Dipankar Srijnan, Atish (980-1053) Buddhist scholar, religious preceptor and philosopher, Atisha Dipankar Srijanan has been recognized for nearly 1000 years as an outstanding religious personality in Tibet and Asian countries north of the Himalayas. But the great saint-philosopher of 10th-11th Century was forgotten for centuries in a peculiar twist of history in the land of his birth in Bangladesh as well as in Indian sub-continent till the end of the 19th Century.
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia and The Daily Prothom Alo
The city of Vikramapura, the most probable candidate for Atish's birthplace, was the capital of the ancient kingdoms of Southeast Bengal. Though the city's exact location is not certain, it presently lies in the Munshiganj District of Bangladesh, and countinues to be celebrated as an early center of Buddhist cultural, academic, and political life.
Scholars in their quest for Bengal's ancient history and heritage as well as its age-old cultural and religious link with Tibet have resurrected an almost forgotten chapter of history of Buddhism. In the last decade of the 19th century the name of Atish Dipankar Srijnan as one of the greatest sons of the Bengal and an outstanding religious personality of India was discovered from the rather rusted records of history inscribed in Tibetan Tanjur.
Recently Archaeologists lead by professor Sufi Mostafizur Rahman of Jahangirnagar University have discovered a old Buddhist monastery in Munshiganj, considered to be at least 1000 Years old, after an excavation for 3 consecutive seasons. With financial support from the Ministry of Culture in 2011, archaeologists first started exploration survey in this region and then excavation to find out archaeological relics and sites at Ramapal and Bojrojogini, villages situated nearby the homestead of Buddhist scholar Atish Dipankar.
According to Sufi Mostafizur Rahman, this is the first Buddhist monastery in Munshiganj. He also said that this is assumed to be "Bikrampuri Buddist Monastery" Which was built during the Pala period and patronized by famous Pala king Dharma Pala. For more concrete dating confirmation the have sent some objects in the United Kingdom for C14 Dating.
In that particular site they have exposed five rooms of Buddist monks sized 3.5x3.5 meters. Also a wall has been exposed from the monastery which stretches towards the south and the west from the central alter.
The discovery was made jointly by "Agrossor Bikrampur Foundation" and the Archaeology department of Jahangirnagar University.
Atisha Dipankara, described as the 'Eye of Asia' is shining symbol of mankind's glorious heritage for peace, compassion, humanism and wisdom throughout the ages. This discovery will help the research about Atisha Dipankara and spot the light on our long forgotten history.