Objective and unbiased study of history was crucial for building a pluralist society, observed former caretaker government adviser and bureaucrat Akbar Ali Khan on Monday.
He made the comment while presiding over a lecture delivered by Professor Abdul Momin Chowdhury, fellow, Bangladesh Asiatic Society.
Gyantapas Abdur Razzaq Foundation organised the event at Dhaka University in the afternoon.
‘If we can study the history of Bengal without being biased it would lead us to pluralism,’ said Akbar Ali Khan.
‘Pluralism teaches people to be tolerant to each other and thus is essential for establishing democracy,’ he said.
Akbar Ali Khan said that the lecture highlighting the pluralist legacy of Bengal had inspired him to see that there was a hope for the society to go ahead.
In the lecture titled ‘religious pluralism in Bengal: pre-colonial period,’ Abdul Momin Chowdhury said that pluralism had been an important part of the religious culture in Bengal since ancient times.
He said that people in Bengal never refused to welcome new religions which were carefully mended to fit the existing culture and then were accepted by many.
He said that liberalism and humanism played a significant role in shaping the religious culture of Bengal.
The ancient period is marked by a peaceful coexistence of Hindus and Buddhists, said Momin.
He said that in ancient period, people did not take much interest in fundamentalist religious views and people had their faith in equality.
People in Bengal, however, did not tend to get carried away by new views rather waited to sort ways to be accommodative to new religions, he said.
He said that numerous historical examples were in hand to support that the love for coexistence among general people moved rulers to patronise religions of minorities in Bengal.
He said that a peaceful religious coexistence also marked the period of 400 years when Muslims ruled from the 14th century.
‘We need to plan for future based on our past,’ said Momin.
‘Let our past show the way to go forward,’ he said.
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