History of Bangladesh


Ages of Bangla

The information productivity gap both accelerates and widens.
In the US, 10% of GNP is devoted to purchase of computer hardware and software; Germany is around 7%.
In Bangladesh it is one-tenth of 1%.
Where will they find the money to buy the hardware and software, to pay for the education so that they can use computers?

- Michael Dertouzos

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 most part.  Today Bangladesh is an independent nation within the Indian subcontinent, but is less than half of the old Bengal or Bangla.

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 Bengal) and West Bengal (in 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 Bengal 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 so de-culturized that they feel that the people of the other Bangla are foreign!  That is the great success of the west.  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 Bengals 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 B(v)anga or B(v)angla.  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.  Another school suggests the name comes from the name of Prince Vanga.  According to legend, Prince Vanga, the son of King Bali and Queen Sudeshna of the Lunar dynasty was the first to colonise Bengal.

The name of the original people of Bengal is also taken from legend.  One of the tribes emerged from the Indus Civilization after its demise and 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 B(v)anga that existed in that region.

Age of Glory

Pre-1500BC - 600 BC

Settlement of Bangla

600 BC - 320 AD

Maritime Expansion into South India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.  Buddhism begins to replace Shiva Hindu.  Bengal is the major seafaring nation of Eastern India which continues until interrupted by the English.  Bengal also continues as the major exporter of fine fabrics until the British harshly put an end to it.

Age of Empires

320 - 500 AD

Gupta Period (Integration into North India).  Aryan caste system established.

500 - 750 AD

Chaos: Bengal shrugs off Gupta rule but is divided.  Shasanka is the first independent ruler of Bengal after the Gupta rule.

750 - 1200 AD

Pal Era (Expansion into North India):  Bengal becomes Buddhist centre and the major learning centre of its time.

Age of Darkness

1200 - 1400 AD

Pal empire declines and foreign invasions begin.

1400 - 1600 AD

Early Islamic Period:  Bengal is conquered by Muslims.  Ancient universities suddenly vanish, probably burned down by Muslims.

1600 - 1800 AD

Moghul Period but Independent:  Thousands of temples in Bengal that inspired the architecture of Burma, Cambodia and others destroyed.

1800 - 1900 AD

British harsh rule, destruction of economy.  British rule is marked consistently by its trademark: famine.  Millions starve to death under British rule.

Age of Revolution

1900 - 1947 AD

Anti British revolution begins in Bengal as early as the 1830s and continues until independence.  The British break off Bangla (Divide and Rule), to counter revolutionary activities:  India is divided and becomes independent

1947 - 1952 AD

Becomes East Pakistan.  Severe oppression, deculturization, language movement

1952 - 1971 AD

Final crippling of Bangla economy and genocide in 1971, freedom comes after revolution

1971 - 2000

Corrupt anti-people governments, rise of crime and slow development

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 during their occupation, ended the Muslin production brutally by having the Muslin weavers' thumbs chopped off [see Note below].  The Muslin was legendary because a 50 metre long Muslin fabric could be squeezed into a matchbox.  Today's Muslin is a different fabric altogether.  The technology is lost.

Ancient ruins of learning centres from an era when Bangla was the centre of Buddhism

Source: geocities.com/raqta24/bangladesh2.htm Visit this site for more information

Note: It has kindly been brought to my attention by Max Muir that proof of this allegation is difficult to impossible to find.  According to Wikipedia's revision history of muslin, the 'thumbs' story appears to be a bit of anti-Company propaganda dating from the Warren Hastings trial and is of dubious veracity.  Mr Muir leans toward the following interpretation:

Weavers also, upon their inability to perform such agreements as have been forced from them by the Company's agents, universally known in Bengal by the name of Mutchulcahs, have had their goods seized, and sold on the spot, to make good the deficiency: and the winders of raw silk, called Nagaads, have been treated also with such injustice, that instances have been known of their cutting off their thumbs, to prevent their being forced to wind silk.

Considerations on India Affairs, William Bolts, 1772, page 194, available on Google Books

I have a conceptual problem with this.  I can see the silkwinders cutting their thumbs - but cutting them off?  Somehow, to me, this sounds less believable than the British doing it.  If anyone knows a source of proof either way, please contact me.  Thanks.

For more articles relating to Money, Politics and Law including globalisation, tax avoidance, consumerism, credit cards, spending, contracts, trust, stocks, fraud, eugenics and more click the "Up" button below to take you to the page on "How Many Countries in the World?"  Clicking "Up" from there will take you to the Index for this section.

Back Home Up Next