infobox Book |
name = Banglapedia
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh
author = Professor Sirajul Islam (Chief Editor)
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = flagicon|Bangladesh Bangladesh
language = English, Bengali
series =
genre = Encyclopedia
publisher = Banglapedia Trust, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh
release_date = January 2003
media_type = Print (Hardback), CD-ROM, Online
pages = 10 Volumes
isbn = ISBN 9843205766
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"Banglapedia", or the "National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh", is the first Bangladeshi encyclopedia.cite web | title = Banglapedia | work = Bangladesh | publisher = Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-07] It is available in print, CD-ROM format and online,cite news | last = Staff Correspondent | title = Banglapedia on CD-Rom to hit market by February | publisher = The New Age | date = 2004-01-02 | url = | accessdate = 2007-07-23] in both Bangla and English. [cite news | last = Iqbal | first = Iftekhar | title = The case for Bangladesh Studies | publisher = The Daily Star | date = 2006-11-16 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-07] The print version comprises ten 500-page volumes. The first edition was published in January 2003 by the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh,cite web | author = UNB | title = Compilation of Banglapedia completed | work = General news | publisher = Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) | date = 2003-03-24 | url = | accessdate = 2008-01-19] with a plan to update it every two years.cite news | last = Akkas | first = Abu Jar M | title = Banglapedia edition every 2 years | publisher = The Weekly Holiday | date = 2004-05-23 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-07]

"Banglapedia" was not designed as a general encyclopedia but as a specialized encyclopedia on Bangladesh-related topics. For the encyclopedia's purposes, Bangladesh is defined as the territory comprising ancient Eastern India, Suba Bangla, Shahi Bangalah, Mughal Suba Bangla, Bengal Presidency, Bengal Province, East Bengal, East Pakistan, and the independent Bangladesh, in historical succession.

The encyclopedia's chief editor is Sirajul Islam. [cite news | last = Khan | first = Mubin S | title = Professor Sirajul Islam: Making history | work = New Age New Year Special 2006 | publisher = The New Age | date = 2006-01-01 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-07] Over 1200 writers and specialists in Bangladesh and abroad helped create the entries. "Banglapedia" has over 5,700 entries in six editorial categories, each of which is overseen by an expert editor, as well as over 2,000 single and four-colour illustrations and 2,100 cross-references.

The project was funded by the Bangladeshi government, private sector organizations, academic institutes and the UNESCO. Though its original budget was 800,000 taka, the Asiatic Society eventually spent 80 million taka on the project. Despite controversies over entries on the Bangladesh Liberation War and indigenous people, both the Bengali and English versions became popular upon publication.


The "Banglapedia" project originated when the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh was working on a three-volume study titled "History of Bangladesh, 1704-1971" in 1991. The editors felt the need for a standard desk reference, as that project progressed laboriously, culling facts from various libraries. The idea finally led to a concept paper prepared by Sirajul Islam and his colleagues and submitted to the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh in early 1994. The "Banglapedia" project was formally adopted on 19 February 1997, and Islam was appointed project director and chief editor. As the head of the Project Implementation Committee, his task was to plan and manage the project funding.cite news | last = Zaman | first = Mustafa | coauthors = Ahsan, Shamim | title = The Banglapedia and its Making | work = Star Magazine | publisher = The Daily Star | date = 2003-09-02 | url = | accessdate = 2008-01-17] In 1996, some three dozen committees were formed with three to four people in each committee to recommend the entries. Twenty-seven thousand entries were proposed, requiring a 20 volume compendium. Because of financial constraints, the number of entries was cut down to around 6,000. The project officially took off in 1998.

When the project began, the Society had only eight hundred thousand taka in its coffers for the project. "Banglapedia" raised further contributions from universities, banks, multinational companies, international organisations and even private individuals. A pool of agencies, including UNESCO, the University Grants Commission, universities, financial institutions and NGOs initially financed the project, which was completed at a cost of taka 80 million. Education Ministry funded about 74% of the cost, while 26% of the fund came mostly from universities and banks. Before direct sales started in 3 January 2003, 4,000 copies of the English version and all but 250 copies of the Bengali version were sold in advance out of the initial print of 5,000 copies for each versions. For an additional run of 10,000 prints people waited in queues outside the Asiatic Society office on the day of the release, and sales continued until 9:30 in the evening. A total of 4,500 sets of the Bangla version and 2,500 of the English version were sold on the day of release.

History of encyclopedias in Bangladesh

The first attempt to compile a Bengali encyclopedia was undertaken by Felix Carey (1786-1822), who was the son of Reverend William Carey (1761-1834) of Serampore and the first lexicographer of the Burmese language. In 1819, he began the translation of the fifth edition of Encyclopædia Britannica, naming it "Vidyarthabali". From October 1819 till November 1820 the book was printed by Felix Carey every month in 48-page installments. Thus completed, the first part of "Vidyarthabali" was compiled into the 638-page "Vyabachchedvidya", the first book on anatomy and surgery in Bengali. Work on the second part, "Smritishastra", which was largely on jurisprudence, then began. But, Carey died after only two 40-page installments were printed in February and March 1821.Citation | last = Datta | first = Amaresh | title = Encyclopaedia of Indian literature | place = Delhi | page= 1162-1163| publisher = South Asia Books | year = 1988 | volume = 2 | url =,M1 | isbn = 978-8172016494]

It was followed by Maharaja Kalikirshna Dev Bahadur's (1808-1974) "Sankshipta Sadvidyabali" (1833), a concise encyclopedia. Then came Raja Radhakanta Deb's "Sabdakalpadrum" (1822-1858), a Sanskrit encyclopedic dictionary in eight parts. Next was Rajkrishna Ray (1849-1894) and Saratchandra Dev's (1858-unknown) joint work "Bharatkosh", the first Bengali encyclopedia laid-out in alphabetical order (1880-1892) published in three volumes. Reverend Krishna Mohan Banerjee's (1813-1885) adaptation of "Encyclopædia Britannica", "Vidyakalpadruma" or "Encyclopædia Bengalensis" (1846-51), and the 22-volume "Bangla Visvakosh" (1886-1911), edited by Nagendranath Basu (1866-1938) with contributions from many major personalities of contemporary Bengal, were published next.cite book | last = Islam | first = Sirajul | title = Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh | publisher = Asiatic Society of Bangladesh | month = January | year = 2003 | location = Dhaka, Bangladesh | pages = | url = | isbn = 978-9843205766]

After the independence of Pakistan and the partition of Bengal in 1947, there have been more attempts to compile and publish an encyclopedia. The first was a project to produce a Bengali adaptation of "Columbia Viking Desk Encyclopedia" by Franklin Book Programs Inc., undertaken in 1959 and aborted ten years later. The unfinished papers were compiled into four unequal volumes as "Bangla Visvacos" (1972) with Khan Bahadur Abdul Hakim as the chief editor. After the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, three specialized encyclopedias were published - the multi-volume "Islami Bishwakosh" (Encyclopedia of Islam, 1986) by Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, [ [ Islami Vishwakosh] ("Bengali")), Official website, Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, Retrieved: 2008-04-04] 5-volume "Shishu-Biswakosh" (Encyclopedia for Children, 1995) by Bangladesh Shishu Academy, and 4-volume "Vijnan Biswakosh" (Encyclopedia of Science, 1998) by Bangla Academy. [cite news | last = Akkas | first = Abu Jar M | title = The making of an academy | publisher = The New Age | date = 2003-09-02 | url = | accessdate = 2008-01-17]


"Banglapedia" contains over 5,700 entries, which are divided into six categories: arts and humanities, history and heritage, state and governance, society and economy, natural sciences, and biological sciences. The writing of each article was overseen by an expert editor.

"Banglapedia" was not designed as a general encyclopedia. Its purpose is to provide a standard desk reference for Bangladeshis, as well as for people interested in Bangladesh, Bangla-speaking people, and related political, cultural and geographical contexts.

The encyclopedia's editors intended to cover the rise of the Bengal Delta on the physical plane, and its evolution to date, and the changing features of the formation of the delta's "janapada" or human settlements on the human plane. The latter includes the rise and fall of kingdoms, invasions from within and beyond and their implications, dynastic rules and administration, as well as other aspects of Bangladesh's past and present. Entries on topics after 1947 are restricted to the geographical region of Bangladesh. However, for biographical entries, the linguistic identity prevails.

The range of topics covered by "Banglapedia" includes political geography, religion, literature, art and architecture, folk practices and institutions, indigenous and colonial administration, politics, society, economy, ethnicity, and the sciences. [ [ Banglapedia] , Columbia University Libraries Databases; Retrieved: 2008-01-19] All 64 districts of Bangladesh, as well as 451 upazilas, have been described in details ranging from topographical accounts to the number of dairy farms and hatcheries. Over 2,000 single- and four-colour illustrations depict Bangladeshi art and architecture, everyday life, cities and villages and personages. It has about 2,100 cross-references, cartographic information, tables and statistics. It is laid out in alphabetical order and is prefaced by an essay by the Chief Editor. There is a section explaining how to use the "Banglapedia", which clarifies issues such as date systems, contributors, cross references, and headings. [ [ Banglapedia] , Arts and Humanities, Intute, Joint Information Systems Committee; Retrieved: 2008-01-19]

Operational definition of Bangladesh

According to the publisher, the goal of this reference tool is to inquire, interpret and integrate the lived experiences and achievements of the people of Bangladesh from ancient times to the present. The project, conceptually and territorially, interprets the term "Bangladesh" to mean successively ancient Eastern India, Suba Bangla, Shahi Bangalah, Mughal Suba Bangla, Bengal Presidency, Bengal Province, East Bengal, East Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The editor's preface states:

Working team

Over 1,200 writers and specialists contributed to the encyclopedia, one fifth of whom were foreign experts in Bangladesh or experts working abroad. They are mostly academics, as well as specialists in districts and upazilas for locality inputs and people from professions and occupations. District and upazila cartography has been processed at the Geographic information system (GIS) and cartographic laboratory set up for the Banglapedia.cite news | last = Staff Correspondent | title = Asiatic Society to celebrate journal’s golden jubilee Feb 11 | publisher = The New Age | date = 2004-01-02 | url = | accessdate = 2008-01-19] A gazetteer group was created to focus on districts and upazilas. The fact that around 400 local intellectuals were charged with writing about their respective zillas and upazilas was described as a unique approach to information gathering. In addition, 250 people worked in research management for seven years. A total of 2,000 scholars and technicians were involved. There were 270 full-time personnel on the project in all, with 35 to 40 people employed at any given time.

Sirajul Islam is the chairman of the Board of Editors of "Banglapedia", and the editor of the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. A professor of history at the University of Dhaka, the oldest and largest university in Bangladesh, Islam gave up his day job five years before the formal date for retirement, to make time for "Banglapedia".cite news | last = Khan | first = Mubin S | title = Professor Sirajul Islam: Making history | work = New Age New Year Special 2006 | publisher = The New Age | date = 2006-01-01 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-07] He also edited the 3 volumes of the "History of Bangladesh" (political, economic and socio-cultural), published by the Asiatic Society In 1991.cite web | last = | first = | title = Sirajul Islam (Dhaka University) | work = International Directory of South Asia Scholars (IDSAS) | publisher = Columbia University | date = 2004-04-21 | url =,Sirajul.htm | accessdate = 2007-07-23] He is now working on the "Children’s Banglapedia" and the "Cultural Survey of Bangladesh", and is also in charge of the "National Online Biography" project of the Society and the Banglapedia Trust.

The encyclopedia was prepared by a board of editors that included Professor Sirajul Islam of the Department of History, Dhaka University, as the Chairman and Chief Editor, Professor Sajahan Miah of the Department of Philosophy, Dhaka University, as the Convenor and Managing Editor, Professor M. Aminul Islam as the Chairman of Project Implementation Committee, the Chairman of Fund Management Committee, and the Chairman of Cartography Committee, Professor Abdul Momin Chowdhury as the Chairman of Publication Committee, Professor S M Mahfuzur Rahman as the Convenor of Purchase and Procurement Committee, Shahida Alam as the Convenor of Public Relations and Communication Committee, and Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury as the Chairman of Multimedia Committee. [cite web | last = Islam | first = Sirajul | title = Board of Editors | work = Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh | publisher = Asiatic Society of Bangladesh | month = January | year = 2003 | location = Dhaka, Bangladesh | pages = | url = | isbn = 978-9843205766]

The management structure includes a total of sixty members, divided into six different sub-committees headed by six subject editors. Each sub-committee covered a particular discipline. There were six consulting editors, four language editors, and three translation editors. Each subject editor received assistance from six assistant and associate editors. "Banglapedia"'s subject editors were: Professor Abdul Momin Chowdhury (History and Heritage), Professor Wakil Ahmed (Arts, Humanities, Religion), Professor Mahfuzur Rahman (Society and Economy), Dr Kamal Siddiqui (State and Governance), and Professor S M H Kabir (Science and Technology).

Electronic versions

The CD-ROM version of "Banglapedia" has more entries than the print version, along with 65 video clips, 49 audio clips, 2,714 images and thumbnails, and 647 maps. The audio clips include songs by Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam, while the video clips include Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's speech on 7 March 1971. Some of the images that appear in black and white in the print version are available in color in the CD-ROM version.cite news | last = Zaman | first = Mustafa | coauthors = Ahsan, Shamim | title = The Electronic version of Banglapedia | work = Star Magazine | publisher = The Daily Star | date = 2003-09-02 | url = | accessdate = 2008-01-17] Designed to run on Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000 and Windows NT, the CD-ROM version includes about 70,000 links and an option to create a personal "favorite list".

"Banglapedia" has several online incarnations. While is cited by some sources as the online version, [ [ General resources] , Arts and Humanities, Intute, Joint Information Systems Committee; Retrieved: 2008-01-19] the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh website refers to, along with and, [ [ Banglapedia] , Asiatic Society of Bangladesh; Retrieved: 2008-01-19] which also features on Alexa Internet rankings. [ [] , Alexa Internet, Inc.; Retrieved: 2008-01-19]

imilar projects

A Banglapedia Trust has been set up as a permanent institution to receive feedback from user and include, in the editor's words, "contemporary knowledge" or "newly generated knowledge" in successive editions. The following are some similar projects from the Banglapedia Trust: [cite news | last = Staff Correspondent | first = | title = Asiatic Society to award M Phil, PhD degrees | publisher = The New Age | date = 2006-06-30 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-07] [cite news | last = Staff Correspondent | first = | title = Asiatic Society takes up 4 more projects | publisher = The Weekly Holiday | date = 2005-06-17 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-07]

The Ministry of Information of the People's Republic of Bangladesh has published a similar project: "Mosaic in Green", a 160-page photographic encyclopedia showcasing the natural history, culture and landscape of Bangladesh.


Controversy over "Banglapedia" broke out even before publication, when the Inquilab group, a major Bangladeshi newspaper publishing house, got hold of a few entries on religion and related issues. There have also been complaints about an omission of Jamaat-e-Islami's activities during the Bangladesh Liberation War. A study by, a news portal, claimed that "Banglapedia" is biased and inaccurate about Bangladesh's indigenous population. [cite news | last = BDNews24 | title = Respect the languages and cultures of ethnic minorities | publisher = The New Age | date = 2007-02-25 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-10] The encyclopedia is also reported to have used derogatory coinage such as "Mogh" for Marma and Rakhine, "Tipra" for Tripuri and "Murang" for Mros, as well as "upajati" (literally "sub-nation", used to mean "tribal") to define them all.cite news | last = BDNews24 | first = | title = Wrong info on ethnic groups in Banglapedia | publisher = The New Age | date = 2007-02-24 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-07] Leaders of the indigenous community, including Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council member and Parbattya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti leader Rupayan Dewan and General secretary of Adivasi Forum Sanjib Drong, have endorsed the study's findings. Chief editor Islam acknowledged the complaint and promised to amend the second edition accordingly.

See also

* List of online encyclopedias
* List of historical encyclopedias

Footnotes and references

External links

* [ Asiatic Society of Bangladesh]
* [ Banglapedia on the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh website] ;Official information:
* [ Banglapedia Board of Editors]
* [ Banglapedia Board of Trustees]
* [ Banglapedia Contributors]
* [ Banglapedia Translators]
* [ Banglapedia Web Developer Team] ;Banglapedia online:
* [ Banglapedia Official Website] (English)
* [ Banglapedia Official Website] (Bengali)
* [ Domain Information]
* []
* []

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sitakunda Upazila — Infobox of upazilas native name = Sitakunda locator position = right latd = 22.6167 longd = 91.6611 division name = Chittagong Division district = Chittagong District population as of = 1991 population total = 274903 population density = 568 area …   Wikipedia

  • Education in Bangladesh — Infobox Education country name = Bangladesh agency agency = Ministry of Education leader titles = Minister/ Adviser for Education leader names = Ayub Quadri budget = US$7.7 billion (2.4% of GDP) budget year = 2006 primary languages = Bengali… …   Wikipedia

  • Bengal — (Bengali: বঙ্গ Bôngo , বাংলা Bangla , বঙ্গদেশ Bôngodesh or বাংলাদেশ Bangladesh ), is a historical and geographical region in the northeast of South Asia. Today it is mainly divided between the independent nation of Bangladesh (previously East… …   Wikipedia

  • Rajshahi University — Infobox University name = Rajshahi University native name = Rajshahi Vishwavidyaalay established = 1953 type = Public chancellor =Iajuddin Ahmed vice chancellor =M Altaf Hossain students=25000 faculty=1000 staff = 2000 campus=Urban,… …   Wikipedia

  • Hakim Habibur Rahman — ( bn. হাকিম হাবিবুর রহমান) ( ur. حکیم حبیب الرحمان ) (March 23 1881 23 February 1947) was an Unani physician, litterateur, journalist, politician and chronicler in early 20th century Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was a close associate of Nawab Sir Khwaja …   Wikipedia

  • Kushtia District — Infobox of BD districts native name = Kushtia skyline = Tagore Kuthibari.jpg skyline size = skyline caption = Shilaidaha Kuthibari, the famous residence of Rabindranath Tagore in Kushtia, is a popular tourist destination locator position = right… …   Wikipedia

  • Dhaka — For other uses, see Dhaka (disambiguation). Dhaka ঢাকা Dacca   Capital City   …   Wikipedia

  • Cox's Bazar — Location of Cox s Bazar in Bangladesh …   Wikipedia

  • Shahbag — (also Shahbaugh, bn. শাহবাগ Shabag ; IPA2|ˈʃabag) is a major neighbourhood and a police precinct or Thana in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. It is also a major public transport hub, [cite news last = Nawazish first = Mohammed title = Bus Menace …   Wikipedia

  • Bengali language — Bangla redirects here. For Bangla speaking people, see Bengali people. Bengali বাংলা Bangla The word Bangla in Bangla Assamese alphabet …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.