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Buddis foundation of bangladesh

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2 years ago

Strange though it may now seem in such an overwhelmingly Muslim country, Buddhism has been no small player in the nation’s history and culture. Nationwide, less than 1% of people are Buddhists, but in certain areas, such as Chittagong Division, Buddhists make up 12% of the population.

The distance from Bodhgaya (in present-day India, where the Buddha reached enlightenment) to Bengal is not far, and the region has played a huge part in the development of the faith, including the creation of Tantric Buddhism.

By the reign of the great Indian Buddhist emperor Ashoka (304–232 BC), Buddhism was firmly entrenched as the number one religion of Bengal and, aside from a few minor skirmishes, it continued to thrive in the region until the 12th century AD, making Bengal the last stronghold of Buddhism in an increasingly Hindu- and Muslim-dominated subcontinent.

Gopala, a Kshatriya tribal chief from Varendra, became the founding figure of the Buddhist Pala dynasty (8th to 11th centuries). He was succeeded by his son Dharmapala, who established the gigantic Somapuri Vihara in Varendra, known today as Paharpur.

In the 12th century, Hindu senas (armies) came to rule Bengal, and crushed Buddhism. Surviving Buddhists retreated to the Chittagong area. In less than a century, though, the senas were swamped by the tide of Islam.

Though somewhat beaten, Buddhism never totally died out in Bangladesh, and in the Chittagong Hill Tracts there are several monasteries that look to Myanmar (Burma) for religious inspiration, plus a number of schools in which children learn to read Burmese and Pali (an ancient Buddhist language). As in neighbouring Myanmar, many Buddhist men in this region spend a part of their lives as monks.

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