trying to ensure that the posterity knows of and remembers the contribution of Bipin Ghoshal in restoration and documentation of Sanchi and other several archaeological monuments and sites in and around Bhopal.
Bipin Ghoshal was the superintendent archaeologist of princely state of Bhopal during the period (1912 to 1919) when restoration work of Sanchi was in progress under the supervision of John M Marshall, the world-renowned archaeologist
and the then Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Ghoshal was also the superintendent of the Sir Edward Museum, which is now known as Ajayabghar (near Central Library).
Being the superintendent archaeologist of the state, Sanchi fell directly under Ghoshal’s jurisdiction and thus he was closely and passionately attached with the restoration and documentation work at the world heritage site.
Not only this, the old documents retrieved by granddaughter Sushiela Ghoshal from the family attic clearly shows that Ghoshal chronicled Sanchi and other archeological sites and monuments around Bhopal and was keen to have them published, mainly as tourist guide books.
Surprisingly and regretfully, his name does not figure in any of the records pertaining to Sanchi. The name and the contribution simply seems to been obliterated from the history and there’s enough indication in the recently found documents that it might have been the great John Marshall himself who never let Ghoshal grow out of his shadow.
A letter by Marshall to Ghoshal, written on September 12, 1913 very clearly expresses the displeasure of Marshall towards the efforts of Ghoshal to document developments in Sanchi. “…Why you should deal with my recent discoveries..’’ the letter mentions, further instructing Ghoshal to keep his work restricted to the administration of Sir Edward Museum.
Nevertheless, Ghoshal managed to compile enough data that could churn out a guidebook for Sanchi and other interesting archaeological sites around Bhopal. But these compilations never saw the light of the day for obvious reasons.
More than 75 years after Ghoshal’s death, finally his name and contribution might be redeemed. Granddaughter Sushiela, who was herself a history teacher, discovered the cache of documents and photographs pertaining to Ghoshal’s work and has now compiled a booklet that contains excerpts from the chronicles compiled by the archaeologist along with some details about the man himself.
The booklet is in printing stage and might soon be released. “I was stunned when I went through the fraying papers. It seemed clear that my grandfather’s work was deliberately downplayed.
The information gathered by him was used by the senior authorities for getting fame and distinction,’’ Sushiela Ghoshal laments.
Superintendent Archaeologist of Bhopal circle of ASI Mohammad K K, who has written introduction for Sushiela’s book concedes that Bipin Ghoshal seems to be the unsung hero as his name does not find mention anywhere in the records.
``It was the British period and John Marshall was such a towering personality that it was difficult for anyone toflourish under him,’’ Mohammad says.
He expresses happiness over fact that Sushiela decided to redeem the legacy. ``The man should get his due,’’ he says.