Sunday, March 6, 2011


Another fascinating mystery emerges in attempting to make connections in the history of Bangladesh.
Sadly, the history of this , something of a patchwork quilt of a nation, seems ill served. As usual, not just in Bangladesh, the academics to whom we would normally look for intelligent research, theorisation, examination and publishable conclusions, even if only as speculative theories, simply insist on working with references to previously published works, so original theories and thought are not welcome.
Near Kurigram, in the far north of Bangladesh, close to where the  Brahmaputra river crosses from India, and before, since the great earthquake, it has lost its main flow into the new river called Jamuna, stands a rather pretty Mosque of Mughal period origin called the Mosque of the Five Saints.
Such a name suggests a group of five Sufi missionaries, who may well have preceded the Mughal domination of the area. Unusually, however, there are no signs of their place of rest.
Across the Chittagong Highway from indubitably ancient Sonargaon, lies the village of Mograpara, of which more in another Blog piece.
Close to that village, which is widely believed to be the original capital of the Muslim invaders originating in Afghanistan, stands another, Mosque of the Five Saints, again with clearly Mughal origins though, unlike the northern one of the three dome style, this with one large dome.
This Mosque, however, has, beside it, in a clearly much honoured row, five tombs, with their Shalu covers, beneath an awning, beneath, improbably, a corrugated iron roof!
The question is, were these the same five saints?
In favour of the possibility is it’s a proximity to the ancient capital. As, presumably, Mughal sponsored missionaries, it appears they effectively set up a viably Muslim community in what, even today, remains a significantly Hindu area.
But in that late 15th Century, early 16th Century period, there is no doubting the potential for strain in the relations between the Muslim rulers of Bengal, based to the South and East of Brahmaputra, and the Mughals. Is it possible, one wonders, that the Five saints made their own contribution to the peace that led, eventually, to a treaty between the Nawabs of Bengal and the Mughals, avoiding a fratricidal Islamic struggle?
Lets speculate! Unless someone has a better answer.

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