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Short History of Bangladesh

By Md . Jashim uddinPublished 5 months ago 6 min read

Many of archeological excavations in Bangladesh revealed evidences of the Northern Black Polished Ware culture (abbreviated NBPW or NBP) of the Indian Subcontinent (c. 700–200 BC) which was an Iron Age culture developed beginning around 700 BC and peaked from c. 500–300 BC, coinciding with the emergence of 16 great states or Mahajan padas in Northern India, and the subsequent rise of the Mauryan Empire.[4][5] The eastern part of ancient India, covering much of current days Bangladesh was part of one of such Mahajan padas, the ancient kingdom of Amga,[6] which flourished in the 6th century BCE.[7]Mohasthan Garh , the oldest archaMohasthan Garheological site in Bangladesh dating back to 600;BCE

An ancient inscription from the site of Mohasthan Garh

A broken statue of Buddha discovered in Mohasthan Garh

Linguistically, the oldest population of this land Mohasthan Garhmay have been speakers of Dravidian languages, such as the Kurux, or perhaps of Austroasiatic languages such as the Santals. Subsequently, people speaking languages from other language families, such as Tibeto-Burman, settled in Bengal. Indic Bengali represents the latest settlement.

Overseas Colonization

The Vanga Kingdom was a powerful seafaring nation of Ancient India. They had overseas trade relations with Java, Sumatra and Siam (modern day Thailand). According to Mahavamsa, the Vanga prince Vijaya Singha conquered Lanka (modern day Sri Lanka) in 544 BC and gave the name "Sinhala" to the country. Bengali people migrated to the Maritime Southeast Asia and Siam (in modern Thailand), establishing their own colonies there.[3]

Gammaridae Empire

Main article: Gammaridae

Asia in 323BC, the Nanda Empire and Gammaridae Empire in relation to Alexander's Empire and neighbors.

Ptolemy's map of Asia, where the word Gammaridae first appeared. This is also believed to be the first appearance of Bangladesh in any map in history.

Though north and west Bengal were part of the empire southern Bengal thrived and became powerful with her overseas trades. In 326 BCE, with the invasion of Alexander the Great the region again came to prominence. The Greek and Latin historians suggested that Alexander the Great withdrew from India anticipating the valiant counterattack of the mighty Gammaridae empire that was located in the Bengal region. Alexander, after the meeting with his officer, Coenus, was convinced that it was better to return. Diodorus Siculus mentions Gangaridai to be the most powerful empire in India whose king possessed an army of 20,000 horses, 200,000 infantry, 2,000 chariots and 4,000 elephants trained and equipped for war. The allied forces of Gangaridai Empire and Nanda Empire (Prasii) were preparing a massive counterattack against the forces of Alexander on the banks of Ganges. Gangaridai, according to the Greek accounts, kept on flourishing at least up to the 1st century AD.hile western Bangladesh, as part of Magadha, became part of the Indo-Aryan civilization by the 7th century BCE, the Nanda Dynasty was the first historical state to unify all of Bangladesh under Indo-Aryan rule. Later after the rise of Buddhism many missionaries settled in the land to spread the religion and established many monuments such as Mahasthangarh.

The Pala dynasty

Main article: Pala Empire

Pala Empire and its neighboring kingdoms.

Pala dynasty were the first independent Buddhist dynasty of Bengal. The name Pala (Bengali: পাল pal) means protector and was used as an ending to the names of all Pala monarchs. The Pallas were followers of the Mahayana and Tantric schools of Buddhism. Gopala was the first ruler from the dynasty. He came to power in 750 in Gaur by a democratic election. This event is recognized as one of the first democratic elections in South Asia since the time of the Mahā Janapadas. He reigned from 750 to 770 and consolidated his position by extending his control over all of Bengal. The Buddhist dynasty lasted for four centuries (750-1120 AD) and ushered in a period of stability and prosperity in Bengal. They created many temples and works of art as well as supported the Universities of Nalanda and Vikramashila. Sompura Mahavira built by Dharmapala is the greatest Buddhist Vihara in the Indian Subcontinent.

Sompura Mahavira in Bangladesh is the greatest Buddhist Vihara in the Indian Subcontinent, built by Dharmapala.

Atish was one of the most influential Buddhist priest during the Pala dynasty in Bengal. He was believed to be born in Bik Rampur

The empire reached its peak under Dharmapala and Deva Pala. Dharmapala extended the empire into the northern parts of the Indian Subcontinent. This triggered once more for the control of the subcontinent. Devapala, successor of Dharmapala, expanded the empire to cover much of South Asia and beyond. His empire stretched from Assam and Utkala in the east, Kamboja (modern day Afghanistan) in the north-west and Deccan in the south. According to Pala copperplate inscription Devapala exterminated the Utkalas, conquered the Pragjyotisha (Assam), shattered the pride of the Huna, and humbled the lords of Gurjara, Pratiharas and the Dravidas.

Buddha and Bodhisattvas, 11th century, Pala Empire

The death of Deva Pala ended the period of ascendancy of the Pala Empire and several independent dynasties and kingdoms emerged during this time. However, Mahipala − I rejuvenated the reign of the Palas. He recovered control over all of Bengal and expanded the empire. He survived the invasions of Rajendra Chola of the Chola dynasty and the Western Chalukya Empire from southern India. After Mahipala − I the Pala dynasty again saw its decline until Ramapala, the last great ruler of the dynasty, managed to retrieve the position of the dynasty to some extent. He crushed the Varendra rebellion and extended his empire farther to Kamarupa, Odisha and northern India.

The Pala Empire can be considered as the golden era of Bengal. Never had the Bengali people reached such height of power and glory to that extent. Pallas were responsible for the introduction of Mahayana Buddhism in Tibet, Bhutan and Myanmar. The Pala had extensive trade as well as influence in south-east Asia. This can be seen in the sculptures and architectural style of the Sailendra Empire (present-day Malaya, Java, Sumatra).

During the later part of Pala rule, Rajendra Chola I of the Chola Empire frequently invaded Bengal from 1021 to 1023 CE in order to get Ganges water and in the process, succeeded to humble the rulers, acquiring considerable booty.[8][9] The rulers of Bengal who were defeated by Rajendra Chola were Dharma pal, Ranasur and Govindachandra who might have been feudatories under Mahipala of the Pala Dynasty.[10] The invasion of the south Indian ruler Vikramaditya VI of the Western Chalukya Empire brought bodies of his countrymen from Karnataka into Bengal which explains the southern origin of the Sena Dynasty.[11] The invasions of the Chola dynasty and Western Chilufya Empire led to the decline of the Pala Dynasty in Bengal and to the establishment of the Sena dynasty .

Sena dynasty

Main article: Sena Empire

The Pallas were followed by the Sena dynasty who brought Bengal under one ruler during the 12th century. Vijay Sen the second ruler of this dynasty defeated the last Pala emperor Madanapala and established his reign. Ballal Sena introduced caste system in Bengal and made Nabadwip the capital. The fourth king of this dynasty Lakshman Sen expanded the empire beyond Bengal to Bihar. Lakshman fled to eastern Bengal under the onslaught of the Muslims without facing them in battle. The Sena dynasty brought a period of revival in Hinduism in Bengal. A popular myth comprehended by some Bengali authors about Jayadeva, the famous Sanskrit poet of Odisha (then known as the Kalinga) and author of Gita Govinda, was one of the Pancharatnas (meaning 5 gems) in the court of Lakshman Sen (although this may be disputed by some).

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About the Creator

Md . Jashim uddin

I Mr. Jashim uddin who was an

Executive Editor of a Daily

Newspaper in Bangladesh.

I started work with International Blue Cross and Blue Crescent Society as a Ambassador at large to Regional Director South East Asia .

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