[INDOLOGY] Member's publication: pre-Islamic Eastern Bengal.

Birendra Nath Prasad birendra176 at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 24 04:57:57 UTC 2013

Dear Colleagues, 
You may be happy to note that my paper on Sylhet (in eastern Bengal), entitled “Brahmanical Temples, Maṭhas, Agrahāras and a Buddhist Establishment in a Marshy and Forested Periphery of Two ‘Frontier’ States: Early Mediaeval Surma Valley (Sylhet and Cachar), c. 600 CE– 1100 CE” has been published in Religions of South Asia , Vol.6.1 , 2012. Information about this paper is available at https://www.equinoxpub.com/journals/index.php/ROSA/article/view/10764. 
Religions of South Asia is an internationally peer-reviewed journal published by Equinox Publications, London.  Though this paper is concerned with a single district of eastern Bengal, this micro study has major historiographical implications. This paper, which frequently transgresses the disciplinary boundaries between environmental history and history of religions, raises some fundamental questions regarding those historiographical models (Ralph Nicholas, Richard Eaton, David Curley etc.) which explain the Islamisation of eastern Bengal in terms of Islam being the harbinger of rice revolution in the area. 
I am attaching the abstract of the paper here: 
This article aims to understand the socio-economic and religious changes in early mediaeval Surma valley, and the role of Brahmanical and Buddhist religious institutions in effecting them. This valley was the most forested and marshiest part of Bengal. It received very heavy rains and was under substantial tribal influence. At the beginning of the period under study, it was a peripheral part of two fringe states. By the eleventh century ce a local state evolved, resulting from centuries of agrarian expansion. Brahmanical religious institutions played a very important role in effecting this transition. Well before the arrival of Islam in the eastern/north-easternmost sector of the Bengal delta, local society had devised its own ways to tame the jungle, cope with fluvial volatility, and cultivate rice, even in the marshy areas. These developments force us to question those historiographical models which explain the Islamization of eastern Bengal in terms
 of Islam being the ‘religion of the plough’ and ‘the harbinger of rice revolution’ in the region. 
With regards 
Birendra Nath Prasad 
Asstt. Professor , History Department 
BB Ambedkar Central University 
Lucknow -226025 , India 
 Email: birendra176 at yahoo.com 

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