major figure in Bengali history

Shashanka (IAST: Śaśāṃka, Sanskrit: शशाङ्क, Bengali: শশাঙ্ক) was the first independent king of a unified polity in the Bengal region, called the Gauda Kingdom and is a major figure in Bengali history. He reigned in the 7th century, some historians place his rule between circa 600 CE and 636/7 CE, whereas other sources place his reign between 590 and 625 CE.


  • Shashanka, for instance, the wicked king of Karna- suvarna in eastern India in the early seventh century, a precursor of the Palas, is described by Hiuen Tsang as a persecutor of Buddhism.53 Among other things, Shashanka is said to have attempted to remove the Buddha's footprints from a stone located near Pataliputra, but he failed to do so and then had the stone thrown into the Ganges, from where however it miraculously returned to its original place. Shashanka also cut down the Bodhi Tree at Bodh Gaya, destroyed its roots down to the water, and burned the remainder; but the tree was resuscitated by Purnavarman, 'the last descendant of Ashoka', and in one night the tree became above three meters high again. Shashanka also attempted to replace the image of Buddha in the Mahabodhi temple-but only to replace it by one of Shiva.
    • Al-Hind-The-Making-of-the-Indo-Islamic-World-Vol-2-The-Slave-Kings-and-the-Islamic-Conquest-11th-13th-Centuries, 308ff
  • Hsuen Tsang's contention, from hearsay, that the Shaiva king Shashank had persecuted Buddhists and felled the Bodhi tree, also goes unquestioned. Yet, his story is just visibly untrustworthy : he claims that a replanted sapling of the Bodhi tree (which, from his story, must have been felled only a few years before his own arrival) miraculously grew overnight into a mature tree. Remember that secularist historians reject myths and irrational beliefs? What Hsuen Tsang got to see with his own eyes was a tree far bigger than a recently replanted sapling could have been: an indication that the tree had never been felled in the first place. Yet, so many secularist history books go on declaring that "fanatical Shashank felled the Bodhi tree", in defiance of proper historical criticism.
    • Elst, Koenraad (1991). Ayodhya and after: Issues before Hindu society.
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