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Samatata


Samatata an ancient territorial unit in south-eastern Bengal, the name of which is descriptive rather than ethnic. Samatata was a distinct entity, well-known and well-recognised since Samudragupta's time (4th century AD), and its earliest reference is found in the Allahabad Prashasti, where it is mentioned as an eastern frontier state along with Davaka, kamarupa, Nepala and Karttrpura. The Brhatsanghita (6th century AD) refers to it and vanga as separate states. hiuen-tsang, the 7th century Chinese traveller, relates that he reached Samatata (San-mo-tat'a) after a southward journey of 1200 or 1300 li from Kamarupa (eastern Assam) and the country, more than 3000 li (about 800 km) in circuit, was on the sea-side and was low and moist. He has described a Buddhist cultural centre in its capital, which had an area of 20 li (5.5 km).

Further evidence for the location of Samatata is provided by i-tsing, who mentions that the Chinese priest Sheng-chi (second half of the 7th century AD) found Rajabhata ruling over Samatata. This king has been identified with Rajarajabhata of the khadga dynasty who ruled from the capital (jayaskandhavara) of Karmanta-vasaka, identified with Badkanta near Comilla. A copperplate of Shridharana Rata, found at Kailan, about 8 km south-west of Comilla town, mentions the king as Samatateshvara and their capital as devaparvata, which also appears to be the capital of the Devas, who ruled in 8th century AD. Samatata and Devaparvata also appear in the copperplates of the Chandras, who ruled in 10th century AD. The association of Devaparvata with parts of the Lalmai hills and the ruins near about mainamati are beyond any doubt. The Mehar copperplate of Damodaradeva (13th century) grants land in the vicinity of Mehar (14.5 km south-east of Comilla). The area is mentioned to be in the Samatata mandala.

On the basis of the evidence provided by a large number of epigraphical records, the Chinese writings, and the archaeological discoveries in the Lalmai-Mainamati area, it can now be stated with certainty that Samatata was formed of the trans-Meghna territories of the Comilla-Noakhali plain and the adjacent parts of hilly Tripura (the Atabi-Khanda division of Samatata) in the east and the Channel Islands in the south. The land stretches longitudinally from the hills and haors of the Sylhet border in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south. Its boundaries are well defined by the lofty hills and mountains of Tripura and Arakan in the east and the Meghna (combined waters of the Padma-Meghna-Brahmaputra) in the west.

Samatata played a prominent part in the history of the region from 4th to 13th century AD. Minhaj's Saknat/ Sankat/ Sankanat probably refers to Samatata, along with 'Bang', where Laksmanasena's associates fled after the sack of Nadia. [AM Chowdhury]