I know of, want of encouragement has well-nigh quenched the enthusiasm of earnest workers. Munsi Abdul Karim, whose indefatigable labour in the field entitles him to be ranked as no mean scholar, struggled hard with poverty as a school master in a Chittagong M. V. school for many years. The workers go unrewarded. Failing in his attempts to secure a suitable post in Calcutta where he could be in touch with some good libraries, he has practically retired from the field of research and must now be content with his humble berth in the office of the Inspector of Schools, Chittagong. The duties of his present position leave him but little leisure or opportunity to conduct the research so earnestly begun. Such has also been the lot of Babu Shivaratan Mitra who is now a clerk in the office of the District Magistrate of Birbhum, and whose repeated attempts to settle in Calcutta for the purpose of conducting his researches, have met with failure. Yet these men are of approved worth and it will be difficult to find their equals in this department. The recovery of old Bengali MSS. is a task which requires special ability, tact and industry, and efficient men in this line are not easily available.
There is a unique treasure of old MSS. lying in all parts of Bengal, even a hundredth part of which has not yet seen the light. They comprise works on a great variety of subjects important to all students of Indian History. Importance of these old MSS. The literature of the Sahajiyā-cult of the Vaiṣṇavas discloses startling facts showing on the one hand the degeneracy of the Buddhist Tāntriks, and on the other, the spiritualizing influence of the Vaiṣṇavas who attempted to mould the old religious doctrines into a new form on the basis of their emotional creed. The Dharmamangala-poems give glimpses of the pre-Mahomedan Bengal; and the innumerable biographies of the Vaiṣṇavas give graphic accounts of the social history of this country in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Many other interesting matters lie hidden in our old literature, and these will be touched upon later on in the preface. Here, I want only to impress on my readers the importance of the subject. These works are indeed a rich mine of historical, philological and literary information. It is by no means an easy thing to secure them. Year by year a large number of these works is consigned to the Ganges or to some other river by their owners. For if the latter think that they cannot preserve them with due care, they consider it an act of virtue to throw them into some river; but they are not, generally speaking, inclined to part with these books in favour of any individual seeking them. It is always therefore a very hard thing to secure them from these superstitious people. All direct questionings as to whether there are old manuscripts in a particular house are looked upon with suspicion by illiterate rustics, as