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Suhma


Suhma a territorial unit of ancient Bengal, generally believed to have been in southwest Bengal. The earliest reference to 'Suhma' may be traced back to the second century BC, when Patanjali mentioned it along with vanga and pundranagara. The people of Suhma are mentioned in the Mahabharata in connection with the conquests of Karna and Bhima and they are distinguished from the people of tamralipta/Damalipta (Modern Tamluk). But the Dashakumaracharita mentions Suhma and Tamralipta not as separate communities, and describes the latter as a part of the former. The Raghuvangsha of Kalidasa mentions the defeat of Suhma people during Raghu's conquests, and locates their territory between the Bhagirathi and the Kansai, stretching southwards as far as the sea.

Scholars suggest, according to a tradition mentioned in the Jaina text Acharangasutra, that Vajjabhumi and Subbhabhumi were the component parts of Radha. Subbhabhumi is generally taken to be a corruption of Suhma or Suhmabhumi. Therefore, it can be assumed that only a part of Radha was referred to by the geographical term 'Suhma'. Nilakantha, the commentator of the Mahabharata, mentioned Suhma and Radha as one and the same. Dhoyi's Pavanaduta mentions that the Suhma territory was located along the valley of the Bhagirathi.

niharranjan ray postulates the existence of another settlement, the Brahma or Brahmottara, alongside the Suhma territory. This is further confirmed by a passage in the Kavyamimangsa which mentions 'Anga, Vanga, Suhma, Brahma, Pundra etc' as large settlements of the east. Thus it can be assumed that Brahma was the name of a large settlement in eastern India somewhere in the neighborhood of Suhma. Now the expression Suhma-Brahmottara should perhaps be taken to mean 'Suhma with Brahma (lying) to its north'.

It is generally accepted that 'Suhma' denoted if not the entire territory of the western part of Bengal, but most probably its southern part. Damalipta (synonym for Tamalipta or Tamralipta), which can be seen with the archaeological remains scattered over the localities in and around modern Tamluk in the district of Midnapur in West Bengal, was possibly in the Suhma territory along the coastal region. [Rupendra Kumar Chattopadhyay]