Hinduism in Bangladesh: from a new book (Post No.3140)


Written by London Swaminathan


Date: 10 September 2016


Time uploaded in London: 10-38 AM



Post No.3140


Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.



‘The Art Heritage of Bangladesh’ by Enamul Haque (The International Centre for Study of Bengal Art, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Year 2007) has lot of information about Hindu idols, statues and objects discovered in Bangladesh. It includes the latest discoveries. The book is worth buying; it has 536 illustrations.


Following is a brief account:-

Copper plate inscriptions of 5th to 13th centuries state the immigrations of Brahmins to various regions of Bangladesh from Madhyadesha (upper India) and under the patronage of the kings whether Brahmin or Buddhist.

(My Comments: There is no part of India which has not reported Brahmins coming from outside; it is simply transfer of 50 or 100 families to support a temple or a Yaga or Yajna (fire ceremony); people misunderstood it and interpreted as Brahmins migrating! Brahmins lived in every part of India and always on the move. Even when Vijaya went to Sri Lanka there were Brahmins already. Even when Buddha visited various parts of India, there were Brahmins according to their own records. 2000 year old Tamil literature has more poems by Brahmins than any other community. It shows that they were there from Himalayas to Kandy in Sri Lanka even before Buddha and Mahavira started preaching their religion!)

Vaishnavism or the worship of Vishnu seems to have established all over Bangladesh by 5th century. The early deities were Chakraswamin, Govindaswamin, Shveta Vrahasvamin, Kokamukhasvamin, Pradyumneshvara, Ananta Narayana etc. The Krishna legend formed an essential element of  Vaishnavism in Bangladesh in the 6-7th centuries. Jayadeva, the court poet of Lakshmanasena, was the first to give the widely accepted list of ten Avatars (1170 CE).

Other important feature of Bengal Vaishnavism is the large scale adoption of the cult of Radha Krishna.


Shaivism secured royal patronage from Vainyagupta (507 CE), Sasanka (594-637) and a number of Pala and Sena Kings. The popular Shiva representations referred to in the inscriptions were Mahadeva, Shiva, Shambu, Dhurjati, Ardhanarisvara, Sadahiva etc.


Several other Puranic gods and goddesses had votaries in Bangladesh. They were Kartikeya, Ganesha, Brahma, Agni, Kubera, Surya, Revanta,Durga, Lakshmi, Sarasvati, Gauri, Lalita, Chamunda, Manasa, Matrikas etc.


According to Chinese traveller Huen Tsang, that the followers of Brahmanical religion (Hinduism) outnumbered the total strength of Buddhists and Jains in Bangladesh.


Yakshi terracottas are found in West Bengal and Bangladesh


Maharaja Kantideva’s mother was ‘Shivapriya’ and an exponent of Ramayana- Mahabharata- Puranas.






Narayanapala was devoted to Vasudeva and claimed to have established one thousand temples, and his brother King Nayapala (1027-42 CE) is known for worshipping Shiva and establishing many images in temples.


King Mahipala I donated land to Brahmins after taking his ritual bath on the Visva Sankranti.

King Rampala, in hi capital city Ramavati, erected several temples dedicated to Shiva, Surya, Skanda and Ganapati.



King Madanpala’s queen Citramatika, had her husband donate land to Brahmin for recitation of Mahabharata.

Shri Chandra donated land to Brahmins.

King Ladahchandradeva of the same dynasty established a Vishnu image and named it after himself as Sri Ladhamadhava – Bhattaraka

The realization of tolerance and accommodation has been so perfectly depicted in the Mahavihara at Paharpur established by King Dharmapaladeva. In the cruciform temple complex at the centre of the court yard of the Buddhist monastery, on the walls of the lowermost circumambulatory path are fixed 63 stone sculptures, all except one representing Brahminical themes. These sculptures predate the monastery by about more than a century at least. They possibly belonged to an earlier Hindu temple.

The perpetual acceptance of Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu (By Jayadeva) is perhaps the single major example of interaction between the Hindus and the Buddhists.


Pig Vahana for Surya!


The interaction between the Buddhist and Brahminical arts had also other manifestations in Bengal. The Mahayanist answer to the Brahminical Surya was the goddess Marichi. She travels on a chariot drawn by seven pigs matching the seven horses of Surya (Sun).

Jambhala was created against the Hindu god Kubera, almost with identical characteristics.shasti has her parallel in Hariti, Manasa in Janguli.


But side by side these positive elements, there were a few attempts to ridicule some Hindu god like Ganesha. An image of Bhrikuti Tara, from Bhavanipur,Munshiganj District, depicts the eight armed goddess seated in Vajrasana with the representation of Ganesha, crawling on all fours, right below the seat. Similarly, there are two images of three headed six armed Parnashavari, one from Nayananda and other from Vajrayogini, both in Munshiganj district and both are now in Bangladesh National museum. In each case Ganesha is represented at the bottom prostate with a sword and a shield in hands, “evidently vanquished after a fight with the goddess.”

(My comments: Tibetan Buddhism has got very strange and grotesque figures. Buddhism degenerated and went down to the lowest level. Buddha fought against all rituals and meaningless worship; Tibetan Buddhism went against al that Buddha taught them. Even these statues may not be anti-Ganesha; they may mean different things. We have to look at them in the background of hundreds of figures they have.)








Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: