The Bengali people are the ethnic community from Bengal (divided between Bangladesh and India) on the Indian subcontinent with a history dating back four millennia. They speak Bengali (????? Bangla), a language of the eastern Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. In their native language, they are referred to as ?????? (pronounced Bangali). They are an eastern Indo-Aryan people, who are also descended from Austro-Asiatic and Dravidian peoples, and closely related to the Oriya, Assamese, Biharis, and other East Indians, as well as to Munda and Tibeto-Burman peoples. As a result, Bengalis are a heterogeneous and considerably diverse ethnic group. They are mostly concentrated in Bangladesh and in the states of West Bengal and Tripura in India. There are also a number of Bengali communities scattered in New Delhi and several other states of India, such as Assam, Jharkhand, Bihar, Maharastra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, and the North-East Indian states, as well as in other countries such as Singapore, the Middle East, United Kingdom (In the London Borough of Tower Hamlets 30.5% of the population is Bangladeshi - some 65,000 people) and United States.
Remnants of civilisation in the greater Bengal region date back 4,000 years, when the region was settled by Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman and Austro-Asiatic peoples. The exact origin of the word Bangla or Bengal is unknown, though it is believed to be derived from the Dravidian-speaking tribe Bang that settled in the area around the year 1000 BCE. After the arrival of Indo-Aryans, the kingdoms of Anga, Vanga and Magadha were formed in and around Bengal and were first described in the Atharvaveda around 1000 BCE. From the 6th century BCE, Magadha expanded to include most of the Bihar and Bengal regions. It was one of the four main kingdoms of India at the time of Buddha and was one of the sixteen Mahajanapadas. Under the Maurya Empire founded by Chandragupta Maurya, Magadha extended over nearly all of South Asia, including parts of Persia and Afghanistan, reaching its greatest extent under the Buddhist emperor Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BCE. One of the earliest foreign references to Bengal is the mention of a land named Gangaridai by the Greeks around 100 BCE. The word is speculated to have come from Gangahrd (Land with the Ganges in its heart) in reference to an area in Bengal. Later from the 3rd to the 6th centuries CE, the kingdom of Magadha served as the seat of the Gupta Empire.
The first recorded independent king of Bengal was Shashanka, reigning around the early 7th century. After a period of anarchy, Gopala came to power in 750 by democratic election. He founded the Bengali Buddhist Pala Empire which ruled the region for four hundred years, and expanded across much of Southern Asia, from Assam in the northeast, to Kabul in the west, to Andhra Pradesh in the south. Atisha was a renouned Bengali Buddhist teacher who was instrumental in revival of Buddhism in Tibet and also held the position of Abbot at the Vikramshila university. Tilopa was also from Bengal region.
The Pala dynasty was later followed by a shorter reign of the Hindu Sena dynasty. Islam was introduced to Bengal in the twelfth century by Sufi missionaries. Subsequent Muslim conquests helped spread Islam throughout the region. Bakhtiar Khilji, an Afghan general of the Slave dynasty of Delhi Sultanate, defeated Lakshman Sen of the Sena dynasty and conquered large parts of Bengal. Consequently, the region was ruled by dynasties of sultans and feudal lords under the Delhi Sultanate for the next few hundred years. In the sixteenth century, Mughal general Islam Khan conquered Bengal. However, administration by governors appointed by the court of the Mughal Empire gave way to.