You are viewing the site of the Benedictine monks in Maheswarapasha, Khulna, Bangladesh

Satellite-picture of South-East Asia with the red circle representing Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a fairly small country (144,000 square kilometres) with a population of 150,000,000 (902 persons per square kilometre).
Untill 1947 it formed that region of India known as East Bengal, with a predominantly Muslim population. For this reason, with the departure of the British, the region became part of the then newly proclaimed Pakistan. Pakistan was formed of West Pakistan and East Pakistan, and between them, for about 3,000 kilometres, stretched India with its predomintly Hindu population.
However, the distance between the two Pakistans was a minor thing compared to other ‘distances’ afflicting the newly created country. By and large, its population did indeed share the same Islamic religion, but they did not share a common history, nor a similar culture, nor the same language. In fact, in West Pakistan the language was Urdu, while in East Pakistan it was Bengali. Moreover, both Urdu and Bengali alphabets use different scripts.
These differences came soon to the fore when in the early '50s West Pakistan tried by law to impose Urdu as the natianal language on the whole of Pakistan. As a reaction the students in East Pakistan -of every religious denomination- marched in the streets of Dhaka in opposition to such a law. Some of them were killed and still now, after more than half a century, all over Bangladesh the remembrance of that day (21st February) is celebrated, with students and teachers marching silently and barefoot to the monuments commemorating the ‘Language Martyrs’ where they reverently place garlands and wreaths of flowers . Even the smallest school in the smallest village has such a miniature-monument on its playfield. By the way, 21st February as International Mother Language Day (observed nowadays all over the word) is clearly a reminder of the ‘Language Martyrs’ day of Bangladesh.
This and other differences created such a situation that little by little became unbearable. In 1971 East Pakistan declared war on West Pakistan and at the end of the conflict it became an independent country with the name of BANGLADESH (=Land of Bengal), with Dhaka as its capital city.

Bangladesh is the crossing point of several large rivers: Ganges (that upon entering Bangladesh from the West Indian border changes its name into Podda), Brahmaputra (that upon entering Bangladesh from the North Indian border changes its name into Jamuna), Meghna etc. From their fusion a myriad of rivers and canals spreads down to the sea (Bay of Bengal - Indian Ocean) forming what is called the Ganges-Delta.
The water of these numerous rivers, on the one hand, is a blessing, since Bangladesh is an agricultural country but, on the other end, during the monsoon season it may become a source of tragedy, especially when, because of too much rain, many parts of the country are flooded.

Before ending this brief excursus on Bangladesh, two sons of this country ought to be mentioned: Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Prize for Poetry in 1913, and Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize for Economics (1999).

At the time of India-partition (1947) Khulna was a very small country-town of about 50,000. It was when Bangladesh was still Pakistan that, due to massive industrialization, Khulna started growing very rapidly. Nowadays its population is 2,200,000, and that makes Khulna the third metropolis of the country (after Dhaka and Chittagong).
The new people arriving from all over the country settled in some way at the outskirts of the town, near to the huge jute and paper mills, while the original inhabitants remained in the country-side.
The red rectangle in the picture shows the work-field of the Monastery, the Monastery itself being located somewhere at the middle point at right edge of the rectangle The people of the area are predominantly Hindu farmers.
As a religious group, Hindus hold the second place (15%) after the Muslims. Among religious minorities there are Animists, Buddhists and Christians (Christians totalling to about 500,000).