Sunday, May 22, 2005

PURNIMA SPECIAL: A glimpse of Buddhism in ancient Bangladesh

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The final disappearance of Buddhism in ancient Bangladesh is mainly attributed to the degeneration of Buddhism into obscure Tantric cults and also emergence of religious and social conservatism in the subsequent Sena Rule. At that declining stage of Buddhism, the Senas supporting the Brahminical doctrines came from south India and destroyed the social structure founded on equality of all people in the Pala Age. A sizeable number of Buddhist monks fled to Nepal and Tibet with their manuscripts and religious books while some others continued their existence here under various camouflages.Subsequently a group of orthodox Buddhists from Magadha, Vajji and Vaishali of North India migrated to the Eastern regions to escape the rising tide of militant Brahminism there in the 13th-14th Century. They first came to Assam and then continued long journey to reach Chittagong where they found safe shelter merging with surviving Buddhists of ancient Bengal amidst geographical landscape of sea on one side and ranges of hills on the other. The newly-settled immigrants from Magadha lived for about two centuries under Arakanese rule (1459 to 1666) when they adopted Theravada Buddhism.

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