The Heras Institute
Heras Institute of Indian History and Culture
Director- Dr. Joan Dias
Founded in 1926 as the Indian Historical Research Institute by Fr. Henry Heras S. J., the Heras Institute strives to fulfil the following purpose :
To promote Historical and Cultural Research in India aimed at strengthening an Indian identity especially among the marginalised sections of Indian society.
* In fostering study and research in the fields of Indian History and Archaeology, Indian Art and Literature, Indian Religions and Indian Cultures;
* In training scholars and professors in the skills of Research Methodology and the re-construction of history;
* In providing guidance and facilities needed for such Historical Research and Investigation.
Activities and Services offered
Research Library Facilities
Research Reading Room Facilities
Heras Museum for Research in Indian History and Culture
Historians' Workshop in Research Methodology for Post-graduate and Research Scholars of Mumbai
Heras Research Programme for under-graduate college students of Mumbai
Heras Memorial Lectures for scholars and the general public of Mumbai
Research Journal INDICA published twice a year for Indian and Foreign Scholars and Institutions
The Research Journal - INDICA
INDICA has been published half-yearly, in March and September, since 1964 and specialises in the subjects in which the staff and students of the Heras Institute have done most of their research work - Archaeology, Ancient, Medieval and Modern Indian History, Indian Art and Literature, Indian Religions and Indian Cultures. The annual subscription for Indica is Rs. 80/- (US$13) for Individuals and Rs. 120/- (US$16) for Institutions.
The Heras Museum
When Fr. Henry Heras, S.J., after whom the Institute is now named, came to India in 1922, he could not have known that in the course of a little over three decades of work here he would leave a small but rich collection of antiquities to form a museum unique in certain ways. Like the library of the Institute, its museum was also meant to provide his students with ready reference material.
The Heras Institute Museum holds valuable and interesting artifacts not only from India but also from West Asia, and it is perhaps the only institution in India to possess Mesopotamian cylindrical seals of various periods.
The Indian section has an impressive selection of Gandhara sculptures, reported to have been collected by Fr. Heras himself from a site in Quetta. They depict various scenes from the life of the Buddha, Bodhisattvas and other personages, as also some beautiful stucco heads. A prized panel in the collection represents Ambapali (Amrapali), the well-known courtesan of Vaishali, donating a mango-grove to the Buddha.
There were some fine pieces of Pala art, and among the few notable sculptures is a stupa from Nalanda of the 9th c. A.D. with small niches within which are carved pictures of some major events of the life of the Buddha.
Fr. Heras tried to collect representative images and statues of major religious groups like the Saivite, Vaisnavite, Jaina and Buddhist. These brass and bronze icons, only some of which are on exhibition, constitute a valuable part of the museum. There are also Hindu ritual vessels, and Nepali artifacts.
Of the very few miniature paintings the museum has acquired, a profusely illustrated manuscript of Madhumalati is an exquisite piece of the Kotah art of 1771 A.D. Each page of this manuscript bears an illustration, and hence it is a good document of the Kotah style of that period.
Fr. Heras's main interest in his later years was the study and decipherment of the Indus Valley script and its comparison with the old Mesopotmian script. Hence he travelled in that region and collected the cylindrical seals now preserved in the museum. They range from the 3rd millenium B.C. to the Assyrian period, and form a representative collection, some of them with very interesting designs. The collection also includes a number of beautiful terracottas from the Graeco-Parthian period.
An iteresting section of the museum is that of Indian Christian Art, of which Fr. Heras was a pioneer promoter. Paintings illustrate themes from the Bible and the history of the Jesuit missions in India, and are the work of Angelo da Fonseca and other artists of the middle of the present century. Besides these, some wooden and ivory images, mainly from Goa, are also on display.
The rare book and map collections which belong directly to the Institute Library may also be here mentioned. One of their treasures is the only known extant copy of the first book printed in Bombay, H. Becher's Remarks and Occurences,1793.
The museum is attached to the Heras Institute of Indian History and Culture, and may be used by its research students and scholars as occasion arises.