Would it not be interesting to learn about the land measurement and revenue system introduced by Raja Todarmal, the finance minister and counsellor of Mughal Emperor Akbar during the medieval age? A far more fascinating reading can be the details of the kind of habitations and the farming patterns available in Bihar at that time, especially in Bhagalpur district and the information related to the revenue administration system in the state during the Mughal period.
All these details and information are available in Raqababandi Todarmali of Pargana Bhagalpur, the diary of Raja Todarmal who was one among the Navaratans of Emperor Akbar.
And to bring these facts and figures among people, Bihar State Archives, part of the Cabinet Secretariat Department of Bihar Government, has got this diary translated from Persian into English and is preparing to get it published under the title, Raqababandi Todarmali, Pargana Bhagalpur, Sarkar Munger, Mazaf Suba Bihar.
The Todarmali Diary was originally written in Persian in 1594 and after more than 500 years, the state archive is coming up with its English version.
On Wednesday, some experts on medieval history and the Persian language were invited by the state archive to review the forthcoming English version of Todarmali diary. It has been translated by Muzaffar-e Islam, former assistant director, National Archives, Delhi.
"We have been pursuing this project for the last two years. Todarmal's diary has for years been available at the state archive and many wanted to go through it, but couldn't because of the language problem," Mahendra Pal Singh, director, state archive, said. Even for the translation work, getting an expert on this script of the diary was quite difficult.
"Some of the numerical used in the diary seems to be in vogue during Mughal age," he said.
It's for the convenience of historians and researchers, the state archive is getting it published in English. "People may get it from our office. The state archive is also preparing to put Todarmal's diary in the e-library of the state archive. Anyone in any part of the world will be able to go through it on the state archives' website," he said.
Muzaffar-e Islam, the man who has prepared the English version of Todarmali diary, said the content is related mainly to the land measurement and land revenue system in the Bhagalpur district.
"One can find here the way Todarmal maintained facts and figures about the area under habitations and cultivation in Bhagalpur," he said.
The diary has revealed that over two and a half percent of the total land area in Bhagalpur was under cultivation at that time while villages over two lakh Bighas were under cultivation. The total area was more than seven lakh Bighas, he added.
"In fact, land was the only source of revenue at that time and its details were maintained meticulously. Even today, we can maintain a database of the land under cultivation, for habitation and for other purposes," he said.
The second part of the diary has the list of Mauja or land, under the title Tarikhe-e Fehrist Diwat, he added.
"All these details were written in 1594 over handmade papers of the diary or the Raqababandi Todarmali of Pargana Bhagalpur. In 1862, a British collector named Renny got the pages preserved and made it hardbound," a former official of the National Archives, said.
The official said this diary can be considered the most authentic information about the land revenue system in the state during the Mughal period. "There has been no tampering with the facts. To ensure that there will be no fraud or confusion with the facts, the then British age collector, Renny, had got all the 400 pages of the diary signed," he said.
Dr Imtiaz Ahmad, a former Patna University teacher and an expert on medieval history, said, the English version of Todarmal Dairy would definitely benefit many researchers and historians who have been trying to get to the authentic information. "In fact, many parts of Todarmal's land revenue system were adopted by the British rulers. It would be easier now to understand those aspects," he said.