Birbal Sahni

Birbal Sahni

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Birbal Sahni

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Birbal Sahni FRS (14 November 1891-10 April 1949), was an Indian paleobotanist who studied the fossils of the Indian subcontinent, was also a geologist who took an interest in archaeology. He founded the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany in Lucknow, India.

Formative years

The third son of Ishwar Devi and Lala Ruchi Ram Sahani, Birbal Sahni was born in Behra, Saharanpur District, West Punjab, on 14 November 1891. Among the frequent guests of his parents were Motilal Nehru, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Sarojini Naidu, and Madan Mohan Malaviya. He got his early education in India at Government College University, Lahore (where his father worked) and Punjab University (1911). He learnt botany under S. R. Kashyap. He graduated from Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1914. He later studied under Professor A. C. Seward, and was awarded the D.Sc. degree of the University of London in 1919.


In 1917, Sahni joined Professor Seward to work on a 'Revision of Indian Gondwana plants' (1920, Palaeontologica Indica). In 1919 he briefly worked in Munich under the German plant morphologist Goebel. In 1920 he married Savitri Suri, daughter of Sunder Das Suri who was an Inspector of Schools in Punjab. Savitri took an interest in his work and...
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