The vibrant state of Rajasthan, which is also known as the “abode of kings” is the place where tradition and royal glory meet in the mesmerizing natural physiographic divisions. Many workers wrote on the historical background of this State. Earlier workers mainly used regional dialects in their writing. It was the work of Lt. Colonel James Tod in the early decades of 1800’s that brought magnificent records of the then princely states, which are the parts of present Rajasthan state.
“Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan” or The Central and Western Rajput States of India, is one of the most famous works from the region. The first edition of the work was published in 1920 from London. Three reprints were published thereafter, by Motilal Banarsidas Publishers Pvt Ltd., Delhi in 1971, 1987 and 1994. The work of Tod is the most important reference tool for people in different fields. Further, it is useful for a layman who is interested in knowing about the ancient Rajputana (Rajasthan).
As per the Annals, it was Mr. Graeme Mercer (Tod’s friend) who introduced Lt. Col. Tod to the Rajput politics. Further, his deep curiosity in geographical explorations led him to take surveys in the Rajputana. Tod’s interest in studying history and antiquities, ethnology, popular religion and superstitions were a result of the impact of the work of Sir W. Jones. In philology, he gained knowledge from his Guru, the Jain Yati Gyanchandra and the Brahmin Pundits. The work is the result of scholarly investigation of approximately seventeen years of Lt. Col. Tod’s stay in Central India and the Rajputana in late 19th century. In this work, he described the ethnology of the Rajputs, giving details of their traditions, administration and political set ups of the then royal states. One can get the real portrait of the lifestyle of the Rajputs in those days.
The work is divided into three volumes, which are sub-divided into books and chapters. Volume I deals with the Geographical and Historical set up of the then Rajasthan. Volume II gives details of Marwar, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and other cities of Rajasthan. Volume III contains the remaining parts, along with personal narrative from Udaipur to Kheroda. There are many illustrations in the form of paintings and maps. Lastly there is an appendix with seven sections and an exhaustive index.
This work is remarkable even for the scientific researchers. The environmental set up is one of the important comparative parts for the present day environmental workers. The scientific and logistic points with relevant references backed the scientific workers to use this as one of the reference work. By no way can the social scientists leave these notes as a reference tool in their studies in any part of existing Rajasthan. Moreover, it is an important study material in general, for any of the person interested in knowing about the real stories of the valour and sacrifice of a common man.
During my graduate studies in the mid 1990s, I was inquisitive about the land use changes of Mewar. My Librarian Father referred me to study Tod’s description of the then geographical setup. I read this work and made it a part of my personal library. Further, it proved to be an important reference tool in my continuing work on Natural Heritage of princely states of southern Rajasthan. I found this work most authentic, without any influence of the rulers as seen in writings of the others. Thus, the work offers to every sect of the community, an enlightening and awakening information on the Rajputana.
Satya Prakash Mehra