Bangladesh is the frontier of South Asian civilization. It is the natural bridge between South and South East Asia. Because of its location, Bangladesh was the intermediary in trade and commerce between the South Asian subcontinent and the Far East. This region, as a distinguished historian observed, “played an important part in the great cultural association between the diverse civilizations of Eastern and South Eastern Asia, which formed a distinguished feature in the history of this great continent for nearly 1,500 years.”
Tradition has it that Sri Lanka was colonized by a Bengalee, Prince Vijayasingha, who established the first political organization in that island. Gadadhara, another Bengalee, founded a kingdom in the Madras state in South India.
The Bangladesh region also played a seminal role in disseminating her beliefs, art and architecture in the wider world of Asia. Bengali missionaries preached Mahayana Buddhism in the Indonesian archipelago. Kumaraghosha, the royal preceptor of the Sailendra emperors of Java, Sumatra and Malaya peninsula, was born in Gauda. The Bengali scholar Santirakshit was one of the founders of the Buddhist monastic order in Tibet. The great Buddhist sage Dipankara Srijnana, also known as Atish (10th-l1th century) reformed the monastic order in Tibet. The Bengalee scholars Shilabhadra, Chandragomin, Abhayakaragupta, Jetari and Jnanasrimitra were venerated as great theologians in the Buddhist world.
Ancient Bangladesh also witnessed the flowering of temple, stupa and monastic architecture as well as Buddhist art and sculpture. The Pala art of Bengal had a discernable influence on Javanese art. There was a close affinity between the scripts used on certain Javanese sculptures and proto-Bengali alphabet. A group of temples in Burma were built on the model of Bangladeshi temples. The architecture and iconographic ideas of Bengal inspired architects, sculptors and artists in Cambodia and the Indonesian archipelago. The influence of Pala art in Bengal can be easily traced in Nepalese and Tibetan paintings, as well as in Tang Art of China.