History of Ancient Bangla

Janapads of Ancient Bengal

The periodisation is very important in the discussion related to history. This periodisation is determined by the effectiveness of the origin, growth, and influence of socoi, economic and political characteristics. Generally, in history the time beginning before several centuries B.C. till the time of the fifth century is called the Ancient Age. But variations in periodisation are noticed in different places. The period of nearly long two thousand years till the beginning of the thirteenth century is considered as the ancient age of Bengal.

In ancient age Bengal (now Bangladesh and West Bengal) was not a unique or inseparated state like present Bangladesh. Different parts of Bengal were divided in many small regions. The ruler of every region ruled their regions according to their own way. These regions of Bengal were collectively named Janapada.


From the century the names of the Janapada of ancient Bengal were obtained from stone inscriptions and literary works of the Gupta period, post Gupta period, Pala, Sena etc regime. It is not possible to say how much area these Janapadas covered. We can get an idea about their positions from the historical sources of the ancient age. Some Janapads are described below:

Gaur: Though the name Gaur seems familiar, there are many differences of opinions about which area was referred to as Gaur in the ancient time. Again it was also unknown why Gaur was first referred to in the book of Panini. In Kautilya’s ‘Arthasastra’ there are references of many industrial and agricultural products of the country Gaur . In the book of Vatsayana there are also references of the luxurious life of the inhabitants of Gaur in the third and the fourth century. It is proved from the stone inscriptions of the time of Harshavardhana that the country of Gaur was not so far from the coast. From the description written by varaha Mihira in the sixth century it is seen that Gaur was different from other Janapads such as Pundra, Bengal, Samatata. In Vabishoy Purana it has been described as a region lying on the south of the Padma and on the north of Burdwan. There is much similarity between this comment and the descriptions of the people of the seventh century. In the seventh century the capital of Sasanka, the king of Gaur was Karnasubarna near Murshidabad. Not only Sasanka, in the later periods Gaur was the capital of many other kings.

During Palaa dynasty Gaur had the most name and fame. Then the vast region of north India was included in Gaur. Being a center of the empire, it had irresistible power and strength. In the later periods the destiny of Gaur started to change with the change of the destiny of the Pala empire. Then the border of Gaur diminished. Some regions of present Maldah, Murshidabad, Birbhum and Bardwan were considered the border of Gaur. In the seventh century the capital of the king Sasanka of Gaur was Karnasubarno in the region of Murshidabad.The Lakhnauti in the region of Maldhaha was called Gour at the beginning of the Muslim period. Later, Gaur was meant as the wholeof Bengal.

Banga: Bengal was a very ancient Janapada. In the very ancient puthi(fairy tale) it was called neighbor of Janapadas Magodha and Kalinga. It is understandable from the references in Mahabharata that Bengal was a neighboring country of Pundra, Tamrolipto and Summa. Descriptions about this Jonapadaa are available in the stone inscriptions of Chandragupta, Vikramaditya, king of Chalukya,Rashtrakuta and in the books of Kalidas. A Janapada named Banga was built to the east and the south-east of present Bangladesh. It is surmised that a nation named Banga lived here. So, the Janapada was familiar as Banga. From the evidence of difference sources, it is thought that the area situated between the Ganges and the Bhagirathi was called Banga.

The area of Banga shrank during the Pala and the Sena dynasty. In the eleventh century at the last phase of the Pala dynasty, Banga was divided in two parts and they became known as North Banga and South Banga respectively. The Padma was the north border of the northern region and the delta region of the South was the South Banga. In the later periods during the regime of Keshoba Senaa and Vishwarup Sena also two parts of Banga were noticed. But now their names were different – one was Vikrampura and the other was Navya. From the old stone inscription, we learn about two parts of Benga . One of them is Vikrampura and the other is Navya. The then Vikrampura comprised of presentx

Vikrompura and some parts of Idilpur Pargana. There is no existence of any place called Navya at present. It is thought that lower marshy places of Faridpur, Barisal, and Patuakhali are included in this Navya region. Banga consisted of greater Bogra, Pabna and western region of Mymensingh, Dhaka, Faridpur, Kushtia, greater Comilla and some parts of Noakhali. The nation ‘Bangalee’ was originated from ‘Banga’.

Pundra: Pundra was one of the most important Janapads of ancient Bengal. It is said that a nation called Pundra built up this Jonapadaa. There are references of this nation in the Vedic

literature and in the Mahabharata. Pundranagar was the name of the capital of the Pundras. In later periods, it became known as Mahasthangar. Probably during the reign of the Maurya emperor Ashoka (273-232B.C) ancient Pundra kingdom lost its independent entity. This Pundra kindom became Pundravardhana with the growth of its prosperity in the fifth – sixth century. Pundravardhana of that time was extended at least across the regions of Bogra, Dinajpur and Rajshahi. Probably the fairly whole north Bengal beginningfrom Rajmohal-Ganges- Bhagirathi to Korotoa was

included in Pundrabardhana during that time. During the Senaa reign the most south border of Pundravardhana was extended through the Padma completely to Khari Bishoy (at present Khari Pargona of Chobbish Parganas) and to the seashore of Dhaka and Barisal. The experts infer that Mahasthangar, seven miles away from Bogra is the ruins of ancient Pundravardhana.

It was Pundra which was the most prosperous Jonapada of the ancient Bengal from the perspective of evidences of ancient civilization. Probably the most ancient stone inscription inscribed on stone wheel obtained in Bangladesh have been discovered here.

Harikela: The writers of the 7th century have also described another region called Harikela. Chinese traveler Itsing said that Harikela was situated at the end of eastern India. But we can trace parts of present Chittagong in the description of Harikela in the write ups by others. In the analyses of all these data, it can be assumed that Harikela spread from Srihatta (Sylhet) in the east to some portions of Chittagong. Although in the middle was another kingdom named Samatata which can create a little confusion. In fact, loose administration used to prevail in places in the region at that time. Besides, despite Banga, Samatata and Harikela being separate kingdom, sometimes and in some places their identity presumably used to overlap due to their close proximity of borders. Factually, Harikela existed as a separate state from 7th to 8th century to 10th to 11th century A.D. But Harikela was assumed to be a part of Banga since the occupation of Chandradwip by King Trilakyachandra, the descendant of Chandra dynasty in eastern Bengal. Some others are there who assume Sylhet and Harikela to be the same.

Samatata: Samatata was situated in the east and south-east Bengal as a neighboring Jonapada of Banga. This region was a humid low lying land. Some think that Samatata was the ancient name of present Comilla. Again, some other think that Samatata comprised of Comilla and Noakhali region. Present Tripura region was one of the parts of Samatata from the seventh century till the twelveth century. Once upon a time the western border of this Jonapadaa was extended to the Khari Pargana of Chobbish Parganas. The coastal region extending from the eastern shore of Ganges-Bhagirathi to the tributary of the Meghna was probably called Samatata. In the seventh century its capital was the place named Bara Kamta, 12 miles west of Comilla city.

Barendra: Another Jonapada of ancient Bengal could be known in the name of Varendree, Barendra, or Barendra Bhumi. It was also a Janapada of north Bengal. Barendra was the most important region of Pundravardhana Jonapada. Pundravardhana, the main city of the Janapada and the center of the provincial ruler during the Gupta regime, was also in this Barendra region. So, it cannot be called a Janapada. But once upon a time this region used to be introduced by this name. So, in the history of ancient Bengal it was given the dignity of a Janapada. It can undoubtedly be said that this Janapada was situated in region between the Ganges and the Karatoa. The Barendra region was extended across a vast area of Bogra, Dinajpur, and Rajshahi region as well as probably Pabna region.

Tamralipta: Tamralipta Jonapadaa was situated to the north of Harikela. Tomluk in the region of present Medenipur was the heart of Tamralipta. This coastal area was very humid and low lying. This place was the best for navigational Jonapadaa. In the ancient time Tamralipta was known to be an important center for river trade. This port stood on the river Rupnarayana, 12 miles away from the juncture of two rivers — the Hoogly and the Rupnarayana. It started to be known as Dandobhukti since the seventh century. The prosperity of Tamralipta port was damaged just after the eighth century.

Chandradeep: Besides Janapadas mentioned above, there was another tinier Janapada in ancient Bengal. This was Chandradeep. The very Barisal region of today was the mainland and the heart of Chandradeep. This ancient Jonapadaa was situated in the place between the Baleshwar and the Meghna.

Besides, in greater ancient Bengal there were some other Janapadas named Dandobhukti, North Rahr (the western part of present Murshidabad region, whole Birbhum region and Katoa Sub-division of the Budwan region), South Rahr (the southern part of present Budwan, many parts of Hoogly and Howrah region), Bangla (generally Sundarban forests of Khulna, Patuakhali and Barisal) etc. Thus different parts of ancient Bengal were known by different names from the ancient time till the sixth-seventh century. Basically, it was an economic and geographical division. At the start of the seventh century Sasanka after becoming the king of Gaur organized the total area from Murshidabad to Utkol (North orissa). After that Bengal used to be known by the name of three Janapada.

These were Pundravardhana, Banga and Gaur. The existence of the left others were lost in them. Attempts to unite the divided Janapadas reached much of completeness during the regimes of the Pala and the Sena Kings. Though Sasanka and Pala kings were the kings of the whole of West Bengal, they familiarized themselves as ‘King of Rarh’ or ‘King of Gaur’. As a result, the name ‘Gaur’ gained familiarity.

We can get a fair conception of geographical shape, demarcation, political characteristics of the then Bengal from the Janapadas of ancient Bengal. Then there was no political unity in ancient Bengal. The powerful rulers would gain ruling power of more than one Janapada through executing their domination. Thus these Janapadas played roles as the first territorial unit or administrative unit in ancient Bengal and later helped form political unity.

History of Ancient Bengal (326 B.C. -1204 A.D.)

We can get an idea about chronological history of Bengal since the Pala rule. It is not easy to find out the history before that. During this period no ruler could reign for a long time all over Bengal. So, the political life of Bengal evolved disconnectedly. There was an unstable situation after the end of Maurya and Gupta rule. Some independent kingdom roses through this instability. King Sasanka of North Bengal was the most powerful among those independent kingdoms. After his death there was no competent ruler in Bengal for a long time. As a result, there appeared anarchy and disorder all over the kingdom. Nearly one hundred years passed all the way through this condition. Afterwards a leader named Gopala brought this unstable condition to an end and established the Pala dynasty. In the middle of the twelveth century the Pala dynasty encountered its downfall. During that Pala regime small independent kingdoms came into being in south-east Bengal. After that the Senas coming from Karnataka of South India established a kingdom in East Bengal. The Sena regin continued for about two hundred years. In the first decade of the thirteenth century the Sena reign yielded to Muslim power.

Important dynasties of ancient Bengal and administrative system

Bengal during the Age of Maurya and Gupta

There were no sources available to write any chronological history of ancient Bengal prior to the age of Gupta because people of that time were not used to writing history like those of today. We get a few sources of history from sporadic and separated comments in Indian and foreign literatures about Bengal of that time. It is not possible to write any chronological history attached with dates, years and authentic events by unjustly joining these unconnected events. In fact, in 327 B.C. -26 A.D. during the invasion of India by Greek hero Alexander, history took its original form. In the writings of Greek writers there was a powerful kingdom named ‘Gongariddi’ in Bengal. The nation ‘Gongaridi’ inhabited in the region between the two streams of the Ganges now known as the Bhagirathi and the Padma. The Greek writers referred to another nation called ‘Prasioy’ in addition to ‘Gongaridi’.Their capital was Palibothra (Patliputra). It can be guessed depending on the descriptions of the Greek writers that these two nations took their arms against Alexander under the leadership of the same dynasty. It can also

be guessed that during Alexander’s invasion the king of Bengal extended his kingdom upto Punjab. He was someone king belonging the conquering Magadha and surrounding kingdom to Nanda Dynasty of Patliputra. It is beyond doubt from comments of ancient Greek writers that the king of Bengal was the most powerful at that time.

Just after two years of the departure of Alexander from India in 321 B.C. Maurya king Chandra gupta Maurya established the lordship of Maurya Dynasty on a vast region of India. During the reign of Emperor Ashoka (269B.C.-232 B.C.) the Maurya rule was established in North Bengal. The region turned to a province of the Mauryans. Ancient Pundranagar was the capital of this province. Besides, north Bengal, Maurya rule was established in Karnasubarno (Murshidabad), Tamralipta (Hoogly) and Samatata (South-east Bengal).

After the fall of Maurya Empire, Shunga dynasty and later Kanva dynasty appeared. We do not have enough sources to know the history of this age. It is thought that they established their rule on some small regions. After that quite a good number of foreign powers inveded India. Among them Greek, ‘Saka’ ‘Pahlav’, ‘Kushana’ are mentionable. But it cannot be said whether these inbedors came upto Bengal.

Quite a number of sources are available to historians to know about the Gupta Age. It has been easy to write the history of the last half of the Third century and the first phase of the 4th century from these sources. Gupta Empire was established in India in 320 A.D. Then some independent kingdoms came into being in Bengal. Among them Samatata of South-east Bengal and Puskoron of West Bengal are mentionable. Some sections of the North Bengal came under the possession of Gupta Empire just during the reign of Gupta Emperor Chandragupta. Though whole Bengal was conquered during the reign of Samudragupta, Samatata was a vanal kingdom. Since the reign of Samudragupta up to the middle of the sixth century North Bengal was used to be considered as a ‘Province’ or ‘Bhukti’ of Gupta Empire. Like the Mauryas, Pundrangar of Mohasthangar was the capital of the Gupta kings of the province.

Bengal in Post Gupta Period

As a result of the attack by The daring mountainous tribe the Huns in the fifth century and by Joshovarman of Malaba in the sixth century, Gupta rule completely came to an end at the very first half of the sixth century. After the fall of great Gupta Empire, there was the emergence of small independent kingdoms in North India. Thus after the fall of the Gupta empire political instability grew all over north India. With that chance two independent kingdoms came into being. Either of them was Banga. It was situated in the Southern region of South-east Bengal and West Bengal. The second kingdom was Gaur. Its location was in the western and northern regions of Bengal.

The independent Kingdom of Banga

An independent kingdom emerged in the Banga Janapada with the advantage of the weaknesses of the Gupta’s Empire. It was known from ‘Copper inscription’ on copper that three kings named Gochandra, Dharmaditya and Samachardeva ruled independent Bengal. All of them assumed the title ‘Moharajadhiraj’. Their regime was between 525A.D. -600 A.D. It cannot be said when and how the independent and powerful Bongo kingdom collapsed. It is a notion that Kirtivarman the king belonging to Chalukya dynasty brought about the downfall of

16 History of Bangladesh & World Civilization

independent Banga kingdom. Those who do not hold dissimilar opinion say that due to the rise of independent Gaur kingdom, the Bongo kingdom collapsed. The rise of some feudal kings is also held responsible for the fall of independent Bengal because before the seventh century independent and feudal kings belonging to Bhadra, Kharga, Rahr dynasty rose in the kingdom Samatata of south Bengal.

The independent Kingdom of Gour

After the fall of the Gupta dynasty in the sixth century the kings known as the ‘later Gupta dynasty’ with the title ‘Gupta’ extended their domination in North Bengal, northern side of West Bengal and Magadha. In the middle of the sixth century Gaur became known as a Janapada in this very region. As a result of fifty years of generational fight among the Maukharis and the subsequent Gupta kings, constant attack of Tibetans from the north and Chalukyans from the Deccan, the kings belonging to Gupta dynasty of Bengal became weak. Taking the complete advantage of this condition, a some feudal king named Sasanko grabbed the power of Gaur region and established Gaur kingdom at the beginning of the seventh century.

Sasanka: The identity, his rise and the account of life of Sasanka are not clear to the scholars yet, because the testimonies that have been available provide nearly opposite descriptions. A ruler of a large region under the Gupta kings was called ‘Mohasamonto’. It is thought that Sasanka was a ‘Mahasamanta’ of Gupta king Mahasenagupta and his son or nephew.

Sasanka ascended to the throne before 606 A.D. His capital was Karnasubarna. After strengthening his possession in Gaur he started to extend his kingdom to neighboring regions. He enlarged his border by conquering Dondobhukti (Medinipur), Utkal of Orissa (north Orissa) and Kongod (South Orissa), Mogodh of Bihar. His kingdom was extended to Varanasi to the west. The king Kamrupa (Assam) was also defeated by him. Then he paid attention to the west border of the kingdom. At that time there were two powerful kings in North India. One was Thaneswar belonging to Pushyabhuti Dynasty and the other was Kanyakubza belonging to the Maukhari dynasty. Maukhari power was trying again and again to occupy Bangla from west. Despite at the contempoRahry time with nuptial bondage of Rajjyoshree, the daughter of Probhakarbardhana, the king of Thaneshwar with Grahabarman the Maukhari king of Kanauj, there emerged an alliance between Kanauj and Thenshawar. As a result of this alliance, the security of Bengal was at stake. As a counter step Sasanka also enhanced his power by making friendship with Devagupta, the king of Malava in diplomatic ways.

Just after the sudden demise of attacked Prabhakarvardhana the king of Thaneswar, his son-in-law Grahavarmana ascended to the throne of Kanauj. Devagupta the king of Malaba defeated Grahavarmana the king of Maukhari. His wife Rajjyoshree became a captive. Then Devagupta started to march towards Thaneswar. After that Rajjyovardwana became the king of Thaneswar. On the way Devagupta was defeated and killed by Rajjyovardwana. But he had been killed by Sasanka before he exercised his lordship over Kanauj and rescued his sister Rajjyoshree.

After the of Rajjyovardwana died, Harshavardhana ascended to the throne of Kanauj and Thaneswara. Without any delay, he started a military expedition against Sasanka to rescue Rajjyoshree and to take revenge on him. At that time Vhaskarvarma of Kamrupa came in alliance with him. But it is not perfectly known about the result of fight or whether there was any fight between them. Sasanka died some time before 637 A.D.

Sasanka was a follower of Shaiba religion. Hiuen-Tsang called him spiteful of Buddhism. But there has not been any strong evidence about the matter till today. Sasanka is a particularized name in the seventh century in the history of Bengal. It was he who was the first important sovereign ruler in the history of ancient Bengal.

Matsyanayam and the Pala Dynasty (750A.D.-1161 A.D.)

There came a dark and disastrous age in the history of Bengal after the death of Sasanka. Bengal remained without any competent ruler for a long time. As a result, there was anarchy and disorder in the kingdom. In one hand Harshavardwan and Bhaskarvarmana lacerated Gaur; on the other hand, every landlord was locked in clash with one another in imagination of becoming the king of Bengal. There was no one to take care of the central power with an iron hand. This period of anarchy has been called Matsyanayam in Pala ‘copper inscriptios’. Matsyanayam refers to a condition of anarchy and disorder like when the big fishes catch and swallow the small fishes in a pond. The powerful kings of Bengal took complete control over small regions in such a way. This period of anarchy lasted for one hundred years. In the middle of the eigth century this anarchy and disorder came to an end with the rise of the Pala reign.

The mind of the people of Bengal was embittered with long standing anarchy and disorder. In order to get rid of such extreme sufferings, the senior leaders of the country made up their mind that forgetting all strife and conflict they would elect one for the position of king and all of them would accept his lordship. The people of the country also accepted this proposal happily. As a result, a man named Gopala was elected for the position of king. During the reign of the subsequent ruler Dharmapala, this selection story of Gopala was derived from the copper inscriptions of Khalimpur. Lama Tarnath, a historian of Tibet of course introduced a fairy-tale about Gopala’s succession to throne. The summary of his story is: The sufferings of the people of the country knew no bounds because of long standing anarchy and disorder. The top level leaders of the country became unanimous and selected a king to establish the rule of law. But one night the selected king was killed by an ugly Naga female demon. After that every night one after another selected king started being killed. Quite a number of years passed this way. At length, one day a devotee of goddess Chunda came to a house.He saw that every one of the house was very sad because that day one of the boys of that house was entitled to be the selected king. The stranger agreed to become the king instead of that boy. He was selected the king the next morning. When the Naga female demon came that night, he killed the demon striking with the stick blessed by goddess Chunda. The next day every body was surprised to see him alive. He was selected the king for seven consecutive days. At last, people of the country selected him king permanently for his eccentric fitness.

Nothing special can be known about the earlier life of Gopala. Nothing clear is also known about the identity of Pala dynasty and their original abode. The father’s name of Gopala was Byppot. He was a ‘destroyer of enemy’. His grandfather was Doitovishnu. No royal title was seen before their names. So, it is thought that they were ordinary persons. Doitovishnu was ‘pure of all knowledge’. It appears from this perspective that Gopala was known as a skilled warrior like his father. The Pala reign began in Bengal with Gopala’s ascending to the throne. The kings of Pala dynasty ruled this country for 400 years at a stretch. No other dynasty ruled

this country so long as Pala Dynasty. Ascending to the throne, Gopala paid attention to extend his kingdom. He brought nearly the whole region of north and east Bengal under his rule. South-east Bengal remained beyond the rule of Gopala. Many opine that Gopala reigned for 27 years. But the modern researchers think that he ruled the country from 756A.D. till 781 A.D.

After the death of Gopala Dharmapala (781A.D. -821A.D.) ascended to the throne of Bengal. He was the most famous of all Palaakings. His rule was established throughout Bengal and Bihar. At that time a competition was going on among three dynasties on exercising domination in North India. One was the Pala dynasty of Bengal, the other was Gurjarpratihara of Rajputana, and the third one was Rashtrakutas of the Deccan. In history this fight is known as ‘the Tripartite struggle’. This fight started at the end of the eighth century. The first fight took place between Dharmapala and Vatsaraja belonging to Protihara dynasty. Dharmapala was defeated in this fight. Yet, Dharmapala conquered quite a number of regions beyond Bengal. He extended his kingdom to the region between the Ganges and the Jamuna, conquering Varanasi and Proyaga. Though Dharmapala was defeated at the start of the triparpite struggle, he did not suffer much harm because after the conquest, Rastrokutraja returned to the Deccan. Taking this advantage, Dharmapala occupied Kanauj. But within a short period of time the king of Protihara Nagvhatta the ii occupied Kanauj. As a result, there was fight between him and Dharmapala. At this time also Dharmapala did not suffer any loss. Because as before the king of Rastrokutaraja Govinda the iii came to north India and defeated Nagvhatta the ii. After the defeat of the king of Pratihar, Dharmapala also surrendered to Govindha the iii. After that when the king of Rastrokut returned to his country, Dharmapala again got the opportunity of extending his domination. Some think that Dharmapala conquered Nepal. Dharmapala reigned nearly 40 years (781A.D.-821 A.D.).

Like his father Dharmapala was a Buddhist. Among the Pala kings he assumed the highest

sovereign title ‘Parameswara, Paramavattaraka Maharajadhiraja’. He built a Buddhist monastery 24 miles east of Bhagalpur. As his second name or title Vikromshil, it was famous by the name ‘Vikromshil Vihara’. Like Nalanda Vikromshil Vihara also gained name and fame throughout India and beyond India. It was known as a famous Buddhist learning center throughout all India from the nineth century to the twelveth century. Many Buddhist monk of Tibet used to come here to study and many famous Buddhist scholars preached Buddhism in Tibet.

Dharmapala built an enormous Vihara at Paharpur in the district of Natore also. It is known as ‘Somapura Vihara’ . This architectural work has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. No other stupendous Vihara like it has yet been discovered anywhere in India. He probably built a Vihara in Udantapura (Bihara). According to Tarnath, Dharmapala built 50 study centers for the learning of Buddhism.

As a king, one of the characteristics of the Pala age is to equally patronize the subjects of all religions. For that reason, though he was as Buddhist, Dharmapala did not feel any aversion to other religions. He believed that there is no relation between individual religion of the king and

the running of the kingdom. So, he would abide by the obligations of the scriptures and he would take care so that people of every religion could practice their respective religions. He gave a land free from tax to build a Hindu temple of Narayana. Most of those whom he gave land were the Brahmmins. The Prime Minister of Dharmapala Garga was a Brahmmin. His generations were employed to the position of Prime Minister of the Pala kings for ages.

Dharmapala was one of the most famous rulers in the history of ancient Bengal. The country which was once a sweet abode of anarchy and oppression suddenly became extremely powerful under his leadership and was able to establish his lordship in northern India.

After the death of Dharmapala, his son Devapala (821A.D.-861 A.D.) ascended to the throne.

He was an able posterior of his father. Like his father he was able to expand the kingdom.

Devapala directed successful military expeditions against the kings of Pratihara and the Rastrakuta in northern India. He occupied a large region of northern India. He was also able to exercise his domination on Orisa and Kamrup. After all, it was his time when the Pala kingdom expanded the most.

Devapala was a great patron of Buddhism. It was he who repaired the Buddhist monasteries of Magadha. He built a monastery in Nalanda and an enormous temple in Buddhagaya. He established a new capital in Munger. He permitted Balputradeva, the great king belonging to Shailendra dynasty of Java, Sumatra and

Malay to build a monastery in Nalanda. In addition to that, five villages were also given to bear the expenses of this monastery. From this event, we can get the proof of intimate relationship with Bengal and a group of island of South-east Asia.

Devapala was very respectful of learning and the learned. Buddhist scholars of different countries adorned his royal courtyard. Under the patronization of Devapala Nalanda University then became the main center of Buddhist culture in whole Asia. He employed to the post of Chancellor of Nalanda University Indragupta, a Brahmmin expert in Buddhist scriptures. Buddhism was active again in northern India centering round this Nalanda University during his rule which was nearly lost.

Since the death of Devapala the fall of the Pala empire started. After his death some chicken-hearted and good for nothing inheritors ascended to the throne. They could not keep up the glory and power of the Pala empire. As a result, the Pala empire gradually marched towards downfall. The tenure of regime of Bigrahapala the second from Devapala’s son Bigrahapala the first ranges from 861 A.D. to 989 A.D. Narayanapala (866A.D.-920 A.D.), son of BigrahPala the first ruled for a long time. He was a weak and spiritless ruler. As a result, during his reign

the boundary of the Empire started to shrink. After Narayanapala, RajjyaPala, Gopala the Second and Bigrahapala the Second ascended to the throne one after another. They ruled the kingdom supposedly from 920A.D.-995 A.D. During the time of Bigrahapala the Second the ruling power of the Pala kings was limited to only Gaur and its adjoining regions. During the time of these weak kings, the Pala Empire suffered huge losses at the attack of the kings belonging to Chondello and Kalchuri dynasties of northern India. As a result, inside the Pala empire there was the rise of the Kambajd dynasty in particular sections of North-west Bengal.

Thus with the Pala empire at the face of ruin, then Mahipala the first (supposedly 995A.D.-1043A.D.), competent son of Bigrahapala the ii came forward with a beam of hope. The most mentionable achievement of his life is driving away the Komboj and reestablishing the Pala empire after occupying east Bengal. Then he concentrated on conquering other kingdoms. His empire expanded from east Bengal to Varanasi and Mithila. He could maintain his own domination in most of the places in the kingdom from the attack of two strong royal powers of India of that time, Tamil king Rajendra Chol and the Chedi king Gangeyodeva.

Mahipala was a follower of Buddhism. He was a generous patron of Buddhism from his heart. He was careful of protecting the olden achievements. He built an enormous Buddhist monastery in Nalanda. Also in some Buddhist monasteries were also built in Vanarasi during his time.

Mahipala was attentive to humanitarian activities. Many large ponds and cities are still associated with his name. He founded many cities and dug many large ponds. The cities are Mahigonj of Rangpur district, Mahipur of Bogra district, Mahisontosh of Dinajpur district and Mahipala City of Murshidabad district.Among the ‘dighis’ Mahipala Dighi of Dinajpur and Sagar Dighi of Mahipala in Murshidabad are famous. Probably, Mahipala got this popularity through his mass welfare activities.

The sun of good luck of Pala dynasty rose again during the 50-year reign of Mahipala. This is why he will remain ever memorable in history. If Mahipala did not happen to appear during the quick fall of Pala empire, the ruling time of this empire would undoubtedly shrink more.

But Mahipala could not leave any capable posteriors. So, as soon as he died, the Empire started to be divided. After the time of Mahipala his son Nayapala (supposedly 1043A.D.-1058A.D.) and grandson Bigrahapala III (supposedly 1058A.D.-1075A.D.) ascended to the throne of Pala dynasty. During the reign of these weak kings , the king of Kolochuri, king of Chalukya of Karnataka, king of Orissa and Kamrupa attacked Bengal. When the Pala empire was exhausted for facing overseas attacks one after another for a long time, opposition and disagreement were noticed inside the country. With this chance small independent kingdoms came into being. Bihar which was beyond Bengal started to move from the control of Pala kings. Thus during Bigrahapala III the Pala empire of Bengal got divided in many independent parts.

The Mahipalaa II,son of Vigrahapala III, ascended to the throne of Pala dynasty. During his reign the disastrous condition got more intensified. At this time the Zaminders openly declared revolt in the Varendra region of north Bengal. This revolt is known as ‘Kaibarta Revolt’ in history. The leader of this revolt was Kaibarta hero Divyak or Divya. He occupied Varendra by slaying Mahipala II and established his own rule.

When Varendra region was occupied by the Kaibartas, Surpala, the II (supposedly 1080A.D.-1082A.D.), the younger brother of Mahipala II ascended to the throne of Pala Dynasty. It was he who was their last successful ruler. Biography of Ramapala can be known from ‘Ramcharita’ written by Sandhakar Nandi, an ancient Bengali poet. Ramapalaa, just after taking the responsibility of the kingdom, made attempts to regain Varendra.

To this end, the kings of fourteen countries including Rastrokut, Mogodha, Rahr came forward to help Ramapala with soldiers, arms and money. In this battle, Kaibarta king Bhim was defeated and killed. Then he set up a new capital named ‘Rambati’ near preSenat Maldaha. During the rule of subsequent kings ‘Ramvati’ itself was the capital of the Empire. After establishing supervisory power in Varendra, he established his domination over Magadha, Orissa and Kamrupa in order to bring back the lost glory of the Empire.

The bad luck of the Pala dynasty was that the subsequent rulers of Ramapala were very weak. As a result, they could not take hold of the Pala Dynasty strictly. After Ramapala, Kumarapala (supposedly 1124A.D.-1129 A.D.), Gopala III (1129A.D.-1143A.D.) and Madanpala (supposedly 1143A.D.-1161A.D.) ascended to the throne of Pala dynasty one after another. At this time warfare was a common affair. At last at the second phase of the twelveth century Bijoy Sena established the rule of Sena dynasty, destroying the existence of Pala empire.

Independent Kingdoms of South-east Bengal

South-east Bengal was independent during most of the periods of Pala age. Then this region was included in Banga ‘Janapada’. From the middle of the eighth century quite a number of kings of dynasties sometimes ruled their areas independently declaring revolt against Pala kings, and sometimes they would accept submission of Pala kings.

The Kharga Dynasty: Subsequent kings belonging to the Gupta dynasty established their lordship in Magadha and Gaur in the second half of the seventhth century. At this time the kings of the Kharag aynasty gave birth to an independent kingdom in south-east Bengal. Their capital was ‘Karmanta Basaka’. Probably, ‘Karmanta Basaka’ is the ancient name of Comilla district. The possession of the Kharags was extended to Tripura and Noakhali region.

The Deva Dynasty: After the rule of Kharag dynasty there was the rise of Deva dynasty in the same region at the start of the eighth century. We get the names of four kings of this dynasty. They were Sree Santideva, Sree Beerdeva, Sree Anandadeva and Sree Bhabadeva. The Deva kings considered themselves very powerful. So, they attached big titles such as Param Saugata, Parama Vattaraka, Prameshwara Maharajadhiraja etc. with their names. Their capital was Devaparbata. This Debparvaata was situated near Maynamoti in Comilla. The kingdom of the Devas was extended across the whole Samatata region. The Deva kings ruled supposedly from 740A.D. to 800 A.D.

The kingdom of Kantideva: An independent kingdom came into being in Horikela Janapada of south-east Bengal in the nineth century. The king of this kingdom was Kantideva. It is not known whether Kantideva had any relationship with Deva dynasty. His father’s name was Dhandutta and grandfather’s name was Bhadradutta. Present Sylhet was included in the kingdom of Kantideva. The name of his capital was Burdwanpur. At present there is no existence of any region by this name. At this time was a rise of a new power known by Chandra dynasty in south-east Bengal. The kingdom built up by Kantideb was destroyed by this Chandra dynasty.

The Chandra Dynasty: Chandra dynasty was the most powerful independent dynasty of south-east Bengal. The kings of this dynasty ruled for one hundred and fifty years from the start of the 10th century to the middle of the eleventh century. The first king of Chandra Dynasty Purnachandra and his son Subarnachandra were probably the landlords of Rohitgiri. His title was ‘Maharajadhiraj’. Troilakyachandra established the name of his own dynasty in Horikel, Chandradwip (Barisal and adjoining area) , Bongo and Samatata i.e. in whole east and south-east Bengal. Lalmai Mountain was the main center of Chandra kings. This mountain was known as Rohitgiri in ancient time. He ruled for supposedly 30 years (900A.D.-930A.D.). Troilakyachandra’s deserving inheritor was his son Sree Chandra. During his rule honor and power of Chandra dynasty reached the pinnacle of success. Undoubtedly, he was the best ruler. He assumed the title ‘Parameshwara Parama Vattaraka Maharajadhiraja’. His kingdom was extended to North-east Kamrupa and Gaur in the North in addition to South-east Bengal. He established his capital in Bikrompura in the district of present Munshiganj.

Sree Chandra’s son Kallyan Chandra (supposedly 975A.D.-1000A.D.) and grandson Ladaha chandra kept the glory of Chandra dynasty intact. Govindchandra son of Ladaha chandra was the last king of Chandra dynasty. During his reign Rajendra Chola, king of Chola and Karna, king of kolochuri attacked Banga. These two external attacks lessened the power of the king and put an end to their rule.

The Varma Dynasty:

The Pala administrative power having become weak at the last phase of eleventh century, a dynasty with the title ‘Varma’ shaped itself in south-east Bengal. He who laid foundation in Banga was Brojovarma’s son Jaatvarma. It seems that Varmas came to this country with the Kolochuri king. He was also a feudal king of Gangeyodeva, the Kalochuri king and Karna. During Kaibarta revolt he established an independent kingdom in South-east Bengal with the help and support of his father-in-law, Karna, the Kolochuri king. The capital of the Varmas was in Bikrompura of Munshiganj district. After the time of Jatvarma, his eldest son Harivarma ruled 46 years at a stretch. He was on good terms with Pala kings. Harivarma extended his kingdom to Nagabhumi and Assam. After Harivarma, one of his sons became the king. But there is no account available of his reign. After his time Salvarma, the other son of Jatavarma became the king. Vhojavarma, son of Salvarma was the last king of varma dynasty because after the end of his reign there was no account of his dynasty. Probably, in the middle of the twelveth century Bijoy Sena belonging to Sena dynasty caused decline to the Varma dynasty and introduced the rule of Sena dynasty in South-east Bengal.

Serial Name of Dynasty Time of Establishment

1 Chandra dynasty eighth century

2 The kingdom of Kantideva eleventh century

3 Kharag dynasty tenth century

4 Varma dynasty nineth century

5 Deva dynasty seventhth century

The Sena Dynasty: (1161A.D. -1204 A.D.)

After the fall of the Pala dynasty Sena dynasty started their rule in Bengal in the second half of the twelveth century. It is supposed that they were intruders n this country. The original abode of their forefathers was in Karnataka of the Deccan. According to some they were ‘Brahmmakhatriya’. ‘Brahmmakhatriya’ are those who are first Brahmmins and become Khatriya after changing their occupations. The founder of the Sena dynasty in Bengal was Samantasena. He showed heroism in his youth and first settled down in Rahr region on the Ganges at the last years of his life. Since he did not establish any kingdom, the dignity of the first king is given to Hemanta Sena, son of Sananta Sena. It is supposed that he was a feudal king under Ramapala.
After the death of Hemanta Sena, his son Bijoy Sena (1098A.D.-1160A.D.) ascended to the throne. During his long reign itself, the rule of the Sena dynasty was established on a strong foundation. It is he who probably established himself as an independent king from feudal king. During Kaibarta Revolt he helped Ramapala. South Rahr was under the Sura dynasty in the eleventh century. He married Bilashdebi, the princess of this dynasty. Bijoy Sena got recognition of being independent in exchange of helping Ramapala regain Varendra. Again, Rahr came under the possession of Bijoy Sena due to nuptial relation with Sura dynasty of South Rahr. Then Bijoy Sena brought South and East Bengal under his possession defeating the king of Barma. Taking the advantage of the weaknesses of the last kings of Pala dynasty, Bijoy sena extended his lordship by defeating MadanPala and driving away the Palas from the south and south-east Bengal. Then he launched an attack on Kamrupa, Kalinga and Mithila. vijoypura situated in Triveni of Hoogly district was the first capital of Bijoy Sena. The second capital was established in Bikrampur in the distrct of Munshiganj. Bijoy Sena assumed the titles like Param Maheshwar, Parameshwar Paramvattaraka Maharajadhiraj, Auriraj-Brishav-Shankar etc. The whole Bengal was under a single king first for a long time under only Sena dynasty.

Bijoy Sena was a follower of Shaiba religion. Poet Umapatidhar told about sacrificial rites observed by Bijoy Sena. It is supposed from these sacrificial rites that Bijoy Sena was respectful of Vedic religion. But some think that Bijoy Sena was an orthodox Hindu. He had zero tolerance towards other religions. This is why, Buddhism failed to flourish well in this country due to lack of patronage of Bijoy Sena and his inheritors.

After the reign of Bijoy Sena, his son Ballal Sena (1160A.D.-1178A.D.) ascended to the throne. During his reign he not only protected the kingdom of his father but also established Sena rule on a strong foundation by bringing Mogodha and Mithila under it. He married

Chalukya princess, Ramadebi. Along with other titles Ballal Sena assumed the title ‘Auriraj Neeshanko Shamker’. At the old age he handed over the charge of running the kingdom on his son Laksman Sena and passed rest of his life by following ‘Banprastha’ with his wife near Triveni on the Ganges.

Ballal Sena was a great scholar. He had great fascination toward learning and the learned. He studies Veda, Smriti, Purano etc. He had a huge library. As a poet and a writer, his contribution to Sanskrit literature is endless. Before him, there was no ancient king in the history of Bengal who could manifest such extraordinary merit in literature. Ballal Sena composed two books named ‘Dansagar’ and ‘Advutsagar’. The unfinished part of Advutsagar’ was completed by his son Laxmana Sena. These two books are invaluable symbols of his reign in history. He established a new capital in Rampal. Ballal Sena was a great patronizer of Hinduism. As a result, during his reign while the Brahmmana religion became stronger, Buddhism became weaker. With a view to reshaping the Hindu society, he introduced a custom called ‘Kowlinno’. As a result of that, the aristocrats of the society had to abide by some social regulations in practicing social rituals, wedding ceremonies etc.

After Ballal Sena his son Lakhsmana Sena (1178A.D.-1205A.D.) ascended to the throne at the age of 60. Like father and grandfather Laksman Sena was a skilled warrior and showed his skill in the battlefield. He brought Prag-Jotish, Gaur, Kalinga, Kashi, Mogodha etc. regions under Sena Empire. But he could not pass the last part of his life happily. At last he became inattentive to running of the kingdom due to long-standing warfare, old age debility and for other reasons and started to reside in the second capital Nabodwip on the Ganges like his father. As a result, Gaur turned into a playing ground of fearful intrigue and internal conflict and there grew internal disorder. Taking the advantage of the situation, Dommon Pala revolted and gave birth to an independent country in the Sundarbans region in 1196A.D.

Lakhsmana sena was himself a scholar and had eagerness to education. He completed his father’s unfinished book ‘Adbhut Sagar’. Some verses (sloke) written by him were also found. Many scholars and wise men would assemble in his royal court. Dhoyee, Sharon, Jaydeb, Gobardhan, Umapatidhar etc. famous poets adorned his royal court. Famous Indian scholar Hollayud was his prime minister and religious chief. His contempoRahry other poets Sreedhar Das, Purushottam, Pashupati and Ishan were famous. Among the poets Gobardhan, Jaydeb, and Dhoyee became immortal by writing large poems Aryanshoptadashi, Gitagovind and Pabandut respectively. Besides literature, Bengali reached the summit of success at this time.

It appears that Laksman Sena was converted to Baishnab religion from Shaiba religion of his father and grandfather. He assumed the title Parambaishnab instead of Param Maheshwar of his father and grandfather. He was his father’s suitable boy in practicing scriptures and religion. Muslim historian Minhaj has admired his charity and generosity very much.

Bakhtiar Khalji attacked Nadia at the beginning of the eleventh century. Old Lakhsmana Sena did not withstand this attack; rather he took shelter in Bikrampur of preSenat Munshiganj district, going there by river. Bakhtiar Khalji easily occupied north and north-west Bengal. Muslim Empire was established in Bengal centering round Lakhsanabati (Gaur). Living in

south-east Bengal, Lakhsmana Sena rules 3-4 years more. Very probably, he died in 1206A.D. (1205A.D. in another view). After the death of Lakhsmana Sena, his two sons Biswarup Sena and Keshob Sena ruled east Bengal for some time (till 1203A.D.). Yet, it can be said that Sena rule came to an end in Bengal with the defeat of Laksman Sena.

Ruling System of Ancient Bengal

No accurate account of the ruling system of ancient Bengal is available before Gupta reign. The account of ruling system of ancient Bengal reminds us of Kauma society before all. Before establishing of Gupta rule in this country, the Kauma society was all in all. Then there was no king; so there was no kingdom. Yet, there was ruling system at a slight level. Then people lived together. Among the Kauma people, in the Panchayet system a leader seclected by the Panchayet would lead local Kauma ruling system. The Kauma system in Bengal did not last for good. Before 4 BC, Kauma system broke down and monarchy reached its full development.

A clear account of ruling system in Bengal during Gupta regime is available. Supposedly, in 2nd-Thirdth century north Bengal was brought under Maurya Empire. In Bengal the center of the Maurya rule was Pundranagar- in Mohasthangar five miles away from Bogra. It seems that the ruling system of Bengal was run by a royal representative at that time. Though Bengal was included in Gupta Empire, whole Bengal was not under direct rule of Gupta empire. The sections of Bengal which were not under direct rule of the Gupta Emperors were ruled by feudal kings with the title ‘Maharaja’ nearly independently and separately. These feudal kings would always accept the authority of the Gupta Emperors. Gradually, the Gupta Emperors introduced their rule all over Bengal. Many employees were appointed under these feudal kings.

The sections of Bengal which were not under the direct rule of Gupta Emperor were divided in a few administrative departments. Of them the largest department was ‘Bhukti’. Again, every Bhukti in some ‘Bishoy’s; every ‘Bishoy’ in some ‘Mandal’s; every ‘Mandal’ in some “Bithi’s and every ‘Bithi’ in some villages were divided. The village itself was the smallest unit of administration.

Gupta Emperor himself recruited the ruler of Bhukti. Sometimes the prince or royal family would recruit the ruler. The head of the ‘Bhukti’ was called a ‘Uparika’. In the later periods the rulers would assume the title ‘Uparika Maharaja’. Generally, ‘Uparika Maharaja’ himself would recruit rulers for his ‘Bishoy’s.

The ‘Bhukti’ and ‘Bishoya’ of the the Gupta Age can be compared to present Division and District. A little information is available about civil ruling system of Gupta age. But there is no information about military rule. So little is our knowledge about revenue system. The names of only a handful of employees are available. It is clear that during Gupta regime a fair revenue system would be maintained.

The Gupta rule came to an end in north-west Bengal in the sixth century. Bongo became settled independently and separately. The new kingdom system that was developed in the then Banga was just like the provincial rule. The monarchy during the Gupta period was dependent on the feudal kings. It has not been changed yet in this age. Rather, feudal system has been wider. The

feudal kings of Bengal also assumed the title ‘Maharajadhiraja’ like Gupta kings. They would also recruit many employees of different classes.

In the middle of the eighth century a new age started with the establishment of Pala dynasty. During Pala rule of four hundred years they had their ruling system well established in Banga. Like that of before, the main thing of ruling system even in Pala regime was monarchy. The king himself was the head of the administration of the central government. The attacked Pala kings never stayed satisfied with the title ‘Maharaja’ of ancient Bengal or ‘Maharajadhiraja’ of the subsequent times. Like the Gupta emperor also they have taken these titles ‘Paarameshwara Parama Vattaraka, Maharajadhiraja’ The son of the king would be the king. In spite of this rule prevailing, there were strife and conflict among brothers and other close relatives in the dynasty about ascending to the throne. Since then the reference of one prime minister or chief secretary was first available. He was the chief of all royal employees.

There was a definite number of administrative division to conduct all types of governance. A principal would be recruited for each of its departments. In spite of father being alive, the prince in many cases could conduct governance.

There were many sources of revenue of the central government. Among them the main sources were different types of tax. Different types of employees were recruited to collect taxes. There was an arrangement of looking after the accounts of income and expenditures and documents departments. Importance would be given on the survey of land to determine land tax. Taxes would be collected in the form of money and crops. During the reign of Pala dynasty, there were good judiciary and police department to ensure peace in the country. At that time, there espionage groups to collect secret information. The military was divided in infantry, cavalry, elephant and navy.

There are also references of feudal kings in the time of the Pala dynasty like the Guptas. They had different titles. The feudal kings were under compulsion to submit to the power and strength of the central rule. Of course, in many cases they would declare independence taking the advantage of the weaknesses of the central rule. The power of Pala rulers depended to a great extent on the help and cooperation of these feudal kings.

The administrative system which was introduced in the Pala kingdom was recognized as an ideal for ruling the country during small dynasties and the Sena dynasty in the subsequent periods. Of course, there were some changes in some cases. The kings of the Sena dynasty would assume various titles in addition to royal title of Pala kings. During this time the Queen would be given royal dignity. The princes had enough influence on ruling the kingdom. The eldest son of the king would be the prince.

There were many feudal rulers during the Sena dynasty as before. They had very violent power and influence. Actually, these feudal kings would lead their life like independent kings in their respective regions.

This was fairly the administrative system of ancient Bengal. It is not possible to say how much influence external powers had on this administrative system. According to scholars, Bengal did not lag behind in comparison to other parts of India in respect of administrative system during that time.

History of Bengal in the Middle Age (1204 A.D.-1757 A.D.)

The time when the Muslim rule started in Bengal is called the beginning of the Middle Age in Bengal. History requires certain epoch-making changes to pass from one stage to another. The fact that the Muslims conquered Bengal not only brought political changes, but also made revolutionary change in the life of the people of this country in different fields including society, religion, language, literature and art.

Beginning of Muslim Rule in Bengal

Ikhtiyar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji.

At the beginning of the thirteenth century, the Turkish hero Ikhtiyar Uddin Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji drew a close to the Sena rule in north and North-west part of Bengal and began the Muslim rule. He was the inhabitant of Garmoshi of Afghanistan or the modern mostly Doshot-i-Marg. In history he is mostly known as Bakhtiyar-Khalgi. Very little is known about his lineage. He belonged to the Turkish race.The Khalji family and he was a soldier seeking fortune.

Bakhtiyar Khalji believeed in his own ability. Leaving behind his beloved birth land he came to Ghazni in 1195A.D. in search of a living. Here he tried to get himself enrolled in the army of Shihabuddin Ghori but he failed. Bakhtiyar certainly must have failed to impress the army chief because of his short stature, long arm and ill-flavored appearance. Such physical features were regarded as inauspicious by the Turks. Being unsuccessful in Ghazni, Bakhiar appeared at the court of Qutubuddin, the Sultan of Delhi. He failed to get an employment this time also. Then he went to Badaun. The ruler of that place, Malik Hizbaruddin gave him appointment to his army on monthly salary. The ambitious Bakhtiyar however could not stay content to hold the post of a soldier with so meagre a salary. He left Badaun in a short time and went to Ajodhya. Under the ruler Husamuddin there he took up the task of supervision.

Being impressed with Bakhtiyar’s courage and intelligence, Husamuddin awarded him two rent-free Parganes (sub-division of a corner of the present district of Mirzapur. Here Bakhtiyar found the key to his future prosperity bhagbot and viuly became his source of power. Gathering

a few soldiers, Bakhtiyar began to raid and plunder the small neighbored Hindu kingdoms. During this times the news of his heroic deeds spread like wild fire. Many fortune-seeking Muslim soldiers joined his group. So, the number of Bakhtiyar’s soldiers increased. Thus continuing such raids in the adjacent areas, he came to a castle surrounded by wall in the southern Bihar and attacked. His opposition made little resistance. After conquering the castle he found all the people there with shaven head and the castle full of books. Upon enquiry he cam to know that he had conquered a Buddhist monastery. It was the Odanta or Odantapuri monastery. Since that time the Muslims called the place Bihar. It is known as Bihar till today.

After the conquest of Bihar, Bakhtiyar called on Sultan Kutubuddin Aibek with lots of riches and jewels. Being honoured by the sultan he returned to Bihar, Procuring more soldiers he attacked Navadwip or Nadia next year. At that time the King of Bengal Laxsman sen was staying at Nadia. Gour was his capital and Nadia was his second capital. The conquest of Bihar by Bakhtiyar very much terrified the Sen kingdom. The diviners, pundits and Brahmmins advised the king Laxsman Sena to leave the capital. There was clear indication of the conquest of Bengal by the

Turkish army in their seriptures. Besides, the description of the conqueror given in the scriptures strictly coincided with the physical appearance of Bakhtiyar. Despite this the king Lakhsman Sen did not leave Nadia. In order to enter Bengal from Bihar, Teliagarh and Shikarigar, the two mountain passes, were to be used. These two mountain passes were well-protected. He did not take the common passage. Advancing through the paths in the forest, Bakhtiyar’s soldiers moved in smaller groups. Escaping the attention of the enemy when Bakhtiyar
got to the entranu of Nadia, he had Map: The Pathas of the conquest of Bengal of Bakhtiar Khiliji
only 17 or 18 cavaliers with him. How was it possible for Bakhtiar to conquer with so small number of soldiers? It is said that he advanced with such swiftness that only 17 or 18 soldiers could follow him. The rest of the main army fell behind him.

It was noon when the king was busy at his lunch. The palace guards were relaxing and the people were doing their daily chores. Bakhtiyar Khalji in the guise of a merchant reached the entrance of the city. This small group of people suddenly whipped their swords in front of the palace and killed the palace guards. This sudden attack raised a hue and cry all around. Leaving the palace unprotected everybody ran away in fear of death. Meanwhile the second squad of Bakhtiyar penetrated the inside of the city and the third squad reached the archway. Then the whole city was almost under siege. The people were terrified and alarmed. In such a situation the king Laxsman Sena got disheartened. Finding no means to defend himself against the enemy’s attack, he along with his family secretary fled on bare foot through the back door and

went by boat to Bikrampur of Munshiganj district of East Bengal and he took shelter there. Within a while, the soldiers of Bakhtiyar who had fallen behind also came. Without let or hindrance Nadia and the adjacent areas came to the possession of the Muslims. The historians have differing opinions relating to the exact date of Bakhtiyar’s conquest of Nadia. At present however 1204 is accepted as the year of Nadia conquest.

After this, Bakhtiyar left Nadia and advanced towards Lakhsmanabati (Gour). Taking possession of Laxsmanabati, he made it his capital. This Laxsmanabati came to be known as Laxsnauti during the Muslim period. After conquering Gour, Bakhtiyar moved to the further east and established his own authority in Barendra or East Bengal. It is to be mentioned here that Bakhtiyar became the head of an independent Kingdom after the conquest of Nadia but he could not establish his dominion in whole Bengal. In East Bengal, the right of Lakhsman Sen was unaffected. After his death his descendants ruled East Bengal some time more.

Two years after the conquest of Gour or Lakhnauti, Bakhtiyar went out on Tibbet mission. This Tibbet mission was the last military expedition of his life. But failing in this mission he went back to Devkota. Here he fell ill and reached a dying state in 1206A.D.. It is conjectured that an Ameer (rich noble man) named Ali Mardan Killed him.

” The name of Ikhtiyr Uddin Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji comes first in the history of Muslim rule in Bengal. The first establishment of Muslim rule in this country was due to his effort. This rule lasted almost more than five hundred years and a half (1201A.D.-1757A.D.). He was not satisfied morely taking possession of kingdoms. He also took proper steps to set up his administration in the conquered places. His role in promoting Islam and Muslim culture is of mention worthy. During his reign many Madrshas, Muqtabs and Mosques were established.

History of Turkish Rule in Bengal

Bakhtiyar Khaligi initiated the Muslim rule in Bengal. The first stage of it was from 1204A.D. to 1338A.D.. It cannot be said that the rulers of this period were entirely independent. Some of them were Bakhtiyar’s con-warriors, Khalji lords. Again, some were rulers of Turkish dyhasty.

All of the rulers come to be the rulers of Bengal under the Delhi Sultans. Later, many of the rulers rebelled against Delhi and tried to be independent. Their rebellion did not succeed at last. It failed due to the attack by Delhi. This period of Muslim rule was plagued by rebellion and chaos. So, the historian Ziauddin Barani named Bangladesh as ‘Bulgakpur’ which means ‘City of rebellion”.

After the death of Bakhtiyar Khalji, conflict ensured among his co-warriors regarding power. The names of his three co-warrior lords are known. They are Muhammad Shiran Khalji, Ali Mardan Khalji and Husamuddin Iwaj Khalji. It was thought by many that Ali Mardan Khalji was the murderer of Bakhtiyar Khalji. For this reason, Khalji Ameers and soldiers chose Muhammad Shiran Khalji as their leader. He was able to bring back some discipline. Ali Mardan Khalji was taken prisoner. Later on, Ali Mardan fled away and gained the co-operation of Qutubuddin, the sultan of Delhi. The reign at Shiran Khalji

lasted only one year. After this, Husamuddin Iwaj Khalji took the charge as the ruler of Devkota is 1208A.D. Ali Mardan Khalji came back being co-operated by Delhi. Iwaj Khalji willingly handed over power to him. Ali Mardan Khalji declared independence in 1210A.D. and changed his name to Alauddin Ali Mardan Khalji. He was a strick administrator. So, agitation against him increased on and on. The Khalji Maliks unitedly rebelled against him. He was killed by them.

Iwaj Khalji came to power for the second time. At this stage he adopted the new name Ghiyasuddin Iwaj Khalji and ruled Bengal as an independent Sultan. He was the Sultan of Bengal almost 15 years from 1212A.D. to 1227A.D..

Sultan Ghigsuddin Iwaj Khalji

Sultan Ghiyasuddin Iwaj Khalji was undoubtedly the best among the Khalji Maliks. He made effort to strengthen and stabilize the Muslim Kingdom of Bengal established by Bakhtair. He transferred his capital from Devakota to Gaur or Lakhnauti for the ease of administration. He built a fort named Basankote to strengthen the defiance for the capital. Lakhnauti Standing on a rivers had the advantage of trade and commerce. Moreover, Iwaj Khalji perceived that the territory of the river in Bengal could not be extended with only the cavaliers. For this, a strong naval force was necessary. Naval force was also needed to sustain the rule of Bengal. So, it can be concluded that of all the Muslim rulers of Bengal, Iwaj Khalji laid the foundation of the naval force. Wide and deep tranch was dug round the capital for its security. He dug many canals and built bridges to save Lakhnauti and adjacent places from the yearly flood. He built roads so that the soldiers could move and the commodity could be carried from one place to another easily .The construction of highway not only facilitated the administration of the kingdom and trade and commerce but it was also like a blessing to the people because it protected their house and corn-field from the yearly flood.

Gaisuddin Iwaj Khalji can be regarded as a good administrator for the above activities. He also concentrated on the extension of his kingdom. The Hindu Kings of the neighbouring Kingdoms like kamrup, orissa, Banga (south-east Bengal) were compelled to send him tax. The Lakhnor city at southern border of Lakhanauti fell into the hand of the enemy but he was able to restore it later. Sultan Ghiyasuddin Iwaj Khalji received the letter of acknowledgement from the Abbasi Caliph Al-Nasir. During that time, no Muslim ruler was recognized as valid in Islam unless he got letter of acknowledgement from the Caliph.

Iltutmish, the Sultan of Delhi, never liked the extension of the power of the Muslim Kingdom in Lakhnau under Giasddin Iwaj Khalji. But at the beginning of his reign, it was not possible for him to pay attention to Bengal before facing the immediate danger and problem. When the dangers were gone in 1224A.D.. Sultan Iltutmish paid attention to Bengal. When in 1225A.D. both armies faced each other near the mountains of Munger or Shokreegoli, Iwaj proposed for treaty. It was agreed by both sides. Being pleased Iltutmish appointed Malik Alauddin Jani as the ruler of Bihar and kept Iwaj Khalji as the ruler of Banga. Then he went back to Delhi.But immediately after Sultan had returned to Delhi, Iwaj Khalji again declared independence. Through the attack on Bihar, its ruler Alauddin Jani was driven out. Coming

back to Lakhnauti, Iwaj Khalji could realize that Iltutmish would attack Bengal again. He stayed in the capital for about one year with preparation and waited for counter attack. At this time the royal force of Delhi got engaged in suppressing the rebellion of Ajodhya. Iwaj Khalji thought that the Delhi soldiers were not in a position to attack Bengal in the circumstances. So, he decided to attack east Bengal in that situation. The capital Lakhnauti was unprotected, so to say, Meanwhile, Sultan Iitutmish directed his son Nasiruddin Mahmood to attack Lakhnanti. Taking advantage of Iwaj Khalji’s absence, Nasiruddin Mahmood attacked Laxsnan, the capital of Banga. Hearing of the capital with a small member of soldiers. The enemy soldiers had already occupied his Basankota port. Iwaj Khalji was defeated in the battle and taken prisoner. Later he was killed. As a result of the defeat and fall of Iwaj Khalji, Banga was totally inder the dominion of the Sultan of Delhi.

Iwaj Khalji was a patronizer of art and literature. Under his patronization, the Zuma mosque of Gour and several other mosques were built. During his reign, many Muslim Sufees and Saiyads from mid Asia took shelter in his court. These subees and gentlemen greatly co-operated in preaching Islam. Their presence and the patronization of Iwaj Khalji made Lakhnauti centre of Muslim education and culture. From after the death of Iwaj Khalji to 1287A.D., 60 years, Bengal remained a province of under the Muslim rulers of Delhi. During this time fifteen rulers ruled Bengal. Ten of them were slaves The slaves wre called `Mamluk’. For this reason, the sixty years reign in Bengal is regarded as slave rule or Mamluk rule by many. But all these fifteen rulers belonged to the Turkish race. So, this period can be best termed as Turkish Age. During the Turkish reign there was internal trouble in Delhi. As a result, it was not possible for the Sultans to concentrate on the distant provinces like Bengal. So, the Turkish rulers of Bengal could rule pretty independently. The first Turkish ruler was Nasiruddin Mahmood. He was the son of Iltutmish, the Sultan of Delhi. As Nasiruddin died in 1229A.D., Daulat Shah-bin-Maudud was in power in Bengal for a short period. After the death of sultan Iltutmish in 1236A.D., there was disturbance in Delhi. Taking advantage of this situation Aor Khan Aibeq to seized power in Lakhnauti. But just after some time he had a defeat at the hands of the ruler of Bihar. Tughral Tushan Khan.Tughan Khan ruled Bengal for 9 years up to 1245A.D.. After this, Omar Khan was in power in Lakhnauti for only tow years.

Jalaluddin Masud Jani ruled Bengal from 1247A.D. to 1251A.D.. He was able to bring peace in Lakhnauti. The next ruler was Malik Ikhtiar Uddin uzbak, the ruler of Ajodhya. He made territorial extension of his kingdom at the border area, Gathering sufficient strength Masud Jani assumed the title ‘Mughisuddin’ in 1255A.D. and declared independence. He was murdered in 1257A.D.. The next two years Malik Uzzauddin uzbak ruled Lakhnauti independently. Later in 1269, the ruler of Kara province, Tajuddin Arsalan Khan came to the throne of Lakhnauti. After Arasalan Khan, Bengal was ruled by Tatar Khan. Although he showed loyalty to Delhi, the relation of Bengal with Delhi was cut off within a few year . Tatar Khan was followed by Sher Khan who was in power in Bengal for a short period of time.

The next ruler Tughril was the best among the Mamluk Turks. He took possession of quite several region of Dhaka and Faridpur beside north and west Bengal. He built a fort named Narkilla near Sonargaon. The fort was known to the common people as Tughril’s killa . Tughril declared independence assuming the title ‘Mughisuddin’. As a result, the Sultan of Delhi, Balban made a violent attack on Tughril. Tughril was defeated and killed by Balban in 1281

A.D. As the rulers used to revolt, this time Balban appointed his son Bughra khan the Governor of Bengal. The next six years, Bengal was under Delhi.

In 1287 A.D., subsequent to the death of Balban, Bughra Khan had kept ruling Bengal independently. At this time, the son of Bughra Khan, Kaekobad was the Sultan of Delhi.

Bughra Kana got disheratened at the news of the death of Kaekobad. Setting his other son Rukanuddin Kaekaus to the throne of Bengal, he himself pulled out of the situation. Kaekaus ruled Bengal for ten years (1291 A.D.-1300 A.D). As he had no son, the next ruler was Malik Firuz Itgin. As the Sultan he adopted the new name `Sultan Shamsuddin Firuz Shan’. After the death of Firuz Shah, his son Bahadur Shah succeded to the throne of Bengal. Just after a short time, he was defeated and captured by the Sultan of Delhi Ghiyasuddin Tughlak. Later in 1325 A.D., Bahadur Shak was released and sent to Sonargaon. He was jointly appointed the ruler with Bahram Khan there. Nasiruddin Ibrahim and Kadar Khan were the governors of Lakhnanti. Izzauddin was appointed the governor of satgaon. Ghiyasuddin Bahadur revolted in 1328 A.D. and hence he was killed by Hahram Khan. From that time to 1338 A.D., Bengal was under Delhi.

History of Independent Sultans Rule in Bengal

The Sultans of Delhi could not keep bengal under their power from 1338 A.D to 1538 A.D.. In the early years the army of the Sultans of Delhi made attacks. They tried to bring Bengal to their own possession. Being unsuccessful, they gave up at last. At that time there was little possibility of attack from outside. So, the Sultans of Bengal succeeded in ruling Bengal with freedom and ease. Although the beginning of independence in Bengal was made by Fakhruddin Mubarak, the Sultans of the Ilias Shahi dynasty brought stability to Bengal.

Independent Sultanate Reign (1338A.D.-1538A.D.)

The ruler of Sonargaon Bahram Khan died in 1338. The keeper of ormourer of Bahran Khan `Fakhrah, was a royal employee. He declared independence after his master’s death and came to the throne of Sonargaon with the name `Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah’. Thus began the independent sultanate period in Bengal. During this time Muhammad-bin-Tughlak of Delhi had no way to play attention to the far-off Bengal. As a result, though the beginning of independence was in Sonargaon, the independent regions got extended more and more. No one could take away this independence in the next two hundred years.

The administrators of Delhi ruled in Lakhnauti outside Sonargaon at that time. They did not look favorably on the declaration of independence by Fakhruddin, Kadar Khan, the ruler of Lakhnauti and Izzauddin, the ruler of Satgaon, jointly attackes Sonargaon. But they did not succeed. Kadar Khan was defeated and killed by the army of Fakhruddin.

Fakhruddin, as an independent Sultan, issued coin after his own name. According to the date engraved on his coin, it can be assumed that he ruled Sonargaon from 1338 A.D. to 1345A.D.. Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah extended his territory to some extent towards the South-east . It was he who conquered Chittagong first. It is known that Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah constructed a highway from chandpur to Chittagong. Coins with the name

of Ikhtiar Uddin Gazi Shah engraved on them were issued from Sonargaon mint. Time up to 1352A.D. is found on the coins with the name of Gazi Shah, So it is understood that Fakruddin succeeded to the throne as the independent Sultan of Sonargaon after his father’s death and ruled about three years till 1352A.D..

Ilias Shah Dynasty

When Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah was the independent Sultan in Sonargaon, Ali Mubarak, the commander-in-chief usurped the throne of Lakhnauti. Coming to the throne, he took on the little `Alauddin Ali Shah; He also established an independent kingdom in Lakhnauti. Later he shifted his capital to PUndna (Firozabad). Ali Shah was in power till 1342A.D.. Hazi Ilias was his Dudhbhai (a person considered someone’s brother because he sucked at his mother’s breast). He defeated and killed Ali Shah and he established a dynasty in Bengal. The name of this dynasty is Ilias Shah dynasty. Subsequently, the descendants of Ilias Shah ruled Bengal for a long time. Hindu kingdom flourished in the mid part and lasted for some time.

Ilias Shah became the head of North and North-west Bengal in 1342A.D. through taking possession of the throne of Firozabad. Sonargaon and Satgaon were still then beyond his rule. Ilias Shah had the dream to be the ruler of the whole of Bengal. He first paid attention to West Bengal. Satgaon was under his control before 1346A.D.. Nepal was attacked in 1350A.D. and much treasure was obtained. During this time, he conquered some part of Trihut or Bihar and took possession of a lot of riches and jewels. Orissa also came to his dominion. But the significant success of Ilias Shah was his taking possession of East Bengal.

Ikhtiar Uddin Gazi Shah was defeated by Ilias Shah in Sonargaon in 1352A.D.. As Sonargaon was occupied, the whole Bengal was conquered. So, Though Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah was responsible for the birth of independence in Bengal it was Ilias Shah who established the actual independence in 1352A.D.. Ilias Shah also conquered some parts outside Bengal namely Shamparon, Gorakhsapur and Kashi. He conquered some part of Kamrupa as well. The bottom line is that his territory extended from Assam to Varanasi. Cutting off the tie with Delhi, Ilias Shah included his name in ‘Khutba Path’ (recitation from the religious books) and issued coins with his name on them . This made Sultan Firuz Shah much disgruntled. In the beginning the Sultan of Delhi did not accept this liberty of Bengal. Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlak led a war against Ilias Shah from 1353A.D. to 1354A.D.. His effort was directed at subjecting Bengal to Delhi. But he failed. Ilias Shah took shelter in the impenetrable Ekdala fort. On the other hand, there was little possibility of victory in the rainy season. So, Firuz Shah accepted the independence of Bengal through treaty and established friendly relation with Ilias Shah. Then he returned to Delhi.

As a ruler Firoj Shah was sagacious and popular. His kingdom had peace and discipline during his reign. There was amity between Hindus and Muslims. He built a city named Hazipur. It was he constructed a hamman in Firuzabad. Architecture and cultural activities got much patronization during this period. He was a devoted Muslim. He greatly respected saints and mendicants.Saint Sirajuddin,Sheikh Biabani, Alwal Huq admired his court.

Although Ilias Shah occupied Bengal as the ruler of Lakhnauti, he established a greater Bengal joining the two lands. Since this time, all the inhabitants of Bengal came to be known as Bengali. Ilias Shah recived the titles ‘Shah-i-Bengala’ and’ Shah-i-Bengali.

After the death of Shamsudding Ilias Shah, his son Sikandar Shah (1358A.D.-1393A.D.) came to the throne of Bengal. He was an efficient and powerful ruler like his father. Delhis Sultan Firoz Shah again attacked Bengal from 1358A.D. to 1360A.D.. But Firoz Shah Tughlak failed this time as wall. Sikandar Shah also had to take shelter in the Ekdala fort like his father, Conflict was resolved through treaty between the tow sides. According to the conditions of the treaty, Zafar Khan was given the administrative power in Sonargaon. But Zafar Khan refused this post. He also returned to Delhi with Firoz Shah Tughlar. The authority of Sikandar Shah in Sonargaon and Lakhanti remained as it was before. The independent sultanate rule which Ilias Shah had established, was set on a stronger forting by Sikandar Shah.

After the death of Sultan Sikandar Shah, his son Ghiyasuddin assumed the title ‘Azam Shah’ and succeeded to the throne (1393A.D.-1411A.D.). Ilias Shah and Sikandar Shah showed their efficiency in warfare and defending independence. But Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah’s achievements were different. He gained fame for his pleasing personality liked by his subjects. He established a friendly relation with the king of Jaunapur, Khan Jahan. The Chinese emperor Ianglo sent delegates to his durbar (court). In return he also sent to the Chinese Emperor rich gifts as a token of regards. The main point is that although Azam Shah did not engage himself in any war, he was able to sustain the vast kingdom built by his father and grandfather. Sultan Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah was a righteous judge. A brilliant story about his justice is related in the book `Riaz-us-Salateen’.

Sultan Ghiyasuddin Azam was well-reputed to be a great scholar. He admired and respected the poets and writers. he was fond of poetry and he himself composed poems in parse. He used to communicate through letters with the famous Persian poet Hafiz.

Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah has a special place in the history of Bengal for developing Muslim education and culture and the patronization of Bengali literature. It is in his reign that the first Muslim Bengali poet Shah Muhammad Sageer composed the poem `Yusuf-Julekha’. During the reign of Azam Shah, famous Sufeee devotee Nur Qutub-ul-Alam set his abode in Pandua. From this place he moved around to preach Islam.

As a result Pandua had the good reputation to be the centre of Islamic education and culture in India. He received all kinds of help from the religious Sultan. The Sultan also spent money to build mosques and madrasas in Mecca and Medina. Despite some faults and failures in certain fields, Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah was one of the best Sultans of Bengal and he was the last Sultana of Ilias Shah dynasty. Since his death, fall of this dynasty began.

King Ganesh and Habsee Reign

It is generally said that the two nundred years (1338A.D.-1538A.D.) is the period of independent reign of the Muslim Sultans. Yet some time in the mid part of this two hundred years there was a little break. After the death of Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah, his son Saifuddin Hamza Shah came to the throne. But at that time there was conspiracy among the aristocrats about seizing power. Having ruled one year, he was murdered by his slave Shihabuddin in 1412A.D.

Being the Sultan, Shaihabuddin adopted the name `Shihabuddin Byazid Shah; But after two years (1414A.D.-1415A.D.) he was killed by the conspirators. Taking advantage of this situation, the Hindu aristocratic king Ganesh seized power in Bengal.

The Sultans of Bengal appointed the Hindus to most of the high posts. King Ganesh was a high-ranking courtier of Azam Shah. It is known that Ganest was at first a king of Vatulia region in Dinajpur. He got an employment in the court of the Sultan. Just after having the employment, he started to gather strength secretly. His desire was to turn out the Muslims and established the Hindus in power. With this very aim he came to power uprooting the Ilias Shah dynast. Ganesh killed many sufee devotees. The leader of the Muslim saints Nur qutub-ul-Alam appealed to the Sultan of Jaunapur. Ibrahim Sharki to protect the Muslims. As Ibrahim Sharki came to Bengal equipped with army, Ganesh was terrified. At last he made a compromise with the Muslim saint Nur Qutub-ul-Alam. As per the conditions Ganesh converted his son Jadu into Muslim and left the throne of Bengal to his son. After Jadu had become a Muslim, his mane was Jalauddin Mahmud. Sultan Ibrahim Sharki set Jamaluddin to the throne and returned to his own land Jaunapur.

Ganesh came to the throne twice. First time he was in power only for a few months. About the middle of 1415A.D. Obrahim Sharki placed Jalauddin Mahmud Shah to the throne. As Ibrahim Sharki returned, Ganesh felt secured. With many rites and rituals, he again converted his son to Hindu, Ganesh died in 1418A.D.. After the death of king Ganesh, the Hindu courtiers placed Mahendre Dev, son of Ganesh, to the throne of Bengal. But in no tine Jalaluddin ousted Mahendradev and came to the throne for the second time. At this stage he was uninterruptedly in power till 1431. During the time of this very competent administrator, the territory of Bengal had great extension. The whole Bengal, parts of Tripura and south Bihar except Arakan ware within his kingdom

at least for some time. Coins with his names were issued from various mints of his kingdom. He shofted his capital from pandua to Gaur. After the death of Jalaluddin Mahumud Shah, his eldest son Shamsuddin Ahmad Shah succeded to the throne. Falling a civtim to the plot of the courtiers, he was murdered by the salves Sadi Khan and Nasir Khan. Thus the reign of king Ganesh and his descendants came to an end.

Rule of the Laler Ilias Shah Dynesty

After the death of Shamsuddin Ahamad Shah, his murderer, slave Nasir Khan came to the throne of Bengal. But the aristocrats who instigated Nasir Kahn to kill Ahmad Shah, did not take kindly to his ascending the throne. Probably the authority of a slave was humiliate to them. So they united killed Nasir Khan.

After the death of Nasir Khan, the throne of Gour remained empty for time. Ahmad shad had no son. Then the aristocrats placed to the throne of Gour a descendant of Ilias Shah named Mahmud in 1452A.D.. He is known as Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah in history. Thus the descendants again began an independent rule. So this period is called `Later Ilias Shah period; Nasiruddin was a skilled commander-in-chief and just ruler. During the reign of Nasiruddin Mahmud, Jessore and Khulna areas were included in the Muslim kingdom. West Bengal, East, Bengal, North Bengal and parts of Bihar were within his kingdom. He also issued coins with his own name.

Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah died in 1459A.D., Then his son Rukanuddin Barbak Shah succeeded to the throne of Bengal. Since his father’s reign, Barbak Shah proved himself an efficient ruler. At that time he was the ruler of Satgaon. During his reign, the territory of Bengal got much extension. It is know that Barbak Shah had conflict with Kamrupa Kingdom. But it cannot be definitely said about what the result was. The northern part of the Ganges was within his territory. During his reign. Vagolpur came under Muslim rule. But the districts to the west of Munger were under the authority of the ruler of Jaunapur, Mahmud Sharki. It is assumed that this place was conquered during his time. There was trouble about the authority of Chittagong. It was under Arakan kingdom towords the beginning of Barbak Shah’s reign. But Barbak Shak restored it towards the end. Jessore and Khulna were under his authority. He also extended his territory towards the south.

It was Barkan Shah who first gathered innumerable Abisinian slaves (Habsee slaves) and appointed them to military posts and to important posts of the places. The number of these appointed slaves was eight thousand. Probably he made a group of these Habrees in order to form his own party. But this step taken by him jeopardized the Kingdom.

Sultan Rukanuddin Barbak Shah was a great scholar. In many of his stone inscriptions his name and different royal appellations including ‘Al-Fazit’ and ‘Al-kamil’ are foun d. Those proves that Barbak Shah attained the highest appellation in the field of education. He was not only a scholar but also a patronag of learning and literature. He patronized the learned and the scholars of both Hindus and Muslim Brihashpati Misra was the author of the books getagobindatika, Kumarsamvabtika, Raghubangshative and so on. Maladhar Basu who composed the famous bengali poem ‘Shreevrishna Bijoy’, was one of the best sholars of this period. Krittlas, the composer of bengali Ramayan attained the fevoour of Barbak Shah. Probably Bavder also got the patronization of Barbak Shah. Among the Muslim poets and authors of this time, Ibrahim Kayum Faruki, Ameer Joynuddin Havaee, Ameer Shihabuddin Kirmance and Mansur Shivajee deserve special mention. Barbar Shak helped the poets and writers in many ways. That he was a king of liberal and non-commural outlook is proved by the fact that he patronized the Hindu poets and scholars and appointed many Hindus to the high posts of the royal court. In his regard, a ruler of liberal mined like Barbak Shah is rare not only in the history of Bengal but also of India.

Barbak Shah was a true lover of beauty. It was barbak Shah who construted the massive and beautiful arch known as ‘Dakhil Darwaza’ in Gour. At this times two mosques were built in Mirzagaoj of Chittagonj and Patuakhali districts. In the light of these activities, Barbak Shah can be considered the best among the Sultans of Bengal.

Barbak Shah passed away in 1474 A.D Then his son Shamsuddin Abu Muzaffar Yusuf Shah (1474 A.D.-1481 A.D.) became the Sultan of Bengal. The vast kingdom built by his bather and grand father was unimpaired during his time. His territory was extended up to Urishyain the west and Sylhet in the east.

The death of Yusuf Shah was followed by his son Sikandar Shah on the throne. As he fell ill, he was dismissed. Barbak Shah’s Younger brother Hussain took on the title ‘Jalauddin Fateh Shah’ and came to the throne (1481 A.D.-1487 A.D.). He issued coins in his own name. But at this time, there wasw trouble in the royal court. The Habsee slavess became very powerful at this time. Jalauddin Fateh Shah tried to curb their strength. This made all the Habsce slaves begin a conspiracy against the Sultan untidily. Sultan Shahjada was the head of the palace guards. Through temptation, the slaves persuaded Sultan Shahzada and his subords foot soldiers to join their group. Shahzada killed Fateh Shah inside the palace. With the murder of Fateh Shah, the reign of Ilias Shahi dynasty in Bengal came to an end. Thus the reign of the Habsies began in Bengal.

Habsee Rule

The Habsee rule in Bengal lasted only six years (1487A.D.-1493 A.D.). The history of this country during this period abounds with wrongs, injustice revolt, conspiracy and disappointment. All the three of the four Habsee Sultans of this period were murdered.

Habsee leader Sultan Shahzada adopted the title ‘Barbak Shah’ and began to rule Bengal first. But within a few months, he was killed by Habsee commander-in-chief Malik Andil. Malik Andil assumed the title ‘Saifuddin Firuz Shah’ and came to the throne. Only his three years’ reign (1487A.D.-1490 A.D.) was a little pre-eminent in the history. His death was followed by the second Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah. But after a short rule (1490 A.D.-1491 A.D.), he was killed. A Habsee leader killed him and come to the throne with the name ‘Shamsuddin Muzaffor Shah’ (1491 A.D.-1493 A.D.). He was notorious as a tyrant and killer. Consequently the aristocrats of Gaur revolted against Muzaffar Shah. Syad Hossain, an adviser of Muzaffar Shah joined the rebels. At last Muzaffar Shah was killed. With his death the Habsee rule in Bengal ended.

Hossain Shahi Dynasty

Getting rid of Habsee rule, Syad Hossain came to the throne of Bengal. As he became the Sultan, he took on the title ‘Alauddin Hussain Shah’. These the rule of a new dynasty named ‘Hussain Shahi dynasty’ began in Bengal. Of the reigns of the independent Sultans of Bengal, Hussain Shahi reign (1493 A.D.-1538 A.D.) was the most glorious period.

Sultan Alauddin Hussain Shah was the best Sultan of the Hussain Shahi period. He belonged to the Syad family of Arabia. he came from Mecca to Bengal with his father Syad Ashraf-al-Hussain and brother Yusuf. he first set his adobe in the village chandpara of Rar. Later, Hussain Shah went to the capital Gaur and got employment under Muzaffar Shah. Then he became an adviser, Thus he came to power in Bengal.

There was anarchy and chaos in the Kingdom since Alauddin Hussain Shah ascended the throne. After taking up the responsibility of the kingdom, he engaged himself in bringing place and discipline. There was anarchy in the country due to the maladministration of the Habsee community. They had the main role in the murder of every Muslim. Coming to the throne, Hussain Shah gave directions to the the Habsee to stop such activities.

But as they disobeyed his order, he gave commands to kill them. This severe measure taken by Hussain made twelve thousands Habsees lose their lives. The rest of the Habsee were driven out of the kingdom.

The next step of Alauddin Hussain Shah was to diminish the power of the body guards, foot soldiers. This regiment of foot soldiers played the most vifal role in all the conspiracies of the palace. Hussain Shah dissolved the regiment of the foot soldiers. In their place, he formed a new regiment of guards consisting of aristocratic Hindus and Muslims.

Alauddin Hussain Shah tried to make politics and social systems free from Habsee influence for the welfare of the kingdom and he also strengthened the administration by shifting the capital. he shifted his capital to a place near Gaur. Of all the Sultans, only by established his capital in a place other thar in Pandua and Gaur. Severe measures were taken to punish the aristocrats and courtiers who tried to make disturbance during the Habsee rule. All the appressive servants with low birth were dismissed. On the other hand, he appointed the Syads, Mongols. Afthans and Hindus to different important and high posts of the administration. These measures being taken, within short time the kingdom saw place and discipline.


During the time of Alauddin Hussain Shah, the boundary of Bengal got maximum extension. He conquered Kamrup nad kamta. Some parts of Urishya and Tripura also came to his possession and so came some part of south Bihar. He drove out the Arakaniass from Chittagong. At this time he resisted the attack on Bengal made by the Sultan of Delhi Sikandar Lodi. Only in Assam mission, he was unsuccessful. Hussain Shah succeeded in ensuring all kinds of security in his vast kingdom. He ruled long twenty six years (1493 A.D.-1519 A.D.). This great sultan ruled this long period of time with success and died in 1519 A.D..

Alauddin Hussain Shah was a good administrator and a far-sighted politician. He showed great enthusiasm, sincerity and prudence in reshaping his administrative system and publci welfare. He realized that conquering kingdom is not the fial thing for the king but a time-suiting and justice-based administrative system was essential. He was impartial in respect of race and religion in his administration and protection of his subjects. His object was to establish a well-organized, impeccable and benevolent administration by promoting a loving and friendly relation between the Hindus and the Muslims. For this reason, despite being a conservative sunnee, he appointed different Hindus to administrative posts according to their merit. He also awarded different appellations to the Hindus to encourage them. This magnanimity of Hussain Shah to the Hindus was effective for

good administration and helped the Bengalis to build their won tradition. It is also a testimony to his political far sightedness. This religious broadmindedness of Hussain Shah also inspired his descendants. During his peaceful reign, his subjects lived in peace and happiness.

The effort of Hussain Shah to create a relation of amity between Hindus and Muslims also made an impact or the social life of the people of that time. During his time, appeared Sree chaytanna, the founder of the Vishnu religion. He showed a liberal attitude to him and directed his men to co-operate with him. Worship to the sattyapeer (true saint) was another significant incident of the Hussain Shah`s reign. Worship of the sattyapeer was a brilliant effort at the establishment of amity between Hindus and Muslims.

The development and manifestation of Bengali literature had made Hussain Shah`s reign immortal. His generous patronization undoubtedly increased the splendor of Bengli literature. Hussain Shah gave the talented poets and author’s awards in order to encourage them. Of the famous poet’s and writers, Rup Goshami, Sanatan Goshwami, Maladhar Basu, Bijoygupta, Bipradas, Paragal Khan and Yashoraj Khan are mention worthty. They wrote numberless books with the patronization of Hussain Shah. Their literary achievements attained by indefatigable efforts have enriched the history of Bengal, During this time Maladhar Basu translated ‘Shree Madvagabata’ and ‘Puran’, and Paraneshwar ‘Mahavarat’ into Bangli. Alauddin Hussain Shah was also a generous patronizer of Arabic and Persian languages.

Hussain Shah was a devoted Muslim. He had infinite sincerity and devotion to has own religion and the Sufee saints. Countless mosques were built in different places of the country. Of these mosques, ‘Choto Sona Mosjid’ of Gaur is notable. Many’ Khankash’ and Madrasas were built in the Kingdom for the development of Islamic celture. Hussain Shah spent a lot of money for the preservation of the shrink of the Muslim saint Qutub-ul-Alam of Pandua. Hussain Shah constructed a citadel and an arch in Gaur, a school and a bridge in Maladaha. These mosques, Madrasas, citadel, arch bear testimonu to Hussain Shah`s love of architecture. During his twenty six years` reign, knowledge and science and arts had astonishing development in Bengal. For this reason, his reign is called the `Golden Period’ in the history of Muslim rule in Bengal.

After the death of Alauddin Hussain Shah, his eldest son Nusrat Shah, adopted the title `Nasiruddin Abul Muzaffar Nusrat Shah’ (1519 A.D.-1532 A.D.) and came to the throne of Bengal. Being impressed with his efficiency, Hussain Shah during his own reign handed over some powers to Nusrat Shah. Coming to the throne also he was able to show skill like his father. At this time, the whole Bihar was under his dominion. During his time the Mughal empire was established in India. The first Mughal emperor of Babur sent troops for expedition to Bengal. At first Nusrat Shah made friendly relation with Babar. Later when there was war, he kept the throne of Bengal by making treaty. Nusrat Shah was killed by miscreants in 1531A.D.

Sultan Nusrat Shah was a noteworthy ruler of his time. He was patient and kind to his people. He dug wells and ponds in many places of this Kingdom to remove the water problem of his subjects. The `Mitha Pukur’ (sweet pond) bears the hallmark of the achievement till today. The human qualities of Nusrat Shah made him popular to his subjects. The Hindus also received justice in his kingdom. The amity between the Hindus and the Muslims was a characteristic of this time. In this regard, he kept his father`s achievement untarnished. Many of the architectural work during Nusrat Shah`s reign show his enthusiasm and patronization in the fields of arts and culture. He constructed a platform in a cell of the farmous `Kadam Rasul’ building of Gaur. A black marble altar with artistic design and the footprint of Hazrat Muhammad (sm) was set on it. The famous `Bara Sona Masjid’ or `Baraduari Masjid’ was a work of his time. Nusrat Shah built a monument in memory of his father near Gaur. He constructed two mosques in Mongolkota city of Burdwan district and in a place named Bagha in Rajshahi. The foundation of the glorious shrine of the great saint Makhdum Akhi Sirajuddin in Sadullapur is another example of his great achievements.

The great poet Parameshwar translated part of Mahavarata into Bengali following the orders of Nusrat Shah. During his reign, Shreekar Nandi translated into Bengali Ashwamedha chapter of Mahavarat. Shreedhar also translated Mahavarata into Bengali. Nusrat Shah also set up libraries in different parts of the country to expand knowledge and learning.

The next Sultan of Bengal was Alauddin Firuz Shah, son of Nusrat Shah. He was in power for about one year. Since the time of Nusrat Shah, Bengal had conflict with the kingdom of Ahoma. It continued in the time of Firuz Shah. Since the time of Nustat Shah, the fall of the independent Sultanate began. The descendants of Nusrat Shah were weak. His younger brother Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah killed his brother`s son

Firuz Shah 1533 A.D. and ascended the throne. But this brought no change to the situation. Rather the decay which began in the kingdom of Nusrat Shah,during his reign was rounded off during the reign of Mahmud Shah. The significant incident of his five years` rule was his conflict with the Afghan leader Sher Shah Shur. At last when Sher Shah took Bengal in 1538 A.D., the independent sultanate era of two hundred years in Bengal came to an end.

Afghan Rule and the Barabhuyians (1538 A.D.-1576 A.D.)

As the independent sultanate era in Bengal came to an end, foreign powers gradually grabbed up Bengal. The Mughal emperor Humayun established his authority in Bengal for some time. But at last he had to accept the defeat at the hands of the Afghan leader Sher Shah. Bengal and Bihar straightaway came to the authority of the Afghans. The two sects of t he Afghans, namely Shur Afghan and Karrani. Afghan ruled Bengal for quite some time. At last the Mughal Wmperor Akbar snatched away the power of Bengal from the afgans. Although the Mughals occupied the capital, they failed to establish actual power inside Bengal . During this time there ware many powerful independent Zamidars in Bengal. These Zamidars Known as Barabhuyans could not accept the Mughal authority. During the time of emperor Akbar, the Mughal Subadars tried to suppress these Zamndars but failed. The Barabhuyanss were suppressed in the time of Jahangir.

The Afghan Rule

Mughal emperor Babur and his son Humayun tried to bring Bengal under the Mughal authority, since the later past of the Hussain Shahi period. But the Mughals could not attain this object in the beginning because of the Afghans. Emperor Humayun got involved in a war with the afghan leader Sher Khan Shur. Hasan Khan, father of Sher Khan, was a fief-holder in Sasaram area of Bihar. After his father`s death he got appointed as a fief-holder. At this time the fief-holder Jalal Khan of Bihar was a minor and so Sher Khan took his guardianship.

Sher Khan had the dream to be the head of whole India. So, he secretly kept increasing his strength. With this aim is view, Sher Khan took possession of the strong fort of Chunar and Bihar. In 1537 A.D., he attacked Gaur, the capital of Bengal twice. This time the Mughal emperor Humayun became alert. He chased after Sher Khan and took Gaur, the capital of Bengal. Being charmed with the wonderful palace and the natural beauty of Gaur, Hamayun named it `Jannatbad’. The emperor grownded himself in amusement in Gaur for six months. In these circumstances, Sher Khan kept on increassing his strength. A message from Delhi informed him that Humayun`s step brother Hindal was plotting to occupy the throne. Having received this message, Humayun started for Delhi Sher Khan utilized this opportunity. He lay in waits in Chausa near Buxar. As Humayun reached this place near the Ganges. Sher Khan jumped on him. The unprepared Humayun was defeated (1539 A.D.).

Defeating The Mughal emperor Humayum, Sher Khan took on the title ‘Sher Shar; He declared himself the independent Sultan of Bihar. Now he paid attention to Bengal. In 1540 A.D. he defeated the Mughal ruler Ali Kuli and occupied Bengal. And this year he finally defeated Humayun in the battle of Bilgram near Kanauj and occupied the throne of Delhi. Thus after a long time, Begnal was again under the rule of Delhi, The empire of Sher Shah included the whole Bengal upto Chittagong and Sylhet. As Sher Shah belonged to the Shur dynasty, the rule of Bengal at this time was the rule of Shur Afghan dynasty.

After the death of Sher Shah, his son Jalal Khan adopted the name ‘Islam Khan’ and succeeded to the throne of Delhi. He ruled eight years (1545 A.D.-1553 A.D.). But after the death of Islam Khan, his minor son Firooz Khan came to the throne and immediately there was grouping in the Shur dynasty. The nephew of Sher Khan, Mubariz Khan killed Firuz Khan and adopted the name, `Muhammad Adil’ and came to the throne of Delhi.

Bengal at this time was not detached from the political events of the Indian subcontinent. So, just after the death of Islam Khan, the Afghan rule of Bengal, Muhammad Khan Shur declared independency. He assumed the title. ‘Muhammad Shah Shur’. Since this time Bengal was independent for the next twenty years. In order to extend territory in North Indian, Muhammad Shah Shur engaged himself in a contest with Adil Shah Shur. Conquering Jaunapur, he advanced towards Agra. But at the final stage he was defeated and killed.

As Muhammad Shah Shur killed the emperor of Delhi Adil Shah appointed Shahbaz Khan the ruler of Bengal. Muhammad Shah’s son khizir Khan was staying at Alahabad at that time. Immediately after hearing the news of his father`s death. he adopted the title ‘Giayasuddin Bahadur Shah’ and declared himself the independent Sultan of Bengal. After a few days he defeated Shahbaz Khan and came to the throne of Bengal.

During this time, the political situation in Delhi become much complicated. Exploiting the weakness of Sher Shah`s descendants, Sultan Humayun restored his own kingdom. But although he established authority in Delhi, he got no chance to do the same in Bengal. After the death of Humayun, his son Akbar succeeded to the terror of Delhi and advanced to suppress the Afghan leaders of the Shur dynasty one by one. In the second battle of Panipath (1556 A.D.), Himu, the commander in-chief of Adil Shah, was defeated and killed by the Mughal soldiers. Adil Shah was much debilitated by this. Then he fled towards Bengal. On the way, he was defeated and killed by sultan Gaiyasuddin Bahadur Shah in Fatehpur near Surajgar (1557 A.D.).

Afghan Sultan Gaisuddin Bahadur Shah Conqueror of Bengal, when advanced towards Jaunapur and the Mughal commander Khan-i-Zaman barred his movement. The diplomatic Bahadur Shah made alliance with Khan-i-Zaman and returned to Bengal. After this, he did not make any expendition outside Bengal. He died in 1560 A.D.

After the death of Ghiyasuddin Bahadur Shah, his brother Jalaluddin Shur took on the tittle `Second Ghiyasuddin’ and succeeded to the throne of Bengal. Like his brother, he also maintained friendly relation with the Mughal. As he breathed his last in 1563 A.D., his only son ascended the throne of Bengal. But his name could not be Known. After he ruled for only there months, an Afghan leader named Ghiyasuddin III killed him and came to the throne of Bengal. But he could not rule long either.

Taz Khan, the king of the Karrani dynasty killed Ghiyasuddin and established himself on the throne of Bengal. Taz Khan Karrani and Sulayman Khan Karrani were the commander of Sher Khan. Due to praiseworthy contribution the battle of Kanauj, Sher Shah gave them rent-free land in South Bihar. During the reign of Islam Khan. Taz Khan Karrani showed much efficiency as the commander-in-chief and diplomatic adviser. During the time of Firuz, the minor son and successor of Islam Shah, Taz Khan was appointed the Wazir. Killing Firuz, his maternal uncle Muhammad Adil Shur came to the throne. At this time, Taz Khan Karrani fled away and with the help of his brothers he established his dominion in South Bihar. In 1557 A.D., Taz Khan Karrani merely acknowledged loyalty to the Sultan of Bengal, Bahadur Shah Shur. After some time, he became totally independent.

He had also attention to the throne of Bengal. He was waiting for opportunity. When the unknown Ghiyasuddin occupied the throne of the Shur dynasty, taking advantage of the situation, Taz Khan and his brothers defeated and killed Ghiyasuddin and seized Gaur. Thus Taz Khan Karrani established the rule of the Karrani dynasty in Bengal.

After the death of Taz Khan Karrani in 1565 A.D., his brother Sulayman Khan Karrani became the Sultan of Bengal. This competent ruler included the Afghan leaders in his group. Thus many places of Bengal and Bihar became parts of his territory. His maintained good relationship with the Mughal Sultan Akbar, at the advice of his wise adviser Lodi Khan. First of all, he shifted his capital from Gaur, to Tanda situated 15 miles to the south-west of Maldaha. After the death of Sulayman Karrani in 1572 A.D., his son Bayazid ascended the throne. But within a short time, the Afghan leaders killed this tyrant Sultan. This time the second son of Sulayman Karrani. Daud Karrani came to the throne. He was the last Afghan ruler in Bengal. Daud Karrani was a very short-sighted ruler. Seeing the vast empire and abundant wealth, he thought himself equal to emperor Akbar. So far, the Afghan ruler of Bengal and Bihar openly expressed their loyalty to the Mughal emperors. But like an independent emperor, Daud adopted the title `Badshah’ (the king) and in chided his name in the recitation of the scriptures and issued coins with his own name on them.

The Afghans were already an enemy to the Mughals. On top of is, as Bengal and Bihar were not under the authority of the Mughals, emperor Akbar had no peace in mind. The behaviour of Daud Karajan gave Akbar the excuse to attack Bengal. First Akbar ordered the ruler of Jaunapur, Munim Khan to attack the Kingdom of Karrani. In the beginning Munim Khan did not make any direct attack. According to the suggestion of the adviser Lodi Khan, he kept friendly relation with Munim Khan. Following the advice of the adviser Lodi Khan, Daud Khan made a compromise with Munim Khan through riches and jewels. But in no time this situation changed. Following the advice of some conspirators, Daud misunderstood adviser Lodi. On his command, Lodi was killed. Bengal and Bihar were protected from the Mughals so far, because of the prudence of Lodi, Munum Khan had no more hindrance. After the death of Lodi, Munim Khan drove out the Afghans from Bihar in 1573 A.D. The Afghans had already become weak due to conflict within themselves. In such a situation Munim Khan advanced towards Bengal. The capital of Bengal during Karrani period was in Tanda. Leaving Tanda, the Afghans retreated and took shelther in Saptagram of Hoogli district. Occupying the capital, the Mughal soldiers also moved to Saptagram. Daud Khan fled to Urissa. Munim Khan established Mughal capital in Tanda. At this time, there was plague and many Mughal soldiers including

Munim Khan died of it. Consequently there was disturbance. Taking advantage of this situation, Daud Karrani took possession of West and North Bengal again. On the other hand, Zamindar of the low-lying region, Isha Khan drove out the Mughals from East Bengal. Leaving Bengal, the Mughal army took shelter in Bihar. As the news of Munim Khan`s death reached Agra, emperor Akbar sent Khan Jahan Hussain Kuli Khan to Bengal as its ruler. King Todarmal was appointed his deputy. On the entrance to Bengal Daud Karrani resisted the Mughal army at Rajmahal. Muzaffar Khan Turbati, the ruler of Bihar, came forward to help the Mughals. There was a serve battle between the Mughals and the Afghans near Rajmahal in 1576 A.D. Daud Karrani Suffered the final defeat in the battle of Rajmahal. Later he was sentenced to death. Thus the Karrani Afghan rule ended and Mughal rule began. But it is also true that the Mughal rule did not go far in the face of resistance made by the Bhuyians.

History of Bhuyians

“Emperor Akbar could not establish his authority over the of whole Bengal. The powerful Zamindars of Bengal did not accept the subjection by the Mughals. The Zamindars were independent in their own rule. They had powerful army and fleet. They used to attack the Mughal commanders unitedly to defend independence. This Zamindars are known as Bhuyians in the history of Bengal. This ‘Bara’ does not mean twelve. It is assumed that this ‘Bara’ refers to the countless number of Zaminders.

In the history of Bengal, the Bhuyians were from the middle of the sixteenth century to the middle of the seventeenth century. In the time mentioned, those who struggled for freedom against the Mughals are called Bhuyians from the historical perspective. Besides this, there were many more less powerful Zaminders in Bengal. They also rebelled against the Mughals. But later they accepted the Mughal authority. The noteworthy Bhuyians are :

Name of Bhuyians Name of Place
Isha Khan, Musa Khan Most of Dhaka, almost whole Mymensingh district,
some parts of the distrits of Pabna, Bogra, Rangpur.
Chand Roy and Kedar Roy Sherpur (Bikrimpur, Munshiganj

Bahadur Gazi Bhawal
Sona Gazi Sarail (at the northern bordar of Tripura)
Osman Khan Bokainagar (Sylhet)
Veer Hamir Bishnupur (Bakura)
Laxsman Manikya Bhulua (Noakhali)
Paramanancla Roy Chandradeep (Barisal)
Vinod Roy, Madhu Roy Chandrapratap (Manikganj)
Mukundaram, Satrajit Bhushana (Faridpur)
Raja Kandarpa Narayan Ramchandra Part of Barisal

At the beginning, the leader of the Bhuyians was Isha Khan. As the Hussain Shahi dynasty came to an end. Sulayman Khan, father of Isha Khan, established his zamindari (office of the Zaminder) in the locality of Sonargaon. Khizirpur fort was the centre of his strength.

Katrabu near Sonargaon and Khizirpur was his capital. After the fall of Daul Karrani, he established his capital in Sonargaon.

Emperor Akbar paid particular attention to suppress the Bhuyians. For this reason, he sent to Bengal Shahbaz Khan in 1583 A.D., Sadik Khan in 1585, Uzir Khan in 1586 and King Mansihngha in 1594 A.D. as Subadar of Bengal. They were engaged in war in many times with Isha Khan and other small Zamindars. But it was not possible to defeat Isha khan completely.As a return for his loyalty to emperor Akbar, he maintainded his own authority. On the other hand, he declared independence against the Mughals and assumed the title `Masnad-i-Ala;

As Isha Khn died in 1599 A.D., his son Musa Khan became the leader of the Bhuyians. Mansingha was sent to Bengal for the second time. This time Manhingha was successful to some extent. Musa Khan was defeated by Mansingha in a naval war in 1603 A.D.. But before having final victory, news of the illness of emperor Akbar came. Called by the emperor Mansingha returned to Agra.

After the death of emperor Akbar, his son selim adopted the name `Jahangir’ and succeeded to the throne of Delhi. He again sent Mansingha to Bengal. After one year Qutubuddin Koka was appoined Subadar in Bengal in 1606 A.D. Qutubuddin was killed by Sher Afkun. His successor Subadar Jahangir Kulikhan died after one year. After this, Islam Khan was the subadar of Bengal in 1608 A.D.

It was Emperor Jahangir`s achievement to suppress the Bhuyians in Bengal and to establish Mughal rule. Subadar Islam Khan (1608 A.D.-1613 A.D.) deservas appreciation in this regard. Taking up the administration, he realized that if he could bring down the Baranuya leader Musa Khan, it would be easy to subdue the other Zamindars. For that reason, he decided to shift his capital from Rajmahal to Dhaka. It was because the strong hold of Musa Khan was at Sonargaon which was near Dhaka, In his way to Dhaka from Rajmahal, capital of Bengal. Islam Khan got the loyalty of many Zamindars.

Islam Khan built powerful fleet to face the Bhuyians. Fight with Musa Khan took place first in 1609 at Jatrapur, on the northern bank of river Kortoa. Musa Khan had fort here. In the battle, Musa Khan and other Zamindars retreateds at last. In 1610 A.D. Dhaka became the capital to Bengal. According to the name of the Emperor, Dhaka was named as ‘Jahangir Nagar’.

After this, the fleets of the Zamindars gathered again at Shitalakhya river under the leadership of Musa Khan in order to resist the Mughals. Islam Khan sent army and fleet to different places of its western bank. A battle between Islam Khan and the Zamindars began in 1611 A.D. The forts including the KadaM Rasul of Musa Khan on the eastern bank of the river came to the control of the Mughals. As the situation was adverse, Musa Khan went to Sonargaon. The capital as insceure, he took shelter in the Ibrahimpur Island of The Meghna river. The Mughal army took Sonargaon. This compelled the Zamindars to surrender. Finding no other way, Musa Khan was also forced to surrender to the Mughals at last. Like other Zamindars, Islam Khan also gave Musa Khan the charge in his Zamindar’s estate under the Mughal authority. After this Musa Khan passed the rest of his life as the loyal fiefholder of the emperor. Being disheartened by the surrender of Musa Khan, other Zamindars accepted the authority of the emperor. Thus came to an end the rule of Bhuyians in Bengal.

The Mughal Rule (1571 A.D.-1757 A.D.)

The Mughal rule in Bengal passed in two phases namely Subadari and Nawabi. After the suppression of the Bhuyians the rule of the Subadar was established in the whole Bengal. The Mughal Provinces were known as `Suba’ Bengal was one of the Subas of the Mughals. The golden period of the Subadari rule was from the beginning of the seventeenth century to the beginning of the eighteenth century. After emperor Aurangazeb the Mughal rule became powerless during the time of the weak descendants of Delhi. In such a situation, the Subadars ruled Bengal independently. This period of the Mughal rule is known as the Nawabi era.

Reign of Subadars and Nawabs

Suppressing the Bhuyians in 1610 A.D., Subadar Islam Khan established Subadari rule in the whole Bengal. After his death in 1613 A.D., quite a number of Subadars took power in Bengal. But no Subadar could play any important role until Subadar Mir Jumla took power of these , Islam Khan Chisti (1617 A.D.-1624 A.D.) and the brother of the empress of Delhi. Ibrahim Khan Fateh Jang (1617 A.D.-1624 A.D.) served as the subadars of Bengal. Then for a very short time, Darar Khan, Mahabbat Khan, Mukarram Khan and Fitai Khan were appointed Subadars.

After coming to power, emperor Shahjahan, appointed Kasim Khan Juiny the Subadar of Bengal in 1628 A.D. Since the Hussain Shahi period the Portugeese engaged in trade in Bengal. During this time the influence of the Portugese merchants greatly increased. Gradually it became a threat to Bengal. Kasim Khan Juini supperssed the portugese with an iron hand.

After Kasim Khan, Subadar Islam Khan Mashadi (1653 A.D.-1639 A.D.) ruled for four years. Then emperor Shahjahan sent his second son Shah Shuja to Bengal as Subadar. Shuja was in charge for twenty years. The reign of Shuja was more or less peaceful. Of the community of the foreign merchants, the Englishmen gained some extra advantages from the Subadar. It increased the strength of the Englishmen besides their trade. As the emperor Shahjahan fell ill in 1657. At this time, a conflict between Aurangazeb and Shah Shuja began. In the battle between the two brothers in 1659 A.D. Shuja was defeated. After defeat, he went to Arakan, He was killed later there along with his family.

The Shuja of Aurangazeb, Mir Jumla came up to Jahangirnagar, the capital of Bengal to Shuja. So, Emperor Aurangazed appointed Mir Jumla the Subadar of Bengal (1660 A.D.-1663 A.D.). Although his success in his conflict with whom in not so significant, the conquest of Kuchbohar and Assam by Mir Zumla bears the stamp of his military talent. During his time, Kuchbihar entirely came under the Mughal empire. Through Assam expedition, he extended the border of the Mughal empire up to Assam.

After the death of Mir Jumla, first Dilir Khan and then Daud Khan ruled Bengal as the provisional Subadars. After that Aurangazeb`s maternal uncle Shayesta Khan (1664 A.D.-1688 A.D.) was appointed Subadar of Bengal. Some time in 1678 A.D., the Emperor called him to come to Delhi. After that, he became the Subadar of Bengal for the second time.

Shaeysta Khan was an efficient commander and a farsighted ruler. He occupied Swandeep and Chittagong and uprooted the Arakanian pirated. Subader Shaeysta Khan established Mughal rule in Kuchbihar, Kamrup, Tripura and other places in an organized manner. Measures were also taken to ensure security in the border areas.In fear of him, the king of Assam did not dare to antagonize the Mughals. Toware the end of the Subadar rule, Sheyasta Khan had conflict with the English East India Company. The power of the English increased so much that they appeared to be a menace to this country. After efforts for long time, Shayesta Khan drove out the English from Bengal. After Sheyasta Khan, Khan-i-Jahan Bahadur,

Ibrahim Khan and Azimuddin became the Subadar of Bengal respectively. During their time, the history of Bengal was not very eventful.

Shaeysta Khan is memorable for his various public welfare activities during his reign. Innumerable inns, roads and bridged were built everywhere in his province. He made immense development in the fields of economy and agriculture in the province. He attained fame not only in Bengal but also in the whole Indian subcontinent for his benevolent administration. During his time, price of commodity was so cheap that eighty maund of rice cost only one taka.

The prosperity of economy of Bengal during the reign of shaeysta Khan,was the expansion of industry and trade and commerce. Alongside of agriculture, there was sufficient development of industry and trade and commerce during this period. Shaeysta Khan encouraged the foreign merchants in trade and commerce.

The reign of Shaeysta Khan is particularly notable for architecture in Bengal. Various monuments, magnificent Dhaka of that time are a testimony to his profound love for architecture. This period can be tamed `the golden era’ of the Mughals for the artectural development. Of the architectural constructions in his reign, Choto, Katra, Lalbagh Kella, Tomb of Bibi Pari, Hussaini Building, mosque of Safi Khan, Mosque of the Ganges, Chalk mosque and others deserve mention. The main point is that no other Subadar or ruler could leave behind so brilliant an image of himself like Shaeysta Khan. Practically, Dhaka was the city of Shaeysta Khan.

This time, Murshid Kuli Khan came to power in Bengal as an Subadar (1700 A.D.-1727 A.D.). First he was appointed the revenue collector of Bengal or Diwan. The function of the Diwan was to collect reverence of the Suba and control financial affairs. During the reign of emperor Farruk Shiyar, Murshid Kuli Khan was appointed the Subadar of Bengal. When Murshid Kuli Khan came to Bengal, the political and economic condition of Bengal was miserable. In the face of such a situation he tried to restore Mughal rule in Bengal with great courage. He changed the course of the history of Bengal by his personality,
prudence and intelligence.

After the death of emperor Aurangazeb, the weak Mughal emperors could not pay much attention to the distant subas. As a result, the Subadars of those places ruled their provinces with some independence. Murshid Kuli khan also became independent to some extent. He merely expressed loyalty to the emperor and sent one core three lakh taka revenue annually. After Murshid Kuli Khan, his son-in-law Sirajuddin succeeded to the throne of Bengal. Thus the Subadari, system of Bengal became hereditary. And in this way, the independent rule in Bengal again got established.

Since the time of Nawab Murshid Kuli Khan, the Suba of Bengal became almost independent. During this time, Suba was called ‘Nizamat’ and instead of Subadar the title was ‘Nazim’. The post of Nazim became hereditary. Coming to the throne, the Subadars and Nazims of Bengal took an approval only from the emperor. So, the history of Mughal rule in Bengal during the eighteenth century is known as the period of the Nizams or Nawabs. And the rulers who were almost independent were known as ‘Nawab’.

The reformation of the revenue system is the most memorable achievement of Murshid Kuli Khan. Surveying land, he fixed the revenue according to the ability of the tenants. He tooks proper stepts to ensure and regularize revenue collection. With the help of the employees, he gathered correct information about the actual productivity of the land and business tariff. In this system, the middlemen could by no means harass the subjects.

Murshid Kuli Khan deeply felt the importance of the expansion of business and commerce for the economic development of the country. He encouraged the English, French and Persian business men irrespective of race or religion. He gave directives to his subordinates to ensure that the businessmen paid tariff as per convention and they were not treated unjustly in any way. The expansion of business and commerce of Bengal was due to his patronization. Calcultta, Chuchura and Chandannagar became a centre of business of the different foreign merchants.

Murshid Kuli Khan had no son. So, his daughter jinat-un-Nisa’s husband Suzauddin Khan 1727 A.D.-1739 A.D. was appointed as the Subadar of Bengal by the emperor Farrukh Shiyar. With the dignity of an independent Nawab, Suzauddin came to the throne. He was a competent ruler. He was the Nawab of all the three provinces of Bengal, Bihar and orissa. He gave high posts to his relatives and trustworthy people. He also made a good relationship with the Zamindars. But the last part of Sujauddin’s life did not pass happily. Many of the palace officials made plot against him. But he faced the crisis with an expert hand. After the death of Sujauddin, his son Sarfaraz Khan became the Nawab of Bengal-Bihar-orissa. There was chaos all over the country due to his inefficiency. Thaking advantage of this situation, the Nayeb-i-Nazim Alivardi Khan attacked Sarfaraz. Sarbaraz was defeaed and killed. A libardi Khan seized the power of Bengal not with the approval of the Mughal emperor but with his own might peace was established in Bengal during the reign of Alivardi Khan (1740 A.D.-1756 A.D.).

For a long time, the Marathi robbers known as Bargi had been attacking different parts of Bengal and plagued people’s life. Resisting ten years which was from 1742 A.D.-1751 A.D., Alivardi Khan was able to drive out the Bargis from the country. As the Afghan army revolted during his reign he suppressed them with an iron had. During the time of Alivardi, many European merchants including the English, carried on commercial activities in different parts of Bengal. At the same time, they went on gathering military power. Alivardi Khan strongly checked their initiatives.

Alivardi Khan chose the son of his youngest daughter Amena Begum, Sirajuddaula as his heir. The first daughter of Alivardi, Ghasheti Begum had the expectation that the son of her second sister Shaokat Jang would be the Nawab. Consequently, she started conspiracy against Sirajuddaula. Ghasheti Begum gained support of some aristocrats. Of them the names of Roydurlav, Mirjafar, Umichand, Rajballav and others can be mentioned. The shrewd English merchants who came to Bengal for trade, exploited this conspiracy inside the palace. They joined hands with conspirators. At last there was a battle between the Nawab and the English. On June 23, 1757 A.D. in the battle of Plassey, the commander-in-chief of the Nawab, Mirjafora treacherously desisted from taking part in the battle. Sirajuddaula helplessly suffered defeat. Thus through the battle of Plassey, the foundation of the English rule was laid in Bengal. And with it ended the Middle age in Bengal.

English rule in Bengal

From ancient time Indian subcontinent -especially the Bengal region was like a fairy state full of wealth and riches. The villages of this region was self-sufficient i.e. things necessary for life were available in these villages. The peasants of these self-sufficient villages had fields full of crops, granary full of paddy, ponds abounding with fishes. These villages were also rich in cottage industry. The cloth woven by the weavers was more developed than that of Europe. Among them Muslin was world famous. Moreover, other regions of the subcontinent were famous for various types of commercial products and spices. Many person came forward to conduct business with this country at the attraction of these products. English East-India Company also came to the subcontinent to conduct business. In the later periods they became able to occupy the state power.

Arrival of the Europeans

From the 7th century the Arabian merchants had monopoly business with this region. They mainly conducted business by sea. In 1453 the Automaan Turkish occupied Constantinople. As a result, trade and commerce with the subcontinent by sea came to an end. Therefore, discovery of new water ways became necessary for business between the East and the West. Basically, this is the reason for which the European powers started expedients by sea to come to this subcontinent.


Among the Portuguese, the daring sailor who first came to this country by sea was Vasco-da-Gama. He arrived at Kalikot port on the western coast of India on 27 May in 1498. His arrival in this country introduced a new age in the field of trade and commerce, and communication. In fact, the Portuguese by degrees tended to expand the Empire in this country in guise of trade and commerce. Within a short time these Portuguese merchants became able to establish offices at Kalikot, Choul,

Bombay, Saalcity, Besin, Kochin, Goa, Domon, Diu Map : Trail of Vasco-da-Gama to India

etc. ports of the western coast of the subcontinent. In 1538 they got permission to set up duty base in Chittagong and Satgoan. In 1579 they built up a colony in Hoogly. After that they became to expand their habitats in Orissa and in some regions of Bengal. Though the Portuguese played a pioneering role in setting up commercial office in different regions of the subcontinent including Bengal, because of their misdeeds and piracy Saesta Khan, the Subedar of Bengal drove them away by occupying their bases of Chittagong and Swandwip. Besides, the Portuguese were also defeated by other European powers in competitions. As a result, they were bound to leave this country.


The Dutch formed ‘Dutch East-India Company’ and came to this subcontinent for the purpose of business in 1602. In India according to the charter of the company they set up their commercial office in Kalikot, Nagapatram, Chachuran and Bankura of Bengal. Besides, they also set up offices at Balasor Kashimbazar and Baranagar. There started a clash between the Dutch and the other European power, the English about trade and commerce; at the same time they were locked in opposition with the rulers of Bengal. They were miserably defeated by the English in the battle of Bidara in 1759. As a result, closing all their commercial centers they were bound to leave India. First the Portuguese, then the fall of Dutch power eased the rise of English power.


A group of merchants of Denmark formed ‘Danish East-India Company’ in order to do business. They set up commercial office in Tribankur in the district of Tanjor of South India in 1620 and in Sreerampur of Bengal in 1676. But they failed to make profits from their business in this country. In 1845 they sold their commercial offices to the English and left this country without any type of commercial success.


The success of the European merchants by sea, plenty of wealth and resources of the East also inspired the English merchants to conduct trade and commerce in this region. To this end, a group of merchants of England formed an association of merchants named East India Company. The association of merchants got a certificate from Queen Elizabeth in 1608 to conduct monopoly business in the East. The representative of the company appeared at the court of emperor Akbar, the Great with this certificate with the hope of getting commercial benefits. After that Captain Hawkins with the recommendation letter of James saw emperor Jahangir in 1608 with a view to expanding trade and business. In the later periods in 1615 Sir Thomas Roe as representative of James I came to the court of emperor Jahangir. He got commercial benefits realized from the emperor for the English. He left India in 1619. Meanwhile the company strengthened their foundation by setting up commercial offices in Surat, Agra, Ahmedabad etc. The company established their second commercial office in Maslimpatnam. After that they set up another commercial office in Balasor of Bengal. When their power started to increase by degrees, they became able to

build a fort on the Karmandal coast. They built a commercial office in Hoogly in 1658 with the approval from Shah Suja, a Subedar of Bengal. Thus the company built commercial offices in Kashimbazar, Dhaka and Maldah.

In 1668 the second king of England Charles II got Bombay as dowry of marriage with Catherine, the princess of Portuguese. For want of money Charles sold the city to East India Company at the cost of fifty thousand pounds. In the later periods this city of Bombay became the main commercial center of the company.

Another Englishman named Job Charnak gained the possession of landlord of three villages named Kolkata, Sutanti and Govindpur at the cost of Tk. 1200 in 1690. In the later periods the city of Kolkata came into being centering round these three villages on the river Bhagirathi. Just here the company built Fort William after the name of the king of England, William III in 1700. Gradually it turned to a powerful center for keeping the interest of the English and for the expansion of political interest. The power of English company increased further when the emperor of Delhi Farukshiar gave them the right of duty free trade in Bengal, Bombay and Madras. At the same time the company got the right of introducing their own currency. English historian Urme referred to this order of the emperor as the Magna-Carta of the East India Company. Gaining this right East India Company started to march forward at an irresistible speed.


The last European merchant company that came to the subcontinent is French East India Company. This merchant company was formed in 1664. In 1668 the company set up commercial offices first in Surat and in the following year in Muslimpatnam. In 1673 French colony was built up in Pandichery.

Since 1674 they expanded commercial activities in Bengal. The company bought the village Chandannagar situated on the bank of the Ganges from Saesta Khan, the Subedar of Bengal. Chandannagar turned to a powerful protected French commercial office between 1690 and 1692. The company became able to build a powerful fort here in 1696. On the condition of paying duty at a fixed rate, the French got the right of conducting trade and commerce in Bihar and Orissa in 1693. In the later periods they became able to set up a commercial office in Balsor in Kashimbazar.

When English merchants were conducting trade in full swing, the French came to this country. In this state they found it difficult to sustain in competition with the English because like other European merchants the French started dreaming about setting up of empire here. As a result, collision became inevitable between the French and the English. The French were defeated because of the intrigues, diplomatic strategy and developed

military strategy of the English. They became more exhausted by the success of the English in the battle of Polassy in 1757 for supporting the Nawabs of Bengal. As a result, the French offices in Bengal went under the possession of the English. The French company left this country after being defeated in the battles of Karnatak of Deccan.

The Battle of Polassy

Alibardi Khan was the Nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa from 1740 to 1756. He ruled the country successfully despite adverse situations. He became successful in suppressing the Marathas and Bargis. He controlled the merchants of the British East India Company tactfully. But after his death, there appeared extreme disorder in the politics of Bengal.

Before his death, Nawab nominated Sirajuddoula, son Amena Begum who was his eldest daughter as a heir to the throne of Delhi. Alibardi Khan having died in 1756, his loving grandson Sirajuddoula took the charge of the Nawab. He had to face various intrigues and problems immediately after he ascended to the throne. His first problem was the conspiracy of the close relatives of his family. Especially, the Ghateshi Begum, the eldest of three daughters of Alibardi Khan being disappointed with Siraj being the Nawab became involved in conspiracy against the Nawab. They were joined by Raja Rajballab, manager of Ghasheti Begum, the ruler of Purnia and cousin of Sirajuddoula, Shawkat Jang and others. Nawab kept Ghasheti Begum under observation tactfully. Shawkat Jang, the ruler of Purnia having revolted, Sirajuddoula defeated and killed him in a battle and occupied Purnia. Though Nawab could suppress the family conspiracy, another web of conspiracy spread outside the palace. Merchants of home and abroad, influential lords of the palace of Nawab and arisctocracy including military general of Nawab, Mirzafar and others were involved in the conspiray. Every one conspired against Nawab to gain their respective interest. The conspirators started to make the background of the battle of Polassy.

The causes of the battle of Polassy

The battle of Polassy was such an event for the people of this region as can cause fearful disaster in the fate of the people of a country. The causes of this event are mentioned below:

According to the rule in vogue, the English did not send any gift to new Nawab after Sirjuddoula ascended to the throne of Bengal and did not pay a courtesy visit. Nawab became very angry at such misdemeanor of the English.

They kept building fort despite his prohibition.

The English company having abused the summons, the national merchants started to be losers. Nawab forbade abusing the summons and ordered to abide by the condition of trade and business. The company also defied that order.

The English refused to pay tax by infringing the conditions of the agreement with Alibardi Khan. Besides, they also showed arrogance to oppress the public.

Krishnodas, son of Raja Rajballab together with the family members taking a lot of riches took shelter to the English in Kolkata. Nawab sent messenger to the English to send him back but English governor insulted the messenger of Nawab and drove him away. Before that during the rebellion of Shawkat Jang the English supported the rebels against Nawab.

The manners of arrogance and disobedience of the English one after another infuriated Nawab. In order to teach them a good lesson Nawab occupied Kolkata at the beginning of June of 1756. On the way he also occupied the commercial office of Kashimbazar. At the abrupt attack of Nawab, the English fled away leaving Fort William. A good number of English including Hallwel had to surrender. Acquitted of captivity, Hallwel spread a propaganda to debase Nawab which is in history known as ‘Andhakup Hattya'(Killing in dark well). In the propaganda it was said that 146 English men were kept arrested in a room of 18 feet length and 10.14 feet width. 123 people died of suffocation due to tremendous heat. This propaganda traveled up to Madras. As a result, agitated Watson and Clive came from Madras to occupy Kolkata. They defeated Manikchand, the chief of army and occupied Kolkata. When Nawab sensed that he was surrounded by intrigues and enemy, he became submissive towards the English and was bound to sign a disgraceful treaty. In history it is called Alinagar Treaty.

Clive’s ambition soared high after getting all types of privileges provided in Alinagar Treaty. Taking the advantage of the weaknesses of Nawab, the English occupied Chandannagar Kuti belonging to the French on the excuse of a seven hundred year war in Europe. In this state Nawab made alliance with the French to teach the English a good lesson. At this Clive became furious and involved himself in conspiracy to depose Nawab.

In this conspiracy Clive is joined by extremely rich merchant Jagatsheth, Raydurlav, Umichand, Raja Rajballav and the chief of army Mirzafar.

The event of the battle of Palassy

The battle of Polassy is an important event for Bengal even the subcontinent. This battle took place in the mango garden of Palassy on the bank of the Bhagirathi. By this time, Robert Clive steadied his condition and declared battle against Sirajuddoula on the excuse of infringing the treaty. Patriot Mirmadan, Mohonlal and French chief of army Sean Frey fought heart and soul in favour of Nawab. Mirmadan was killed in the battle. Mirzafar intriguingly stopped fighting sensing the imminent victory of Nawab. The death of Mirmadan and non-cooperation of Mirzafar tensed Nawab.

The army chief of Nawab Mirzafar acted like a silent spectator with his non-cooperation in the battle field. Mirzafar did not stop conspiring despite Nawab getting him swear by touching the holy Quran. When the soldiers of Nawab were taking rest, the English soldiers descended on them at the gesticulation of Mirzafar the inevitable result of which was the defeat of Nawab.

The causes of the fall of Nawab

Treachery and non-cooperation of army chief of Nawab and their abettors in the battle field.

All from the army chief of Nawab from his courtiers sacrificed the interest of the country for their own interest.

Young Nawab was deficient of experience, prudence, intelligence and steadiness. He failed to take quick decision in the battle field.

He depended on Mirzafar time and again despite his knowledge about the conspiracy of Mirzafar.

Sirajuddoula did not evaluate the warning and advice of Alibardi Khan about the conspiracy of the English and the French.

The enemies of Nawab were united and their fighting strategy was developed. Robert Clive had prudence, subtlety and cunning.

The results of the battle of Polassy

The defeat and the death of Sirajuddoula eased the way to the direct colonial rule.

As a result of the battle though Mirzafar was made to ascend to the throne, he was mere a Nawab; Robert Clive held the actual power.

As a result of the battle of Polashy the English got the right of conducting monopoly business in Bengal. The French was bound to leave this country.

After this battle socio-economic and political changes of this country started to take place in favor of the interest of the English.

The far-reaching effect of the battle of Polashy was the establishment of the rule of the company in the subcontinent. Thus the independence of Bengal even India wallowed on the ground.

Therefore, it is seen that the battle of Palashy though a partial battle has unlimited importance in the politics of Bengal even the whole subcontinent.

The battle of Boxar (1764)

The purpose for which the English Merchant company got Mirzafar to ascend to the throne could not become successful. The new Nawab became bankrupt failing to pay the company its due money. He had to depend on Robert Clive again and again to protect his power also. Again, Nawab did not like frequent interference of Clive in the administration of the state. Mirzafar made entente with another European company, the Dutch. The matter could not be hidden from the English. Mirzafar was deposed for allegation of inefficiency, inability to pay additional money and entente with the Dutch. In 1760 English governor Vancitart deposed Mirzafar and seated Mir Kashim on the throne on condition. The battle of Boxer took place due to the willingness of Mir Kashim to sustain in power.

The causes of the battle of Boxar:

Mir Kashim was an efficient ruler, a prudent politician and a free will person. He was careful of the welfare of his subjects. He wanted to overcome economic and military weaknesses saving the interest of Bengal with the English in a respectful way. To this end the measures adopted by him at last became the causes of the battle of Boxer.

Mir Kashim first took steps to stop political interference of the English and make the administration free from influence. For this purpose he transferred the capital from Murshidabad to Munger. He built forts and dug trenches around the capital for safety.

He appointed two European soldiers as trainers to resist probable attack of the English and to teach the soldiers European military methods.

He made arrangements to make canons, rifles etc. in the capital so that he did not have to depend on others for arms and ammunitions.

The ruler of Bihar Ramnarayan having shown interest towards the English, Mir Kashim terminated him from his post and confiscated his property.

The English started to abuse the privileges given in the summons by Mogul Emperor in 1717 to conduct business. The local businessmen started to be affected as a result of the abuse of the license called ‘Dastak’. As a result, Nawab adopted only one system for all and withdrew all duties from internal business. Consequently, the employees of the English experienced difficulties in their monopoly profitable business. Nawab not wanting to compromise in this matter, collision with the English became inevitable.

All the steps taken by Nawab were for the interest of country and its people but against the interest of the English. So, the angry English were taking preparation to remedy it.

In 1763 the principal of ‘Patna Kuthi’ Elice having been angry attacked Patna and occupied it. So, Nawab did not have any alternatives to taking up arms against the English. Mir Kashim drove away Elice from Patna through successful resistance. In 1763 the Kolkata Council declared battle against Nawab. Nawab was miserably defeated in the battles of Giria, Katoa and Udaynala by the English army sent under the leadership of Major Adams.

By this time, the English seated Mirzafar on the throne of Bengal. Mir Kashim though defeated did not become disappointed. Nawab started taking preparation to encounter the English. He made alliance with Nawab Sujuddoula of Ajoddha and Moghul Emperor Shah Alam and took part in the extreme test of power against the English in a place of Bihar named Boxar in 1764. Unfortunately, the allied forces were extremely defeated by Major Monroe.

Due to the defeat of Mir Kashim the last attempt to recover the sovereignty of Bengal turned to a failure. The English started to expand their power at an irresistible speed in Bengal even everywhere in the subcontinent. This is why in the history of the subcontinent the battle of Boxar is much more important than that of Polashy.

Individual Work: Arrange the table correctly.

Names of the participants in the battle of Boxar and names of country

Name Country

Mir Kashim England

Emperor Shah Alam Bengal

Major Monroe Ajoddha

Sujauddoula Delhi

Results of the battle of Boxar:

1. As a result of this battle the last attempts to save the independence of Mir Kashim turned to a failure.

2. Defeated in this battle Sujauddoula, Nawab of Ajoddha fled to Rohilakhand. The Emperor of Delhi Shah Alam joined the English. Defeated Mir Kashim hid himself. He died in 1777.

3. The English became able to get Kara and Elahabad handed over to him from Nawab of Ajoddha.

4. As a result of this battle, not only Nawab of Bengal but also his allies Emperor of India Shah Alam and Nawab Ajoddha, Sujuddoula were also defeated. The defeat of this tri-power together increased the dignity and the power of the English.

5. As a result of this battle Robert Clive formally got the stewardship of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa from the Emperor of Delhi. Consequently, the rights of the English got legally recognized in Bengal and they started to become infinitely powerful.

The defeat of Mir Kashim in the battle of Boxar not only put an end to Nawab rule but also clearly revealed the weaknesses of Mogul emperor to the English. As a result, the English started to express themselves fast as a colonial power.

Achieving of Dewany by the company

In 1765 after the death of Mirzafar his son, Nazim-ud-Doula was seated on the throne of Bengal on condition. The condition was that according to the old own ‘dastak’ he, like his father, would allow the English to make duty-free unrestricted business and cancel the privilege of unrestricted trade for the local merchants. After the battle of Boxar, the way to the English rule in Bengal became easy. At this time the English company got complete power to collect revenues of Bengal from Mogul emperor. In 1765 after getting dewany, the English actually exposed themselves as the true rulers of Bengal.

During Mogul rule the posts of Dewan and Subedar of Bengal respectively bestowed on different persons. Murshid Kuli Khan broke this custom and he himself alone occupied the two posts. During his time though revenue was regularly sent to the center, in later periods many stopped sending that. From the time of Alibardi Khan it stopped completely. In this perspective the emperor requested the company to receive stewardship of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa instead of annual gift. But the company did not care for this request at that time. But after the battle of Boxar in 1765 Clive coming to India for the second time, the situations changed.

Returning to the country, Clive at first paid attention to the defeated Nawab of Ajoddha and the emperor of Delhi. He made alliance with the defeated Nawab of Ajoddha. In return he took away the districts of Kara and Elahabad. As compensation of the battle he realized five million taka. On the other hand he signed two agreements attached with the conditions of dewany. One agreement was with Shah Alam, the emperor of Delhi. According to the agreement the dewany of Bengal, Bihar and Odisha was given to the company. In return, Nawab would send Tk. 26 lac to the Emperor. The company would be the guarantor of sending this money regularly.

The other treaty was signed with the immature son of Mirzafar, Nazimuddoula. Nawab complied with the conditions of getting dewany achieved through these treaties which increased the power of the company as monopoly. Nawab was now the pensioner of the company. The Emperor was also like that. All the power was occupied by the company. The income of the company as a result of dewany would suffice the expenditures of the company and would be able to be total capital of the business. Therefore, it can be said about the Importance of dewany that,

1. Achieving dewany by the company was not only a great political victory but also an economic victory.

2. Both emperor and Nawab turned to powerless rulers. Actually they became pension – holder employees of the company.

90 History of Bangladesh & World Civilization

3. As a result of achieving dewany and because of duty-free trade as per conditions set by Nawab, the employees of the company became desperate. Their greed for money increased day by day. The local merchants and the general people started to become affected. Their economic backbone broke down completely.

4. As a result of achieving dewany a lot of money was being laundered to England from Bengal. The amount was so large that the field of industrial revolution of England was created by dint of this money.

Dual Administration

Robert Clive gained mono poly authority of robbing wealth in the name of dewany certificate. The merchant company being given this immense power, there created a dual administration. As a result of this, the company gained authority free from responsibility and the Nawab turned to a powerless ruler whereas, the Nawab had to carry on full responsibility. As a result, there created an unprecedented administrative complexity in Bengal. The general people of the country had to pay for

that. There was a fearful famine in the summer of 1970 which is known in history as ‘monontor’ of ’76. In the words of Murshidabad representative of the company Richard Betcher, ‘That the people alive are eating the dead people is not a rumor, but a fact’. One third of the people of Bengal had to face death in this famine.

The amount of annual revenue collected from 1765 to 1770 was nearly equivalent to the revenue collected in the year of famine. As a result, the people of Bengal became extremely poor and helpless due to extreme exploitation. In the dual system, the Nawab due to inadequate money, failed completely to run the administration. There started disorder all over the country. In this situation in 1772 Waren Hestings did away with the Dual Administration system.

Permanent Settlement

Lord Cornwallis was sent with the charge of Governor General and army chief in 1786 to make the administration corruption free and organized. He introduced permanent settlement or permanent land system in 1793. On 22 March of the same year he gave permanent possession to the Zeminders of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa on their land. This settlement of land is called Permanent Settlement.


Waren Hestings introduced five year settlement to collect revenue in 1772. Though the bid of land would be taken at a high rate, revenue would not be collected proportionately. There being a definite deadline, the Zeminders would realize the money from the farmers by oppressing them if necessary. They did not aim at developing the land and the condition of the farmers. As a result, the farmers in fear of oppression would leave the land and flee away. The land lying uncultivated for years, the prices of land would come down. In this situation Waren Hestings introduced settlement for one year with the Zeminders. In this system also government, zeminders and subjects — none got benefits. In the later periods the parliament of England realized the necessity of inventing a new system to solve the revenue problem in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. In 1789 Cornwallis took preparation to give ten year settlement to the Zeminders. The authority of England having approved settlement with the Zeminders, Cornwallis introduced ten year settlement in this perspective in 1789. But with this, he also gave pledge that in case of the approval of the meeting of the company directors, ten year settlement would be the permanent settlement.

The settlement was approved by the Board of Directors in September of 1792. In 1793 Cornwallis declared ten year settlement as the Permanent Settlement.


Permanent settlement made the Zeminders permanent possessors of land and the Zeminders got the right of the possession of land.

The amount of revenue being fixed, Zeminders gained permanent right to use the land in exchange of regular payment of revenue.

As a result of the introduction of this system, the administrative power became extinct. The government itself took the responsibility of maintaining peace and safety.

Gifts and sales fees were abolished.

If the tax was outstanding, revenue would be collected by selling some parts of the land of Zeminders.


Permanent Settlement cast far-reaching influence on the socio-economic structure of Bengal. Cornwallis himself was a Zeminder. He wanted to form a Zeminder class even in a country like England. But socio-economic structure of Europe and the subcontinent, and the fashion of its development were not the same. As a result, disadvantages rather than advantages were more noticed in this system imposed from outside.


The main advantage of this system was that the revenue earning of the government being fixed, the government could be sure of the amount of its income. As a result, implementation of budgets and various plans became easy for the government.

As a result of Permanent Settlement, the newly created Zeminder class turned to be devoted supporters of the company. Consequently, the Zeminders were able to play an important role in steadying and strengthening British rule.

The permanent possession of the Zeminders on land being recognized, many of them devoted themselves to do welfare activities in their respective areas. They built educational institutions, hospitals, prayer houses etc. in their respective areas. Besides, for the welfare of the subjects they constructed roads and bridges, and dug ponds including their participation in social activities.

The Zeminders being the possessors of land, they made arrangements to cultivate unused land and the land covered with jungle. As a result, with the increase in production, the economic condition of the country was developed.

The Permanent Settlement made the government popular and the rural society started to change due to the role of the Zeminder class in educational and cultural development of the society.


As a result of Permanent Settlement, the interest of the Zeminders was well protected. They gradually turned to a wealthy class of people. On the other hand, the previous right of the subjects on land was abolished. As a result, a Zeminder can on his willingness oust them from land. In the beginning, since there was no law of public right, they had to depend on the Zeminders.

In the Permanent Settlement there being no arrangement for accurate survey, many times more revenue would be imposed on the tax-free lands. There being no land demarcation, in the following periods there would be clashes and suits about land.

Many big Zemindaries were destroyed due to strictness of paying the tax before sunset on a fixed date formulated in the Sunset Law. Excepting only the Zemindaries of Bardwan, other Zemindaries were destroyed in seven years.

Being sure about Zemindary income and possession, the Zeminders started to live in cities leaving the responsibility on their rent-collectors and stewards. In absence of these Zeminders, the subjects became irritated at the oppression of their rent-collectors and stewards. As a result, the production of land started to decline, the economic condition of villages also started to worsen.

The lands of the subcontinent were a symbol of aristocracy. As a result, many people of lower classes and general people who had been the owners of vast wealth by conducting business with the company became busy gaining dignity of aristocracy by buying Zemindary. Consequently, the possibility of the building up of local capital and industry was destroyed. On the other hand, the company also could avoid the probable competition in this country.

As a result of the Permanent Settlement, farmers started to be directly exploited by the Zeminders. Again with the patronage of this Zeminder class, an educated class was formed in the rural society who in the later periods became conscious about the country and nation. At the same time, the British made Zeminder class at the beginning was the strong foundation of the British Empire. But their subsequent generation educated in western education jumped into the independence movement to oust British monarchy.

Resistance, Renaissance and Reform Movement in Bengal during British Rule

Once, the farmers of Bengal used to rush to crop fields with ploughs on their shoulders at sun lighted dawns. They used to return home keeping the setting sun ahead. There was not plenty of rice and cloth; all the same there was no want at all. There was no want of joy and festivals. There were thirteen ‘parbons'(programs /festivals) in twelve months. Evening rendezvous and sittings were sounded with jari, sari, kirton, jatrapala etc. But in the Eighth and the Ninth century the aggression of British merchants started to take away the smiles of their face, their joys and festivals.

At first they destroyed the cottage industry of the villages of Bengal. Then they cast their sight on the fertile land of this country. They kept experimenting one after another in imposing land tax for the greed of more money. The farmers and the general people were the cruel sacrifice of these experiments. As a result, victims of severe exploitation, helpless farmers and general people had no other alternative but to revolt. This revolt continued from the end of the 18th century to the second half of the 19th century.

Along with this revolt, a religious reform movement started in the Muslim society of Bengal which in the later stages took the form of a huge farmer’s movement. Simultaneously, the waves of modern thoughts of the West burst into the educated part of the society. Consequently, as there took place renaissance in the field of art and literature, so there started a practice of free thought and free intellect. Reformation started in Hindu society averting superstitions and bigotry. The Muslim society also came forward to modernize Muslim community educating them in the western education through reformation. Basically, throughout the 18th and the 19th century a wind of change started to blow in the socio-economic politics of this region.

Resistance Movement

Fakir-Monk Movement

The Fakir-monk movement of Bengal was a movement against the British. This movement started in the second half of the 18th century. Before that Nawab Mir Kashim wanted help from fakirs and monks in the battle against the English. Responding to this call, fakirs and monks fought in favour of the Nawab. Though Mir Kashim fled away being defeated in the battle, fakirs and monks continued their movement against the British. Since they helped the Nawab, the English kept an eye on their activities.

According to traditional practice, fakirs and monks lived on alms. They would travel from one place to another on the occasions of religious festivals and pilgrimage. They had with them light arms for their safety. They had been free and independent before the establishment of British rule in Bengal. But the British government kept interrupting their unrestricted movement. They imposed tax on pilgrimage and declared begging as illegal. Besides, they called them robbers and pirates. As a result, fakirs and monks took part in a long-standing movement against the English. The name of the leader of rebellious fakir groups was Majnu Shah. And the name of the leader of the monks was Bhabani Pathak. The targets of their attack were Zeminder’s court of law, houses of tax collectors. The monks first started rebellion against the English in the district of Bardwan of West Bengal in 1760.

Majnu Shah started activities against the English in the whole of North Bengal in 1771. Majnu Shah was locked in many collisions with the English in the districts of Rangpur, Rajshahi, Dinajpur and Mymensingh from 1777 to 1786. And his fighting strategy was guerilla method i.e. sudden attack and sneak away in safety. It was never possible to defeat him completely in any fight against the English. He died in 1787. Then fakirs Musa Shah, Sohban Shah, Cherag Ali, Karim Shah including Mother Bakhs took the leadership of the rebellion. These leaders kept English administration unsettled for some years. In 1800 they were completely defeated. On the other hand Bhabani Pathak, the leader of monk rebellion was killed along with two assistants by a group of British soldiers under the leadership of Lieutenant Brenan in 1887. He was the main leader of monk rebellion. Monk movement came to an end with his death.

The fight of Titumir

Mir Nisar Ali alias Titumir was born in the village Chandpur in Barasat subdivision in the district of Chabbish Pargana. When there was a tide of Wahabi Movemet going on in North India and North-west border province, this movement took a violent shape under the leadership of Titumir in the region of Barasat in West Bengal. In the 19th century in India a religious reformation movement started in

Bengal – one was famous Wahabi or Muhammadia Movement and the other was famous as Faraizi Movement. The main purpose of both of the movements was to direct the Muslims to the true paths of following religious edicts by eradicating religious superstitions from the society. The Wahabis organized themselves under the leadership of Titumir. Tarikaye Muhammadia Movement led by Titumir was imbued with the ideology of Sir Sayed Ahmed Shaheed of north India.

Titumir went to Mecca to perform Haj. He returned home in 1827 and devoted himself to religious activities. His religious reformation movement was responded by many Muslims especially by many farmers, weavers of Chabbish Pargana and the district of Nadia. As a result, the Zeminders put various kinds of injunctions on Muslim tenants and started oppressive behavior with them. Titumir failed in getting peaceful justice from the authority against this oppression. At last he and his followers adopted the path of armed resistance. Titumir set up his first base in the village Narikelbaria in 1831. He built a strong bamboo fort. He formed a skilled strong battalion of stick-fighters under the leadership of Golam Rasul.

Farmers, oppressed by the English, Zeminders and indigo-planters, joined the battalion of Titumir in groups. Thus the movement of religious reformation turned into a huge farmers’ movement. As a result, ruling and exploiting Zeminder class were alarmed at the unity of the farmers and the increase in the strength of Titumir. At last, the government sent a large educated army against Titumir in 1831. This army led by Major Scott attacked Titumir’s bamboo fort of Narikelbaria. Titumir’s battalion was defeated fighting with heroism facing guns and canons. The bamboo fort was blown away by the blows of canons. Thus an organized farmers’ movement came to an end. Titumir was able to form a huge farmer’s movement through religious reformation movement. His bamboo fort was the symbol of the united resistance against bullets and blows of the English, indigo-planters and Zeminders which provided the Bengalis with courage against different oppression and injustice from time to time; encouraged them to go ahead on the paths of freedom.

Indigo Revolt

The English came to this country to do business. With the advantage of the weaknesses of the rulers of the subcontinent, they became the rulers of this country. But they were always alert with their business acumen. Due to this alert business acumen their sight fell on the fertile land of crops. They became interested in producing commercial crops rather than food crops in these fertile lands. Indigo was that commercial crop of theirs. At that time indigo business was very lucrative. In fact, with the progress of industry in order to dye clothes the demand of indigo in

England rose so high. Besides, due to British colonies in America being independent, indigo cultivation by the English merchants ceased there. As a result, Bengal became the main center of indigo supply. Indigo cultivation started in Bangladesh in British rule between 1770 and 1780.

The indigo planters would select the best lands of the farmers for indigo cultivation. They would compel the farmers to take advanced money for indigo cultivation. And the advance money once taken, the farmers could never pay off the loan even generation after generation. The farmers not agreeing to indigo cultivation would be inflicted extreme oppression. The English merchants did the monopoly business of indigo. Indigo would be cultivated widely in Faridpur, Jessore, Dhaka, Pabna, Rajsgahi, Nadia and Murshidabad.

With the increase in prices of things, the cost of indigo production also increased. The indigo-planters did not consider the case. Besides, though in the beginning they supplied seeds to the farmers free of cost; they stopped supplying that in the later stages. As a result, indigo production gradually became impossible for the farmers.

There was no means of liberating the farmers from deprivation after. Law was beyond their catch. Most of those who would enforce laws were friends of indigo-planters or came from the same country. Again, many times the indigo -planters would be appointed as honorary magistrates. So, the farmers could not take shelter of law or get any justice. Under the circumstances, the indigo-planters exposed themselves not only as merchants in the villages but also as very powerful strange oppressive Zaminders. They got so cruel and desperate that they did not hesitate to kill the disobedient farmers.

The indigo cultivators having no other means to resist the oppression of the English burst into tremendous revolt in 1859. Farmers in villages started to get organized and united. All the revolts were led by indigo cultivators themselves. The leaders of the indigo revolt in Jessore were two brothers – Nabin Madhab and Beni Madhab. Baidyanath and Biswanath Sarder led the revolt in Hoogly. Megha Sarker was in the leadership in Nadia. The fire of farmers’ revolt was kindled in Bengal in the local level. The farmers took their firm position not to cultivate indigo. Even they defied the advice of English magistrate. The people of educated middle class started to express their sympathetic attitude towards the farmers. Reports on the oppression by the indigo-planters on the farmers continued to be published in different newspapers. The story of the play ‘Nildarpan’ written by Dinobandhu Mitra spread too far and wide.

At last the struggling farmers of Bengal won the victory. In 1861 British government formed Indigo Commission. Based on the recommendation of the commission indigo cultivation was declared as ‘under the will’ of the farmers. Besides, indigo contract was abolished. In this perspective, indigo revolt came to an end. In the later periods, artificial indigo alternative to original indigo having been invented, indigo cultivation ceased for good.

Faraizi Movement

The founder of Faraizi Movement Hazi Shariotullah was born in the village Shashail in the district of Faridpur in 1782. He stayed in Mecca for long twenty years. He became a profound scholar studying there on Islam.

Returning home he came to understand that the Muslims of Bengal have moved away too far from the real teachings of Islam. Non-Islamic practices, superstitions, malpractices have engulfed into them. He was determined to make Islam free from superstitions and these non-Islamic malpractices. Out of this determination in the first half of the 19th century he brought about the beginning of a religious and social reformation movement among the Muslims. The name of this religious reformation movement of Shariotullah is called Faraizi Movement.

The word Faraizi has come from Arabic word ‘Faraz’ (bounden duty). Those who perform ‘Faraj’ are called Faraizi and those who were the followers of Hazi Shariatullahh in Bengal are called Faraizi in history. The ‘Faraz’ on which Shariatullahh put emphasis were five bounden principles described in the holy Quran. These fundamental principles are belief in the uniqueness of Allah and the conveying of divine messages of Prophet Muhammad, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage (Haj) and ‘Jakat’. He called upon the Muslim society to perform ever what are obligatory to be done in Islam, giving up all non-Islamic beliefs, practices and manners and ceremonies. He could not comply with the British rule in Bengal that is in India. He looked down upon the English rule. He declared Bengal even India as ‘Darul Harab’ (country in war). He directed the Muslims to give up ‘Zuma’ and prayer of two Eids in the country ruled by the rulers of other religions and countries.

The exploited, oppressed poor ‘rayat’, farmers, weavers and ‘teli’ communities spontaneously joined this movement. The faith and belief of the poor people on Shariatullahh and his extraordinary success formed a firm unity among the people of lower classes. The Zaminders started to put hindrances on the religious ceremonies and practices of the Muslims. He advised the tenants to refrain from paying illegal tax and took preparation to form resistance against all oppression of Zaminders. There being want all over the country, he also placed the demand of rice and salt.

When the Zaminders started oppressing the Faraizi followers on different excuses, he decided to form a stick-fighting battalion to protect the tenants. In 1839 a police injunction was imposed on him. He died in 1840. After his death, his worthy son Muhammad Muhsinuddin Ahmed alias Dudu Mia took the charge of Faraizi Movement. He was born in 1819. Though he was not so erudite like his father, his organizing capacity was extraordinary.

Faraizi Movement under the leadership of Dudu Mia at the same time turned into an armed struggle of freedom from exploitation of the peasantry side by side of a religious reformation movement. As a result, the character of this movement was not

at last confined only to religious reform movement. The farmers upset with extreme economic exploitation of the English rulers took part in anti-exploitation direct role through this movement. Thousands of farmers and Zaminders joined the movement in order to survive from the oppression of indigo-planters.

Dudu Mia was the master of the Faraizis. After the death of his father he resorted to armed struggle giving up his father’s peaceful principle. He learned how to move sticks to steady and strengthen the resistance struggle of the Faraizis. He formed a skilled stick fighting battalion by employing Jalaluddin Mollah, a stick fighter of his father’s time as the chief of army. Its purpose was to arrange resistance against illegal tax imposed by the Zaminders and oppression of indigo-planters. It is mentionable here that Faridpur, Pabna, Rajshahi, Jessore, Murshidabad, Nadia etc. regions inhabited by chiefly Muslims were the best for indigo cultivation. So, the degree of oppression of the indigo planters were also intolerable. Independent government was formed under his leadership in villages. An army (stick fighting battalion) of the independent government was also formed of tenants who were farmers.

East Bengal was divided into some areas in the government system of the Faraizis. Dudu Mia together with his followers continued struggle for a long time against the Zaminders and the indigo-planters. Local Zaminders in alliance with foreign rulers and indigo-planters kept lodging criminal cases against him. But they had to acquit him for want of witnesses. At last in 1857 the first of Indian independence war having been kindled, the British government was intimidated. The alarmed British government detained Dudu Mia as political captive. He came out of the prison in 1860 and this revolting patriot died in 1862. After his death Faraizi Movement became weak for want of competent leadership.

Renaissance and Reform Movement


After the battle of Palashi in 1757, there was a far-reaching implication of economic and political changes in this region. Again, the last half Industrial Revolution in England and blood shedding French Revolution also influenced politics and economy of this region. At that time some people of Bengal came in contact with these revolutionary changes. They themselves introduced renaissance. The influence of European socio-economy and politics introduced renaissance in the minds of the educated people of Bengal. Under the influence of their leadership, self-consciousness, sense of self-dignity and sense of individuality were acutely aroused in the countrymen. At last the influence of renaissance itself laid the primary foundation of nationalist spirit in the countrymen which to the last took the people of Bengal that is the Indians to the way of independence.

At this time there was a beginning of the revolution of a kind of thought against religions in vogue, education and culture, literature, social customs and practices, and heritage. As consequences, there took birth new religious doctrine (brammah religion and new Hinduism), new education, new literature, new social ideals and practices. The origin of renaissance in Bengal took place in these very novelties. As a result, Bengal became the center of modern thoughts and spirit in whole India. The Bengalees turned to be the custodians of western civilization and culture under the influence of English education and western trends of thoughts. Many of the intellectuals of Bengal gave up the thoughts of the Middle Age and turned into modern humans by embracing rationalism, individual liberty and scientific outlook. Some generous administrators of the East India Company had contributions to the spread of the new trend of thoughts. They showed great interest in the development of local language and literature. Many of the English administration headed by Hestings, Alfinstone, Malcolm Monroe, Metkaf thought it their moral and humanistic duty and responsibility to revive the people of India with western trends of thought, and scientific knowledge and philosophy. Besides, printing press founded by Christian missionaries also was able to contribute to the spread of the thoughts of modern education.

Raja Rammohan Roy

Raja Rammohan Roy, the creator of renaissance of Bengal was the first modern man of India. He was born in the village Radhanagar in the district of Hoogly. Rammohan Roy had extraordinary erudition. He gained great mastery especially over Arabic, French, Urdu, Latin and Greek language. He published the translations of ‘Vedantasutra’ and ‘Vedantasar’. His other writings included ‘Tuhfatul Muzahhiddeen’ (belief in singleness of God) ‘Manzaratul Adian'(discussion on different religions), Justice with Bhatracharya, imagistic religious methods of the Hindus etc.

Besides, he was the publisher of three magazines ‘Sambad Kaumodi’ ‘Miratul Akhbar’ and ‘Brahmmanikal Magazine.

Raja Rammohan Roy, the transformer of modern India deeply observed the social and political trends of the then society. He endeavored to build up a new society in the light of his own trends of thinking. He made efforts to abolish ‘satidaha’, child marriage, caste system, image worshipping and other superstitions of Hindu Society. Besides, he wanted to rebuild Hinduism based on the ancient belief in the singleness of God by removing all superstitions. He formed an association named ‘Atmio Sabha’ (Meeting of the relatives) with a view to preaching the reformation of Hinduism that is his own religious doctrine. He established the society of Brahmins on 20 August in 1828. He founded the prayer house of the society of the Brahmins in 1830. His establishment of the society of the Brahmins opened a new age in the religious history of the subcontinent. He contributed not only to social and religious affairs but also to the spread of education. He believed that English was necessary for the countrymen. For this reason, despite being a scholar in Sanskrit, he opposed establishing proposed Government Sanskrit College. Raja Rammohan Roy established ‘Anglo Hindu

School’ in 1822, where there was arrangement for teaching English, Philosophy, and modern science. He wrote a letter to Lord Amhurst explaining the importance of teaching science and philosophy instead of Sanskrit education. Besides, he applied to spend Tk. one lac, allocated by the Indian government for the Indians, in modern education instead of Sanskrit and Madrasa education.

This great man, the creator of Indian renaissance Raja Rammohan Roy died in 1833. His dream came true after two years of his death. The government decision to educate the Indians in western language was approved.

Dirogio and Young Bengal Movement

Henry Louis Dirogio was born in Calcutta (Kolkata) on 18 April in 1809. His father was Portuguese and his mother was Bengali. Dirogio started to receive education at Dharmatala Academy of David Dramond, an English school. The head teacher of the school was a progressive, non-superstitious, secular minded, humanistic and very devoted teacher. The ideals of this teacher kept him influenced from his childhood till his death. For that reason, he could become in the later period a competent ancestor of Raja Rammohan Roy. He was the initiator of ‘East Bengal’ Movement stirring the young generation in the age of renaissance. His foresightedness, eloquence and analytic power influenced the then young generation greatly.

The first half of the 19th century was full of the trends of movement of Raja Rammohan Roy. The brilliant students of Hindu College kept that trend alive firmly through East Bengal Movement. Henry Louis Dirogio was the leader of that movement. He taught his students and followers to express their free opinions.

The members of the East Bengal Movement time and again wanted to mean this that they were being ruled and exploited by the British. This is why these youths completely opposed the activities opposing the interests of the Indians. For example, they sharply criticized the Press Law, export of Indian labour to Mauritius, Charter Law of 1833 indifferent to the interests of the Indians.

In order to change the old thinking of the young generation, Academy Association established in 1828 by Dirogio played an important role. The youths of the academy were taught this lesson that irrational belief is equivalent to death. The youths influenced by the new thinking hit the religious belief of old-fashioned Hindus and Christian bigots. As a result, they got furious with Dirogio and the members of his academy. The students of Hindu College inspired by Dirogio published an English magazine named ‘Parthenon’ in 1830. Censuring criticism having been published in this magazine, the college authority stopped its publication. He edited a magazine named ‘Hispabas’ and published a daily named ‘East India’ in 1831. He died in December that year at the age of twenty three.

Even after his death, his followers shaped by himself kept going on his shown paths. After the death of Dirogio, his student followers kept contributing to different fields. The remarkable among them were Ramtanu Lahiri, Radhanath Sikder, Parichand Mitra, Krishnomohan Banarjee. Though Michael Modhusudan Dutt was not his student, he was deeply influened by his ideals. The movement of the followers of Dirogio also influenced Inswarchandra Vidyasagar.

Iswarchandra Vidyasagar

Iswarchandra Vidyasagar was the personality in Bengal of the 19th century in scholarship, spread of education, social reformation and spiritedness. His erudition was like that of Indian saints, power like that of the English and heart like that of delicate mothers of Bengal.

This extraordinary epoch maker was born in 1820 in the village of Birsingha in the district of Medinipur. He inherited his spiritedness, truthfulness from his indigent Brahmin father Thakurdas Banarjee. He inherited soft-heartedness from his mother Bhagabati Devi. Due to poverty he had not the ability to study lighting the lamp. As a result, child Iswarchandra would study under the lamp-post of the road after evening till late at night. He learned counting English number on the way to Kotkata from his village with his father, counting the roadside milestones.

He acquired unfathomable erudition in Sanskrit literature, grammar, ethics, Vedanta, the Smriti, rhetoric, etc. only at the age of twenty one by dint of his extraordinary genius and perseverance. He took the post of Pundit in Fort William College at this age. At the same time, he performed the responsibility of school inspector.

He also became attentive to the practice of literature with his entrance to professional life. He started to write prose literature, seeing the shortage of quality text books. He gave a new life to the prose literature. That is why he is called the father of prose literature. In order to ease children’s study, he wrote the 1st phase and the 2nd phase of alphabet identification. He wrote a preface in order to ease Sanskrit language. Besides, he translated many books.

Not only literature, his achievement is extraordinary in the spread of education. His indestructible achievement is in reformation of Sanskrit education, foundation of Bengali education and pioneering role in the spread of female education. Besides, he built twenty model schools and thirty five girls’ schools in villages and towns during his position of school inspector. Metropolitan Institution is remarkable among the academic institutions established by him. It is now famous as Vidyasagar College.

He was also a successful social reformer. He made resistance against different types of superstitions in vogue in the country. He was involved in struggle against killing female babies and the custom of polygamy. He took strict position in favour of widow marriage in Hindu society. The law of widow marriage was passed in 1856 by the ascent of Governor General due to his diligent efforts.

Bidyasagar was famous for charity. This is why he is also called the sea of kindness. Though he was not adequately solvent, many students would pursue education staying in his house. During extreme hard up of Michael Modhusudan Dutt, he succored him with much money. Poet Nabin Chandra Sen in his youth received his education by the money of Vidyasagar.

His devotion to mother was extraordinary. He built charitable hospitals and schools at the will of his mother. To respond to the call of his mother he once rushed to her by crossing the Damodor River swmming in a full rainy season.

This social worker and great scholar died in 1891 at the age of 71.

Hazi Mohammad Mohsin

Hazi Mohammad Mohsin was born in 1732 in Hoogly in West Bengal. His father’s name was Muhammad Faizullah. His mother’s name was Jaynab Khanam. Their original abode was in Persia. The predecessors of Hazi Mohammad Mohsin came to Hoogly in search of good luck and started living there.

The educational life of Mohsin started in Hoogly. His private tutor Aga Siraji was a scholar. He learned Arabic and French from him. He learned playing three-stringed musical instrument (‘setar’) and music from a musician named Bholanath Ostad. His higher education started in

Murshidabad. After the death of his father he returned to Hoogly and came out to travel different countries. He went to Mecca and Madina and performed pilgrimage (Haj). He returned home after traveling Arab, Egypt and Persia for 27 years. He had profound scholarship in Arabic, French, Urdu, English and History as well as Algebra.

His only sister having died in 1803, he became the possessor of vast property. He lived a very simple life. Then the Muslims of Bengal were in extreme hard up. They had no ability to pursue their education by spending money. He spent all his money in the spread of education and for the poor.

He built a school in Hoogly. He gave a lot of money to develop ‘madrasas’ in different places like Dhaka, Chittagong, Jessore etc. Six years before his death in 1806 he bestowed all his property for welfare activities, forming a fund. With the money from Mohsin Fund after his death in 1836 Hoogly Mohsin College Fund, Hoogly

Charitable Hospital and in 1848 Imambara in Hoogly were established. Thousands of Muslim youths get the opportunity of higher education at the money from Mohsin Fund. Among them was also Sir Amir Ali who was the pioneer of the Muslim society of Bengal whom he showed the way of western education. Thus even after his death he paved the way of education for the Muslims of Bengal. This charitable, fond of learning, great man died in Hoogly on 29 November in 1812.

Nawab Abdul Latif

Abdul Latif was born in the district of Faridpur. He received English education in Kolkata Madrasa. After the completion of his education, he taught at first in Dhaka Collegiate School and then Kolkata Madrasa. He joined the position of Deputy Magistrate in 1849. He was promoted to the post of Kokata Presidency Magistrate in 1877. He retired from government service in 1884. Government conferred on him the titles at first Khan Bahadur and then Nawab for his achievement in his professional life.

He could understand the necessity of the spread of English education among the Muslims of Bengal and the importance of their English education. So, he made efforts for their welfare educating the Muslims of Bengal in modern education. To this end, he arranged an essay competition entitled ‘The benefits of English education for Muslim students’ in 1853 in order to form public opinion. Anglo-Persian Department was opened in Kolkata Madrasa at his attempts. An arrangement of learning Urdu and Bengal was also made there. He placed to the government the problems of Muslim students in receiving higher education. Hindu College having been transformed into Presidency College at his attempts, the Muslim students got the opportunity of pursuing their education there. He built madrasas in different places like Dhaka, Rajshahi, Chittagong etc. The decision that money from Mohsin Fund would be spent only for the Muslims of Bengal was approved in 1873 at the efforts of Abdul Latif. In the madrasas established by him, English and modern western education was introduced together with religious education. The remarkable achievement of Abdul Latif is Mohammedan Literary Society established in 1863.

The main purpose of the life-long activities of Abdul Latif was three:

1. To remove malice of British Government against the Muslims;

2. To take necessary steps for the development and progress of the Muslim society; and

3. To establish alliance between Hindu community and Muslim community.

Syed Ameer Ali

In the last half of 19th century the person who made the most important contribution to the renaissance of the Muslim society of Bengal was Sir Amir Ali. He wanted to make social and mundane development of the Muslims of Bengal through western education. Side by side, he wanted to make them politically conscious.

Syed Ameer Ali was born in a noble Muslim family in Hoogly in 1849. He obtained M.A. and B.L from Calcutta University. He passed Bar at law from Lincolns Inn of London in 1873 and returned home. He was positioned in different responsible posts in his working life. He was employed as a judge of Kolkata High Court in 1890. He became a member of Privy Council in London in 1909.

He was the first Muslim leader in Bengal in other words in India who believed that there should be a political organization for the Muslims. He believed that there should be a respective political organization for the interests of the Muslims and to draw attention of the government to their demands. For this purpose he formed an association named Central Mohammedan Association in Kolkata in 1877.

He wrote in different dailies and magazines about the Muslims falling back in education and in different fields. As a result, the government took some steps for the progress of education of the Muslims in 1885. This is why he encouraged English education at the college level at Kolkata Madrasa and established a college in Karachi in 1884.

Scientific explanation and the past glory of Islam have been upheld in his two famous books ‘The Spirit of Islam’ and ‘A Short History of Saracens’. He believed that Hindu and Muslim – both the communities are required to work together for the development of modern India. He welcomed the establishment of Muslim League in 1906. He was elected secretary of Muslim League in 1912. Syed Ameer Ali was also conscious about the rights of women.

Begum Rokeya

At the beginning of the 20th century when the light of education was burning in houses, Muslim girls of Bengal were still fallen back. The girls of Muslim society were deprived of all rights. Receiving education was almost restricted for them. They would be kept as house-arrested behind the curtain in the name of social religion.

The person who called for the freedom of Muslim girls from their captivity was Begum Rokeya. She was born in the village Payrabandh in the upazila of Mithapukur in the district of Rangpur. Her father’s name was Jahiruddin Mohammad Abu Ali Saber. Her mother’s name was Mst.

Bahatanesa Sabera Chowdhurani. In this region, Saber family was very noble and conservative. The girls were very careful of not exposing themselves. Begum Rokeya received education from her elder brother Ibrahim Saber and elder sister Karimunnesa. She had to study very late at night so that nobody could sense that. She learned Urdu, Arabic, French, Bengali and English at the sincere encouragement of her elder brother. Though she could not receive education at school, she achieved much proficiency in Bengali. She concentrated on the practice of literature from her very young age.

The theme of her practice of literature was women folk. She had witnessed the superstitions of the society, witnessed the pathetic pictures of deprivation and

negligence of women folk. She expressed in her writings what she realized. She wanted to point to the society the pathetic condition of women and discriminatory treatment delivered to them. Her books ‘Aborodhbasini’, ‘Padmoraag’, ‘Matichur’, ‘Sultanar Shapno’ (Dream of Sultana) etc. bear those pictures.

In her mrital life, she got encouragement from her husband to practise knowledge. After the death of her husband, she passed rest of her life in female education and social work. She built a primary girls’ school in Bhagalpur in the name of her husband. She established Shakhawat Memorial Urdu Primary School in Kolkata in 1911. It was raised to Girls’ English High School in 1931. Till her death she simultaneously carried out the responsibilities of head teacher and superintendent.

For the establishment of the rights of women she established ‘Anjuman Khauatine Islam’ (Muslim Women Association) in Kolkata in 1916. The association was able to play a strong role in female education, employment and in establishing legal rights under her leadership.

The pioneer of Women Freedom Movement, Begum Rokeya had an acute tune of revolt in her heart against various oppression and intolerance of the society towards women. She expressed that in her works. This great woman died in Kolkata in 1932.

Movement for Right to Self Determination in Bengal During British Period

The Bengalees never accepted the foreign English rulers. As a result the peasants of this country grew rebellious immediately after the war at Palashi. The soldiers and the kings (or feudal lords) of the country declared the independence of the country after a hundred years. Afterwards the young people educated in the western manner raised a great movement for independence and right to self determination. The young people of Bengal shook the foundation of English rulers by introducing a sort of armed struggle. In the struggles for independence and self governance of the subcontinent they played the most dignified role. The history of the pride and sacrifice of the Bengalis and also of the Indians in the first struggle for independence in 1857 has been discussed in this chapter.

The independence struggle in 1857

The great armed movement led mainly by the common soldiers or sipahis which developed in the Northern and Eastern parts of India a hundred of years after the war at Palashi is called the first independence movement of India. The long political and economic injustice, social dishonour, violation of the religious sentiment, and above all, a disparity towards the Indian soldiers- all these created the background of great mutiny or the first independence struggle. The reasons behind the first independence struggle are stated below.

Political: Since the war at Palashi the imperialistic attitude of the East India Company such as acquiring the native states one after another under different pretexts gave birth of fear, dissatisfaction and sheer agitation among the native kings. According to the policy of Ownership Extinction Act, Lord Dalhousie included the native states like Satara, Jhansi, Nagpur, Sambalpur, Vagat, Udoypur etc. within the territory of the British empire. According to the Ownership Extinction Act an adopted son was not considered the lawful heir of the crown or wealth. The honourariums of the Nabab of Karnataka, the adopted son of the king of Tanjore and the adopted son of King Baji Rao 2 of Peshwa were stopped under this provision. Even the loyal Nabab of Awodhya also could not escape this aggressive step of the British rulers. Awodhya was brought under the empire on the excuse of misuse of powers. All these annoyed the native Kings very much. It also made Bahadur Shah, the second angry because due to this decision he could not remain as the emperor of Delhi.

Economic: An extreme economic aggression developed as soon as the rule of the East India Company developed. The Company had destroyed the native industries before acquiring political power. After the acquisition of power by the East India Company the economic backbone of the peasants was also destroyed in the name of the Land Revenue Policy. Many Zamindars or the feudal lords were thus damaged and socially undermined.

The peasants were the worst victims of it. In one hand, there was excessive imposition of tax upon them. On the other hand, they became the victims of the extreme exploitation of the land lords and the revenue collectors. The peasants became ruined by borrowing from the money lenders. The peasants had to undergo many types of tortures.

Gradually the agriculture sector was destroyed totally. There was destruction of the local industries in the name of capturing the market. Besides with a view to acquiring more profits lands were given lease. As a result, the economic structure of Bengal ruined absolutely. The common people who were the victims of this circumstance became rebellious against the rule and torture of the company.

Social and religious: One of the most important reasons behind the mass upsurge in this sub-continent was religious and social. Though the influence of the west and the social reformations were benevolent for the people during the last part of the 18th and the early 19th century, the conservative Hindus and Muslims could not approve these reforms. English education, the extinction of the Satidaha, re-marriage of the Hindu widows, the preaching of the Christian priests etc. made the Hindu and Muslim conservatives afraid. Various social and religious reformations infuriated the believers in both of the religions.

Military: The distinction between the Indian and the British soldiers in the army was one of the main reasons behind the Sipoy mutiny. There was a vast gap in salary and rank between the Indian and the British soldiers in the army. The Indians were less privileged. Besides they were also deprived of their promotions. Moreover the partiality and disproportionate behavior of the British officers inflamed the fire of mutiny among the soldiers.

The direct reason behind the mutiny was the attack on the religious belief of the soldiers. The Hindu soldiers firmly believed that they would lose their religion in case of crossing the sea. In that case, the Hindu sepoys were compelled to go across the sea. Besides a new type of rifles, called Enfield was introduced for the use of both Hindu and Muslim soldiers. The bullets of this weapon were to be inserted in the gun after the cartridges were removed by the teeth. A rumour went in rampart that those cartridges were mixed with the fat of the cows and the pigs. As a result, soldiers of both the religions grew rebellious as they believed that the act was sacrilegious.

Struggles for Independence: The first flame of independence grew at Barrackpur in the West Bengal. A sepoy named Mongol Pandey started the mutiny by firing a gun shot. It extended in the whole Indian subcontinent including Meerut, Kanpur, Panjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and the Bengal or Bangla. In Bangladesh the mutiny took place in Dhaka, Chittagong, Jessore, Sylhet, Rangpur, Dinajpur and Rajshahi.

The mutineers declared Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah II as the emperor of India. Many aggrieved and deprived Indians like Nana Shahib, the Queen of Jhansi Laxmi Bai, Begum Hazrat Mahol of Aodhya, Moulovi Ahmadullah and other native feudal lords also took part in this war. The Indian sepoys and rebel soldiers tasted defeat after fighting hard. Most of the participants in the war were either killed or hanged.

Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah II was exiled in Rengun (Myanmar). Queen Laxmi Bai was killed in the war. Nana Shaheb disappeared after the defeat. The defeated soldiers faced inhuman tortures. The dead bodies of the defeated soldiers were seen hanging at the Bahadur Shah Park in Dhaka. The rulers created such a brutal event with a view to exciting terror

among the people. Thus the first struggle for Indian independence ended amid cruelty and torture. Everything ended within July 1858 though the event left a far reaching impact.

The significance of the first struggle for independence: This mutiny had an instant significance. This ended the rule of the Company. The British government took over the responsibility of ruling India itself.

The Abolition of Right Law and its related rules were declared null and void on 1 November 1858 by a proclamation of Queen Victoria. It also ensured the employment of the Indians, and their religious freedom as well as an amnesty for the mutineers.

Bahadur Shah II was exiled in Rengun (Myanmar) A long term impact of this mutiny was that the grievance did not stop. People became conscious in the consequence of this mutiny and the English rule ended in 1947 after various movements and struggles.

Bangavanga (Partition of Bengal, 1905 -1911)

The impact of the Separation of Bengal was long. The communal harmony between the Hindus and Muslims was destroyed for ever because of the separation of the Bengal. They began to consider each other as enemies. The level of disbelief increased between the two. Though the liberal efforts of the leaders, various combined programs etc. often brightened the prospect of the re-establishment of unity, ultimately the divide and rule policy of the British government succeeded. The disbelief and enmity of the two communities ended with the division of India in 1947.

Background of Partition of Bengal : The Governor General of India Lord Carjon divided Bengal on October 16 in 1905. This division is known as the Partition of Bengal or Bongvongo in history. Before the division the Bengal Province or the Bangla Presidency consisted of Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and some parts of Assam. The plan to divide Bengal started much earlier. Since the area of Bengal Presidency was too large, various proposals for the rescheduling its area was presented from 1853 to 1903 in the British government circle. In the true sense the plan to divide Bengal was accepted in 1903. The Secretary for India approved it in 1904 and the plan became public in the July of 1904. The plan was implemented in October in the same year. According to this plan the East Bengal and Assam province was created with Dhaka, Rajshahi, Chittagong of Bangladesh, Assam, Jolpaiguri, Tripura Hills and Maldoho. Dhaka became the capital of this province. On the other hand, West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa made the West Bengal which had its capital in Kolkata.

Reasons behind the partition : There were a number of reasons behind the division, which are stated below.

Administrative Reasons : During the period of Lord Carjon the division of Bengal was an administrative reformation. One third of the population of India lived in Bangla Presidency. It was hard to run the law and order situation and lead administration in the eastern part properly from Kolkata. This was why Carjon considered it an irrational task to keep such a vast area in a single administrative unit. So he planned to divide Bengal in two parts in 1903 and it was implemented in 1905.

Socio-economic Reasons : There were also other reasons behind the Partition of Bengal – one of which was economic and the other one was social. During that time Kolkata became the nerve centre for socio-economic activities. Mills and factories, trade and commerce, courts-offices, education institutions- everything was confined within Kolkata. But there was no appropriate transportation system for the raw materials to transport. As a result, the economic condition of Bengal hampered gradually. The population of this area remained uneducated and deprived of education or higher education because of the lacking of appropriate education institutes. Considering these the division of Bengal was inevitable.

Political Reasons : Lord Carjon did not divide Bengal only considering the advantages of administration or the welfare of the people of the East Bengal. It also involved a far reaching political interest of the British government. The middle class Bengali intellectuals were gradually growing conscious of nationalism and politics. The issue could not escape the consideration of Lord Carjon. The Congress leaders led the all India movement from Kolkata. Therefore its main objective was to stop all anti-British movements that centered upon Kolkata. The united strength of the Hindu-Muslim solidarity, and the united Bengal were threats for the British rulers. Therefore he wanted to kill two birds with one stone. As the strength of the Bangalees was made weak, the Muslim community was also made happy for the development of the East Bengal. Thus Carjon divided Bengal more to sustain the British rule than to do welfare for the East Bengal according to his “divide and rule” policy. In this way, arrangements were made to weaken the Indian National Unity.

The Reactions to the Partition : There was a mixed reaction among the people against the partition. The Muslims in the East Bengal led by Nowab Salimulla welcomed the partition. Even the Muslim newspapers also expressed their satisfaction in the partition of Bengal. The majority of the population in the new province was Muslims. Therefore they gave an absolute support to the partition with the view that the undeveloped Muslim community of the East Bengal would get advantage in education as well as administrative and economic sectors.

On the other hand there was an extreme reaction among the Hindus against the Partition of the Bengal. Led by the Indian National Congress they raised strong united movement against the partition of Bengal. Some historians suggest that the elevated class of the Hindu community i.e. the capitalists, lawyers, owners of the newspapers, politicians opposed the partition because the move would hamper their interest. However the anti-partition movement became irresistible no matter whether they were guided by their personal interests or by the ideals of national unity. Leaders like Surendranath Banerjee, Bipin Chandra Paal, Orbinda Ghosh, Ashwini Kumar Datta, Balgongadhor Tilak and even the liberal leaders like Gokhle also took part in the movement. Suendranath Banerjee defined the partition as a national calamity. The anti-partition movement gradually assumed the character of nativist or swadeshi movements. Armed activities were also involved in this movement because of some extremist leaders. Failing to dispel the movement the government at last withdrew the declaration of the Partition of Bengal in 1911. King George the 5th declared the abolition of the Partition of Bengal in Delhi in 1911 when he was in a visit in India.

The abolition of the partition made the Hindus happy while the Congress considered it a victory of their policy. But the Muslim community was much disappointed. They lost their confidence upon the British government and the Congress. They started to believe firmly that the Congress was not concerned with the welfare of the Muslims. The Muslim leaders of the Bengal marked the act as a worst example of treachery.

The relation between the Hindus and Muslims got a crack after this incident. Communal riots also started after this event. The political aims of Hindus and Muslims became different after the foundation of Muslim League in 1906 AD. The Muslims gradually began to feel an extreme urge for an individual national-identity.

Swadeshi Movement

The movement developed by the extremists among the Congress leadership after the failure of the lawful movement is called the Swadeshi Movement. This movement focused on two types of activities – boycotting and being nativist (swadeshi).

The boycott movement aimed at giving up the English goods. Gradually the word boycott assumed a broader use. The activity not only boycotted the English goods but also included a program like refusing English education system. Thus the Swadeshi movement assumed the spirit of a national education movement. Many students were

expelled from schools and colleges for taking part in the movement which raised the necessity of establishing nationals education institutions. For the national education movement there grew a number of national schools and a few vocational institutions in different parts in the country.

The Swadeshi movement soon spread at different parts of Bangla. Various actions were taken to boycott English goods like boycotting English education. Oaths were taken through meetings and seminars at different parts in the country to boycott English goods and education. Congress leaders openly encouraged people in the remote areas to burn English goods and to use native products. So the demand for English goods decreased. During this time native cotton, soap, salt, sugar and leather industries developed at different places of the country.

Different classes of people became involved in the swadeshi movement. Various organizations were formed to increase the popularity of the movement among which Anushilon in Dhaka, Jugantar Smity in Kolkata, Swadeshi Bandhob in Barishal, Brati in Faridpur, Shadhona in Mymenshingh were remarkable. Writers wrote various articles in magazines to excite patriotic spirits among people. In this regard Rabindranath Tagore, Dijendralal Roy and Rajanikanta Sen played a pioneer role. Bard Mukunda Chandra Dev in Barisal succeeded in exciting the patriotic feelings among the villagers singing songs in the villages. Different magazines also contributed a lot in the anti Separation, and Swadeshi movements. Newspapers like The Bengali, The Sanjiboni, The Jugantor, The Amritbazar, The Sayandha, The Hitobadhi and many other news papers published various articles highlighting the spirits of the Bengali nationalism. The women folk also began to take part in the political activities through their participation in the Swadeshi movement.

Though the swadeshi movement was conflicting to the Muslim interest in the East Bengal, a few leaders from the majority Muslim community initially supported it. However, they ultimately withdraw their support. The Swadeshi movement was also influenced by the Hindu rituals and customs for which the Muslim community kept a distance from this movement. The Hindu feudal lords or Zamindar class supported the movement strongly because the majority of the peasants in the Bengal were Muslims. They were highly exploited for a faulty land management system. They were also tortured by the Zamindar class and their aids. That is why the peasants were aggrieved with the Zamindars who were mostly Hindu. Even some of the Hindu peasants also supported the separation of Bengal being fed up with the repressions.

Swadeshi movement failed to assume a national character because of the distance maintained by the Muslims. The boycott of English products also could not achieve success from this movement. Hence the Marwari business community and the rural business community were not involved in this movement. Above all common people also kept distance when the movement gradually advanced towards a secret armed revolution. Therefore the movement without mass participation failed to be successful.

The movement also failed to mature because of the distance of the Muslim community from it. Common people, even the poor class peasants also did not try to understand the spirit of this movement. So neither the movement could take a national shape nor could it be a movement for all. Moreover there were extreme tortures of the British government and the police on the supporters and activists of the Swadeshi movement. All these caused the ultimate failure of the movement.

Though the Swadeshi movement could not achieve any instant success it could create a long term impact. This movement pioneered the anti British movement and hence the independence movement. As a result of the students’ involvement in this movement, as the importance of the students became significant; they also grew politically conscious. It also opened avenues for students to be involved in other movements in India later on. Another significant aspect of this movement is economic. It increased the enthusiasm for establishing native industries, mills and factories. The native rich people began to establish mills and factories. For example, various mills and factories were founded in different parts of the country for the production of native cotton, soap, salt, sugar, paper and leather goods. Modern industries like The Bengal Chemical Company were established during this time. The famous Tata Company was also founded Tata factory in 1910 AD. Many other small industries were also founded during this time. Laterally there was significant increase of nourishing local values in the fields of science, education, language and literature, culture etc. The patriotic and nationalistic songs of Rabindranath Tagore, Dijendralal Roy, Rajanikant, Mukunda Das were composed during that period. Rabindranath composed his famous song amar sonar bangla ami tomai valobashi (O my golden Bengal I love you) this time.

The frustrating aspect of the Swadeshi movement is that there developed bitterness in the harmonious relation between the Hindus and Muslims. This bitterness gradually increased through various events and accidents. The bitterness which generated during the anti-separation movements became bitterer in the Swadeshi movement. It left an all out negative influence upon political, social and national activities which ended with the dividing of India in two countries.

Khilafat and Non-cooperation Movements

Khilafat and Non-cooperation Movements: In the political history of India the combined struggles of Hindus and Muslims in Khilafat and Non-cooperation movements are quite significant. These are the first wide and nation-wide mass movement. This combined movement of Hindus and Muslims shook the foundation of the British empire. The Indian Muslim community started this movement in order to uphold the dignity of the Turkish Caliph and the integrity of Turkey. On the other hand, the aim of the non-cooperation movement was to achieve self-governance in India.

Reasons behind the Khilafat Movement: The Muslims of India respected the Caliph of Turkey as the Caliph or religious leader of the Muslim world. But the

Indian Muslims were embarrassed when the Sultan of Turkey had supported the anti British power Germany. Historically they were loyal to the Caliph for religious obedience and to the British government on political grounds. The Muslims extended their support for the British government as their own government in the First World War. But they also asserted the condition that the British government would do no harm against the Caliph of Turkey. When Germany was defeated in the war misfortune also fell upon Turkey. As a punishment for supporting Germany in the war it was planned that Turkey would be divided in various parts, according to the Savers treaty. The Indian Muslims were distressed with this decision and raised a great movement in order to uphold the dignity of the Turkish Caliph and the integrity of Turkey. This is known as the Khilafat movement in the history of India. The two brothers Maulana Mohammad Ali and Maulana Shawkat Ali along with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad led this movement.

Non-cooperation Movement: There were several reasons behind the movement of Congress against the British government. Mahatma Gandhi called for a non-cooperation movement in 1920 AD. The Reformation Act of 1919 failed to meet up the expectations of the Indians. In addition, the extreme repressive measures of the British Government gave birth to a new mode of anti-British movements. In 1990 The government passed the Rao lat act. This act empowered the police to arrest anyone without any warrant and sentence anyone in the court. The act aggrieved all classes of people in India. A Hartal was observed on April 6, 1919 as a protest against this deterrent act called by Mahatma Gandhi, who was a new face in politics and a believer of non-violent movement. Gandhi joined Indian politics in 1917 AD. Like many other places this movements also spread in the Panjab. In Amritsar of the Panjab many unarmed people were killed on April 13 on General Diear’s order. This brutal killing has been termed as Jalianwalabag Massacre. Congress formed an investigation committee with a number of distinguished leaders. Rabindranath boycotted his Knight title in a protest against the massacre. Censorship upon the newspapers also went in rampart along with the policy of repression. This situation was further fuelled by the price hike owing to the economic recession caused by World War II. In this circumstance, Gandhiji was successful to unite the Hindu and Muslim leaders and called for a total movement in 1923 AD. The leaders of the Khilafat and the Non-cooperation Movements harnessed an all out movement through their united programmes. This movement assumed the spirit of all India mass movement until 1921-22.

The Khilafat and Non-cooperation Movements in Bengal: A meeting was held in Dhaka on December18, 1919 in order to form the Khilafat committee. The meeting demanded the release of Moulana Mohammad Ali and Moulana Shawkat Ali. It was also decided that a six member delegation would be sent to Amritsar in order to participate in the all India Khilafat committee. The Khilafat Ishtehar (or declaration of the Khilafat committee) was published in 1920 along with a call for the non-cooperation movement. The leaders of the Khilafat movement Moulana Shawkat Ali and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad came to Dhaka in the month of March in 1920. The people of Dhaka welcomed them chanting the slogans like “Allahu Akbar” and “Bonde Mataram”. The Muslims also observed Roza (fasting) and the Hidus also kept “uposh” (fasting) on March 1919, the day scheduled for observing Hartal. A public meeting was also held in Dhaka on this day. The meeting declared that it was impossible for the Muslims to remain loyal to the British

government unless the Khilafat was safe. A meeting was held on April 13 in 2020 to remember the Jaliwanwalabag massacre. Other programs taken in the light of the Khilafat and Non-cooperation Movements were also observed simultaneously. The meeting also protested against the Raolat Act. The program declared that the election of the Bengal Legislative Council under the law of 1919 would be boycotted along with the boycott of the schools and colleges. People denied Chowkidary tax in different parts in Bangladesh like Mymensingh, Rangpur, Rajshahi, Noakhali districts. The people of Bangladesh continued to play a vital role in the Khilafat and non-cooperation movements roughly about a year despite various repressions and tortures from the government and police sides.

Significance of Khilafat and Non-cooperation Movements:

The Khilafat and Non-cooperation Movements are significant for various reasons. The Muslims in India for the first time participated in the anti British movements, similarly both the Hindus and the Muslims for the first time made a united movement. Due to this joint movement the British policy of “divide and rule” failed to function for a while. It paved the way of a political and communal solidarity between the Hindus and the Muslims. In contrast, this solidarity frightened the British government. This movement succeeded in spreading the political spirit not only among the young Muslims but also among the whole Indian community. But both the movement and the unity were temporary. Distance between two communities began to increase as soon as the movement ended.

The Armed Movement in Bengal (1911AD- 1930):

The failure in the boycott and Swadeshi movements led the young people of the Bengal to the ways of armed revolution. The secret armed activities taken with a view to liberating the country were known as The Armed Movement in Bengal. This movement gradually became frequent by the activities like sudden bomb attacks, killings of high government officers, small battles in the guerrilla style etc.

Though the movement sustained from 1911 to 1930, it had started much earlier. The armed revolutionary activities exposed through the bomb attack of Khudiram in 1908 to kill English Magistrate Kingsford. The movement originally ended in 1930. But there were such attacks even after the time.

The first phase of the Armed Movement in Bengal weakened even before the Separation Act was nullified in 1911. The top leaders of the first phase of this movement were Arbinda Ghosh, Rabindra Ghosh, Bhupendra Nath Datta and so on. Pulin Bihari Das was the leading organizer of the Onushilon Samity in Dhaka. They were involved in various revolutionary activities including making bombs to collecting arms of various types. They made the government restless with armed attacks and secret killings. An effort was also taken to kill Lieutenant Governor Fuller. Prafulla Chaki, an associate of Khudiram to kill English Magistrate Kingsford, committed suicide. Khudiram was hanged after he was being arrested. This time a number of revolutionaries were hanged at different charges including the bomb attack in Maniktola and other places. A number of revolutionaries were also given banishment in the distant islands and many were imprisoned. For such an extreme policy of repression the first phase of the armed revolution became timid. The second phase of the revolutionary movement started in 1912. Though the movement was

Kolkata based, it broke out at different parts in the East Bengal as well. This time the revolutionaries resumed killing, bomb attack robbery etc. With this objective an explosive factory was founded in Kolkata. In the mean time, a number of robbery took place in Kolkata, and in different parts in the East Bengal such as Jessore, Khulna etc. By the end of the 1912 Lord Harding was bomb attacked in Delhi under the plan of Rasbihari Basu. Harding escaped the attack but the English government declared an award of taka one lakh to capture Rasbihari Basu.

Many revolutionaries of Bengal dared to collect arms from the foreign countries in the context of the First World War. Their objective was to achieve independence through a battle against the English power. They included Bagha Jatin (Jatindranath Roy), Dr Jadu Gopal Mukhopadhyay, Norendranath Bhattacharya and some others. They were promised by Germany, the enemy of England, to get arms. The government arranged to arrest all including Bagha Jatin when the secret was exposed to the government. A revolutionary, Chittoprio was killed in a battle against police when the revolutionaries confronted them. Bagha Jatin was arrested along with three other revolutionaries. He died during the trial. Two of his comrades were hanged and another one received the sentence of life long imprisonment.

Death sentences, lifelong imprisonment, brutal torture-nothing could remove the revolutionaries from their objectives. The plan to kill all natives and English higher officers sustained. Confrontations with the police, sudden attacks, bombing continued.

The Deputy Police Super Bashanta Chattopadhay was killed on January 30, 1916 in Vabanipur. When the number of such confrontations increased the government arrested many revolutionaries in the Defense act in 1916-17. As soon as Mahatma Gandhi withdrew the non-cooperation program in 1922, arrests and police torture increased considerably. The activities of the revolutionaries increased equally too. The revolutionaries published a pamphlet with the title Lalpatra (The Red paper) calling to kill the tyrant police members. In 1924 a revolutionary Gopinath Saha killed an English man in lieu of killing the police Comissioner of Kolkata. Gopinath was hanged for this murder. While visiting the prison the Jail Super of the Aligonj zone was killed by a revolutionary Promod Chowdhury who attacked him with a rod. The English government introduced the Bengal Ordinance in 1924. The revolutionary activities became weak when a huge number of revolutionaries were arrested under this Ordinance.

Mahtma Gandhi started his law violating movement in 1930. The revolutionary activities in Bengal increased much with this movement. It is notable that the revolutionary activity was the strongest in Bengal and the Bengali revolutionaries kept the English administration restless. The young Bengalis always leaped into the armed revolution without caring for their lives.

Such a brave revolutionary was Master Da who was originally Surja (also Surya) Sen (1894-1934) by name. He came across the revolutionaries when he was a student in a college. After graduation he joined Umatara Higher English School as a teacher. In the mean time he was popularly known as Masterda. This time he formed a revolutionary organization with the help of Ambika Chakrabarti, Anurup Sen, Nogen Sen and others. He himself and his organization were repeatedly arrested as a result of their involvement in the revolutionary activities but they were released every time for the lack of any proof. Master Da formed The Chittagong Revolutionary Force to free Chittagong from the English rule. This troop was later terned Chittagong Revolutionary Army. This troop captured government offices in Chittagong one after another. Last of all they robbed the Chittagong Arms Depot. “Independent Chittagong Government” and an war against the British government was also declared. This was a war between two unequal force. The English government engaged a huge force against Surja Sen and his allies. The last war took place in the Jalalabad Hills. A number of young people were killed in this and other battles. The revolutionaries took shelter in the houses of the peasants. Surja Sen was arrested in 1933 and he was sentenced to death after a summary trial. After some brutal tortures he was hanged on January 12 in 1934 and his dead body was drowned in the sea.

Surja Sen’s revolutionary army also had women soldiers. Among them the most remarkable ones were Kalpana Dutta and Pritilota Waddedar. An uncommonly brilliant student Pritilota stood first in the Intermediate examination in 1900 and passed BA examination with distinctions. In the mean time she involved herself in the revolutionary activities and came across the organization of Surya Sen. An uncommonly brave woman Pritilota was assigned to lead the attack on “Pahartoli European Club” because of her efficiency. After a successful operation there she helped her companions to escape the place safely but committed suicide before being captured. Pritilota has been a icon in the history of all revolutionary movements in Bengal.

Like the revolutionaries of Chittagong the Jugantor Samity in Kolkata was also sufficiently active. The efforts to kill Charles Tegart in the Dalhousi Square in Kolkata foiled in 1930. In the same year Inspector General of Prisons Simpson was killed in the Writer’s Building in Kolkata. Before that tyrant police officer Loma was killed by Binoy Basu. Binoy and Badal, two accomplices in this operation committed suicide and Dinesh was hanged. The effort to kill the Governor of Bengal Jackson was failed. An accomplice in this operation Bina Das was given a lifelong imprisonment. Three consecutive English Magistrates were killed in Mednipur by the revolutionaries.

Though the revolutionary activities subsided by 1930, the revolutionaries in Chittagong continued their operations one after another. The revolutionaries succeeded to make people aware of their existence by an operation on the Cricket Ground in Chittagong on January 07, 1934. Two revolutionaries were killed on that day and two more were killed after being captured.

Reasons Behind the failure of the Armed Movement:

One of the reasons behind the failure of the armed revolution was its disintegration with the common people. This movement was led by the hidden organizations. Some educated

conscious young people were related to them. All revolutionary activities were run secretly. Common people had no idea about their activities. For the common people armed attack, bombing, killing all these meant terrorism and violence. For this they stayed far from them.

The majority population of Bengal remained at a distance from this movement. Since there were some Hindu rituals like taking oath by touching the Geeta, reciting verses in front of the goddess Kali were mandatory for revolutionaries, the Muslims felt obstacles to take part in the revolution.

The revolutionary groups had to work in small units for the sake of security and confidentiality. No groups could learn the activities of others. So there grew a distance among the groups. For this often it became difficult to maintain communication with other groups to make an operation successful. There existed weakness in organizing activities due to lack of proper coordination. Besides, the secret organizations worked in their own way. One group did not have any coordination with the other. So the armed revolution continued throughout the country separately under no particular leadership. This separation among the revolutionaries caused the failure of the revolution.

Moreover, the firmness of the government in tackling the movement and the disintegration of the revolutionaries with the common people made them helpless and cornered. Not only that, as division and enmity among the group leaders made the armed revolution weak, it also gave birth to extreme disliking for each other. In this context a number of revolutionaries joined Communist Party when it was formed in India.

Though the revolutionary movement could not achieve success, the self-sacrifice of the revolutionaries, their patriotism, courage captivated Bangalees or even the Indians more for freedom. Though the movement was not a complete success, the ideals of the revolutionaries lit the ways of the farther movements.

Swaraj and Bengal Pact

Many Congress leaders were released from the jail after Gandhi had withdrawn his non-cooperation program. This time he faced a distant in opinion with the released leaders Chittaranjan Das (C.R. Das) and Motilal Nehru regarding the future activities of Congress. C.R. Das and his followers decided to join the councils formed by election. They took that decision because after the failure of the non-cooperation movement there was no situation to go for law violating movement. Furthermore they had an objective to foil the Reform Act of 1911 after joining the legislative council. But their efforts went in vain in the Goa conference of Congress. In this context Swaraj Party was formed in 1922 by C.R. Das with the support of a section of the Congress leadership. C.R. Das became the President of the party while Motilal Nehru became one of the Secretaries.

Those who supported Swaraj Party to achieve self-governance were called pro-changers and those opposed the Swaraj Party were known as no-changers. These two groups had no other difference in their objectives other than determining the means to achieve independence.

The opponents of Swaraj Party were rigid in continuing the non-cooperation movement towards forming a law violating movement. On the other hand, many revolutionaries like Subhash Chandra Basu, Hossein Shahid Suharawardi and other young leaders joined the Swaraj Party.

The Programs of Swaraj Party:

1. To oppose government activities in the legislative council sessions and make the Reformation Act of 1919 null and void;

2. To refuge government budget and make the cabinet fall;

3. To strengthen nationalist spirit and activities through the introduction of various proposals and bills; and

4. To make the foreign rule impossible.

The activities of Swaraj Party

An election was held in 1923 for the second time according to the India Rule Act or the Montegne Chamesford Act of 1923. Swaraj Party participated in the election and achieved success beyond their expectations. Particularly in Bangla and in Madhyaprodesh this party bagged the majority of seats in the central legislative council. The foundation of Swaraj Party became strong for the support of the Muslims and it became possible to make obstacles against various steps taken by the government. The credit of success in Bengal went to the party chief C.R. Das. His non-communal spirit, liberal policy succeeded to achieve the confidence of the Muslim community. Their support strengthened him and his party.

Bengal Pact or Bengal Treaty (December, 1923)

Swaraj Party leader Chittaranjan Das successfully realized the Hindu-Muslim crisis deeply. For this foresighted leader made a treaty which is known historically as the Bengal Pact or Bengal Treaty. So far the Bengal Pact was the most significant incident in the history of Bengal. Undoubtedly his efforts paved the ways for the unity of Hindus and Muslims in India.

The most famous leaders who played a significant role to formulate the famous pact popularly known as C.R. Das formula were Abdul Karim, Mujibur Rahman, Akram Khan, and Moniruzzaman Islamabadi. Sir Abdur Rahim, A.K.Fazlul Haq, Hossen Shahid Suharawardi also helped formulate the treaty and signed in it. Bengal Congress leader Subhash Chandra Bose also signed in the pact. The Bengal pact was approved by their combined efforts.

The treaty signed on December 16, 1923 focused on providing various advantages for the Muslim community. They were –

1. All religious groups would enjoy their rights once autonomy would have enacted. In a separate electoral process Bengal Legislative council will elect their representatives according to the ratio of population.

2. 60% representations will come from the majority group and 40% will representations will come from the minority groups in all local autonomous institutions in each districts.

3. 55% of appointments in government offices would be preserved for the Muslims.

4. If any law related to any religion would be enacted, three fourth majority of the representatives of that religion should support that to pass the bill.

5. No slogan or rallies with music could pass any mosque and there would be no intervention in slaughtering of cows.

The End of Bengal Pact

The Bengal Pact or the Bengal Treaty was a document in favour of religious harmony between the Hindus and Muslims. Swaraj Party was successful to bag the majority in the election for the confidence of the Muslims upon them due to the content of this document. Not only that when Hossein Shahid Suharawardi was elected the Deputy Mayor of Kolkata, the Muslims got employment in the Corporation. Thus the Bengal Pact or the Bengal Treaty which was initiated by C. R. Das to solve the problem of Hindu-Muslim crisis was equally pragmatic and praiseworthy. But unfortunately, the Hindu newspapers, conservative Hindu community, Gandhi supporters in Congress and other opponent parties opposed the Bengal Pact strongly. On the other hand, movements like “Sudhdhi” and “Sangothon” backed by the Hindu Mohasova and “Tableague” and “Tamjid” movements of the Muslims were responsible for the destruction of communal harmony. Additionally all means of the Hindu-Muslim unity came to an end for ever with the untimely death of Chittaranjan Das on June 16, 1925. The Congress leaders and others kept silent about the Bengal Pact afterwards. All means to implement this treaty shut down after the communal riots in Kolkata and then in Dhaka the next year (i.e.1926).

The Background of Lahore Resolution

The prospect of Hindu-Muslim unity extinguished following the failure of the Bengal Pact. The efforts suggested by Nehru to make negotiations between the Hindus and the Muslims also failed in 1928 on the issue of election for the minorities. Failing in his efforts to establish a Hindu-Muslim harmony Jinnah presented his famous 14 point formula in 1929, where Muslim interests had special priority. All these intensified communalism and distance between the two communities. Under these circumstances all political parties refused the Symon Commission report in 1930. Three consecutive round-table conferences in London between 1930 to 1932 ended without any decision as no consensus was reached in those meetings regarding the reservation of seats for the minority communities. This time leaders of different communities created pressure on the British Prime Minister to solve this crisis. In this context, the British Prime Minister Ramsey Macdonald declared the “Communal Award” to solve the crisis. In that charter there was a provision to hold separate elections keeping a number of seats reserved. The

“Communal Award” crested a sharp reaction among different communities and parties. Though the Muslims too were critical about the award, they decided to go with the idea. Afterwards the British parliament accepted the India Rule Act in 1935 which included federal system of government and provincial autonomy. Though the Act was an important document in the administrative history of India, the federal government system could not be enacted according to it. Jinnah made a harsh criticism of the proposed federal system. Congress President Rajendraprasad also criticizing it bitterly commented that there was no sign of natural development towards autonomy of the provinces. Both the parties demanded extended legislative and political reforms. On the other hand, Hindu Mohasova opposed the Act. Despite the adverse reactions of the political parties the proposed provincial autonomy became effective under this act in 1937. In the provincial elections Congress bagged the majority of seats in most of the provinces. In this circumstance, Congress formed provincial governments in the Muslim majority provinces without any dialogue with Muslim League. Later Congress President Jawherlal Nehru in his post electoral comments told that in India the existence of two powers were obvious – one was Congress and the other was the government. Such remark caused a harsh and adverse reaction among the Muslim leaders. Mr. Jinnah who had a long effort to ensure the communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims adopted a new way in politics due to the statement of the Congress president. In 1938 in a meeting of the provincial Muslim League in Sindh he termed the Muslims and the Hindus two different nations. Thus before the Lahore resolution was presented, the view that the Muslims and the Hindus were two different nations created the idea of creating two separate states for them. The practical example of this view was the Lahore Resolution.

Lahore Resolution

Allama Iqbal, who was a poet, mentioned the prospect of a different state for the Muslims much earlier than the presentation of the Lahore Resolution. Chowdhury Rahmat Ali, a student of the Cambridge University, drew the picture of an independent state called Pakistan to be created comprising the Muslim majority states in the north-western India. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did not speak of a separate state for the Muslims till 1937-38. But the bitter experiences in the election of 1937 and also for the remarks of the winner Congress President he realized that the interest and hopes of the Muslim community would never reach its goal under the Hindu leadership. Considering over all political situation, the bitter experiences of the past and the interest of the Muslims, Jinnah stated his well discussed and criticised Two Nations Theory in 1939. The Lahore Proposal in 1940 only gave direction to achieve the practical form of his theory.

Since this proposal was accepted in the Lahore Council of Muslim League in 1940 it was known as the Lahore Resolution in the history, which is an extremely significant issue in the political history of the sub-continent Muslims. Mohammad Ali Jinnah chaired this session. It was A. K. Fazlul Haque who presented his proposal in the session on March 23. Lahore resolution stated that no constitutional plan could function unless that was based upon the basic principles of the Lahore Resolution.

The Principal Clauses of the Lahore Resolution

a. Independent states to be formed with the Muslim majority regions in the North-Western and Eastern India.

b. These independent states will be autonomous and sovereign.

c. Sufficient measures must be taken in the constitution to ensure the rights and interests of the minority groups after discussing with them.

d. Powers on defense, foreign affairs, communication would be bestowed upon the concerned subsidiary states.

In the Lahore Proposal it was suggested to form states with the Muslim majority regions. For this the Bengali Muslims dreamt of an “independent Bangla state”. But on April 9, 1946 in Delhi Mr. Jinnah presented a different proposal in a convention of the Muslim League Legislative Council Members. There he made some amendments to the “Lahore Proposal”. In this proposal suggestion came for forming a single state with the Muslim majority provinces. Therefore it can be said that Pakistan was born not on the basis of the Lahore Proposal of 1940, rather it was born on the basis of the Delhi proposal in 1946.

The importance of Lahore Proposal

There was a sharp reaction among the Congress leaders on Lahore Resolution. Pandit Jawherlal Nehru condemned the proposal bitterly and commented that an individual Muslim state was an impossible matter. But historically it is true that the Muslims began to dream for an independent home land after the Lahore Proposal. A new stream in Indian political-constitutional began to flow because of this proposal. Mohammad Ali Jinnah began to identify the Muslims as a different nation. For that the establishment of a new state for Muslims became a matter of time only. From this time the politics of Jinnah and Muslim League ran towards the establishment of an independent state, which had its ultimate result in the division of the country in August in 1947. As a practical consequence of the two nations theory two countries called Pakistan and India were born respectively on August 14 on August 15.

Pre-division Politics of East Bengal (1937-1947)

The death of Chittaranjan Das in 1925 and the Kolkata riot in 1926 created an adverse situation for the Hindu-Muslim relation. In this circumstance Muslim leaders like Maolana Akram Khan and Tamij Uddin Khan left Congress.

A decision was taken to form a party named Nikhil Bongo Proja Samity (All Benagal Peasants Association) in 1929 after the provincial legislative election. The principal objective of this party was to improve the condition of the poor peasants of Bengal. As a result, there grew a new stream in peasants’ movement and politics. In 1935 A.K.Fazlul Hoque was elected the President of Nikhil Bongo Proja Samity (Peasants Association) in the council in Mymensingh.

The party had a new name “Krishok Proja Party” in the next year. Krishok Proja Party was absolutely an individual and provincial political party. There was a very close

competition between Krishok Proja Party and Muslim league in the general election in March 1937. But both of the parties failed to bag required number of seats to form a government. As a result, Muslim League accepted the proposal of forming the government with A. K. Fazlul Hoque as the Chief Minister. Fazlul Hoque was elected the Chief Minister and took the charge of education ministry. This coalition government was weak. Thus Krishok Proja Party also became weak.

Fazlul Hoque resigned from Muslim League in 1941 following disagreements with Jinnah. Since Fazlul Hoque had the support of the majority, he formed his second cabinet in December in the same year. This new cabinet was an assembly of various political parties. Fazlul Hoque initiated a new political trend in Bangla by forming such a cabinet. This new trend aimed to solve the crisis trough establishing a communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims in Bangla. Fazlul Hoque’s new cabinet was in power from 1941 to 1943. He was compelled to resign because of his failure to solve the crisis created by a great famine in 1943.

Khawja Najimuddin formed his cabinet on April 13, 1943 in the context of the state wide famine. It is thought that more than three millions of people died in this devastating famine. Nazimuddin cabinet fell down in 1945.

Bengal Muslim League was divided in two factions in 1946 on the issues like the provincial election and the leadership of the party. At last Suharawardy became the leader of Bengal Muslim League. Muslim League bagged 114 seats in the election which in other means reflected the desire of Bengali Muslims very clearly.

In the political history of Bengal this election and its result was very much significant. Sowharawardi formed a government on April 24, 1946. In the true sense the tenure of Sowharawardi cabinet marked the transition in the history of Bengal and India. The end of the British rule, riot in Kolkata in the context of dividing India, the attempts to form a united Bengal, and the division of India were the significant events of this time.

Attempts to Form a United Bengal

The Hindu-Muslim relation turned to a severe riot in 1947. The British government completely failed to manage the crisis in such an extreme situation and expressed desire to transfer power to the Indians. In this situation the Chief Minister of Bengal Hossein Shahid Suharawardi presented the proposal to form a Joint Bengal state. Sharat Chandra Basu took a strong stance in favour of the proposal. The proposal was known as the Basu-Suharawrady Treaty in the history of this subcontinent.

In a press conference in Delhi on April 27 Hossein Shahid Suharawardi announced the issue of forming an independent, and sovereign undivided Bengal state in his speech and also expressed strong arguments in favour of this proposal. Muslim League leader Abul Hashim formulated a framework for this greater Bengal state too. Later in a speech Sharat Chandra Basu called upon to make Bangla a Socialist Republic.

Basu-Suharawrady Treaty

A meeting was held in the house of Congress leader Sharat Basu on May 20, 1947 in favour of a united Bengal. A treaty was signed to form an independent sovereign united Bengal in that meeting. For the greater Bangla state the treaty was signed by Abul Hasim on behalf of Muslim League and Sharat Chandra Basu on behalf of Congress. Muslim League Leaders like Hossain Shahid Suharawardy, Abul Hashim, Fazlur Rahman, Mohammad Ali, A.M. Malik were present in that meeting. On the other hand, Sharat Chandra Basu, Kiron Shankar Roy and Satya Ranjan Bakhshi were present among the Hindu leaders. Here is the summary of the treaty.

1. Bangla would be an independent and sovereign state. The state itself will decide the type of its relation with the other parts of India.

2. The seats of the legislative council will be decided on the ratio of the number of Hindu and Muslim population and the council will be elected by the votes of the adult people.

3. Once the proposal for independent Bangla had been accepted the present cabinet would be dissolved. An interim cabinet would be formed. The posts in that cabinet will be equally distributed between Hindu and Muslim communities except the position of the Prime Minister.

4. Hindus and Muslims would be equal in number in all services including the Military and Police departments. Such jobs would be restricted only for the Bangalees (also Bengalese).

5. There would a representatives’ council consisting of 30 members to formulate the constitution. Among them 16 members would be Muslim and 14 would be Hindus.

The failure of the proposal of a United Bengal

There was an adverse reaction among the Congress and the Muslim League leaders. Initially the fundamentalist conservative Muslim league leaders were in favour of the treaty. At the primary level even Mahatma Gandhi and Mohammad Ali Jinnah also kept silence in support of this proposal. But the issue became complex for the opposition of the top ranking Congress and Muslim league leaders. As a result both Mahatma Gandhi and Mohammad Ali Jinnah changed their attitude. Though the Muslim League leaders were initially its supporters, later they, in particular Khawja Nazimuddin and Akram Khan, started demanding to make united Bangla a part of Pakistan. Akram Khan after attending a meeting with Mohammad Ali Jinnah on May 16 in Delhi said that the Muslim League did not support the idea of the united independent Bengal. Thus the Basu-Suharawrady Treaty lost the support of the Muslim League.

The united independent Bangla idea or the Basu-Suharawrady Treaty faced equal strong opposition from the Congress hierarchy from the very beginning. Many Congress leaders including Jawherlal Nehru and Sardar Ballovbhai Patel opposed the plan. They were not prepared to lose Kolkata in the independent India. They also didn’t want to lose Assam which was rich in Petrol and other mineral resources. Furthermore Congress was concerned for the security of the Hindu community in the Muslim majority state of the united Bengal. Samaprasad Roy of Hindu Mohasava was in extreme opposition against the united Bengal. Thus the idea of united Bangla lost the support of Congress. Again, some newspapers and magazines made continuous

propaganda against the united Bangla. The West Bengal based Bengali and non Bengali business community, traders, capitalists took a strong stand against this proposal. Even the Hindu intellectuals in Dhaka were also active against it. In this circumstance the central leadership of Congress refused the independent Bengal plan. On the other side, Lord Mountbatten presented his plan to divide Bengal and the Punjab on June 03 in his declaration of dividing India. As most of the members in the Bengal legislative council voted in favour of the division of the Bengal on June 20, the division became inevitable. The Indian Independence Act, 1947 stated the division of Bengal and the Punjab. Accordingly India was divided on August 14, 1947 when an artificial state Pakistan was born. The next day, on 15th August India got freedom. The East Bengal or the Purba Bangla became a part of Pakistan which later on came to be known as the East Pakistan. The West Bengal was attached to India. In this way the dream for forming a united independent Bengal came to an end.

The end of the British Rule

The Birth of India and Pakistan

Prologue to the end of the British Rule:
When all concerned refused to accept the Cripse Mission proposal in1942, a serious dissatisfaction developed in whole India. There came deep frustration even in Politics. Outside India the world was facing the destructions of the Second World War. The Indians felt a panic on the prospect of an attack upon India by Japan, a close allies of Germany. Gandhiji marked the presence of British government in India as the reason behind the supposed cause of the Japanese attack. Therefore in the Allahabad conference of Congress he proposed the British government to leave India in the view that it might change Japan’s objective to attack India. Congress started Quit India (varat charo) movement. People became involved in this movement. The movement spread throughout India and assumed the nature of a strong anti British attitude. Mahatma Gandhi declared in the historical session of All India Congress conference in Bombay (presently Mumbai), ‘I want freedom. Even I want it within this night, if possible before the dawn” on August 08 in 1942. He also said, “We will achieve independence by struggles. And this will be our last struggle”.

But the English government was not prepared then to hand over power to the Indians. Rather the government resolved to stop the movement in an iron hand. Many top ranking Congress leaders like Gandhi, Moulana Abul Kalam Azad, Jawherlal Nehru were arrested overnight. The government declared Congress an illegal organization and almost all leaders were arrested within a week.

The non-violent movement turned violent. Hartals and general strikes were observed in mills-factories and in schools and colleges to press the demand of the release of the imprisoned leaders. Agitated people became involved themselves in the terrorist activities like picking up railway lines, throwing stones upon the running trains,

setting fire on the government buildings and railway stations etc. A movement without leadership developed in whole India beyond any control of the authority. Somewhere people formed interim governments or even the national governments in their own discretion. A perilous situation took place while Tamluk police station was captured. An old Indian woman named Matongini Hazra got martyrdom because she strongly upheld the flag of India despite being shot by the police. Immediately after this movement human beings became aimless for the fake famine in 1943. Besides an extreme inflation, corruptions, price hike all together caused the destruction of the economic conditions. As a result the anti-British sentiment spread among the frustrated population.

When there was an extreme frustration in the domestic political circle in India, and all life-risk struggles had failed, an organization named Azad Hind Fouz or Indian National Army (INA) was formed outside the country. Netaji Subhash (or Subhash) Chandra Bose led this Army. Another Bengali revolutionary Rasbihari Basu helped to form this army. An erstwhile President of Congress and the founder of the Forward Block Party Shubhash Chandra Bose opposed the compromising attitude of the Congress politics. He differed from Mahatma Gandhi from the beginning in determining the means to achieve independence. Subhash Bose opposed Gandi’s non violent movement since his adolescent days. Though Gandhi himself had nominated Subhash Chandra Bose to become the President of Congress in 1937, it is Gandhi himself who did not nominate Subhash Bose for the Presidential candidate for the second term. Subhash Bose competed for the post denying the sanction by Gandhi and was re-elected as the President of Congress. The winner in such a challenge against Gandhi later failed to win Gandhi’s support in Congress politics. Being frustrated Subhash Bose formed the Forward Block Party. His politics advanced towards an uncompromising destination. The British government arrested him repeatedly from a sense of fear. At last he left the country in the innocence of all in 1941 after being free from jail. It was the time of the Second World War. He first went to Germany, the enemy land of the British government. There he liaised with the German government and tried to form an army. He was the first Indian politician who tried to achieve independence by the help of a foreign power. Since the situation was not in his favour he came to Japan by an adventurous submarine journey crossing the Atlantic and the Indian oceans. There he formed the Azad Hind Fouz with the war prisoner Indian soldiers together with another exiled brave leader Rasbihari Basu. He took the leadership of this force in 1943 and in the same year formed the exiled Azad Hind Government or the exiled Independent Indian Government. This force fought bravely against the English power in different frontiers in India till 1945. Azad Hind Fouz and Subhash Chandra Bose were nightmares to the British government during that period. The armed movement of Subhash Chandra Bose shook the foundation of the British government. Azad Hind Fouz entered India in 1944 from Burma (presently Myanmar) led by this great commander. Azad Hind Fouz captured Kohima-Imphol regions by fighting bravely in those frontiers. Unfortunately when the Japaneese had to retreat following their failure to face the extreme attacks from the English force,

part. It means that the proposal for Pakistan was approved by the vote of Bengali Muslims. Hossein Shahid Suharawadi and Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman contributed most to this victory.

The prospect of a different situation in the politics in this sub continent became prominent in the post election period. The wise Governor Atlee realized that it would not be possible for Britain to rule India for long with honour. Therefore a delegation led by Pathic Lawrence, the Secretary for India, came to India in 1946. This delegation is called the Cabinet Mission. This time the Delhi convention of Muslim League asked the Cabinet Mission to solve the situation by accepting the demand for Pakistan. Discussing with the Muslim League and Congress leaders the Cabinet Mission presented some definite proposals in May on the future Constitution of India.

The proposed plan of the Cabinet mission suggested establishing a federal state with three tires. For example-

a. To form an interim central government.

b. To form an autonomous Indian union with the British Indian native states.

c. To divide the provinces in three categories such as Hindu majority group, Muslim majority group and the Bengal and Assam group and to form a legislature for each of the groups. But conditions were imposed that if this proposal would be accepted it must be accepted as a whole. Part of it could not be accepted.

Though the demand for Pakistan was ignored in Cabinet Mission plan, Muslim League accepted the proposal. Muslim League realized that the prospect of the establishment of Pakistan existed in the plan. Congress also saw the reflection of creating an undivided India through forming a common central government in this plan. Congress was ready to accept the plan in its own perception of it. But Muslim League refused the plan when Congress had refused it. As a result the proposals of Cabinet Mission to solve the political crisis became null and void.

Governor General Wavell asked the Muslim League and the Congress to join the interim government. Muslim League canceled its previous decision to join the interim government on account of a comment made by the newly elected Congress President Jawherlal Nehru. But Nehru took the initiative to form a government according to the call of Wavell. In its protest Muslim declared August 16 as “the Direct action Day”. Thousands of innocent people died on this day in the riot. The British government announced its decision to transfer power to the Indians following the riot and the serious deterioration of the relation between Hindus and Muslims.

British Prime minister Atlee announced in the month of February in 1947 that power would be transferred to the Indians before June, 1948. To discharge the responsibility of transferring power Lord Mountbatten was sent to India as the Governor General in the place of Lord Wavell.

Lord Mountbatten decided to divide India on the basis of his dialogues with the Congress and the Muslim League leaders. In order to protect the country from communal riots the leaders at last agreed to divide India. Mountbatten announced the

part. It means that the proposal for Pakistan was approved by the vote of Bengali Muslims. Hossein Shahid Suharawadi and Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman contributed most to this victory.

The prospect of a different situation in the politics in this sub continent became prominent in the post election period. The wise Governor Atlee realized that it would not be possible for Britain to rule India for long with honour. Therefore a delegation led by Pathic Lawrence, the Secretary for India, came to India in 1946. This delegation is called the Cabinet Mission. This time the Delhi convention of Muslim League asked the Cabinet Mission to solve the situation by accepting the demand for Pakistan. Discussing with the Muslim League and Congress leaders the Cabinet Mission presented some definite proposals in May on the future Constitution of India.

The proposed plan of the Cabinet mission suggested establishing a federal state with three tires. For example-

a. To form an interim central government.

b. To form an autonomous Indian union with the British Indian native states.

c. To divide the provinces in three categories such as Hindu majority group, Muslim majority group and the Bengal and Assam group and to form a legislature for each of the groups. But conditions were imposed that if this proposal would be accepted it must be accepted as a whole. Part of it could not be accepted.

Though the demand for Pakistan was ignored in Cabinet Mission plan, Muslim League accepted the proposal. Muslim League realized that the prospect of the establishment of Pakistan existed in the plan. Congress also saw the reflection of creating an undivided India through forming a common central government in this plan. Congress was ready to accept the plan in its own perception of it. But Muslim League refused the plan when Congress had refused it. As a result the proposals of Cabinet Mission to solve the political crisis became null and void.

Governor General Wavell asked the Muslim League and the Congress to join the interim government. Muslim League canceled its previous decision to join the interim government on account of a comment made by the newly elected Congress President Jawherlal Nehru. But Nehru took the initiative to form a government according to the call of Wavell. In its protest Muslim declared August 16 as “the Direct action Day”. Thousands of innocent people died on this day in the riot. The British government announced its decision to transfer power to the Indians following the riot and the serious deterioration of the relation between Hindus and Muslims.

British Prime minister Atlee announced in the month of February in 1947 that power would be transferred to the Indians before June, 1948. To discharge the responsibility of transferring power Lord Mountbatten was sent to India as the Governor General in the place of Lord Wavell.

Lord Mountbatten decided to divide India on the basis of his dialogues with the Congress and the Muslim League leaders. In order to protect the country from communal riots the leaders at last agreed to divide India. Mountbatten announced the