Tuesday, January 18, 2011



The name appears in some unusual places .Perhaps on the bookshelf of a History professor, as a wallpaper or poster of a typical bong who is just crazy about being bengali. You may find the name to be a popular hype about bengali history and ancient times. Confused? Bored ? Not Interested? I bet that will the normal response I will get from you guys when I direct you to Wikipedia or encyclopedia for a read it yourself session.

Well that’s why I decided to write it myself from a different approach. History & Myth with a little bit of humor and fun perhaps.

We are Bongs

Yup. That's the term we normally use while referring to our culture and social origin. However interestingly the bong is also a smoking device apparently getting its origin from hukka or pure bangla huko. Wait are we here to discuss about huko ? I thought this is all about bengali culture. Besides I don’t smoke too.

Sorry my mistake. I was tooo driven away and facinated by the smoke.Ahem…

We are Bangs

Yeah that’s definitely true. We the bangs(Native Dravidians) choose to settle down in this area back in around 1000 BCE. Later we blended with Aryans to become Indo-Aryans. It was around this time that we made it to one of the famous books in history. The Mahabharata. We are referred In many places starting from Draupadi's swayamvar to the Kurukshetra.Hell even the mighty Parashuram also had tried his axe on us.

Now unfortunately these things don’t have a date because most of the information was taken from verbal accounts which finally was compiled into mahabharata. Interestingly we were there.At least the refernfe of bengali or Vanga Kingdom was there.

A share of Thought

Before coming to the factual part .Imagine yourself as a decendant of a mighty empire which had it s glory and might to take a rightful position in the book of history. In our school days we have read about many great cities and countries and civilization. While going on a foreign trip someday we might even plan to visit these places and take photographs, post them in the internet and proudly say, "I stood in the place where the mighty Ceaser,Pharaoh or Emperor stood". Funny enough when places and culture lays at our backyard unattended and forgotten.

Does this means being a bengali to you? Adapting and breathing in a western culture. Now a days people forget their roots and heritage. I am not anti western but also I am a diehard bengali.I am not here to criticize the western culture but to promote mine. So here is a request. If you like something about being bengali be prowd to share it and discuss it.


Behold the mighty kingdom of Bengal in ancient times.It was first described by greek historian megasthenes in his book indica.Around 300 BCE the country as described by megasthenes that the Gangaridai occupies the entire region about the five mouths of the Ganges and that the royal residence was in the city of "Ganges".

The five mouths are:

1. The Kambyson

2. The Mega

3. the Kamberikhon

4. the Pseudostomon

5. The Antibole.

Well atleast there was lots of pure water in Gangaridai which is pretty scarce in todays world

Now some quotes from the famous historians from that era

"When he (Alexander) moved forward with his forces certain men came to inform him that Porus, the king of the country, who was the nephew of that Porus whom he had defeated, had left his kingdom and fled to the nation of Gandaridai... He had obtained from Phegeus a description of the country beyond the Indus: First came a desert which it would take twelve days to traverse; beyond this was the river called the Ganges which had a width of thirty two stadia, and a greater depth than any other Indian river; beyond this again were situated the dominions of the nation of the Prasioi and the Gandaridai, whose king, Xandrammes, had an army of 20,000 horse 200,000 infantry, 2,000 chariots and 4,000 elephants trained and equipped for war".... "Now this (Ganges) river, which is 30 stadia broad, flows from north to south, and empties its water into the ocean forming the eastern boundary of the Gandaridai, a nation which possesses the greatest number of elephants and the largest in size. "----Diodorus Siculus (c. 90 BC– c. 30 BC). Quoted from The Classical Accounts of India, Dr R. C. Majumder, p. 170-72/234.

"Among the southern countries the first under the Kaukasos is India, a kingdom remarkable for its vast extent and the largeness of its population, for it is inhabited by very many nations, among which the greatest of all is that of the Gandaridae, against whom Alexander did not undertake an expedition, being deterred by the multitude of their elephants. This region is separated from farther India by the greatest river in those parts (for it has a breadth of thirty stadia), but it adjoins the rest of India which Alexander had conquered, and which was well watered by rivers and highly renowned for its prosperous and happy condition. "---Diodorus Siculus (1st century AD). Quoted from Ancient India as Described in Classical Literature, John W. McCrindle, p. 201.

"Next came the Ganges, the largest river in all India, the farther bank of which was inhabited by two nations, the Gangaridae and the Prasii, whose king Agrammes kept in field for guarding the approaches to his country 20,000 cavalry and 200,000 infantry, besides 2,000 four-horsed chariots, and, what was the most formidable of all, a troop of elephants which he said ran up to the number of 3,000. "---Quintus Curtius Rufus (wrote between 60-70 AD). Quoted from The Classical Accounts of India, p. 103-128.

"The Battle with Porus depressed the spirits of the Macedonians, and made them very unwilling to advance farther into India... This river (the Ganges), they heard, had a breadth of two and thirty stadia, and a depth of 1000 fathoms, while its farther banks were covered all over with armed men, horses and elephants. For the kings of the Gandaritai and the Prasiai were reported to be waiting for him (Alexander) with an army of 80,000 horse, 200,000 foot, 8,000 war-chariots, and 6,000 fighting elephants. "---Plutarch (42-120 AD). Quoted from The Classical Accounts of India, p. 198.

"Now this river, which at its source is 30 stadia broad, flows from north to south, and empties its waters into the ocean forming the eastern boundary of the Gangaridai, a nation which possesses a vast force of the largest-sized elephants. Owing to this, their country has never been conquered by any foreign king: for all other nations dread the overwhelming number and strength of these animals. [Thus Alexander the Macedonian, after conquering all Asia, did not make war upon the Gangaridai, as he did on all others; for when he had arrived with all his troops at the river Ganges, he abandoned as hopeless an invasion of the Gangaridai and India when he learned that they possessed four thousand elephants well trained and equipped for war. ]"---Megasthenes (c. 350 BC-290 BC). Quoted from the Epitome of Megasthenes, Indika. (Diod. II. 35-42. ), Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian. Translated and edited by J. W. McCrindle.

Looks like elephants saved us that day. That too the king had really huge number of elephants. So Guys next time you visit the zoo, do pay a homage to the elephant by giving him a peanut or two or may be Bananas

Well very less is known about the ancient kingdom so u can expect my info list to be short.But the question still remains where is the remains of that ancient civilization.If you google out you may find many interesting info about the place including a site very close to modern day kolkata.I leave the findings to the users and thus conclude this article with only one question in mind.Are we truelly worthy of such a historical background or its better to let it die deep within the soil and embrace west.

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