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Bengali Buddhists, (Bengali: বাঙালি বৌদ্ধ, are Buddhists of Bengali ethnic and linguistic identity. Bengali Buddhists constitute 0.4% of the population in Bangladesh. Buddhism
Buddhism
has a rich ancient heritage in the Bengal. The region was a bastion of the ancient Buddhist
Buddhist
Mauryan
Mauryan
and Palan empires, when the Mahayana
Mahayana
and Vajrayana
Vajrayana
schools flourished. South-eastern Bengal
Bengal
was ruled by the medieval Buddhist
Buddhist
Kingdom of Mrauk U
Kingdom of Mrauk U
during the 16th and 17th centuries. The British Raj
British Raj
influenced the emergence of modern community. Today, Bengali Buddhists
Bengali Buddhists
are followers of orthodox Therevada Buddhism.

Contents

1 History 2 Demographics 3 Culture

3.1 Festivals 3.2 Literature 3.3 Music

4 See also 5 References

History[edit]

Somapura Mahavihara
Somapura Mahavihara
from the Pala dynasty, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Ancient Bengal
Bengal
was a center of Buddhist
Buddhist
learning and art. Buddhist artifacts have been excavated throughout the region, particularly in Wari-Bateshwar, Chandraketugarh, Paharpur, Mahasthangarh
Mahasthangarh
and Mainamati. The Mauryan
Mauryan
Empire led by Ashoka
Ashoka
extended its suzerainty to the region in the 2nd century BCE. Ashoka
Ashoka
played an important role in propagating Buddhism
Buddhism
in his own empire and the wider ancient world.[1] Mauryan
Mauryan
rule was succeeded by the Buddhist
Buddhist
Samatata
Samatata
maritime kingdom in Bengal. Successive Buddhist
Buddhist
powers tussled for dominance with Hindu
Hindu
and Jain kings in the Indian subcontinent. The Bengali Buddhist
Buddhist
Pala Empire arose during the 8th century. Founded by the election of Buddhist chieftain Gopala circa 750 CE, the empire grew into one of the largest imperial powers in classical Asia. The Palas promoted Mahayana
Mahayana
and Tantric Buddhism. They patronized the creation of many outstanding temples, monasteries and works of art. The Palas enjoyed strong relations with the Abbasid Caliphate, the Tibetan Empire
Tibetan Empire
and the Srivijaya Empire. The empire reached its peak under Dharmapala
Dharmapala
and Devapala. They reigned for four centuries until being replaced by the resurgent Hindu
Hindu
Sena dynasty. Brahmin
Brahmin
persecution played a key role in the decline of Buddhism
Buddhism
in India; followed by later Muslim conquest.[2]

The Mainamati
Mainamati
Buddhist
Buddhist
ruins in southeastern Bangladesh

Remnants of Buddhist
Buddhist
communities continued to flourish in southeastern Bengal. The Buddhist
Buddhist
Kingdom of Mrauk U
Kingdom of Mrauk U
ruled the region during the 16th and 17th centuries. By the late 18th-century, the region was ceded to the British Empire. During this period, a revival movement developed [3] that led to the development of two orders of Theravada monks, the Sangharaj Nikaya
Sangharaj Nikaya
and the Mahasthabir Nikaya. Bengali Buddhists
Bengali Buddhists
benefited from Western education during the British Raj in the early-20th century.[4] Professor Benimadhab Barua (1888-1948) was the first Asian to receive a Doctor of Letters
Doctor of Letters
degree from the University of London.[4] Bengali Buddhist
Buddhist
activists and guerrillas were also active in the Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Liberation War. Demographics[edit]

A Buddhist
Buddhist
temple on Maheshkhali Island, Chittagong

Bangladesh
Bangladesh
is home to the predominant section of the Bengali Buddhist community. They usually enjoy a high literacy rate and are found in the Bangladeshi middle class, particularly in the port city of Chittagong. Many members of community reside in Dhaka, Cox's Bazaar and Comilla. The eastern Indian state capitals of Agartala
Agartala
and Kolkata also have significant Bengali Buddhist
Buddhist
communities. Culture[edit] Festivals[edit] Buddha's Birthday
Buddha's Birthday
is a public holiday in Bangladesh. Bengali Buddhists
Bengali Buddhists
also celebrate the festival of Madhu Purnima. Literature[edit] Bipradash Barua is a Bangladeshi author and novelist. Music[edit] Partha Barua
Partha Barua
is one of the pioneers of Bangladeshi rock. See also[edit]

Buddhism
Buddhism
in Bangladesh

References[edit]

^ Jerry Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 46. ^ http://www.bmri.org.uk/articles/pre-islam_bengal_society.pdf ^ "Jewel in the Crown: Bengal's Buddhist
Buddhist
Revival in the 19th and 20th Centuries".  ^ a b "Opinion - A glimpse of Buddhism
Buddhism
in ancient Bangladesh". buddhistchann

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