Deba M Barua F'20, F'14

Deba M Barua
Affiliated Scholar
School of Religion; Ho Centre for Buddhist Studies
Rice University

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Research Fellowships in Buddhist Studies 2020
Affiliated Scholar
School of Religion; Ho Centre for Buddhist Studies
University of Toronto
Chittagong-Arakan Modern Buddhist Reformation 1757¬—1947: Staging Buddhism in Extended Bengal with Transregional Connections

This proposed monograph will examine the processes of the reconfiguration and geographical spread of Buddhism in wider Bengal. It will focus on a set of questions: how did Buddhists in Chittagong dispel the shadow of Hinduism, claim Buddhist identity, and get dispersed in wider Bengal? Addressing these questions, I will argue in this proposed book that Chittagong Buddhists have successfully employed their oral tradition based identity (i.e., Mog/Maga/Magadhi Buddhists) as the descendants of extinct Indian Buddhists in Magadha to emerge as a distinct (non-Hindu) religious community in modern Bengal. I will also illustrate how this revived identity has enabled Chittagong Buddhists to establish translocal connections.

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Buddhist Studies 2014
Religion and Culture
University of Saskatchewan
Buddhism in Two Bengals from 1757 to 1988: Theravada Buddhism as a Minority Religion and its Transnational Connections
the Department of Asian Studies at Cornell University

Undivided Bengal was the last stronghold of Indian Buddhism. Southeastern Bengal is the only region where Buddhists, albeit as a minority, have maintained a living tradition. To date, Buddhism in Bengals remains less explored and unaccounted for in modern scholarship on Buddhism due to the generalization of Indian Buddhism’s demise in medieval India. This research addresses this omission by studying Buddhism in Bengals (1757-1988) from a perspective of minority religion. In addition, it contextualizes contemporary Buddhism in Bengal in the nexus of transnational connections with fellow majority Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. To study Theravada Buddhism as a minority religion is rare, and to do so within transnational Buddhist networks is what uniquely characterizes this research.