historical and geographical region in the east region of the Indian subcontinent

Bengal is a cultural and historic region in South Asia. It was occupied by the British Empire as the Bengal Presidency after the defeat of the last independent Nawab of Bengal during the Seven Years' War. It was divided between India and Pakistan during the partition of the former British Raj. It remains divided between Bangladesh, which won independence from Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, and the Indian state of West Bengal. The Bengali language remains the sixth-most spoken language in the world.

Map of the Bengal region.


  • The Great Bengal Famine of 1770 reminds us that taxes have a destructive power, and may be used to deny freedom of religion or belief as well.
    This is why we support Tai Ji Men dizi (disciples) in their protest—and support the “Declaration of the International Day Against Judicial and Tax Persecution by State Power” as well.
  • One of the dreams that have inspired me and given a purpose to my life is that of a great and undivided Bengal … a Bengal that is above all sects and groups and is the home alike of the Muslim, the Hindu, the Christian and the Buddhist.
    • Nearly a decade before he formed the Indian National Army (INA), Netaji wrote this passionate message to his fellow Bengalis.[1]
  • It is my firm belief that if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolator among the respectable classes of Bengal thirty years hence.
    • Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, Letter written to his father in 1836. Quoted in Indian Church History Review, December 1973, p. 187. Quoted from Goel, S. R. (2016). History of Hindu-Christian encounters, AD 304 to 1996. Chapter 13. ISBN 9788185990354
  • “The fourteenth century was a period of expansion of Muslim authority in Bengal and the adjoining territories. A significant part was played in this process by the warrior saints who were eager to take up the cause of any persecuted community. This often resulted (in clash) with the native authority, followed, almost invariably, by annexation…” This also shows how elastic were the methods adopted by the Sufis. They acted mostly as peaceful missionaries, but if they saw that the espousal of some just cause required military action, they were not averse to fighting. “The Sufis… did not adopt the Ismaili technique of gradual conversion… They established their khanqahs and shrines at places which had already had a reputation for sanctity before Islam. Thus some of the traditional i.e. (Hindu) gatherings were transformed into new festivals. (i.e. Muslim). As a result of these efforts, Bengal in course of time became a Muslim land…”
    • Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi, The Muslim Community of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent (610-1947), Monton & Co., S-Gravenhage, 1962, pp.70-71, 74-75. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1990). Indian muslims: Who are they.
  • Haig writes that “it is evident, from the numerical superiority in Eastern Bengal of the Muslims… that at some period an immense wave of proselytization must have swept over the country and it is most probable that the period was the period of Jalaluddin Muhammad (converted son of Hindu Raja Ganesh) during whose reign of seventeen years (1414-1431)… hosts of Hindus are said to have been forcibly converted to Islam”.81 With regard to these conversions, Dr. Wise writes that “the only condition he offered were the Koran or death… many Hindus fled to Kamrup and the jungles of Assam, but it is nevertheless probable that more Muhammadans were added to Islam during these seventeen years (1414-31) than in the next three hundred years”.
    • Wolseley Haig, C.H.I., III, p. 267. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 6
  • The Hindus, especially in Bengal, welcomed the New Learning of Europe and the institutions the British brought. The Muslims, wounded by their loss of power, and out of old religious scruples, stood aside. It was the beginning of the intellectual distance between the two communities. This distance has grown with independence; and it is this—more even than religion now — that at the end of the twentieth century has made India and Pakistan quite distinct countries. India, with an intelligentsia that grows by leaps and bounds, expands in all directions. Pakistan, proclaiming only the faith and then proclaiming the faith again, ever shrinks. It was Muslim insecurity that led to the call for the creation of Pakistan. It went at the same time with an idea of old glory, of the invaders sweeping down from the northwest and looting the temples of Hindustan and imposing the faith on the infidel. The fantasy still lives; and for the Muslim converts of the subcontinent it is the start of their neurosis, because in this fantasy the convert forgets who or what he is and becomes the violator.
  • I think that on the whole, the Muslim minority in West Bengal – which also, I think, suffers from from a feeling of frustration and a certain insecurity – is relatively more secure than the Hindu minority in East Bengal… Now take the proposal regarding exchange of population… it is completely opposed to our political economic, social and spirtual ideals. If you want to have an excahnge of population, then you must change the whole basis of not only this Government but of all that we have stood for these thirty odd years and during the movement for freedom in this country.
  • This is the history of the people who speak Bengali, covering both present-day Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal and other Bengali-speaking areas of the country from the earliest recorded times to 1947 when the Indian subcontinent was partitioned into India and Pakistan, and nearly two-thirds of undivided Bengal went to Pakistan.
    • Nitish Sengupta in the Preface to the History of the Bengali-speaking People.

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