“Bangladesh has a hundred gates open for entrance but not one for departure” – Bernier.
Bangladesh is a new state in an ancient land. Like the rest of South Asia, it has been described as continually challenged by contradictions, marred by inconsistencies to say the least. It is neither a distinct geographical entity, nor a well-defined historical unit. Nevertheless, it is among the 10 most populous nations; a place whose search for a political identity has been protracted, intense and agonizing.
The word Bangladesh is derived from the word “Vanga” which was first mentioned in the Hindu scripture Aitareya Aranyaka (composed between 500 BC and 500 AD). Bengal was reputedly first colonized by Prince Vanga, the son of King Bali and Queen Sudeshna of the Lunar dynasty. The roots of the term Vanga may be traced to languages in the neighboring areas. One school of linguists maintain that the word “Vanga” is derived from the Tibetan word “Bans” which implies “wet and moist”. According to this interpretation, Bangladesh literally refers to a wetland. Another school is of the opinion that the term “Vangla” is derived from Bodo (aborigines of Assam) words “Bang” and “la” which connote “wide plains.”
Historical information is taken from Bangladesh Towards 21st Century, published by the Ministry of Information, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.