Burg Altena, Germany


When Fr. Henry Heras, S. J., after whom the Institute has been 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 Heras Institute, its Museum was also meant to provide his students with ready reference material for their research.

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 are some fine pieces of Pala art, and among the few notable sculptures is a stupa from Nalanda of the 9th century 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 traditions like the Shaivite, Vaishnavite, 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 illustratd 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 Mesopotamian script. Hence he travelled in that region and collected the cylindrical seals now preserved in the Museum. They range from the 3rd millennium 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 interesting 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 20th 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 Heras 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 in accordance with their research. Interested Visitors are also provided a guided tour around the Museum by the Staff of the Heras Institute - prior appointment with the Director is requested.



Founded in 1926 as the Indian Historical Research Institute
by Rev. Henry Heras, S.J., and renamed after him on his death in 1955,
the Heras Institute of Indian History and Culture, with is well maintained Research Library and Museum strives to fulfill the following purpose:

aimed at strengthening an Indian identity -
especially among the marginalised sections of Indian Society ---

(1) in fostering study and research in the fields of Indian History and Archaeology, Indian Art and Literature, Indian Religions and Indian Cultures;

(2) in training scholars and Professors in the skills of Research Methodology and the Re-construction of History;

(3) in providing guidance and facilities needed for such Historical and Cultural Research and in collaborating with other Scholars and Institutions
with similar ideals.

INDICA - published since 1964, is the Research Journal of this Institute and Museum.


(available for guidance)

1) Dr. Aubrey A. Mascarenhas,S.J.,M.A.,Ph.D.
- Director - Heras Institute and Museum -
Editor - INDICA - (Research Journal of the Heras Institute and Museum).

2) Dr. Joseph V. Velinkar, S.J.,M.A.,Ph.D.
- Associate Director, Heras Institute and Museum -
Research Guide for M.A. and Ph.D. in History and Ancient Indian Culture
(recognised by University of Mumbai).

3) Prof. N. S. Gorekar, M.A.,Ph.D.,D.Litt.
- Assistant Director, Heras Institute and Museum -
Research Guide in Urdu, Persian and Islamic Studies.

4) Dr. A. Cherian, M.A.,Ph.D.
- Research Guide in History.

5) Dr. John Correia-Afonso, S.J.,M.A.,Ph.D.
- Research Guide in History.

6) Dr. Meena V. Talim, M.A.,Ph.D.
- Research Guide in Pali and Ancient Indian Culture.

7) Dr. Anila Verghese, R.S.C.J., M.A., Ph.D.
- Research Guide in History

8) Dr. Eugene J. D'Souza, M.A., Ph.D.
- Research Guide in History

9) Ms. Neeta D. Malik, M.A.,Dip.Lib.Sc.
- Secretary cum Librarian, Heras Institute and Museum.

10) Mr. P. Wilson D'Souza, B.Com.
- Office Assistant, Heras Institute and Museum.

*** TO CONTACT ANY OF THE STAFF - E-MAIL: herasinstitute@hotmail.com

St. Xavier's College, 5, Mahapalika Marg, Mumbai 400 001. India.

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