Buddhism in Bangladesh
Buddhism is the third largest religion in Bangladesh with about 0.7% of population adhering to Theravada Buddhism. Most of the practiconers are Baruas living in Chittagong, where they constitute about 65% Buddhists and others the tribals like Jumma people who are found mainly in the Hill sites, where they constitute about 35% of the area's population.
As of today, followers of Buddhism are mainly people of Baruas living in Chittagong city, the business city of Bangladesh and indigenous Arakanese descent living in the sub-tropical Chittagong Hill Tracts. People who follow Buddhism in Bangladesh belong to the Barua people in majority with the percentage of 65% among the 0.07% population of Bangladesh, Chakma, Chak, Marma, Tenchungya and the Khyang, who had been since time in memorial have practiced Buddhism. Other tribal, notably those who practice Animism, have come under some Buddhist influence, and this is true in the case of the Khumi and the Mru, and to a lesser extent on the other tribals.
Legend said that Gautama Buddha came to the region to spread Buddhism, and it was speculated that one or two individuals became monks to follow his footsteps. However, Buddhism did not gain much support during the lifetime of Gautama. It was not until under the reign of Asoka when Buddhism gained a toehold.
Buddhism in various forms appears to have been prevalent at the time of the Turkish conquest in 1202. The invading armies apparently found numerous monasteries, which they destroyed. With the destruction of its centers of learning such as Nalanda University, Buddhism rapidly disintegrated. In subsequent centuries and up through the 1980s nearly all the remaining Buddhists lived in the region around Chittagong, which had not been entirely conquered until the time of the British Raj (1858-1947). In the Chittagong Hills, Buddhist tribes formed the majority of the population, and their religion appeared to be a mixture of tribal cults and Buddhist doctrines. According to the 1981 census, there were approximately 538,000 Buddhists in Bangladesh, representing less than 1 percent of the population.
There are several monasteries in the Chittagong Hills area, and in most Buddhist villages there is a school (kyong) where boys live and learn to read Burmese and some Pali (an ancient Buddhist scriptural language). It is common for men who have finished their schooling to return at regular intervals for periods of residence in the school. The local Buddhist shrine is often an important center of village life.
Buddhism outside the monastic retreats has absorbed and adapted indigenous popular creeds and cults of the regions to which it has spread. In most areas religious ritual focuses on the image of the Buddha, and the major festivals observed by Buddhists in Bangladesh commemorate the important events of his life. Although doctrinal Buddhism rejects the worship of gods and preserves the memory of the Buddha as an enlightened man, popular Buddhism contains a pantheon of gods and lesser deities headed by the Buddha.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs provides assistance for the maintenance of Buddhist places of worship and relics. The ancient monasteries at Paharpur (in Rajshahi Region) and Mainamati (in Comilla Region), dating from the seventh to ninth century A.D., are considered unique for their size and setting and are maintained as state-protected monuments.
Prominent Bangladeshi Buddhists
- Ven. Jyotipala Mahathera
- Ven. Silalongkor Mahathero
- Ven. Dhamma Priya Mahathero
- Ven. Sadhananda Mahathera (Bana Bhante)
- Ven. Dr. Jino Bodhi Mahathero
Ven.prof prajanabangsha Mahathero
- Dr.Benimadhab Barua, is the first PhD degree holder in Chittagong.
- Ven. Dr. Jino Bodhi Mahathero
- [Ven.prof.Prajanabangsha Mahathero]
- Anup Kumar Chakma, Major General, currently serving as Ambassador of Bangladesh to Myanmar
- Tushar Kanti Chakma, Brigadier General, currently serving as Director, Trust Bank
- Kusum Dewan, Deputy Commissioner of Police, currently serving as D.C(Port), Chittagong
- Amulya Bhushan Barua, Deputy Inspector General, Bangladesh Police
- Nobo Bikrom Kishor Tripura, Additional Inspector General, Bangladesh Police
Deputy Secretary & Above
- Saradindu Shekhar Chakma. Retired Additional Secretary & Former Ambassador of Bangladesh to Bhutan
- Barrister Debashish Roy, Chakma Raja (Chakma Circle Chief)
- Supradip Chakma. Joint Secretary. Currently serving as Ambassador of Bangladesh to Vietnam.
- Dilip Barua (Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal (Marksbadi-Leninbadi)). Currently Minister of Industries.
- Dipanker Talukder (Awami League), Currently State Minister for Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs
- Kalparanjan Chakma (Awami League), Ex State Minister for Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs
- Mani Swapan Dewan (Bangladesh Nationalist Party), Ex Deputy Minister for Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs
- Bir Bahadur (Awami League), M.P;elected from Bandarban Hill District
Mr.Uday Kushum Barua.Joint Secretary General BNP North district of Chittagong
Arts and literature
- Kanak Chanpa Chakma (Artist), General Secretary of Tone Art Society of Bangladesh
- BANGLADESH: COUNTRY PROFILE
- "Buddhism". Bangladesh: A country study. Library of Congress Federal Research Division. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- 50 songs from the Caryagiti