The Pal family (Bengali: পাল বংশ; also spelt Pala) are a Bengali aristocratic family who had formerly held lands in what is now Sylhet, Bangladesh.

Pal
পাল
Parent housePala dynasty
Current regionPanchakhanda
Earlier spellingsPala
Etymology"Protector" (Sanskrit)[1]
FounderKalidas Pal
Final rulerRamjivan Pal
Titles
Estate(s)Palbari, Beanibazar
Cadet branchesChowdhurys of Bahadurpur

HistoryEdit

External image
  Front view of the Pal palace
The Pal palace (locally known as the "Palbari") is located near the municipal town of Beanibazar and is presently in a dilapidated condition.[2]

Among the most ancient clans in their region, the Pals trace their descent from a branch of the imperial Pala dynasty of Bengal, claiming Mahipala I as their ancestor, though it is not possible to ascertain the accuracy of this. Their line became established in Sylhet when one Kalidas Pal acquired land in Panchakhanda (in what is now Beanibazar sub-district),[3] with the estate becoming hereditary among his descendants. The Pals initially ruled their territory as feudal monarchs, styling themselves with the royal title Raja.[4] In the 7th century BS (c. 1200s CE),[5] the Pal palace and the large dighi (reservoir) it sits beside were constructed by Kalidas's great-grandson, Varanasi Pal.[2][6] However, three generations later, during the reign of Ramjivan Pal, the kingdom lost its independence, coming under the suzerainty of the Muslim rulers of Bengal.[4][7]

In spite of this reduction in status, the family enjoyed considerable renown and success as private landowners. Under Pal governance, their territory (previously scarcely inhabited) was significantly developed and cultivated, allowing the migration of groups such as the Mahimals (who were led by their two Sardars Raghai and Basai) into the area.[note 1] Successive members of the family became notable for their construction of dighi as well as their religious contributions, both through support of Brahmans as well as construction.[4] One younger son, Pratap Chandra Pal, converted to Islam under the name "Prachanda Khan" and established his own separate territory, with his heirs becoming prominent landowners themselves.[note 2] The general preeminence of the Pal line is displayed in a proverb recorded by the historians Achyut Charan Choudhury and Syed Murtaza Ali:[10][8]

পাল, প্রচণ্ড, জাংদার। এই তিন মিরাশদার।

Pal, Prôchôṇḍô, Jangdar.
Ei tin mirashdar

Translated, this means "Pal, Prachanda, Jangdar. These are the three mirashdars." Thus, making reference to the Pals, the descendants of Prachanda Khan and the unrelated Jangdar clan, the proverb states that there were no other mirashdars[note 3] beyond these families in the locality.[10]

The influence of the Pals continued into the British era, with Munshi Hari Krishna Pal serving as Dewan to the District Collector of Sylhet. Krishnatay Dewanji, his younger brother, had the title Rai Bahadur awarded to him by the ruling government.[4] The latter's son, Krishna Kishore Pal Chowdhury, founded the Bihani Bazar (Morning Market), from which the town of Beanibazar (now expanded into the sub-district) derives its name.[12]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Mahimals subsequently maintained a presence in the region into modern times.[4]
  2. ^ Among his descendants are the Muslim Chowdhurys of Bahadurpur, also in Beanibazar.[8][9]
  3. ^ Mirashdar is a term referring to a landowner who pays taxes directly to the government.[11]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Moor, Edward (1834). Oriental Fragments. Cornhill, London: Smith, Elder and Co. p. 139.
  2. ^ a b খালেদ, শিমুল (2018-06-06). পাল রাজার প্রাসাদে. 52 Bangla TV (in Bengali). Retrieved 2020-03-23.
  3. ^ Barua, Bharati (1991). Glimpses into Religion in Kamarupa during the Reign of Kumara Bhaskaravarman : A study on Contemporary Evidences. Proceedings of North East India History Association. North East India History Association. p. 129.
  4. ^ a b c d e Choudhury, Achyut Charan (1917). Srihattar Itibritta: Uttarrangsho  (in Bengali) (first ed.). Kolkata: Kotha. pp. 144–45 – via Wikisource.
  5. ^ Islam, Jahedul. "Bangla Date Converter". BanglaText. BanglaText. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  6. ^ মজুমদার, অবিনাশচন্দ্র (1914). প্রতিভা  (in Bengali). Dhaka: ঢাকা সাহিত্য পরিষৎ. p. 129 – via Wikisource.
  7. ^ Choudhury (1917, p. 385)
  8. ^ a b Ali, Syed Murtaza (1968). Amadera kalera katha (in Bengali). Baighara. p. 27.
  9. ^ Choudhury (1917, p. 174)
  10. ^ a b Choudhury (1917, p. 173)
  11. ^ Laskar, Nitish Ranjan (1985). Mahishya Das of Cachar and their Social Background. Proceedings of North East India History Association. North East India History Association. p. 456.
  12. ^ উপজেলার পটভূমি. Beanibazar Upazila (in Bengali). Bangladesh National Portal. 2020-01-13. Retrieved 2020-01-14.