A Short History of Bengal

See here for an explanation of the bengali transliteration scheme used

Before discussing bengali history, it is useful to define the scope of the investigation. In these pages, Bengal, as a historical entity, refers to the land bounded on the north by himAlaya and the lands of nepAla, sikima, and bhoTAna; on the north east by the brahmaputra river and its highlands; extending to the northwest along the northern plains of bhAgirathi upto dvArbhAGga; bounded on the east by the gAro, khAsia, jaintiA, tripurA, and caTTagrAma ranges; and on the west by mountaineous forests of rAjamahala, sA~otAla parganA, choTanAgpura, mAnabhUma, dhalabhUma, keoJjar and mayUrabhaJja. It thus extends beyond the combined region comprising the present state of West Bengal in India and the country of Bangladesha; and is a people united by a common language, Bengali, a common social structure, a common religious mixture of Hindus and Muslims, and a largely shared history.

Little is known about the prehistory of Bengal, or the origin of the name itself. The name may be of Austrasiatic or Dravidian origin, which form a substratum to the predominantly Indoeuropean Bengali language. Archaelogy shows that parts of this land supported an agricultural culture since at least 1250 B.C. However, the identity of these people can only be guessed from anthropological and linguistic evidence. The historic period of Bengal is usually classified into the Ancient, Medieval and Modern periods: as opposed to the custom in Indian history, the customary beginning of the medieval period in bengal starts with the period of muslim domination.

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For other pages discussing Bengali history, you can also look at NOVO's page and Bongoz' page about the history of bengal. Palash Biswas's blog often cuts and pastes information about Bengal: see this as an example. The official pages of the West Bengal government also have a short history section. Finally, there is a site giving a timeline of Indian history in general.

Among the various sources, I should especially acknowledge extensive help from the classic work by nIhAraraJjana rAYa, a book by Irfan Habib, and the textbooks by ramezacandra majumadAra. Research by various individuals and/or their views have often been consolidated into my understanding, and that understanding or lack thereof is represented in these pages. At this stage of this project, I do not provide references to the original articles as I am concentrating more on finishing an overview. This lack of verifiable references to the original sources means one should not take these pags as serious historical writing, just my musings on the origins and development of a culture and a people.

It would probably be remiss of me to not mention my views about the epistemology of historical truth, and my views about history in general. So, I state my views in brief here.

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