Author Topic: History of Bangla  (Read 1667 times)


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History of Bangla
« on: June 04, 2010, 10:58:11 AM »
Bangla vocabulary shows many influences. In Bangladesh there is obviously a strong Perso-Arabic influence due to Islam. This is seen in the greetings of "Salaam aleykum" (Peace be unto you) and the reply "Wa aleykum as-salaam" (Unto you also peace) as well as "Khoda hafez" (God Bless you), the choice of names (Mohammed, Tanvir, Khaleda, Fatema), the names of family members "abba" (father) and "amma" (mother). Interestingly, the subsequent trade routes between the Arab world and the home of the Moguls led to words such as "dokan" (shop), "tarikh"(date), "kolom"(pen) and "bonduk" (gun) entering Bangla. The etymology of Bangladesh's second city, Chottogram, is of linguistic interest. Known as "Shatt' al-Ganga" (Arabic for "mouth of the Ganges") by the Arab traders who patronized the route prior to the discovery of India by the Europeans, the British anglicized the name to Chittagong.

In West Bengal the language situation is somewhat different. Being predominantly a Hindu state, the Hindu greeting is "Namashkar". The way of addressing family members is somewhat different also: "ma" (mother), "baba" or "pita" (father). However, it is in the case of "dada" that confusion arises. For Muslims "dada" is paternal grandfather whereas for Hindus it is elder brother.

Whilst other cultural differences include "goshol kora" (Bangladesh)/"snan kora" (West Bengal) meaning to bathe, "shathey" (BD)/"shongey" (WB) meaning with, "pani" (BD)/"jol" (WB) meaning water and "lobon" (BD)/"nun" (WB) meaning salt [2], these prove not to be an obstacle to learning Bangla. They are simply something to be aware of just like "lift" (GB English) and "elevator" (US English).

A strong influence of English in Bangla is easily noticeable. Primarily, during the days of the Raj many words of English origin such as "tebil" (table), "tiffin" (archaic in modern day English meaning snack box) entered Bangla. In more recent time the ever rising global nature of English has lead to words such as "television", "telephone", "video" and "radio" being adopted by Bangla. However, unlike India, there has never been the need for English as a lingua franca and thus Bangla is the state language of Bangladesh.

Culturally, Bangla is very close to the hearts of Bangladeshis. There is without a doubt many reasons for this: following partition (1947) of India and the departure of the educated Hindu classes in the administration, the Bangladeshi intellectuals felt the need of Bangla as a means of identifying their culture and nationalism. This is exemplified by the fact that Bangla was crucial in precipitating the events of the Bangladeshi War of Independence (1971) for the following reasons.  The partition of British India led to the creation of India and Pakistan. Pakistan - a country made of two regions physically divided by the land mass (1600 kilometers) of India, yet theoretically united by religion (Islam). However, the differences between the predominantly Urdu speaking province (West Pakistan - modern day Pakistan) and that of the predominantly Bangla speaking province (East Pakistan - now the independent state of Bangladesh) were great. The uniting factor of Islam was to prove not enough to overcome the economic, political and social differences. The differences and inequalities of the West Pakistani administrative centre stirred up a sense of Bangla nationalism which the Muslim League - in its desire to create a Muslim homeland and so end Hindu dominance - had not calculated. The economic, political and social inequalities were exacerbated with time. The Pakistan government's declaration that `Urdu and only Urdu' would be the national language led to a language movement which quickly became the Bangla national movement. The death of 12 students who were killed by the Pakistani army during the 1952 riots in Dhaka is commemorated by a stark statue (Shohid Minaar - the martyr's tower) in Dhaka near Dhaka Medical College Hospital. The image of which appears on stamps and on the two taka note (See picture).

Bangla, like English, has distinct linguistic tracts. Whilst in English vocabulary of Anglo-Saxon/German stock is much more prevalent in everyday parlance, whereas words of French derivation are more educated and those of Latin stock show a further level of education as exemplified by the words: holy (heilig in German), sacred (sacré in French) and consecrated (consecrãre in Latin) a similar situation arises in Bangla. As opposed to being a concept of the level of education, the distinct choice of word stock is more to do with a political/religious/social inclination. The words "nobo"/"notun", meaning new, are not interchangeable. "nobo" is used in auspicious circumstances hence to wish someone "Happy New Year" one says "Shubo nobo bosho", whereas "notun" is used in everyday language as exemplified by "I have a new car" renders "Ami notun gari achi". However, the word "victory" can be translated into Bangla in two ways. The choice of the word "joy" in proclaiming independence from Pakistan (1971) was crucial. For "joy" is a very Bangla word as opposed to "zindabad" which with its Urdu roots would have been a most inappropriate choice.

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Re: History of Bangla
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2010, 02:49:38 AM »
History of Bangla

The ancient, medieval, and colonial history of Bangladesh covers a period from antiquity to 1947, when India was partitioned. So the history of  Bangladesh prior to 1947 is a history of India of which Bangladesh was a part. In fact, the history of India is a history of Bengal for the large part. Today Bangladesh is an independent nation within the Indian subcontinent, but is less than half of the old Bengal or Bangla.

Prehistory: Introduction

The modern state of Bangladesh officially came into existence through a people's liberation war in 1971. Bangladesh is the eastern part of Bangla. Bangladesh (East Bangla) and West Bangla (India) are the same nation and together they once formed the major part of Bangla (Banga or Gaur). There were some other parts of Bangla though that are no longer within East or West Bangla. Bangla was divided into East and West parts by the British, first in 1905, but it proved unpopular and was reversed in 1911. Later during the partition of India, rich Muslim landlords in the East supported the division. So again since 1947, Bangla is divided into at least two parts. Bangla was ultimately ruined by this division and today there are even those who have
been culturally so much derooted that they feel that the people of the other Bangla are foreigners! That is one of the greatest achievement of British imperialism. Bangla was one of the most important centres of India and now it is a ruined nation no longer a potential threat to the west. Its long and great history is forgotten by the world and also many Bangalees today. Even though Bangladesh is a modern state, her history can be traced back to about 1000 BC. There are many theories about the origin of the name Banga or Bangla. Some linguists believe that the name originates from the Tibetan word, "Bans" which means wet or moist and Banga (Bengal) is a wet country crisscrossed by a thousand rivers and washed by monsoons and floods from the Himalayas. Some others believe that the name originated from the Bodo (original Asamese in North Eastern India) "Bang La" which means wide plains. This theory is extremely plausible. Another school suggests the name comes from the name of Prince Banga. According to legend, Prince Banga, the son of King Bali and Queen Sudeshna of the Lunar dynasty was the first to colonise Bangla. What is probably the real root is from the name of the original people of Bangla. This also is taken from legend. One of the tribes who according to a claim emerged from the Indus Civilization after its demise had entered the plains of Bengal while others went elsewhere. They were called the Bong tribe and spoke Dravidian. We know from many ancient Aryan texts of a tribe called Banga that existed in that region.


Geology and archaeology tell us that Bangla was formed 1 to 6.5 million years ago and the first known human habitation goes back to 100, 000 years in the past. Paleolithic tools and implements from a hundred thousand years ago have been found in Deolpota in West Bangla and 15, 000 year old implements have been found in South East Bangladesh. New Stone Age civilisation, showing connection with that of Bihar, Orissa and Asam existed in Bangla around 3000 to 1500 BC.

Then suddenly a metal processing civilization appears. Archaeology has not been able to find the missing link from stone tools to metal tools use. This might suggest the influx of a new people into the region and maybe this goes hand in hand with the legends. The Indus civilization ended around 1800 BCE and there is a marked change in Bangla around this time...this ties in with the story of the Bong and Al peoples. Recently an ancient city has been discovered in West Bangla at Chandraketugarh near Berachampa, in North 24 Pargana. The city is presumed to be of King Chandraketu from the Gupta era (4th to 6th century AD) but will await carbon 14 tests. Statues of Goddess Yakshi have been discovered here. At Berachampa is another location of interest. Here the'khana-mihir's dhibi was found, a site with Gupta temples. In Jessore, Bangladesh (East Bangla), the Bharat Bhanya site has been tentatively assigned to the Gupta period as well. (Md. Shafiqul Alam, Deccan College, Pune 411 006)

We can assume cities existed in ancient Bangla, however, not many ruins dating back in or before the first millennium BC have been located. Certainly some cities like Pundra are refered to in ancient Aryan texts before there was much contact between the Aryans and the Bangales. Were the ruins such as ChandraketuGarh (Gaur) built upon older cities of the past?

In the ancient Aryan texts, Purs were mentioned describing forts or cities of the Drabirs of the Indus civilization. The interesting thing is names of places in the Indus region often end with -Pur and likewise in Bangla, place names commonly end in -Pur.

A Lost History

Many assume that South India and Bengal were backwaters because of the lack of interest of the Aryan scriptures in them. They were not backwaters but simply they were non-Aryans. Since Bangla and South India were not Aryan, they are not highlighted in the history of the Aryans or North India. However, since there were powerful kingdoms and cities in Bangla that were in close proximity to the Aryans, Bangla is mentioned somewhat. Also because of Buddha's travellings, there are some more references. (Note: the earliest references are mostly disdainful. If anyone travelled to the Drabir land, then their would be pennances and ritual sacrifices). Dance forms seem to have originated in Drabir India. South Indians have given us several unique dance forms and Gaur of Bangla has also given us unique dance forms. From the ruins of ancient Indus civilization we find dancing girl figurines which indicate the origin of the dances of India.

Even the ancient texts, however, whether intentionally or not, reveal the greatness of Bangla. In Bhishma-parban, the Bangalee kings heroically face attacks from the Pandus or conquerors of Upper India. There is a description of the encounters between the Pandus and the mighty ruler of the Bangas. While some of the Bangalee kings fought on elephants, others rode on ocean-bred steeds of the hue of the moon. What were these ocean bred steeds of the hue of the moon? Were they ships? In the very ancient times, Pundra, Gaur (Gaud or Garh), Rarh (Radha, Ladha), Sumha, Bajra (Brahma), Tamralipti, Samatata, Banga and Anga comprised Bangla. At one time Gaur was the name used for the Bangla region but the name Banga later became popular. This might reflect the prominence of the regions in a period whose history is lost. Banga is first mentioned in the Aiterya Aranyaka, a Hindu scripture. The book mentions Banga as a non-Aryan (Drabir) nation. In the Aitareya Brahma, the people of Pundra tribe (along with Andhra, Shabara, Mulinda and Mutiba tribes) is called dasyu, clearly non-Aryan or Drabir.
Bangla is also mentioned in the Mahabharat, one of the four great epics. In the great war of Kurukshetra described in the Mahabharat, a Bangalee king fought for the Kaurabs (Kaurabs are supposed to be the villains. They are most probably Aryans and so this might show the beginings of Aryan-Drabir alliance makings.). In another instance, King Basudeb of Gaur (old name for Bangla) fought with Krishna in Dwarka, a port city in Gujarat on the western part of India. The Mahabharat also mentions three Bangalee princes who try for the hand of princess Draupadi. In this epic, some Bangalees are mentioned as untouchables. These were the coastal tribes of Bangla who were called Mlechchha. All the tribes in Bangla (and Kalinga, a South East Indian empire and even Magadh and Anga (Bangla) were considered non-Aryan. Banga and Kalinga were Drabir even in Mahabir's time and Aryanization only began with Ashok when part of it was under the Mauryan empire. As Aryanization penetrated into Manu classified Bangla (Pundra), Shaka and Drabira as fallen Kshatryias (Kshatriyas were the warior or ruling caste). This was an attempt to incorporate them into the Aryan caste system. Towards Arjun's time, Mahabharat and the Bayu and Matsyapuranas also call Bangalees (Pundra and Banga, Sumhas) Kshatriyas. And later the Jaina Pragyapana calls Bangaless (Banga and Rarh) Aryans signifying the beginning of absorption. It was probably then that the caste system became rigid and oppressive to maintain segregation.

"The Culture of India is pre-Aryan in origin. As in Greece, the conquered countries civilized the conquerors. The Aryan Indian owed his civilization and his degeneration to the Dravidians as the Aryan Greek to the Mycaeneans." -- Hall: Ancient History of the Near East

It was only during the Gupta rule around the 4th century period that Aryanization fully penetrates Bangla. The caste structure is instilled and Brahmans (highest caste) are mentioned. Batsyan in his Kamsutra (the bible of sex) mentions Brahmans in Bengal. Vatsayana talks about handsome Bangalees who painted their nails to attract girls. Ancient Bangalee men painted their nails to attract girls. This is the earliest mention of coloring nails. In the ancient Indus, girls used lipstick which is also another first use.

Ancient Hindu Center

Many think that the concepts of karma and transmigration of the soul, the practice of yoga, the worship of Shib, Debi and Bisnu, and other rituals that are not Vedic came from the Aryans. However, these are now believed to have existed in Bangla before Aryanization. This is also supported by the fact that today at least Yoga and Shiva are associated with the Indus civilization which existed before the coming of the Aryans. The cultivation of rice and other crops such as the betel leaf, coconut, tamarind and nut, the Hindu dress of dhuti, marriage rituals with vermilion and turmeric, and many other customs come from pre-Aryan ancestors.

Age of Glory

Bangla history in the 1st millennium BC was that of glory and expansion. This period is connected not to North India but to South India and the Eastern Asia. Its expansion was a maritime expansion. Bengal was an ancient seafaring nation, possibly a continuation of the seafaring of the Indus days. As early as 544 BC, Bangalee prince, Bijay Singha of Bangla established the first kingdom in Sri Lanka. The ancient name of Sri Lanka, Singhal comes from the name of Bijay Singha. The Sri Bijaya empire of Indonesia that dominated East Asia for over a millennium bears Sri Bijaya's name, possibly meaning that it was founded by him. This empire is known to have been a strong indian centre as early as 135 AD by the Chinese, which means that Indians (Bangalees) were there earlier in history, possibly the 6th/5th century BC, if Sri Bijaya founded the empire. From here the region of cambodia to Vietnam was dominated by the ancient Bangalees. Madras was another kingdom established by the Bangalees. These show that Bangla was a well organized land even in antiquity. This period of expansion is unmatched in later history. An intersting point to note: the Madras people are Tamil (Dramila) were the original Bagnalees same as Tamils?

Early History

In India, the ancient kingdoms were called Mahajanapadas. There were several of them all over Northern India. Anga, Ashmak, Avanti, Chedi, Gandhar, Kashi, Kosala, Magadha ( in Bihar and later annexed part of Bangla and adjoining areas when it started expansion), Matsya, Shursen and Batsa (today: Kasuambi in Bihar, King of Batsa, Udayana was Buddha's follower) were the major kingdoms. Some Mahajanapadas like Banga, Kamboj, Koliya, Kuru, Lichhavi, Moriya, Panchal, Shakya (Buddha's family ruled here), and Brijji were republican states. The republican states were not ruled by kings but had assemblies of senior and responsible elders called 'Gana-parishad'. (This is still visible in villages in India.) The Magadha, Kosala, Batsya (Bihar), and Avanti (Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh) were the most notable kingdoms of ancient India.

Anga: Anga was an ancient kingdom. The people were originally Drabir but were absorbed early in the Aryanization process. They had become part of Magadha in the 6th century BC. Anga was part of Bangla but now mostly lies in Bihar, including her capital, Monghyr.


Avanti: A kingdom near Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. He warred with Magadh,
Kosala, and Batsa. Eventually Magadha emerged victor.

Gandhar: Present day Afganistan. Afganistan was part of India until the 10th century when it was overrun by foreign invaders.

Kashi: Today Kashi remains as the famous holy city Banarasi or Banaras.

Kosala: Of all the small kingdoms in North India, the history of Magadha and Kosala are documented well, because of Buddha and Mahabir's presence there. There are references to Bangla, since Buddha had travelled there to preach. Kosala was an empire roughly the size of Britain and is also the birth place of Raam, the Hindu Avatar. It existed in Central North India, with capital at Ayoddhya. Shrabasti, Kushabati and Saket were its other famous cities. Archeological excavations have shown the remains of a great empire there, which existed sometime between the end of the Harappan civilization and the emergence of historical empires in India whose tales might be recorded in the Mahabharat and Ramayan. The legendary Tirthankaras of Jain are also from here. Kosala was ruled by Prasenajit during the time of Buddha, around the 6th century BC.

Magadh: Neighbouring Magadh (an ancient Drabir nation) started getting powerful in the 7th century BC. It started out as a sixth of the size of Kosala in the extreme south east of Bihar. Its old capital was at Rajgriha (Rajgir) in present day Bihar. In the 6th century BC, it was definitely a major power under King Bimbisara. (It must be noted that Bimbisara had married Prasenajits' sister.) Part of the rise in Magadh's power was due to its king Bimbisara's bold new strategy. Until then in Magadh the armies were loyal to the different tribes but Bimbisara changed this making the armies loyal to himself. Magadh is the first kingdom recorded in Indian history that attempted to create a great empire. There is evidence that Buddha himself had counseled the King Bimbisara of Magadha as how to subjugate and annex the neighboring Lichabi republic (D.P. Singhal pg. 57). Later Bimbisara became the first patron of Buddhism. Buddha had highly influenced Bimbisara. The capital of Magadh also became Buddha's homebase. There were thousands of Magadhans who had converted to buddhism by then. It must be noted that Prasenajit later converted too, leading to massive success of early Buddhism. By the time Magadha started to expand, there was probably a high degree of Aryan penetration into Magadh, as evidenced by the fact that Buddha spoke Maghdi Sanskrit, which is an Aryan language. Magadha was probably one of the first Aryo-Drabir synthesis centres. Both the Buddhist and Jain religion (which in antiquity originates in Kosala) developed here. In its early stage it anexed the smaller kingdoms of Kashi, Madra and Anga (Bangla). And also lost in antiquity, Prasenjit carried out a long protracted war with Magadh. Eventually Prasenajit was deposed by his son and Kosala was overwhelmed by Magadh. Thus Magadh now stretched all across Northern India becoming the first historical empire of North India. King Ajarsatru, son of Bimbisara started the task of building the empire in 490 BC and Magadh was extended under great Nanda kings as far west as Punjab. The Nanda kings had set up an effective ministrative system that was necessary to run their large empire. The huge four-fold army of  two hundred thousand infantry, twenty thousand cavalry, two thousand chariots and three thousand elephants. They introduced the stem of standard weights and measures (if this is the one used in modern India then it is remarkable that it was base 16 like ancient Indus). The Nanda Kings were patrons of art and literature. By the time Alexander conquers northern India in 326 BC, Magadh was a great empire under the Nandas and this was the seed from which the Mauryan empire germinated, retaining the great bureaucracy, army and passion for arts and literature of the Nanda kings.

Earliest Western References

Gangariday (Bangalee) king had 4 thousand war trained elephants. The periods just before the Mauryan empire and after it is almost nonexistent in India. However, some history can be collected from Greek sources. The first western reference comes from Alexander's invasion of India. Alexander had conquered much of the "known world" and had defeated the western kingdoms of India. They were stopped at the Magadh empire. The Greek historians suggest that Alexander retreated fearing valiant attacks of the mighty Gangariday and Prasioi empires which were located in the Bangla region. Alexander's historians refer to Gangariday as a people who lived in the lower Ganges and its tributaries. These empires attest the level of organization of the peoples of Bangla region. These names are again mentioned by Diodorus. He describes Gangariday as a nation beyond the Ganges, whose king had 4 thousand war trained and equipped elephants. Later Periplus and Ptolemy also indicate that Bangla was organized into a powerful kingdom at the onset of the first millennium AD. When Greek historian Periplus talks about India in the first century AD, apparently he speaks of Bangla. He says, "There is a river near it called the Ganges (Ganga)" ...On its bank is a market town which has the same name as the river, Ganges (Ganga). Through this place are brought malabathrum and Gangetic spikenard and pearls and muslins of the finest sorts, which are called Gangetic. It is said that there are gold mines near these places, and there is a gold coin which is called caltis. And just opposite this river there is an island in the ocean, the last part of the inhabited world towards the east, under the rising sun itself, it is called Chryse; and it has the best tortoise-shell of all the places on the Erythrean Sea" (Sudheer's India's Contribution to the World's Culture). ... But the waves utterly overwhelmed it, and Chryse sank and disappeared in the depths..." --( Pausanias, Description of Greece 8.33.4)

It is apparent that these empires existed before the Mauryan empire and continued after the fall of that empire. Some believe Bangla was part of the Mauryan Empire. However, it seems that these two kingdoms continued to exist even after the Mauryan empire. Part of Bangla, namely Anga and Pundra were probably under the Mauryan empire but the rest of Bangla remained outside the Mauryan empire. It is possible that these two empires entered into alliance with the Magadhans prior to the formation of the Mauryan empire thus retaining independence. Or simply the Bangla empires might have been too powerful (note they had more war elephants than the Mauryans which might indicate their power).

Muslin Fabric
The ancient western reference to the Muslin shows that the legendary fabric is not a new export of Bangla but ancient. It must take its rightful place with cotton and silk fabrics that go back in time in Bangla. The British colonialists deliberately destroyed the Muslin production (to market the Britsh cotton in India) by brutally chopping the Muslin weavers' thumps off.) The Muslin was legendary because a 50 meter long Muslin fabric could be squeezed into a matchbox. Today's Muslin is a different fabric altogether. The technology is lost.
".......As to young ladies damping down their muslin gowns to make them cling was probably not an English affectation, more than it might have been a French fad, and during 1795-1810 than the English Regency that was 1810-1820. Fashion plates of the period, especially from Heideloff's "Gallery of Fashion" and "Ackermann's" show English ladies more "bundled up" than their French counterparts. There were some fantastic extremes of fashion during the French Directorie period, but the influenza outbreaks during 1795-1805 probably had
more to do with cold wet winters and shortages of food, especially during wartime than what ladies wore--men died of influenza too and doctors couldn't blame it on them wearing muslin gowns, cashmere shawls and sandals even in the coldest weather. Besides, only a very few could afford gowns and shawls of such expensive materials, especially as muslin couldn't stand up to hard wear and the needed frequent washing to keep it clean and white......." Cindy Abel
Health Sciences Library, USA

Alexander's Indian Adventure

In 518 BC, King Darius of Persia had conquered North West India including
parts of Punjab. The Indian kings of this region were subordinate kings of
Persia. The Persians coined the term Hindu to describe the people of India. It was a mispronunciation of Sindhu, the large river of western India, now in Pakistan.

When Alexander defeated Persia (around 320s BC), and came to India, he met the subordinate states of Persia. These states were nonetheless powerful. Alexander wanted to go to the famed city of Taksha Shila (Taxila, North India) across the Sindhu River (Indus). On his way there, he defeated the Ashwakas, who attacked him, in a fierce battle. By the time he attacks Purus (another Western Indian kingdom), he needs the alliance of two other kingdoms of India. Ambhi, King of Taksh Shila made alliance with Alexander (was this alliance made before Alexander entered India?). Another king Shashi Gupta also entered into alliance. They were enemies of Purus. It took the three kings to finally defeat Purus, in a very hard battle. As he proceeded eastwards, he was daunted by greater tasks and his army had lost its morale, forcing him to turn back. As mentioned earlier, he probably did not want to meet with the organized armies of the independent Indian empires of Magadh, Gangariday and Prasoi.

At the end of his adventure, Alexander had conquered the states of Kekaya, Gandhara and Punjab in Northwest India. During the subsequent centuries, Indo-Greek trade picked up. Along with trade of goods, ideas were exchanged. Indian astrology was influenced by the Greeks. The Indians adopted the 12 Zodiac signs. Indian philosophy and science also permeated into Greek culture at the same time.

Age of Empires: Mauryan Empire

The Mauryan Empire owes its name to Mura, mother of Chandra Gupta. Mura was a lower caste woman and Chandra Gupta was the illegitimate son of her and the Magadhan king. According to legend, the Nanda King, Dhananda, who ruled during the time of Alexander's invasion had an illegitimate son by a Shudra (lower caste) woman called Mura. When Alexander came to India, Chandra Gupta had met him as a young man and through him, Alexander probably learned of the organized armies of the East. Two years after Alexander departed, Chandra Gupta started a war against his father. He was aided in this by his Guru and foster father, Bishnu Gupta, who is popularly called Kautilya or Chanakya. Kautilya is the writer of the Artha Shastra, the first great political treatise of the world. In 322 BC, Chandra Gupta became the Emperor of Magadh and Bishnu Gupta became his able Prime Minister. Chandra Gupta extended his empire as far west as the Indus (Sindhu) river in modern day Pakistan, recovering much of India that was lost to foreign invasions of the Persians and the Greeks. In 305 BC, the Greeks, under Alexander's general Selucas (then king of Babylon), returned and met Chandra Gupta in battle. This time they did not face a provincial king of Western India but an emperor from Eastern India. Selucas was defeated. Chandra Gupta, however, was very generous with the defeated general, and only took parts of Selucas' land as compensation and even gave 500 elephants as a gift. He also married Selucas' daughter thereby creating an alliance. The nature of the alliance is not known but given the nature of ancient India's political overlord ship, Selucas probably ruled an independent kingdom under the Mauryan empire. From Megasthenes, a Greek ambassador at Chandra Gupta's court, we learn that this new empire was extremely oranised, much like modern states of today. Chandra Gupta's capital, Pataliputra (now known as Patna, in Bihar, India) was the greatest city. It was certainly the largest city as well. In this empire even certain central villages were fortified. The first great highway of history was built that still exists today as the Grand Trunk Road. The road was flanked by trees and milestones. One of the first great secret services was also born here under the guidance of Kautlya. People from all rank and file were included in the service. Even the emperors of this empire would go out in disguise to see the needs of the city.

Towards the end of his life, Chandra Gupta had abdicated his throne in favor of his son and had gone to Belgola, Mysore with a Jain sage. The Jain sage had predicted drought and famine correctly. At Belgola, he fasted till death, entreating the Gods to end the drought.

His son, Bindusara, ruled in relative peace from the Hindu Kush to Mysore. Kalinga (present day Orissa) was outside his rule though. At this time India had peaceful relations with the Syrians and the Greeks. Then came, in 276 BC, the great Ashok son of Bindusara who litterally conquered all India. He was probably the greatest king to have ever ruled in this world. Not the size of his empire but the noble ideals of this man made him great. Pillars proclaiming him as a just and wise ruler exist all over India. In Gandhar (Afganistan) and other western areas, the inscriptions are in Greek as opposed to Brahmi that was the script of India. These show that the Greek rulers in the northwest were his subordinates. Ahsok had become a Buddhist and was a very peaceloving just king who was also the first ecologically concerned king. He set up the first animal preserves in the world.

However, he started out as a hungry conqueror. On the ninth year as emperor he attacked Kalinga (Orissa), one of the last Drabir nations on the North East, other than Bangla. (NOTE: Anga, Banga, Kalinga are classified together possibly due to their common heritage.) The battle that ensued was one of the most memorable and toughest of ancient India. Ashok won but was deeply affected by the carnage. Ashok was aghast at his own doing. He only found relief in Buddhism and thus marked the making of a new Ashok, a man of peace. He dedicated the rest of his life to public welfare. He sent missionaries to spread Buddhism to Greece, Egypt and Sri Lanka. Ashoka died as the first people's emperor in 272 BC, who believed love to be superior to war.

The Mauryan empire was the greatest of all Indian empires. The greatest extent of the empire under emperor Ashok stretched as far north as Tashkent, in modern day Uzbekistan, including Afganistan and covered part of Iran and Tajikistan to Myanmar in the East. Remnants of this are still visible. It can be observed in the Indian names still existing from east Asia to central Asia. Tashkent is the corruption Taksha Khand and Quandahar is the corruption of Gandhaar. It is important to note here that originally Afganistan (Upa-Gana-Stan) was an integral part of India. There are other Indian names even further west. Pundra Bardhan (West Bangla) and Anga (Bangla) were part of the Mauryan empire but it is however, not sure if all of Bangla was in the Mauryan empire. As mentioned earlier, it might be that the other Banglas retained their independence. Bangla port Tamralipti introduced the landlubber Mauryan emperors' to seafaring. Ashok's descendants, for various reasons, which include pacifism, saw the decline of the empire. Finally the Mauryan empire ended violently in 185 BC. In 185 BC, an army commander in chief, Pushya Mitra, assasinated the last Mauryan emperor during a parade of his troops. Some suggest this was a reaction of Brahmins against the highly Buddhist rulers.


Pushya Mitra returned many of Brahmins to power. He also allowed the killing and sacrificing of animals. It was a return to strict Hindu religion. Pushya Mitra was not, however, to enjoy his rule long in peace. Within two years of the fall of the Mauryan emperors, once again came the invasion of foreigners. The King of Bactria, Demetrius, who was probably subordinate under the Mauryans, invaded and conquered the North West Indus region. Further encroachment was stopped by Pushya Mitra in a series of Indo-Greek wars. Pushya Mitra ruled for 36 years and was not a bad ruler. His reign saw the mark of intellectual fermentation. Patanjali, the great grammarian lived in this period. Art and literature also further developed. PushyaMitra never assumed the title of emperors but founded the Sunga dynasty. During Sunga reign the Mauryan empire reverted to the old Magadhan empire and the Sungas were ardent patrons of the Hindu. They persecuted Buddhists and destroyed many Buddhist stupas. However, they were not totally intolerant of Buddhism shown by the facts that the Buddhist stupa at Sanchi was enlarged and the great stupa at Bharhut was erected during the Sunga period. The Sunga rulers caused the empire to break up into different kingdoms with their in-fighting.

The last Sunga king, Deba Bhumi, was killed by his minister, Basu Deb in about 75 BC. The Kanva dynasty ruled after that for a short period till 30 BC, when they were overthrown by the Andras (originally Drabir). This marks the beginning of a period of chaos that was to last for three hundred years. During this period, the Indo-Greek Buddhist Kings set up independent states in the northwest. Soon they were replaced by Central Asian tribes of Shakas (Scythians?) and Pahalavas. These people promptly got absorbed into Indian culture. The Kushanas followed also from Central Asia. They established a great Buddhist empire in the west stretching from Kabul to Banaras. They too had become Indianized while adding to Indian culture significantly. This empire spread Mahayana Buddhism all over the world. The empire existed even in the 2nd century AD.

Around 200 BC, the Satabahanas emerged from Maharastra. They ruled Maharastra, Madhya Pradesh and even regions of South India. Gautamiputra
Satakarni of the Satabahanas defeated the Shakas and his empire stretched from Kathewad, Malwa and Rajasthan in the north to the river Krishna in the south and from the Arabian Sea in the west to the Bay of Bangla in the East.
It should be noted that towards the end of the Mauryan Empire, Kalinga had once again become powerful and had thrown off the Mauryan rulers. Kalinga became extremely powerful under Kharabela and conquered the Southern India, whose history is not known very well. He even defeated Agni Mitra, son of Pushya Mitra and had sacked the capital of Magadha.


Bangla history in this period between the Mauryan rule and Gupta rule (the next great empire) is not known clearly. However, we know from the Greek sources, mentioned above, that the Gangaridai and the Prasoi empires continued to exist in this period. They probably retained independence through the Mauryan Empire. This is also the period when Bangla became Buddhist. By the time the Guptas enter Bangla, it is predominantly a Buddhist nation. Before the Guptas, Bangla history probably became more connected with Eastern Asia more than India (except probably Kalinga). During this period it appears that the Bangalees spilled into Burma, Thailand and all the way to Vietnam. The Mons of Thailand and Burma were dominated by Bangla / Kalingas. Their history also was probably more connected to Indonesia whose ancient script is very similar to Proto-Bangla. And maybe they kept connection with Sri Lanka.

North India remained divided and the west was once again under foreign rule until the rise of the Guptas. In the south, however, powerful empires rose to prominence. Chera (Kerala), another ancient sea-faring nation of South West coast of India, who might also be descended from the Indus civilization, at this time traded with the Romans as they had with the Greeks and the Jews and Egyptians earlier. Out of the chaos in North India, rose a new Chandra Gupta in 320 AD. He married the Lichabi princess, Kumara Debi. Kumara Debi was the heiress to the throne thus bringing Chandra Gupta to power. The Lichabi republic once annexed by Magadh now annexed Magadh and created a new empire under the Gupta dynasty. Once again Magadha became the centre of the empire. Under Samudra Gupta, son of Chandra Gupta, the empire was further extended. He recovered the Western India and extended his rule to the South of India as far as Sri Lanka. The south was not conquered but subordinated by treaties. The Gupta era is called the Golden Age of India. India became the leader of all spheres of life in this period. Some of the greatest architecture and art comes from the Guptas. The most powerful of the Southern empires were Bakataka empire (250 - 500 AD). The Gupta's never conquered them and ended up making a treaty.

In the early phase of Gupta expansion, they defeated Bangla and annexed her. Two Barmans kings of Bangla are defeated. This is the first mention of the Barmans. As Bangla came under their rule, Tamralipti again served as a major port. Once again under the Guptas, India became a great nation, in strength, culture, spirituality and science. The first wave of Hun invasions were defeated by the Guptas so convincingly that they decided to give up their plans to invade India for decades, turning their attention to the Roman empire, devastating her. Were these Barmans the emperors of the Gangaridai and Prasoi empires? The Barmans as will be seen are very active throughout Indian history. They come from Drabir lines as in Bangla, and South India. Were the Barmans big players in the ancient Indus civilization?

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Offline fahad.faisal

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Re: History of Bangla
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2018, 06:57:11 PM »
Thanks a lot for the informative post.
Fahad Faisal
Senior Lecturer
Department of CSE