Ancient Janapads of Bengal
The historic term â€˜Janapadâ€™ means human settlement. The sources of ancient Bengal suggest that, in the earliest period Bengal was divided among various tribes or kingdoms which are known as the Janapadas. The ancient Janapadas are as follows:
The name of these Janapads ware purely descriptive and had no ethnic connection. These Janapads are inhabited by non-Aryan people. The Hindu sources like : the Mohabharat and other Bhedic literature are the primary sources about these human settlements.
The Banga is an ancient human settlement situated in Eastern Bengal. But its geographical connotation varied in different periods of history. The Hindu literatures indicate that the Banga is sea-faring nation and its realm extended up to the sea. They also mentioned that this is an area where finest quality white & soft cotton fabrics were produced. There was a coastal area approachable from the sea in the territory of Banga. From the above mentioned references, Banga appears to be an area of south and southeastern part of present Bangladesh.
The Pundra or Pundranagara is the earliest urban centre in Bangladesh, which goes back to the 4th century BC. The ruins of this have been identified at Mahasthan in Bogra district. It continued to be the headquarters of the administration of Maurya, Gupta and Pals. It was the capital of Pundrabardhan Bhukti under the Gupta rule. The famous China visitorâ€™ Hiuen-tsangâ€™' visited this place in the 7th century AD.
Pundra was situated on the western bank of the Karatoya. It was well connected with other parts of Bengal through land and river routes. For this connection it was an important centre of trade and commerce throughout the ancient period.
Pundra continued its importance after the Hindu regime and in the early Muslim period. The famous Muslim saint Shah Sultan Balkhi Mahisawar established his Khankah here.
As an ancient human settlement, Gauda is the important Janopad of Bengal. The discovered evidence suggests that ancient Gauda located at coastal region. The famous & the first independent ruler of Gauda is Shashanka. He ruled Gauda at the 7th century AD and his capital was the Karnasuborna which is located at present Murshidabad district. The Janapad of Gauda lay to the west of Bhagirathi and that its core area was Murshidabad.
In the 13th century, under the Sultans, Gauda denoted the entire area of the Muslim sultanate. Its capital also called Gaur or Lakhnaboti, located at present Chapai Nawabgonj district.
The Radha (ra-ro)
Radha is the ancient human settlement of Bengal. It is difficult to locate exactly its geographical position. But historical sources suggest that Radha is the west-southern part of ancient Bengal.
Howrah, Hughli and Burdwan in West Bengal are some areas of ancient Radha.
Samatate is an ancient territorial unit in ancient Bengal. Chinese traveler Hiuen-tsang visited Samatat at 7th century AD. As per his account, it was the South-eastern part of Bengal and was a Buddhist cultural centre. The archaeological discoveries in the Lalmai-Mainamati area, it can now be stated with certainty that Samatata was formed at Comilla-Noakhali areas and the adjacent parts of hilly Tripura.
Harikel is another geographical entity in ancient Bengal. But it is so difficult to locate it. Most of the evidence support that Harikel is the similar with our present Sylhet region. Another archeological evidence suggests its location at present Chittagong district. Harikel was situated by the side of Samatat.