History Of Vedic Bengal To Present Day Bengal

A background – Vedic Bengal

The Bengalis (বাঙালি) are a major Indo-Aryan ethnic group. They are native to the region of Bengal in Indian subcontinent, which is presently-divided between Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. They speak the Bengali language which is the most eastern branch of the Indo-European language family and shares a common culture and traditions with all other Indic people and almost identical traditions with eastern Indic people that is Magadhi-Biharis, Oriyyans and Ahomians (Assamese).

The possible way in which the first Indo-Europeans settled the plains and delta of Vanga to form the land of Bengal.
The possible way in which the first Indo-Europeans settled the plains and delta of Vanga to form the land of Bengal.

The traditions and culture of Bengalis are just as old as other Indic peoples and Rich traditions developed since from the start of Vedic period. The Pundra Kingdom mentioned in Rigveda was situated in modern day Bengal and Bihar and its capital Pundranagar which is now known as ruins of Mahasthangarh is situated Northern part of Bangladesh. Kingdoms of Anga, Vanga (from where the name ‘Bongo’ originates) and Magadha were formed in and around Bengal and were first described in the Atharvaveda around 1000 BCE as well as in Hindu epic Mahabharata. From the 6th century BCE, Magadha expanded to include most of the Bihar and Bengal regions.

Thus a rich Rigvedic culture and society was established. Both ancient Greeks and Persians considered it as the Eastermost frontier of India and called it Gangaridai in Greek (meaning ‘where Ganga ends’). Alexander had a wish to conquer the place but later withdrew from his campaign. Ptolemi names a great city Souanagoura which is now known as ancient city ofSonargaon in central part of Bangladesh. The capital of the Gangaridai was situated at Kotalipara in present-day Gopalganj district, Bangladesh. According to both Greek and Persian texts, a man known as Datis or Datus (Old Persian : Dâtiça), was a Median admiral who served the Persian Empire , under Darius the Great. He is most notable for his joint leadership with Artaphernes of the Persian forces in the first campaign of the Persian Wars against the Greeks. This Datis of Gangaridai became a great Hero who was later adopted in Greek myth too.

Dhakeshwari temple - the patron goddess of the city of Dhaka and one of the oldest temples left standing in Bangladesh. This was built by the Sena Kings of a dynasty that ruled the Kannada people of South India and at its heyday, extended all the way to Bengal.
Dhakeshwari temple – the patron goddess of the city of Dhaka and one of the oldest temples left standing in Bangladesh. This was built by the Sena Kings of a dynasty that ruled the Kannada people of South India and at its heyday, extended all the way to Bengal.

Most of the Vedic age temples are either in ruins or now destroyed. The museum of Mahasthangarh contains statues of Sol Invictus (Surya) i.e. Mithra sitting in a throne and Indra riding over an elephant with a Vajra (the Indic equivalent of Thor’s Mjolnir hammer) in his hand. Also the central museum of Dhaka contains statues of ‘Surjomitro Deb’ (Sun God Mithra) found from the ruins of ruined Mauryan city of Wari Bateshwar. Ruin of a large Sol Invictus temple has been discovered in Dinajpur in northern Bangladesh which was built during 8th century and destroyed completely to the ground during 14th century by Ilyas Shahis.

This is all that is the archeological remains of Vedic era.

Not to forget the Konark sun temple of Odisha is not far away from the region and so it can be safely said that all the people of eastern India, be it ancient Bengals, Oriyyans, Biharis or Ahomians once venerated the god of light Surya Mitra the most. The remains of it can be still found in stories, folklores and names of persons. Indro, Mitro, Robi are three of the most popular boy names in both Bengals. Especially the name Robi, Mitro or Mihir or Mahir is one of the most common names found among Muslim Bengalis of both Bengals too and Indro in relatively smaller scale. Most modern day Bengali kids from all backgrounds in both Bengals grow up listening to a tale of ‘Surji Mama’ during childhood. According to the folklore this Surji Mama is an uncle like character created from the rays of sun guides and protects Bengali children from dangers and he always plays with kids, makes them laugh and make friends with them. In every Bangladeshi Muslim household, the story is passed as an ancient folklore and just for the sake of a children’s tale. But we can clearly find out that the cultural roots just never disappear.

Ramparts of Mahasthangarh

The Bengali obsession toward Mithraic symbolism doesn’t end here. The person who designed the modern flag of Bangladesh which contains a divine red sun at the center, Mr. Swapan Kumar Choudhury was a Hindu and very fond of Mythology created this flag just before the Indo-Pak war of 1971. The Shaheed Minar is also designed with a divine look and a large red sun at the center which represents spirit of Bengalis. The Bengalis who died for the cause of protecting the culture and language of this land are often referred to by the title – “Surjo Shontan” or children of the sun.

Islamic Bangladesh

Ironically Islam in Bangladesh was totally spread by mostly non-Arab people. Mainly Turkic, Iranic and Indic peoples who converted to Islam spread the religion here. But among them the Iranian Muslims spread Islam in the root level through Sufism. The first person to spread Islam in Bangladesh was Shah Nasir Uddin who was a Kurdistani Iranic man who came here during 8th century. According to Bengali Islamic chronicle 12 Sufis arrived in Bengal different time to preach Islam which is also known as ‘Twelve Awliyyas’.

Memorial to the foreign murderer - the tomb of Jalal at Sylhet - the Persian Muslim immigrant who murdered the Hindu king of Gaurgavinda and ruled the region mafia style. Jalal may have been a converted Zoroastrian to Islam and his rabid zealotry is all the more evident from this fact.
Memorial to the foreign murderer – the tomb of Jalal at Sylhet – the Persian Muslim immigrant who murdered the Hindu king of Gaurgavinda and ruled the region mafia style.
Jalal may have been a converted Zoroastrian to Islam and his rabid zealotry is all the more evident from this fact.

The activities of the Muslims were expanded along the entire coast of South Asia including the coasts of Bengal. The religion of Islam entered the region in many different ways, the Muslim traders, the Turkic Muslim conquest (Bakhtiar Khiljee in 1205 who destroyed the Nalanda University & library) and, the missionary activities of the Iranian Sufis. Among them Shah Jalal is the most notable. This converted man came from northern Iran to modern day Sylhet in Bangladesh. He also brought many Iranian disciples along with him. He managed to brainwash a large number of people and he ultimately managed to kill the then ruler of the region Gaurgavinda and thus he became the biggest thug of the area. His shrine is located in the region which is based on classical Persian architecture to honor him. Jalal may have been a converted Zoroastrian to Islam and his rabid zealotry is all the more evident from this fact. He had a staunch hatred for anything resembling something even remotely Iranian and therefore, in his view, all idols in Bengal were as bad as the Majood fires of Iran.

The remains of the Dinajpur Sun temple dedicated to Lord Mithra. It was destroyed and left buried in the Islamic era of Bengal.
The remains of the Dinajpur Sun temple dedicated to Lord Mithra. It was destroyed and left buried in the Islamic era of Bengal.

For couple of centuries, mass conversion resulted in a syncretic religion where Hindu deities begin to be venerated as Muslim Saints. This tradition can be seen in many parts of India. Rigvedic God Varuna, who was the patron God of Sind region of modern day Pakistan was is also known as Jhulelal dev. In Sufi Sindhi tradition, he has been adopted as Sufi Saint Jhulelal Qalandar and a fake shrine of Varuna as Islamic Sufi Saint has also been established in Karachi. In a similar way, Krishna was adopted as a saint in Bengal. This system arose due to mass conversions. As a result, the Islamic concept of tawhid was diluted into the veneration of saints or pirs. Hindu deities became popular pirs: goddesses such as Sitala (goddess of smallpox), Oladevi (goddess of cholera) and Durga were worshipped as pirs as Olabibi and Bonbibi (woman of the forest). Although these are decreasing in modern day due to spread of Salafism but those practices are extremely popular among common folk in Bangladesh.

And among converted rulers Yadu, Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah and Kalapahara were most notable. Ilias Shahis brought thousands and thousands of Iranians in the region and they also came during Mughal subedar rule. They spread Islam through Sufism, married locals and helped in Islamic baby boom. And today, other than economic coercions and incentives to be Muslim, almost all the people are gradually being converted to pure Islam under the sword which is still continuing. Once a bastion of rich Rigvedic culture and a seafaring nation, Bengal has now become an Islamic dustbin. Who’s most Muslim population would consider a Turkish Muslim as more close to them then his own brothers from other Indic people like Kashmiri Pandit or Tamilian who is a Hindu.

The Ilyas Shahis

Sonargaon at the time was ruled by Ikhtiyaruddin Ghazi – as his name suggests, he was a Hindu hating Ghazi (an Islamic holy warrior who undertook military campaigns against infidels). This Ghazi was defeated by Ilyas – an affluent aristocrat from Sistan, Iran – a region known for harbouring Sunni Islamic fanatics at this time. At this time, whatever establishments had been left across Bengal were all politically and economically disunited. Bengal was ruled by multiple Islamic cantons and fiefs because over the ages (i.e. since Khalji’s time), there was never a unified political or military force to patch up these cantons.

What we notice in Ilyas Shah’s period are a few striking and disturbing things:

  • He patronized Sufism – something that all Muslim rulers across the subcontinent used to convert gullible Hindus.
  •  Massive numbers of Islamic immigrants from Arabia and Iran were economically incentivized to settle across Bengal. These traders and merchants with their economic muscle could easily make the entirety of Bengal’s economy uniformy Muslim-controlled. And therefore, the very existence of Hindus in this economic system was dependant on the bread crumbs and leftovers thrown their way by these Muslim patrons.

The Hindu resistance –

Amid all the Islamic yoke and the stranglehold they held over economy, a glimmer of hope appeared when a patriotic Bangla Hindu named Ganesha rose up in arms against the throttle hold of the Ilyas Shahi Sultanate. Ganesha had been a simple landlord from Dinajpur and through his smartness, despite living in an Islamized government system, he managed to become a governor of Dinajpur. Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah – the 3rd Ilyas Shahi ruler of Bengal had killed his own father to become king and this pattern was followed by his son and grandson. However, during the reign of Shihabuddin Ghazi – another Ghazi, Ganesha struck.

Raja Ganesha - the last Hindu Ruler of Bengal
Raja Ganesha – the last Hindu Ruler of Bengal
He killed Shihabuddin and made himself king. After coming to power, it was a huge fight for survival with the remainder of the Muslim population and the Hindus who by now sympathized with the Muslims. At this time, the Sufi saint Shaikh Nur Qutb-ul-Alam wrote a letter to the Sultan Ibrahim Shah Sharqi of Jaunpur to invade Bengal and re-establish and Islamic regime. Faced with an army much larger than his own, Ganesha had to forge and alliance with the Hindu kingdom of Mithila and its king Shivasimha. The alliance was neither logistically nor militarily in a position to fight of the oncoming Muslim invasion.
At this time, Ganesha offered to the Sufi that he would rather negotiate than fight. And to this the Sufi gave a simple alternative – Ganesha steps down from the throne. Ganesha’s son converts to Islam and can then ascend the throne as an Islamic ruler. Under pressure, Ganesha buckled and his son Yadu was converted and the Sultan of Jaunpur returned to Jaunpur with his army. However, after the Sultan of Jaunpur returned, Ganesha again ascended the throne and continued with his earlier policies of de-islamizing Bengal.
At this time the unthinkable happened – His own son Yadu (now converted to Jalaluddin) killed him. This is possible only thanks to the status quo of Bengal at the time –
With its heavily Islamized bureaucracy, economy and society, there was hardly any way left for a sudden de-islamization. And hence, it was already too late for Bengal’s slow-to-awaken Hindus. Bengal was effectively lost already.
Dinajpur Krishna temple built by Raja Ganesha. The last legacy of a betrayed man
Dinajpur Krishna temple built by Raja Ganesha. The last legacy of a betrayed man

Yadu was a greedy man who no doubt saw much greater benefit in going with the status quo than against it. As corroborated later by Francis Buchanan Hamilton, Yadu forcefully converted many Hindus to Islam but then again, we do not know whether we can trust this colonizer’s account. But patricide and retention of Islam are themselves evidences of Yadu’s religious opportunism. And thus, the last resistance and possibly the only resistance ever by Hindus, died out due to treachery. His son Ahmed Shah was murdered by the Ilyas Shahi dynasty who now took back the throne.

Yadu was true to verse 9:24, Sura-al-Tawba of the Quran –
Say, if your fathers, and your sons, and your brethren, and your wives, and your kinsfolk, and the wealth you have acquired, and the trade whose dullness you fear, and the dwellings which you love are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and striving in His cause, then wait until Allah comes with His judgment; and Allah guides not the disobedient people.
Say, if your fathers, and your sons, and your brethren, and your wives, and your kinsfolk, and the wealth you have acquired, and the trade whose dullness you fear, and the dwellings which you love are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and striving in His cause, then wait until Allah comes with His judgment; and Allah guides not the disobedient people.
The tale of Lakshman Sena 

During his 1205 invasion of Bengal, Bakhtiar Khalji spread a message that he was a horse selling merchant and he came with nice horses for the king. He asked for the gates of the castle be opened for him. Since the Hindus did not know what kind of treachery and lies this was, they opened the gates with a smiling face. And then, the Turk stormed the castle which wasdepopulated within an hour without a single of the 18 Turks being killed. Lakshman, seeing this new kind of barbaric treachery thought that it’ll be pragmatic if he not fight them now and instead run from the castle, and understand with a cool head as to who these guys were. By now, Khalji had killed the temple priest and he went at the top of the castle with the head of the chief priest. At this point, thousands of Pashtuns outside the fortress got their signal and came into the city and later massacred anyone who was left. Lakshman gathered an army and tried to fight back later. Bakhtiar was new to the old world orthodox warfare and was unable to defeat the mighty Bengali tribe led by a Kannada-Sena chief. So he took the Islamic strategy of hit and run, and attacking through guerilla harassment. And thus, the Sena army was depleted in strength through treachery.

An Islamic state
Down to the Mughal era, Islam had been firmly entrenched in the populace at every level. But if we recall, by now the most disturbing traits of Bengal had come out in full colour –
  • Ever since Bakhthiar Khalji destroyed the library of Nalanda, there was a lacklustre in Bengal’s Hindu society of tolerating the foreigner’s religion and anything the foreigner did. Khalji’s invasion destroyed a huge cultural element in Bengal which resulted in a loss of heritage and pride at the same time. The formerly militaristic Hindu Bengal had lost its fire.
  •  Along came the Sufis who hjacked an increasingly culturally ignorant population by converting temples to dargahs & gods to pirs (as we saw) and by fooling the population through numerous kinds of ‘reconciliation’ with Islam.
The entry of Islam was via the destruction of Hinduism - the burned down Nalanda Library and University spelled doom to Hinduism in the region.
The entry of Islam was via the destruction of Hinduism – the burned down Nalanda Library and University spelled doom to Hinduism in the region.
Bakhtiyar Khilji brought with him his Turkic, Egyptian and Iranian slaves who later ruled parts of a conquered Bengal.
Bakhtiyar Khilji brought with him his Turkic, Egyptian and Iranian slaves who later ruled parts of a conquered Bengal.

At this point we notice that syncretism can be of two kinds – a genuine desire to assimilate, and a desire to use a tolerant society to subvert that very society. Islam in Bengal was of the latter variety (as it was in all places in the world). When the Ilyas Shahi came to power, the major step they took was the encouragement of Islamic immigration into Bengal from completely foreign lands such as Arabia and Iran. In the course of time, the landlords of the countryside were largely Muslim and the entirety of Bengal’s trading economy was firmly Islamized leaving Hindus as economic slaves.

A classic trick of Islam, gained Hindu tolerance through religious syncretism and created “half Hindu-Half Muslim” peoples – a bunch of pretentious Hindus who visited temples and participated in Hindu festivals but with every passing generation, gave the same temples and festivals an Islamic narrative. Later when couple of generations had passed and a faith in Allah was firmly established, the Islamic dogma was properly implemented by saying that –“well syncretism is not allowed in Islam so you need to stay Muslim.” And thus with each generation, people gradually started to become more and more Islamic which is still continuing. And thus a Hindu family suddenly discovered itself as a totally Islamic family out of nowhere within generations.
This was a classic tactic used even in the Christianization of Europe – to firmly take control of a society through economic incentives, military harassment and thereby create a social construct that makes the old native faith and ways wholly incompatible within the new framework. This was used especially during the Baltic Crusades and the Frankish invasion of the Saxon realm by Charlemagne.
The last chance that Bengal got for liberation was during the Maratha liberation of Bengal in the 1740s and 50s. But here we notice the age old cultural heresy of Bengal – a complete failure on the native population’s part to cooperate with the Maratha liberators. And by now, the demographics of these natives was itself skewed as these were descendants of migrants from foreign Muslim lands, mixed with local converts. Such a rootless population cannot be ever expected to have pride in a soil to which it does not even belong.
Even today, the Maratha liberators are demonized by left leaning liberal 'Hindus' who portray Muslim rule over India as a blessing from heaven, and the Maratha liberation as the worst time in Indian history.
Even today, the Maratha liberators are demonized by left leaning liberal ‘Hindus’ who portray Muslim rule over India as a blessing from heaven, and the Maratha liberation as the worst time in Indian history.

And likewise, the Marathas were demonized in Bengali poetry with words such as these:

খোকা ঘুমালো পাড়া জুড়ালো বর্গী এল দেশে
বুলবুলিতে ধান খেয়েছে খাজনা দেব কিসে
ধান ফুরোলো পান ফুরোলো খাজনার উপায় কি?
আর কটা দিন সবুর কর রসুন বুনেছি।

When the children fall asleep, silence sets in, the Bargis (Marathas) come to our lands (for plunder),
Bulbulis (birds) have eaten the grains, how shall I pay the rent?  

 

The Maratha invasion set a great precedent for the Hindus in Bengal to reclaim what was theirs – It resulted in a shift of Muslim population more to the east of Bengal. And a mere decade of this era, the British defeated the Nawab of Bengal at the battle of Plassey. What they took over was a largely ruined, Islamized, anti-Hindu heap of cultural and economic rubble. It was fairly easy to divide and rule this beaten-up population.

In the midst of a famine, Muslims murder hundreds of thousands of Hindus in Bengal. The genocide of 1947 partition.
In the midst of a famine, Muslims murder hundreds of thousands of Hindus in Bengal. The genocide of 1947 partition.

We need to understand that ever since Yadu betrayed his own father Ganesha and killed him, society as a whole was left in Islamist hands. And thereafter, it was anyway too late to try to restore Hinduism in the land. I will quote a few lines from an older write-up of mine on this blog:

Islamization has happened and is happening in Bangladesh at an unprecedented rate. From 1205-1700, Bengalis were murdered, raped and tortured by Islamo-Turkic invaders and then by Islamo-Iranians. But still, not many of the local people converted to Islam. Still by 1905, Bengal was 80-90% Hindus. But things started to change after that. The British divided and created two Bengals. One is West Bengal whose capital city is Kolkata and other is east Bengal whose capital city became Dhaka.

Now Dhaka was an Islamic hub in India’s east and the city itself is founded by Bakhtiar Khaljee in 1205 and later developed by Mughal Ruler Jehangir during 1600s. It is the capital of Bangladesh as you know it is called the ‘Mosque capital in the world’ since it has more mosques than any other cities in the world. British initiative to divide Bengal gave full power to converted assholes i.e. the landlords who recently had converted to Islam from Hinduism. They used power to convert low caste Hindus and by 1930, Bengal Muslim population rose to 30%. Just before 1947, a devastating riot in Bengal helped the Muslim population to grow to nearly 50%. After East Bengal joined Pakistan, Hindus continued to decrease and they made up 40% of the total population of East Bengal. But during the 1950s, Hindus tried to fight back.

A cultural revival started to happen by this time which resulted a 24 year struggle of Bengal with Pakistan and after 1971, Bangladesh became a separate country with the help of India. During the war of 1971, army of ‘Al-Bakistan’ performed Jihad massacre and Jihad rape on 3 million Hindus and 6 hundred thousand women respectively. They specially targeted Hindu teachers, doctors, intellectuals etc. so basically they managed to kill most of the Friedrich Nietzsches of Bangladesh. If this didn’t happen, we would’ve gone back to roots by now and ultimately we would’ve merged with India. So after 1971, Hindu population became 30%. A riot broke in 1990s because of Babri mosque incident and Hindu population deceased to 20% by the 2000s.

 

This briefly shows us that there was indeed a huge cultural revival late into the British era and that was largely because after 1757, the influence of a paramount Islamic regime in Bengal had decreased. Thereafter, the land was left relatively untouched by foreigner, giving a few generations the chance to revive the Bengali language and culture. By the 40s, there was a huge cultural revival among the Muslims – many of whom were reverting to their roots of Hinduism. And now the British stepped in and divided Bengal into two – East and West.This was not at all difficult for the British considering that they had already annihilated the lives of 2.5 million Bengalis in a famine which they orchestrated deliberately across Bengal.

The East Aryan kingdom of Vanga and its final legacy were ultimately reduced to this. Bengal Famine of 1943.
The East Aryan kingdom of Vanga and its final legacy were ultimately reduced to this. Bengal Famine of 1943.

The already skewed demographics of East Bengal due to centuries of Islamization now got skewed even more. The man to take advantage of this was Jinnah – who instituted the cleansing of Hindus in Bengal.

But in the next 24 years, the Hindus and culturally awoken Muslims fought back to revive Bengal and restore it to Bengalis. With the Indian liberation in 1971, Bengal saw a time of great intellectual and spiritual reversion to its roots. But alas, India’s leftist regime led by Indira Gandhi failed to maintain this status quo. And successive Congress governments failed to even bat an eyelid as Pakistan began exporting Wahhabism into Bangaldesh’s schools. Thereafter, with the Babri Masjid’s demolition, an unprecendented genocide began in Bengal which reduced the 30% Hindu minority to an almost negligible invisible 12%, while in contrast, West Bengal has 65% Hindu population.

To sum all this up –

  •  The Khalji invasion created generations of ignorance.
  • The Sufis used this to further their agenda.
  • The Ilyas Shahis entrenched Islam into every level of society by forced multiculturalism in the form of incentivized immigrations of foreign muslims into Bengal.
  • Raja Ganesha was betrayed by his own son who re-islamized Bengal.
  • The Maratha liberation was an opportunity squandered by the Hindus of Bengal.
  • The British had to just take over an already bleeding people and land to further their agenda.
  • The destructive famine of Bengal caused in 1943 made it easy for the British to kick around the populace which by now was culturally steadily reviving its roots.
  • The partition did not stop a 24 year struggle for Bengali identity which led to liberation from Pakistan in 1971.
  • Indian apathy led to a relapse of Islam in Bengal which even today sees a genocide against Hindus and Hinduism.

BUt despite all this, in 1952, we Bengalis fought for the preservation of our language and alphabets even as a fanatically Sunni Pakistan tried to impose the Arabic alphabet on us. We even gave up our lives to preserve our language and today we are the only Islamic nation which has retained its old alphabets. Arabic in Bangladesh stands defeated.  

The intellectual renaissance of Bengal led to this fight for retaining our ancient alphabets and we won at least on that front.

2
The lesson that Bengal never learned. Lachit Borphukan, the mighty Hindu lord of Assam rallied his troops at Saraighat and once and for all put an end to the largest attempted Islamic Mughal invasion of that land. Assam today is one of India’s largest and last bastions of Hinduism thanks to him.

In all this what do we notice? Cultural heresy and traitorship which wiped out an entire civilization’s identity, intellectuality and spiritual backbone, making it easy for Muslim and British invaders to take advantage of.

Britain was the main culprit in putting an end to Bengal’s unification into India. This facilitated the Muslim Punjabi invasion of West Pakistan, which massacred and persecuted Hindus for 24 years, which at last killed 3 million Hindus and resulted in the exodus of 10 million Hindus to India. The Hindus left today in Bangladesh are either hiding, have been converted or are dead. In old Dhaka, the first language even today of the dwellers therein is not Bengali but Farsi – Persian – a clear indication of the extent to which culture has been uprooted here.

Even after 800 years of a travesty of all that is moral and sacred, nobody bats an eyelid for the Hindus and Hinduism of Bengal. This has by far been the most treacherous and bloody chapter of the world’s largest and ongoing genocide –The Islamic genocide against Hindus.

Originally Published By theinnocuouscynic

One thought on “History Of Vedic Bengal To Present Day Bengal

  • January 3, 2017 at 10:25 am
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    It is the Macaulay’s children that must be first destroyed in spirit before taking-on others.

    Reply

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