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Barua people

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Total population
1.2 million[citation needed]
Regions with significant populations
Bangladesh Bangladesh
Myanmar Myanmar
India India
Theravada Buddhism
Buddhist temple on Maheshkhali Island in Chittagong Division, Bangladesh

Barua (Bengali: বড়ুয়া, romanizedBoṛua; Rakhine: မရမာကြီး) is a Bengali-speaking Indo-Aryan ethnic group native to Chittagong Division in Bangladesh and Rakhine State in Myanmar, where they are known as the Maramagyi or Maramagri or particularly the Magh Barua.[1] According to Arakanese chronology, the Barua Buddhists have lived there for five thousand years.[2] Another derivation of 'Barua' is 'Baru' and 'Arya' meaning great aryan. They are commonly identified by their last name, "Barua". Barua is derived from "Baru" meaning "great" and "ua", meaning "noble rulers". In Myanmar, the Barua is classified as one of the seven groups that make up the Rakhine nation. In West Bengal (India), Barua Magh Buddhist Community are recognized as Scheduled Tribe (ST). The physical characteristics of Barua (Marmagyi) people are unmistakenly Mongolian, their stature is low, the face broad and flat, cheekbones high and wide, nose falt and bridgeless, and eyes small with eyelids obliquely set. Their list of favourite foods invariably includes shnutki machhor dry fish, sea fish and spicy food prepared with lots of oil and chilli. From the different kinds of shnutki an indication of their origin can be identified. For instance, according to multiple respondents the Siddala and Hangor shnutki (dried sea fish) is liked mainly by Baruas who are closely connected to the Arakanese community. The primary scripture of Barua Magh Tribal Community, the Tripitaka was written in the Pali language. After Barua women marry they wear vermilion and conch-shell bangles as marriage symbols and as a sign of their unavailability to men. The present Barua Buddhists of Chittagong are from Arakan roots. They migrated to Chittagong some four or five hundred years ago. Before getting planted in that country they were from different groups and not from one composite group. And name Magh has been derived as corrupted form of appellation Mang or Meng.Use of name Mang or Meng was widely prevalent in Chittagong among the ancestors of Buddhist communities now using the name Barua.

Chittagong was formerly known as "Chaityagrama" or "town with Buddhist shrines".[3] The region attracted Chinese Buddhist visitors in the 7th century. In 1929, in Jhewari village a hoard of 61 Buddhist images from 9th and 10th century was found.[4] It was a centre of Buddhism in the 10th century.[5] Taranatha mentions a monastery named Pinda-Vihara at Chittagong where the custom of wearing pointed caps originated.[6] The scholar Vanaratna (1384–1468 CE) who is considered the last Indian Buddhist Pandit in Tibet,[7] was born in the Chittagong district.[8] He studied in Sri Lanka, parts of the old heartland of Buddhism in present-day Bihar including Bodh Gaya, Tibet and then he settled down in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. He wrote in Sanskrit and Apabhramsha. Chittagong region is one of the two regions of the Indian subcontinent where Indian Buddhism has survived without interruption. They insist that they came from the Āryāvarta or the country of the Āryans which is practically identical to the country later known as Majjhimadesa or Madhyadesa in the Pali texts.[9]

A Magh king, Jaychand, ruled the Chittagong region in the 16th century.[10] There are periods in history which are known as the dark days and Buddhism or Buddhist history too had to pass through this period in India. Starting with the Muslim invasion when Ikhtiyar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji with his marauding soldiers plundered their way to the throne of India, it was a time when the Buddhist Viharas were destroyed and monks fled the place to escape the brutality and later the Brahmins too caused immense damage to Buddhism by killing the Buddhist monks and destroying the very fabric a Buddhism. By the advent of the nineteenth century, Buddhism was almost extinct in the land of its birth save except for a few pockets where it survived with the influence or migration of Buddhist tribes from Myanmar, Thailand and Chittagong (now in Bangladesh)[11]

Theravada Buddhism

Buddhist Monastery in Moheshkhali
Dipa Ma, a prominent Buddhist master in Asia of Barua descent.

The Baruas used to follow Mahayana Buddhism and followed some of the Hindu customs until the mid 19th century when Saṅgharaj Sāramedha Mahāthera (1801–82) of Arakan, returning from Bodh Gaya, was invited to Chittagong in 1856.[12]

In the mid 19th century, the Baruas came into contact with other Theravada Buddhists from Burma and Ceylon, and these Baruas were the first groups like the Chakmas who converted into Buddhists during Buddha's time.[13]

The first Pāli school in modern times was started in Pahartali, Chittagong by Ācarya Punnācāra with the financial backing from a zamindar, Haragobinda Mutsuddi, in 1885.[14] Bauddha Dharmankur Sabha Buddhist religious organization founded by Venerable Kripasaran Mahasthavir in Calcutta on 5 October 1892.[15] Kripasharan Mahasthavir was its first president, and Surendralal Mutsuddi was its secretary. The journal of the Dharmankur Sabha, Jagajjyoti, edited by Gunalangkar Sthavir and Shraman Punnananda Swami, was first published in 1908. It was subsequently edited by Benimadhab Barua.

Benimadhab (1888–1948) was born in the village of Mahamuni under Raozan Thana, Chittagong. He was the son of Kaviraj Rajchandra Talukder. Benimadhab assumed the title of "Barua". In 1913, he obtained an MA degree in Pali from University of Calcutta. He also studied law at Calcutta City College and Calcutta Law College.

He became one of the pioneers of the revitalization of Buddhism in the Barua Community. Benimadhab joined the Mahāmuni Anglo-Pāli Institution as headmaster in 1912. From 1913 to 1914 he worked as a lecturer in the Pāli department of the University of Calcutta. He went to England on a government scholarship in 1914. He earned an MA in Greek and Modern European Philosophy from the University of London. In 1917 he was awarded a D.Litt. by the University of London. He was the first Asian to do so.[16] After returning to India in 1918, Benimadhab rejoined Calcutta University and was promoted to professorship. He improvised the syllabus of the MA course in Pali, in addition his work in the departments of Ancient Indian History and Culture, (1919–48) and Sanskrit (1927–48), in the same university.[1] [17]

Anagarika Dharmapala visited Chittagong in 1917, where he influenced a 9-year-old boy, who later became the well known Pali scholar Prof. Dwijendra Lal Barua.[18]

New traditional outfit of Maramargyi.

Notable Barua

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See also


  1. ^ Hattaway, Paul (2004). Peoples of the Buddhist World: A Christian Prayer Diary. ISBN 9780878083619.
  2. ^ "Buddhist Studies: Theravada Buddhism, Bangladesh".
  3. ^ The Buddhists of Chittagong, Appendix to Chapter 3, Bengal district gazetteers, 1908, p. 65
  4. ^ Sarita Khettry, Sakyabhikshu of Bronze Image Inscriptions of Bengal, Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, Vol. 71 (2010-2011), pp. 148-153
  5. ^ "Mahayana Buddhism". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  6. ^ Taranatha's History Of Buddhism In India, Motilal banarasidas, 1970, p. 254-255
  7. ^ Rahul Sankrityanan, Bauddha Samskriti, 1952, p. 418
  8. ^ Wilden, Eva (2021). "Introduction". Education Materialised. pp. 373–378. doi:10.1515/9783110741124-018. ISBN 9783110741124. S2CID 243661299.
  9. ^ Buddhism in Bangladesh
  10. ^ Magh raiders in Bengal, Jamini Mohan Ghosh Bookland, 1960p. 55
  11. ^ Chatterjee, Aparna (28 November 2022). The Barua Buddhists: Lineage and Cultural Interface. Shhalaj Publishing House. ISBN 978-93-5018-442-4.
  12. ^ South Asian Buddhism: A Survey, Stephen C. Berkwitz, Routledge, 2012, p. 184
  13. ^ Young East, 1979, Volumes 5-7, pp. 25-26
  14. ^ Buddhist Education in Bangladesh: Challenges and Possibilities, Sajal Barua, Feb. 27, 2015
  15. ^ Mahasthavir, Kripasharan, 5 May 2014
  16. ^ "Remembering Dr. B. M. Barua - A Distinguished Scholar of Indology - 1st Indian to Get a D.Lit From University of London". The Darjeeling Chronicle. 31 December 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  17. ^ Dr. B.M. Barua Birth Centenary Commemoration Volume, 1989, Bauddha Dharmankur Sabha, 1989
  18. ^ Sugat Barua, The Maha Bodhi,1891-1991, Volumes 98-99; Maha-Bodhi Society, p. 307
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Barua people
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