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Niharranjan Ray


Niharranjan Ray

Niharranjan Ray
নীহাররঞ্জন রায়
Born (1903-01-14)January 14, 1903
Mymensingh, Bengal, British India
Died August 30, 1981(1981-08-30) (aged 78)
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Nationality Indian
Ethnicity Bengali
Occupation Historian
Religion Hinduism

Niharranjan Ray (Bengali: নীহাররঞ্জন রায়) (1903–1981) was an Indian historian, well known for his works on history of art and Buddhism.

Early life and education

He was born at Kayetgram village of Mymensingh District in Bengal province of British India (in the present-day Bangladesh). He completed his initial studies from the Mrityunjaya School and Ananda Mohan College in Mymensingh. In 1924, he passed his B.A. examination in History from Murari Chand College, Sylhet. In 1926, he stood first in the M.A. examination in Ancient Indian History and Culture from the University of Calcutta. He received the Mrinalini Gold Medal in the same year for his Political History of Northern India, AD 600-900. In 1928, he received the Premchand Roychand Studentship. In 1935, he passed his diploma in Librarianship from the London University College.


He was appointed the Chief Librarian in the Central Library of Calcutta University in 1936. In 1946, he was appointed Bageswari Professor of Fine Arts in Calcutta University and retired from the post in 1965.[1] He was the General Secretary of the Asiatic Society, Calcutta from 1949 to 1950. In 1965, he became the First Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla and remained in office till 1970. He was a member of the Third Pay Ccommission from 1970 to 1973.[2]

Political views

He was a nationalist and participated in the Quit India movement and was imprisoned from 1943 to 1944.

Major works

His magnum opus in Bengali, Bangalir Itihas: Adiparba (History of the Bengali People: Early Period) was initially published in 1949. Later, an enlarged and revised edition was published by the Saksharata Prakashan in two volumes in 1980. His other significant works include:[2]

  • Brahmanical Gods of Burma (1932)
  • Sanskrit Buddhism in Burma (1936)
  • Rabindra Sahityer Bhumika (An introduction to the works of Rabindranath Tagore) (1940)
  • Theravada Buddhism in Burma (1946)
  • An Introduction to the Study of Theravada Buddhism in Burma (1946)
  • Maurya and Sunga Art (1947) (a revised and enlarged edition of the work was published in 1976 as Maurya and Post-Maurya Art)
  • Art in Burma (1954)
  • An Artist in Life; A Commentary on the Life and Works of Rabindranath Tagore (1967)
  • Nationalism in India (1972)
  • Idea and Image in Indian Art (1973)
  • An Approach to Indian Art (1974)
  • Mughal Court Painting: A Study in Social and Formal Analysis (1974)
  • The Sikh Gurus and the Sikh Society (1975)
  • Eastern Indian Bronzes (1986)

Awards and honors

Personal life

He married Manika (1904–1999). They had two sons and one daughter.[2]


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