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This book tries to present, within a small compass, an account of India and her people. The materials on which it is based are condensed from my larger works. In 1869, the Government of India directed me to execute a Statistical Survey of its dominions,-a vast enterprise, whose records now make 128 printed volumes, aggregating 60,000 pages.

The scale of the operations, although by no means too elaborate for the administrative purposes for which they were designed, necessarily placed their results beyond the reach of the general public. The hundred volumes of The Statistical Survey were therefore reduced to a more compendious form as the twelve volumes of The Imperial Gazetteer of India. The present book distils into one volume the essence of the whole.

I have elsewhere explained the mechanism by which the materials for the Statistical Survey were collected in each of the 240 Districts, or territorial units, of British India.1 Without the help of a multitude of fellowworkers, the present volume could never have been written. It represents the fruit of a long process of continuous condensation. But in again acknowledging my indebtedness to brethren of my Service in India, I wish to specially commemorate the obligations which I also owe to a friend at home. Mr. J. S. Cotton, late Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford, has rendered important aid at many stages of the work.

1 See Preface to Volume I. of The Imperial Gazelteer of India,

Continuous condensation, although convenient to the reader, has its perils for the author. Many Indian topics are still open questions, with regard to which divergences of opinion may fairly exist. In some cases, I have been compelled by brevity to state my conclusions without setting forth the evidence on which they rest, and without any attempt to combat alternative views. In other matters, I have had to content myself with conveying a correct general impression, while omitting the modifying details. For I here endeavour to present an account, which shall be at once original and complete, of a continent inhabited by many more races and nations than Europe, in every stage of human development, from the polyandric tribes and hunting hamlets of the hill jungles, to the most complex commercial communities in the world. When I have had to expose old fables, or to substitute truth for long accepted errors, I clearly show my grounds for doing so. Thus, in setting aside the legend of Mahmúd the Idol-Breaker, I trace back the growth of the myth through the Persian Historians, to the contemporary narrative of Al Biruni (970–1029 A.D.). The calumnies against Jagannath are corrected by the testimony of three centuries, from 1580, when Abul Fazl wrote, down to the police reports of 1870. Macaulay's somewhat fanciful story of Plassey has been told afresh in the words of Clive's own despatch. The history of Christianity in India is written, for the first time, from original sources and local inquiry.

But almost every period of Indian history forms an arena of controversy. Thus, in the early Sanskrit era, each date is the result of an intricate process of induction; the chapter on the Scythic inroads has been pieced together from the unfinished researches of the Archæological Survey and from local investigations; the growth of Hinduism, as the religious and social nexus of the Indian races, is here for the first time written. In

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attempting to reconstruct Indian history from its original sources in the fewest possible pages, I beg oriental scholars to believe that, although their individual views are not always set forth, they have been respectfully considered. I also pray the English reader to remember that, if he desires a more detailed treatment of the subjects of this volume, he may find it in my larger works.

W. W. H.

March 1886.

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