( I read the following post on noted journalist Salil Tripathi’s Facebook wall. I am posting the text and pictures with his permission. He is working on a book about Gujaratis which will be published by Aleph Book Company.)
Illuminating evening with Prabodh Parikh at Farbas Gujarati Sabha.
Alexander Kinloch Forbes was a British administrator in India who loved Gujarat and the Gujarati language and became a scholar of the language. He came to India as a young man in 1840s and lived there till his death in 1860s. He was a senior administrator in Gujarat and went on to become a judge in Bombay. He set up a famous library in Surat and learned Gujarati with the poet Dalpatram. He wrote the classic history of “Goozeraat” in two volumes. When he died in 1865, Dalpatram wrote a collection, called Farbas Viraha. Forbes’s contribution in supporting Gujarati literature is enormous.
My great-great-grandfather Mansukhram Tripathi was a close friend of Forbes. (Tripathi himself was a leading essayist of his time and wrote Forbes’s biography). Upon Forbes’s death, Tripathi took lead in establishing Farbas Gujarati Sabha, an organisation that has stood the test of time.
I used to go to the Sabha at its old building, Congress House, with Kartik Bhagat for evening addas with Jayant Parekh, Rasik Shah, Nitin Mehta, and we met Naushil Mehta there when he had just moved back from the US. This was in the late 1970s. Kartik and I wrote Gujarati prose and poems, and we would be critiqued there by leading thinkers in Gujarati in Bombay – a fantastic formative experience. It is there that I discovered the magazine Etad, that Suresh Joshi had just launched in Baroda. Kartik and I were so inspired by Joshi, that we called the wall-paper we ran at New Era Pratyancha, after Joshi’s book. (Years later, Paula and Ashish would go on to edit it as well).
Last evening, Farbas trustee and my good friend Prabodh Parikh showed me around its magnificent collection – over 32,000 books – where i had the thrill of holding in my hands a book gifted to my greatgrandfather, Tansukhram Tripathi (Mansukhram’s son – he, too was a Sanskrit scholar and essayist, and a cousin of Govardhanram Tripathi, who wrote Sarasvatichandra).
I thought that as I resume my search into Gujarat and its asmita, this library was an excellent starting point!