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A Comprehensive History of India Lecture – 7 January 22, 2012 History of Ancient Bengal. Maharaj Mukherjee. Where is Bengal??. Bengal and its Neighborhood States. BANGA: West Bengal, Bangladesh, Tripura, Part of Assam. ANGA: Bihar, Part of West Bengal. KALINGA Orissa,. Bengali Language.

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A Comprehensive History of India Lecture – 7 January 22, 2012 History of Ancient Bengal


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    1. A Comprehensive History of IndiaLecture – 7January 22, 2012History of Ancient Bengal Maharaj Mukherjee

    2. Where is Bengal??

    3. Bengal and its Neighborhood States BANGA: West Bengal, Bangladesh, Tripura, Part of Assam ANGA: Bihar, Part of West Bengal KALINGA Orissa,

    4. Bengali Language Sanskrit - A reformed version of original Aryan Language Magdhi – A Language Derived from Sanskrit Bengali: Language spoken in West Bengal, Bangladesh and Tripura (BANGA) Bihari, Maithili, Bhojpuri: Languages spoken in Bihar (ANGA) Oriya: Language spoken in Orissa (KALINGA)

    5. Bengal Geography • Bengal is formed by the two largest rivers of the world: Ganges and Bramhaputra • Ganges Delta is the Largest River Delta in the World. • The whole Bengal is interspersed with many rivers • The rivers greatly influenced both the history and culture of Bengal

    6. Who are the Original Inhabitants of Bengal? • The original inhabitants of Bengal are the hunter gatherers • They are living in Bengal for more than 20,000 years • Many tribes (Santhal, Orao, Bheel, Munda) living in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa belong to the original hunter gatherers.

    7. The People of Bronze/Copper Age • About 4000 years ago people in Bengal started making weapons and artifacts in bronze and copper • They were possibly related to the Indus Valley People • As the Aryans pressed along from the North Western India, Indus valley people started moving east and possibly settled in Bengal.

    8. Bengal and Aryans • For a long time Bengal was outside the part of Aryan India or the Aryavarta. • Aryans could not dominate the people in Bengal for a long time. • They called them by all kind of bad names • Danava – Giants • Dasyu – Thieves • Pakshi Jati – The race of birds (People who talk a lot ??) • Eventually Aryan influence spread to Bengal at the end of age of Epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata)

    9. Where did the word “Banga” come form? • The exact origin is not known: • Most reliable story: • Banga is a race of the Dravidians • Dravidians lived in India before the Aryans came in • They are related to the people who lived in the Indus Valley • As the Aryans started coming in they slowly moved East and South of India • This story is supported by the Aryan Mythology that Anga (Bihar), Banga and Kalinga (Orissa) were three sons of the Vali, the king of the Danavas (Giants).

    10. Where did the word “Banga” come form? • According to Islamic/Jewish Texts: • Banga is a descendant of Nu-Ah or Noah Noah’s Ark or Boat • The word Noah is related to the word Nao (Bengali) or Nou (Sanskrit) • The word itself mean “Boat” • The Bengalis are known in the ancient history as “The Boat People” • The Rivers and the Boats shaped the Bengali Life and History • Aryans did not know how to use boats for a long time. • The Bengalis held against the Aryans and Other Indian Empires by their knowledge of boats

    11. Bengal in the time of Epics • Bengal was divided into many kingdoms: • Pundra Vardhana – King Vasudeva • He claimed that he is Krishna • Krishna from Mathura fought and killed him • PragJyotisha – King Bhagadatta • Fought on the side of the Kauravas • Had many elephants in his force • Magadha – King Jarasandha • Also sided with the Kauravas • Bhima killed him in a wrestling match

    12. Naval Exploits of Bengal • Around 550 BC King Vijay Singha conquered Lanka and Named it Sighala after his own name • Many Bengali expeditions were sent to Eastern Asia along Bay of Bengals and helped form East Indian Countries such as Burma (Bramha), Siam (Shayam), Kamboj (Kambu Dwipa), Java (Java Dwipa). • Most of these expeditions happened after 500 BC – when Aryans are well established

    13. Expansion of Indian Culture Through Bengal after 500 BC

    14. Buddhism and Jainism in Bengal • Similar to the Aryan Culture – Buddhism and Jainism had to face a lot of initial resistance in Bengal • According to Jain stories – Mahavira faced a lot of local resistance in Bengal. • According to Buddhist stories – Emperor Shashanka of Bengal uprooted the Bodhi tree • However slowly Buddhism became part of the Bengali identity • Buddha became same as Shiva in many rural Bengali temples

    15. Buddha and Shiva The story of Buddha-Shiva or Bura-Shiva

    16. Temple of Buddha Shiva • Temple of Buddha-Shiva or Bura-Shiva, Burdwan district • There are many such temples all over rural Bengal • Typically these temples celebrate Buddha’ s Birthday with a lot of fan fare. • The first Full Moon Day in April

    17. In Short: • Bengali culture is a mixture of original hunter-gatherers, Dravidian and Aryan culture • Boats and Rivers have a strong influence in Bengali History and identity • Though influenced by the rest of the India, Bengali culture has come out to have its own identity • Next – We will start how Bengal started influencing the rest of the Indian history.

    18. Review for the Mid Term

    19. Quiz • What does the word History mean? • His Story • When did history happen? • It is still happening • Why do we study Indian History? • To understand our culture as well as US history • What is the address of India? • The country that is south of the Himalayas and the North of the Ocean is called India • What is the most important month in Indian History? • November

    20. Quiz • Where did the first human come from? • Africa • What kind of people were the first inhabitants of India? • Hunter Gatherers • Where did the first human civilization start? • The Fertile Crescent in Turkey/Iraq • Where did the first civilization start in India? • The Indus Valley • When did the first human civilization start in India? • About 5000 years back • Give One Reason why People Migrate • Basic Needs and Pursuit of Happiness

    21. Quiz • Did the Aryans called themselves as Hindus? • No – the other Aryans/Iranians called them Hindus • What were the four division of labors? • Priests, Soldiers, Traders, Farmers • Name one important Aryan literature • Vedas, Upanishads

    22. Quiz • What are the main epics of India • Ramayana and Mahabharata • Where did the Aryans lived at the time of Ramayana • Mostly in Northern India • When did the concept of India develop: Ramayana time or Mahabharata time? • Mahabharata time • What is the style of writing for Mahabharata • Prose style

    23. Quiz • Name two religions of peace in India • Jainism and Buddhism • What brought in the religions of peace • Ritualism and Untouchability • Who was the main leader of Buddhism • Buddha • Name one leader of Jainism • Mahavira • How many vows are there in Jainism? Name one. • Five • How many basic tenets are in Buddhism? Name One • Eight:

    24. Quiz • What was the first empire of the World? • The Persian Empire • Who vanquished the Persian Empire and Built a Greek Empire in its Place? • Alexander • How far did the Persian and the Greek Empire extend to? • From the Indus Valley to Greece • Who founded the Maurya Empire? • Chandra Gupta Maurya • Who is the most influential emperor of Indian History? • Ashoka Priya Darshi • What is the grand seal of India? • Ashoka Stambha or the Piller of Ashoka • What is in the Center of the Indian Flag? • The Dharma Chakra or the Ashoka Chakra

    25. Quiz • When did the Golden Age Happen? • 0 – 400 AD • Why is it called the Golden Age? • Because of developments in science, art, literature, engineering • What was the contribution of Arya Bhatta in Science? • Show that Earth moves around the Sun • Who wrote Shakuntala? • Kalidasa • Where did the Shaka-s come from? • Caucasian regions • What is the Silk Route? • Ancient trade route extending from China to Europe through Asia • Name one of the Shaka Emperor • Kanishka • Name One of the Gupta Emperors • Chandra Gupta, Samudra Gupta, Kumara Gupta • How did the Golden Age end • Outside attacks by Huns

    26. Quiz • Where is Bengal? • In Eastern India • Where is the world’s largest river delta? • Ganges Delta in Bengal • Who are the original inhabitants of Bengal? • Hunter Gatherers • What shaped the Bengali history and culture? • Rivers and the Boats • What does the word Banga mean in Islamic and Jewish books? • Children of Noah • Where did the word Banga come from? • An ancient Dravidian tribes.