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BENGAL

the language in a few weeks to be able to review a new book upon it. This feat he accomplished, and rivalled in later years when he learned Russian in order to translate V. P. Vasilev’s work on Buddhism. For the time, however, his labours were chiefly in classical and Semitic philology. At Göttingen, whither he had returned as privat-docent, he wrote a little work on the names of the Hebrew months, proving that they were derived from the Persian, prepared the great article on India in Ersch and Grüber’s Encyclopaedia, and published from 1839 to 1842 the Lexicon of Greek Roots which gained him the Volney prize of the Institute of France. From this time his attention was principally given to Sanskrit. He published in 1848 his edition of the Sāma-veda; in 1852–1854 his Manual of Sanskrit, comprising a grammar and chrestomathy; in 1858 his practical Sanskrit grammar, afterwards translated into English; and in 1859 his edition of the Pantscha Tantra, with an extensive dissertation on the fables and mythologies of primitive nations. All these works had been produced under the pressure of poverty, the government, whether from parsimony or from prejudice against a Jew, refusing to make any substantial addition to his small salary as extra-professor at the university. At length, in 1862, the growing appreciation of foreign scholars shamed it into making him an ordinary professor, and in 1866 Benfey published the laborious work by which he is on the whole best known, his great Sanskrit-English Dictionary. In 1869 he wrote a history of German philological research, especially Oriental, during the 19th century. In 1878 his jubilee as doctor was celebrated by the publication of a volume of philological essays dedicated to him and written by the first scholars in Germany. He had designed to close his literary labours by a grammar of Vedic Sanskrit, and was actively preparing it when he was interrupted by illness, which terminated in his death at Göttingen on the 26th of June 1881.

A collection of his various writings was published in 1890, prefaced by a memoir by his son.

BENGAL, a province of British India, bounded on the E. by the province of Eastern Bengal and Assam, the boundary line being the Madhumati river and the Ganges; on the S. by the Bay of Bengal and Madras; on the W. by the Central Provinces and United Provinces; and on the N. by Nepal and Sikkim. It has an area of 141,580 sq. m. and a population of 54,096,806. It consists of the provinces of Behar, Orissa and Chota Nagpur, and the western portion of the Ganges valley, but without the provinces of Northern and Eastern Bengal; and is divided into the six British divisions of the presidency, Bhagalpur, Patna, Burdwan, Chota Nagpur and Orissa, and various native states. The province was reconstituted in 1905, when the Chittagong, Dacca and Rajshahi divisions, the district of Malda and the state of Hill Tippera were transferred from Bengal to a new province, Eastern Bengal and Assam; the five Hindi-speaking states of Chota Nagpur, namely Chang Bhakar, Korea, Sirguja, Udaipur and Jashpur, were transferred from Bengal to the Central Provinces; and Sambalpur and the five Oriya states of Bamra, Rairakhol, Sonpur, Patna and Kalahandi were transferred from the Central Provinces to Bengal. The province of Bengal, therefore, now consists of the thirty-three British districts of Burdwan, Birbhum, Bankura, Midnapore, Hugli, Howrah, Twenty-four Parganas, Calcutta, Nadia, Murshidabad, Jessore, Khulna, Patna, Gaya, Shahabad, Saran, Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Monghyr, Bhagalpur, Purnea, Santal Parganas, Cuttack, Balasore, Angul and Khondmals, Puri, Hazaribagh, Ranchi, Palamau, Manbhum, Singhbum and Sambalpur, and the native states of Sikkim and the tributary states of Orissa and Chota Nagpur.

The name Bengal is derived from Sanskrit geography, and applies strictly to the country stretching southwards from Bhagalpur to the sea. The ancient Banga formed one of the five outlying kingdoms of Aryan India, and was practically conterminous with the delta of Bengal. It derived its name, according to the etymology of the Pundits, from a prince of the Mahabharata, to whose portion it fell on the primitive partition of the country among the Lunar race of Delhi. But a city called Bangala, near Chittagong, which, although now washed away, is supposed to have existed in the Mahommedan period, appears to have given the name to the European world. The word Bangala was first used by the Mussulmans; and under their rule, like the Banga of old Sanskrit times, it applied specifically to the Gangetic delta, although the later conquests to the east of the Brahmaputra were eventually included within it. In their distribution of the country for fiscal purposes, it formed the central province of a governorship, with Behar on the north-west, and Orissa on the south-west, jointly ruled by one deputy of the Delhi emperor. Under the English the name has at different periods borne very different significations. Francis Fernandez applies it to the country from the extreme east of Chittagong to Point Palmyras in Orissa, with a coast line which Purchas estimates at 600 m., running inland for the same distance and watered by the Ganges. This territory would include the Mahommedan province of Bengal, with parts of Behar and Orissa. The loose idea thus derived from old voyagers became stereotyped in the archives of the East India Company. All its north-eastern factories, from Balasore, on the Orissa coast, to Patna, in the heart of Behar, belonged to the “Bengal Establishment,” and as British conquests crept higher up the rivers, the term came to be applied to the whole of northern India. The presidency of Bengal, in contradistinction to those of Madras and Bombay, eventually included all the British territories north of the Central Provinces, from the mouths of the Ganges and Brahmaputra to the Himalayas and the Punjab. In 1831 the North-Western Provinces were created, which are now included with Oudh in the United Provinces; and the whole of northern India is now divided into the four lieutenant-governorships of the Punjab, the United Provinces, Bengal, and Eastern Bengal and Assam, and the North-West Frontier Province under a commissioner.

Physical Geography.—Three sub-provinces of the present lieutenant-governorship of Bengal—namely, Bengal proper, Behar and Orissa—consist of great river valleys; the fourth, Chota Nagpur, is a mountainous region which separates them from the central India plateau. Orissa embraces the rich deltas of the Mahanadi and the neighbouring rivers, bounded by the Bay of Bengal on the S.E., and walled in on the N.W. by tributary hill states. Proceeding west, the sub-province of Bengal proper stretches to the banks of the Ganges and inland from the sea-board to the Himalayas. Its southern portion is formed by the delta of the Ganges; its northern consists of the Ganges valley. Behar lies on the north-west of Bengal proper, and comprises, the higher valley of the Ganges from the spot where it issues from the United Provinces. Between Behar and Orissa lies the province of Chota Nagpur, of which a portion was given in 1905 to the Central Provinces. The valley of the Ganges, which is now divided between Bengal and Eastern Bengal and Assam, is one of the most fertile and densely-populated tracts of country in the world. It teems with every product of nature. Tea, indigo, turmeric, lac, waving white fields of the opium-poppy, wheat and innumerable grains and pulses, pepper, ginger, betel-nut, quinine and many costly spices and drugs, oil-seeds of sorts, cotton, the silk mulberry, inexhaustible crops of jute and other fibres; timber, from the feathery bamboo and coroneted palm to the iron-hearted sál tree—in short, every vegetable product which feeds and clothes a people, and enables it to trade with foreign nations, abounds. Nor is the country destitute of mineral wealth. The districts near the sea consist entirely of alluvial formations; and, indeed, it is stated that no substance so coarse as gravel occurs throughout the delta, or in the heart of the provinces within 400 m. of the river mouths.

The climate varies from the snowy regions of the Himalayas to the tropical vapour-bath of the delta and the burning winds of Behar. The ordinary range of the thermometer, on the plains is from about 52° F. in the coldest month to 103° in the shade in summer. A temperature below Climate.60° is considered very cold, while with care the temperature of well-built houses rarely exceeds 95° in the hot weather. The rainfall varies from 37 in. in Behar to about 65 in. in the delta.