This book unlocks the mesmerizing mojo of medieval Braj region. Masterfully written by Irfan Habib and Tarapada Mukerjee, it is an exemplary work of intense research. The primary source materials for this work are the Vrindavan Documents––a treasure trove of information. Two threads criss-cross the pages of Braj Bhūm, firstly, the historical reference point of each of these documents and secondly the derivation of facts and analysis from them. It presents layers of histories within histories. The authors have captured pictures of the past from various angles, by looking at the documents from different points of view. Coming from veterans like Habib and Mukherjee, that is hardly a surprise. Amazing are the miraculous circumstances in which these documents were preserved, collected and handled. In a letter to Habib, dated 20 October 1986, Mukherjee proposed that they work in collaboration on the Persian portion of some documents which he was collecting. In 1987 and 1989-90, they jointly published three papers based on them. With valuable support from Shri Shrivats Goswami, a renowned mystic of Vrindavan, the collection grew. In fact Habib repeatedly thanks the past and present gosā’ins who facilitated the preservation and the eventual use of these documents. Dr. Mukherjee passed away on 7 July 1990. Although Habib doesn’t write it down, it can be gauged from the vibes of the book, that after this loss, the systematic use of these documents became like a promise made to a friend that Habib would fulfil, come what may. He sought the approval of Dr. Emma Mukherjee, wife of his late friend and colleague and continued working on the project. He writes:
His death left me alone to continue with the analysis of the material I had been provided with. There is no doubt that I have taken far too long a time (nearly three decades) to come out with a volume that can claim to fulfil at least part of Tarapada Mukherjee’s ambitious plan. My plea in my own defence is that for this work to be completed, I needed to decipher, transcribe, arrange, understand, and analyse a very large amount of material, mostly in Persian cursive script; and further that with Dr Mukherjee passing away, I no longer had the advantage of his aid and guidance in the pursuit of our joint enterprise (Cf. p. 2).