In the 19th century, Calcutta was the epicenter of the colonial education programme in India. Initially, the aim of the establishment of the Sanskrit College was to provide indigenous, especially Sanskrit, education to civil servants. But under the guidance of its most renowned Principal, Pundit Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, the institution’s educational aim was refurbished. At the inception, Grammar, Literature, Rhetoric, Vedanta, Smriti and Nyaya were taught in the Sanskrit language. Eventually, Astrology, Ayurveda, English, Bengali, Mythology and Arithmetic were also introduced. History and Ancient Indian History etc. were taught only at the intermediate level, but in collaboration with the Presidency College. Before the 1930s, there is no information regarding any individual department of History or Ancient Indian History at this college. In 1842 there was a ‘Purabritta’ department that functioned for only one year, under the tutelage of Pt. Kamalakanta Vidyalankar.
It has been recorded that E. B. Cowell taught History in Sanskrit College, while he was the Principal. But the students of this stream would have taken admission in Presidency College. In 1858, Maheshchandra Nyayaratna proposed the introduction of epigraphic and historical research methods, but that proposal was not accepted. The department of Ancient Indian and World History was established during the time of Dr. Gaurinath Sastri, although classes in the discipline were held even before the 1930s. Dr. Krishnadhan Banerjee was a professor of History then, as was Prof. Sachindranath Bhattacharya. Dr. Nipendrakrishna Dutta was Banerjee’s replacement in the department.
Pali, Linguistics and Ancient Indian and World History departments were established during the tenure of Dr. Gaurinath Sastri (1957-1967) and Honours and General courses started at that period. He created posts for and appointed Lecturers, Assistant Professors and Professors in each of these departments. This was the first time that a college in West Bengal was teaching Ancient Indian and World History as a General and Honours subject. The first two teachers to be appointed to the department were Sisir Kumar Mitra and Charuchandra Dasgupta. Remarkable academicians including Suresh Chandra Bhattacharya, Ashok Bhattacharya, Adhir Chakraborty, Dilip Kumar Bishwas, Amitabha Bhattacharya, Alakananda Bhattacharya and Kalyan Kumar Dasgupta have taught in the Department.
The college is now a university, and the Ancient India and World History department has been made contemporary and updated, and the staff and teachers of the department are determined to ensure a bright prospect for the department.