Alexander Kinloch Forbes (1821-1865) is best known as the author of Ras Mala, a book on the history and culture of Gujarat. The people of Gujarat know him as an agent of change, a harbinger of modernity, a fountainhead of new ideas and institutions, and a promoter of all round efforts to rediscover the glorious past of Gujarat. He came to India in 1843 and spent most of his life in western India, mainly Gujarat.
He was able to read and speak Gujarati with ease. He established three institutions that survive until today: Gujarat Vernacular Society (later renamed Gujarat Vidya Sabha) at Ahmedabad, Andrews Library at Surat, and Gujarati Sabha (later renamed Forbes Gujarati Sabha) at Mumbai. For a short period, he was one of the Vice Presidents of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (now, Asiatic Society of Mumbai) and Vice Chancellor of the University of Bombay.
In addition to discussing his life, career, and work in detail, this monograph, for the first time, brings to light his English translations of Ratnamala and Prabandhchintamani (two works dealing with the history of Gujarat), and his longish article on Prabhas Patan, based largely on his field study.
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