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Prof Hemchandra Raychaudhuri, one of the internationally acknowledged doyens of Ancient Indian History, was born on April 8, 1892, in the village of Ponabalia in the Buckergunge district of Barisal in the erstwhile East Bengal, now Bangladesh. He was the second son of Manoranjan Raychaudhuri, the Zamindar or dominant landlord of Ponabalia, and Tarangini Devi, who had three sons and three daughters. Sri Manoranjan Raychaudhuri was a highly cultured man and an accomplished classical musician, while Tarangini Devi was a lady of immense curiosity with a rare spirit of enquiry, which surely contributed to the indefatigable spirit of research and scholarship that Hemchandra was endowed with and focused on his abiding passion in Ancient Indian History.

Hemchandra's early education was at the Brajamohan Institution in Barisal, reputed to be one of the best schools of the time. He passed the Entrance, as the then school leaving examination was called, in 1907, standing first among all the students of the then provinces of East Bengal and Assam. After this he came to study in Calcutta (or Kolkata as it is now called) and studied first in General Assembly's Institution (later Scottish Church College) and then at Presidency College from where he graduated in 1911. He stood first among all the Honours Graduates of Calcutta University that year and got the coveted Eshan Scholarship. Once again he stood first in the M.A (History) examination of Calcutta University in 1913 and subsequently became a Griffith Prizeman in 1919, and right from then his interest was in Ancient Indian History. In 1921, at the comparatively young age of 29 years, he was conferred the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D) of Calcutta University, for his brilliant thesis on Ancient Indian History, much of which became the basis for his seminal book – "Political History of Ancient India".


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