The Asiatic Society
( Founded in 1784 )




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Research Activities

the Asiatic Society took the leadership in initiating genuine researches on western lines. There is no field which was not touched by the Society and the Transactions and Journals of the Society were the mirror of these researches. The pages of these publications speak eloquently of the range and depth of these studies covering Mathematical and Physical Sciences including Meteorology, tidal observations, laws of storms, Geology, Stratigraphical and Dynamical, Mineralogy, Zoology, Botany including Palaeo-Botany, Geography, Ethnology, Chemistry, etc.

The Society remained the chief advisory body to the Government of India in matters relating to all kinds of scientific subjects. It was the initial activities of the Asiatic Society in different branches of Science that led to the foundation of the Trigonometric al Survey of India in 1818, the Geological Survey of India in 1851, The Indian Meteorological Department in 1875, the Zoological Survey of India in 1911, the Botanical Survey of India in 1912 and so on. Many other distinguished scientific institutions and organisations were possible because of the help of the Society at their inception. Some of these are the Indian Science Congress (estd 1913), the School of Tropical Medicine, The University of Calcutta (estd 1857) whose first Vice-Chancellor was the President of the Asiatic Society, Chief Justice Sir J. W. Colvile. Even the Indian national Academy of Sciences and its preparation of a national history of Scientific Studies in India are a direct outcome of the initial work undertaken by the Society in this respect. The Society initiated studies in Language, Literature, Philology, History, Art, Archaeology, Epigraphy, Palaeography, Numismatics, Religion, Philosophy, Folklore and many other branches of knowledge. The Science of Comparative Philology and modern Linguistics owe their very origin to the discoveries made by the Asiatic Society. The History of India, including the history of Bengal, and to a certain extent, the history of Asia could be scientifically constructed as a result of the researches done at the Asiatic Society. The socio-economic and socio-cultural data were gathered by the Society to supplement the knowledge gathered about the royal dynasties from literature and chronicles. Indian Archaeology, too, was initiated by the Society, and the grand and magnificent monuments of India and the neighbouring countries were first made known to the world by the Society. The Archaeological Survey of India was but a natural culmination of the activities of the Society in the early days. The decipherment of the Brahmi Script by James Prinsep in 1837 was a landmark in the history of epigraphical-palaeographical studies and numismatic studies.

On Indian monetary issues there are numerous valuable and informative articles in the Transactions and Journals of the Society. It was the members of the Asiatic Society who founded the Numismatic Society of India and organised the All India Numismatic Conference. The Linguistic Survey of India and its gigantic contribution also came from the idea and inspiration of the Asiatic Society. For studies in Indology and Asian lore the Society is still the premier Research Institution in the East.

Presently there are Research Fellowships. A few of them, such as Sir William Jones Fellowship on Sanskrit, James Prinsep Fellowship of Epigraphy and Numismatics, Raja Rajendralal Mitra Fellowship on Buddhism, Sir R. G. Casey Fellowship on Arabic and Persian, Mahamahopadhyaya Haraprasad Sastri Fellowship on Ancient Indian Religion, History and Folklore, Sarat Chandra Roy Fellowship on Anthropology and Dr Meghnad Saha Fellowship on Physica are funded by different endowments. The others are maintained from the grants released by Union Government of India. Besides, the Asiatic Society funds several outside-projects, which are regularly undertaken by eminent scholars in the different disciplines of humanities, science and technology.


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