This is a faithful portrayal by an eminent British-Indian civilian of a fascinating aspects of Indian history and ethnology which he had ample opportunities to study at first hand. It narrates with consummate skill the history of a strip of hilly country in Central Bengal the Santhal Parganas the abode of Santhals and Kindered races. The hillsmen who established themselves in these regions after enduring all the casualties and hardships of a long migratory life, have for centuries doggedly preserved their identity by refusing to yield to the forces and influences of more advanced people, Hindus and mohammadans, settled beyond their borders. The author provides a vivid picture of the traditions, customs, legends, myths and festivals of these aborigines against the backdrop of their bitter and ceaseless struggle for a bare existence. He traces the impact in later years of the external influences which inevitably disrupted their secluded life in the hills. With the gradual appearance on the sence of the zemindar and the moneylender their idyllic existence was suddenly threatened. The oppression and exploitation that followed in its wake stirred the long suffering Santhals to deeds of violence to vindicate their rights. The outraged people gave vent to their indiscriminating passion and the distracted land soon become a scene of mighty insurrection in which more than 10,000 santhals perished. A valuable treatise on the impact of modernisation on an important segment of Indian life, the present study contributes substantially to an clearer understanding of the process of social transformation in 19th century Bengal.
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