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Who Was Birbal Sahni ?

Dr. Birbal Sahni was an Indian archaeologist who contributed significantly in this field by studying the fossils of the Indian subcontinent. He established the ‘Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleobotany’ in Lucknow.

He studied the flora of India and made important contributions to the Puranaspati Shastra. Birbal Sahni was President of the National Academy of Sciences, India, and Honorary President of the International Botanical Congress, Stockholm, along with writing numerous letters and journals on these subjects.

Early life:

Birbal Sahni was born on 14 November 1891. His father’s name was Prof. Ruchiram was Sahni. He was born in a village called Bheela in Shahpur district. Bhedha, in fact, was a home-like village of geology surrounded by salt rocks and hills. Child Birbal was raised in this beautiful delightful environment. He got to see bacteria etc. from his childhood.

Father Ruchiram Sahni also maintained an intellectual and scientific atmosphere at home. Scholar, educationist, social worker Ruchiram Sahni continued to promote child Birbal’s scientific interest right from childhood. Child Birbal was also a priest of nature since childhood. From childhood he used to enjoy the natural beauty of the hills. The delightful places nearby, the green tree plants, the far-flung white mountain peaks used to fascinate them. They often went out for walks in nearby villages.

Sahni`s Family

Birbal Sahni did his early education at Central Model School in Lahore and after that he went to Government College University, Lahore, and Punjab University for higher education. He learned botany from the famous botanist Professor Shivdas Kashyap.

In 1911, Birbal received his B.Sc. from Punjab University. Passed the examination. Birbal went to England, respecting his wish, because he wanted to make an officer. In 1914, he graduated from Immanuel College, Cambridge University, and then Professor A. Engaged in research work under the supervision of C. Neeward (who was the best botanist of the time). In 1919, he earned the degree of Doctor of Science from the University of London.

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Professor Ruchi Ram Sahni sent his five sons to England for higher education and went there himself. He went to Manchester and did investigative work on radioactivity with Professor Ernest Rutherford of Cambridge and Nilesboro in Copenhagen.

In fact, most of the credit for his son Birbal Sahni’s tendency for scientific curiosity and character formation is due to his initiative and inspiration, encouragement and perseverance, hard work and honesty. This is confirmed by the fact that Professor Birbal Sahni never gave up in his research work, but was always ready to find a solution to the toughest problem.

In 1911 Birbal Sahni went to London to study at Cambridge University. They lived there with great simplicity. He used to get an annual scholarship of Rs 90 for studies. In which he used to spend all his expenses. In Cambridge, Birbal Sahni came in contact with Professor Seward and accepted him as his mentor. Professor Seward also gave great affection to this promising disciple of his. London’s D.Sc. (Doctor of Science) Birbal Sahni returned to India in 1916 and was appointed Professor of Botany at Kashi Hindu University.

At that time they did not even have a separate room to sit. He would do his work sitting in a corner of the verandah. Senior teachers there used to consider teaching graduate classes against their pride. On the contrary, Prof. Birbal Sahni used to place special emphasis on teaching of graduating classes. He loved the students very much and was always ready to help them all the time. After Kashi, Mr. Sahni arrived in Lucknow.

In 1920 Birbal Sahni was married to Savitri who was the daughter of the iconic Raibahadur Sundaradas of Punjab. Wife Savitri had every possible support in Birbal Sahni’s research work. She used to do well to photograph livestock and take photographs of them. After studying in Benaras for a few days, Prof. Sahni was appointed at Punjab University in Lahore but stayed here for a short time.

Dr. Birbal Sahni first researched the living flora and then researched the Indian botanical remains. He proved that Assam was full of soil vegetation of the third era. His attempt was to solve the problem of classification prevailing in the fossil markets present in India. He wanted to set up a leading repository of fossil bajrahas and cumin seeds in India, so that research could be carried forward with comparative study of fossils.

He established a mechanism for the coal-based fossil and cumin grains to establish linkages in coal deposits in India. Oldhine, Mars, and geological experts had researched the upper Gondwani beds of the Rajmahal hills. Later Birbal Sahni also started research on this and informed the world about many strange and poor plants. Dr. Birbal Sahni was an expert in both botany and geology. They also achieved bipolar results with both types of combinations.

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Pro. Sahni preferred to work in the field rather than in the laboratory. Sahni informed the world’s scientists about the amazing flora of India. He was the first botanist who studied the plants of Indian Gondwana in detail. He also explored the Rajmahal hills of Bihar. This place is a treasure house of ancient flora.

There he discovered some new jeans of plants. Some of them are important – homozyls Rajmahalins, Raj Mahalya Paradora and William Sonia Sivardayana. Some of his inventions helped a lot in understanding the evolutionary relationship between ancient plants and modern plants.

He discovered a new group of fossil plants. These are gymnospomers, pines and other trees of their species called pentozylis. This attracted the attention of the whole world to this. His study of ecotoxicology has also spoken of the continental drift theory of continvipo sliding away from each other. According to this theory, continents have always slid on the surface of the earth like a boat slips on the surface of river water. He was a member of many foreign scientific institutions. In Lucknow.

Sahni died shortly after the inauguration of the Palaeobotanic Institute. He has written books on botany and many of his arrangements have been published in different scientific journals of the world. Dr. Sahni was not only a scientist, but was also a lover of painting and music. The Indian Science Congress has instituted the ‘Birbal Sahni Medal’ in his honor, which is awarded to the best botanist of India. His students have tried to keep his name immortal by naming several new plants after the name of Sahni.

He drew many conclusions about the civilization of Happa, Mohenjodaro and Indus Valley. Once, Rohtak hit a part of the mound with a hammer and after studying from the remains obtained from it, told that, the caste which used to live here earlier knew how to make special types of coins. Later, he also studied the special techniques of minting in other countries such as China, Rome, North Africa. He also proved that 100 years ago, in the era of Rome, India had made a mold of casting high level coins.


In September 1948, Prof. When Birbal Sahni returned from the US with his speech, he was a bit unwell due to which he was feeling very weak. The doctors advised him to go to Almora and rest, but Dr. Sahni continued to work from Lucknow to fulfill the dream of the success of his institute. After suffering a heart attack on 10 April 1949, the great scientist Dr. Birbal Sahni left Ihlok and went to the other world.