The ancient kingdom of
Punduru Bardhan was bordered by the Himalayas to the
north, rivers Padma to the south, Korotoa to the east
and Mahananda to the west. Seventh century Chinese traveler
Huen Shang, mentioned that the perimeter of “Punduru
Bardhan” was 8 hundred miles.
The Pundurus were destroyed
as a result of the conquest by the Aryans. Punduru Bardhan
broke up into five kingdoms one of which was called “Barendra”
which was successively ruled by the Mauryas, the Guptas, the
Pals, the Sens and finally became part of the Muslim kingdom
The Aryans were greatly impressed by the beauty
of this land and named it “Barendra”, which means “Bar” (Gift)
from “Indra”, thus “Punduru Bardhan” became “Barendra Bhumi”.
From the existence of an ancient settlement
known as “Punduria”, it is known that the “the Pundurus” lived
there. This settlement is located in the northern side of
Tilokpur station located in Adamdighi of Bogra. The findings,
preserved in museums, reveal arts, sculptures, and the sophisticated
nature of this very ancient civilization.
In those days silk was cultivated in this
area. One name of silk is “Polu”, the cultivation of which
led to the name of “Polu Bardhan” which eventually became
“Punduru Bardhan”. During the rule of the “Pundurus”, this
area was densely forested with thin population density. Sherpur
and Panchbibi of greater Bogra had tracts of “Shaal trees”
(W.W Hunter: Statistical Account of Bengal (Bogra), London
Between the year 1281 CE and 1290 CE Gaur
Barendra was ruled by Sultan Nasiruddin Khan Bogra, the second
son of Sultan Giasuddin Balban, the ruler of Delhi. The place
where offices were set up for administration was named Bogra,
which became a part of Sherpur Shik during the rule of emperor
RULE: Comes to Punduru Bardhan:
It is not clearly known when
and how the Muslim rule came to Mahasthan. The most popular
view with the local people involve Shah Sultan Balkhi Mahisawar
and the last native ruler Porshuram. According to legend,
in the year 1043 CE, Shah Sultan of Balkh, the famous preacher
Shah Sultan Mahmud Balkhi came to Mahastahan accompanied by
his disciples dressed as a Faqir in a boat shaped like a fish.
It has been reported that initially Chilhon, the army chief
of Porshuram and many others accepted the message of Islam
and became Muslims but eventually there was conflict between
Porshuram and Balkhi Mahisawar in which Porshuram was defeated
and killed. Provash Chandra Sen, the writer of “Bogurar Itihash”
wrote: “Narshingh or Porshuram, the Hindu king of the Mahasthan
Bhoj Garh dynasty, was defeated and killed by Shah Sultan
Balki in the year 1043CE”
Other historians have difficulty in accepting
the date of 1043 CE as the time of Mahisawar’s battle with
Porshuram because of the fact that this happens to be over
160 years before the conquest of Bangladesh by Bakhtiar Khalji.
Such an important event taking place before the conquest of
Bakhtiar Khalji could not have been overlooked by the historians.
Now the question is who is this Balkhi and
the big question is when did the great conquest take place
and who really was this Muslim conqueror and who was this
A: Who Was Balkhi Mahisawar? History reveals
the names of three Balkhis:
1. Ibrahim Adham Balkhi (RA), was a ruler
of Balkh. During the period of his rule as the Sultan of Balkh,
the Khalifa in Baghdad was Al-Mamun in the year 812 CE, Muhtasim
Billah in 815 CE, Waseq Billah in 846 CE and Mutawaqqil Billah
between 846 and 861 CE successively. It is reported that one
day Khalifa Mutawaqqil Billah called Ibrahim Adham Balkhi
to his court and asked him about his Tariqa and ideology implying
that during the Khilafat of Mutawaqqil Billah, Balkhi was
not the ruler of Balkh but a Sufi saint.
At that time, North India and Punduru Bardhan
kingdom was under the Pal dynasty. Emperor Deb Pal ruled from
810 CE to 850 CE, who was a great conqueror. During his rule
Pundurnagar witnessed substantial development. It is quite
inconceivable that during this time any outside power would
attack and conquer Pundurunagar. Besides that Ibrahim Adham
Balkhi never came here and his grave is in Balkh.
2. Then comes the case of second Balkhi. Some
historians and local scholars and writers say that Shah Sultan
Mahmud Balkhi, son of Shah Asgar, Sultan of Balkh is the conqueror
of Mahasthan. According to them, in the year 1043 CE he came
to this land from Balkh and at one time conquered Pundurunagar.
This group of historians say that Shah Sultan Balkhi Mahisawar
first came to Hariram Nagar of Dhaka and then proceeded to
Mahasthan Garh to preach Islam. These historians also believe
that this is where lies his Mazhar.
King Noipal Deb, from the Pal dynasty, was
the unchallenged ruler between the year 1038 CE to 1054 CE
over Gaur Barendra and Pundurunagar. After him Bigrohopal
III ruled between 1054 CE and 1070 CE. And during this period,
the only one foreign incursion on Pundurunagar was the attack
by Lakhsmicorn. It is also quite inconceivable that there
would be any foreign attack during this period. The period
up to 1160 CE, was the time when the Pal dynasty ruled Gaur
Barendra. In the year 1162 CE, the Sen dynasty was initiated
by Bijoy Sen. The Sen dynasty ruled Gaur Barendra Between
1162 CE and 1204 CE, for a long period of 42 years. The Sens
were orthodox Brahmin and anti-Muslim. It is quite inconceivable
that there would be Mazhar in Mahasthan of a famous Sufi saint
during or before their rule. Probably it would not have been
allowed to stand in its place by the members of the Sen dynasty.
Rampal Deb’s conquest adventure of Barendra
has been narrated by contemporary poet named Shondhakor Nandi
in his work: “Ramcharitom”. Poet Hulayud and Dhoyi also described
several incidents from that period in their works. But the
conquest of Mahasthan by Balkhi and his battle with Porshuram
is not mentioned anywhere in their literature.
3. The third Balkhi, according to some other
historians, is the real conqueror of Mahasthan. He was also
a resident of Balkh and was also called Balkhi and he came
to Mahasthan Garh with Shah Makhdum Ruposh.
B. When Did Mahisawar Come to Mahasthan
Bakhtiar Khilji conquered Gaur in the year
1204 CE. Since then many of the Pal and Sen kings of Bangladesh
surrendered to the Muslim rule but continued to administer
their kingdom almost independently, like Mukut Roy (Brahmin
Nagar) Porshuram (Mahasthan Garh) and Ongshu Deo (Mahakal
Garh, Rajshahi). These kings had very small territories to
rule, yet they were free to practice their religion.
In the year 1288 CE, a Sufi saint by the
name of Shah Turkan or Turfan Shah went to Mahakal Garh (Rajshahi)
with the message of Islam. But he came into conflict with
the Hindu king, hence he left Mahakal Garh and retreated to
Sherpur where he had a battle with king Ballal Sen II, of
the Sen dynasty and was martyred.
Soon after this, hearing the news of the martyrdom
of Shah Turkan, Shah Makhdum (RA) of Baghdad set out for Mahakal
Garh between 1325 and 26 CE. He went to Noakhali and then
traveled to Mahakal Garh (Rajshahi) by boat . After coming
to Mahakal he had a conflict with the Deo kings where they
(the kings) were defeated and killed. Thus Rajshahi came under
the Muslim rule making the way for the Islamic message to
spread. In the year 1330 CE he died in Rampur Boalia. The
name of this place is derived from Bui Aulia, becoming Boalia.
The meaning of Bui Aulia is “ the Residence of the Aulia”..
He had four disciples with him named: Shah
Abbas, Shah Dilal Bukhari, Shah Karam Ali and Shah Sultan.
After conquering Mahakal, Shah Sultan traveled to Mahasthan
Garh, along river Padma to Pabna and then to Mahasthan along
Korotoa. On the way he had a battle with king Handilal who
was also defeated. The boat used by Shah Sultan had the shape
of a fish (in Persian fish is called “Mahi” and Sawar means
the rider). Thus his title became “Mahisawar”, “The Rider
C. Why Did Mahisawar Come to Mahasthan
The legend with the local people is as follows.
In the olden times there lived a poor Muslim in the vicinity
of the city. His name was Burhanuddin who did not have any
children. He made a Du’a to Allah, subhanahu wa-Taala to give
him a child and made a “Manat” to sacrifice a cow. In time
a son was born, when the son was born he set out to fulfill
his vow and accordingly sacrificed a cow but at that time
the Hindu king “Porshuram” , known to be oppressive and a
Muslim hater was the ruler of Pundurunagar. Sacrificing a
cow was not allowed in his kingdom. It was a forbidden act.
Now Burhanuddin did the sacrifice in secrecy and he put all
the guts and the internal parts of the cow inside the earth
but an eagle took a piece of meat and accidentally dropped
it in the royal court, seeing which the king became suspicious
and employed spies to find the source of the cow meat and
found out about the forbidden sacrifice of Burhanuddin. The
king brought Burhanuddin along with his son to the royal court
where he killed the son and exiled Burhanuddin.
In utter remorse, Burhanuddin
made a pilgrimage to Makkah where he came in contact with
a renowned saintly man whom he briefed about the tragic episode
of his life. Hearing which this great man decided to go to
Bamboo & Cane
We are preparing a Feature
on Mahasthangarh. This will be an up-to-date story of
Mahasthangarh and a documentation of the Miseum of Mahasthan
We appreciate your patience in this matter and look
forward to provide you with a colourful feature.