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Bengali Buddhists

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Bengali dialects political map Bengali Buddhists (Bengali: ?????? ????) are a religious subgroup of the Bengalis who adhere to or practice the religion of Buddhism. Bengali Buddhist people mainly live in Bangladesh and Indian states West Bengal and Tripura.

Buddhism has a rich ancient heritage in the Bengal. The region was a bastion of the ancient Buddhist Mauryan and Palan empires, when the Mahayana and Vajrayana schools flourished. South-Eastern Bengal was ruled by the medieval Buddhist Kingdom of Mrauk U during the 16th and 17th centuries. The British Raj influenced the emergence of modern community.

Today, Bengali Buddhists are followers of Theravada Buddhism.

Table of contents
  1. History
  2. Demographics
  3. Culture
  4. Notable Bengali Buddhists
  5. See also


Ancient Bengal was a center of Buddhist learning and art. Buddhist artifacts have been excavated throughout the region, particularly in Wari-Bateshwar, Chandraketugarh, Paharpur, Mahasthangarh and Mainamati. The Mauryan Empire led by Ashoka extended its suzerainty to the region in the 2nd century BCE. Ashoka played an important role in propagating Buddhism in his own empire and the wider ancient world. Mauryan rule was succeeded by the Buddhist Samatata maritime kingdom in Bengal.

Successive Buddhist powers tussled for dominance with Hindu and Jain kings in the Indian subcontinent. The Bengali 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 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 and the Srivijaya Empire. The empire reached its peak under Dharmapala and Devapala. They reigned for four centuries until being replaced by the resurgent Hindu Sena dynasty. According to Muhammad Ghulam Rasul, Brahmin persecution played a key role in the decline of Buddhism in India; followed by later Muslim conquest.

Remnants of Buddhist communities continued to flourish in southeastern Bengal. The Buddhist 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 that led to the development of two orders of Theravada monks, the Sangharaj Nikaya and the Mahasthabir Nikaya.


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 the community reside in Dhaka, Cox's Bazar and Comilla. The eastern Indian state capitals of Agartala and Kolkata also have significant Bengali Buddhist communities.

Bengali Buddhists constitute 0.59% of the population in Bangladesh. According to the 2011 India census, Bengali Buddhists constitute 0.3% or 282,898 of the population in West Bengal. Buddhists constitute 3.41% or 125,182 of the population in Tripura.



Buddhist art flourished under the Pala rulers. The art for their period is termed Pala art. It influenced art outside of India as well. The artistic tradition continued under the Sena rulers, and thus the term "Pala-Sena" is sometimes used.


Buddha's Birthday is a public holiday in Bangladesh & state government holiday in West Bengal.

Bengali Buddhists also celebrate the festival of Madhu Purnima.\ Kathin civar dana(Holy robe offering ceremony)is celebrated month long in October-November by Bengali Buddhists.


Bipradash Barua is a Bangladeshi author and novelist.


Partha Barua is one of the pioneers of Bangladeshi rock.

Notable Bengali Buddhists

Indians Pre-partition Indians Bangladeshis

Bhikkhus (monks)
Freedom Fighters
Arts and literature

See also

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