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Bihar (Hindi: , Urdu:

, pronounced [b

ha r] (


is a state in eastern India.[1][2] It is the 12th largest

state in terms of geographical size at 38,202 sq mi (99,200 km) and 3rd largest by population. Close to 85% of the population lives in villages. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25.[3]

which is the highest proportion in India.

Bihar lies mid-way between the humid West Bengal in the east and the sub humid Uttar Pradesh in the west which provides it with a transitional position in respect of climate, economy and culture. It is bounded by the country of Nepal to the north and by Jharkhand to the south. The Bihar plain is divided into two parts by the river Ganga which flows through the middle from west to east. Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 km,[4]


is 7.1% of its geographical area. Hindi and Urdu are the official languages of the state, whilst the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari languages

Ancient Bihar (which consisted of Anga (East Bihar), Videha (North Bihar), Magadha (South Bihar)[5] and Vaishali (North Bihar)) was a center of power, learning and culture in ancient and classical India. From

Magadha arose India's first greatest empire, the Maurya empire as well as one of the world's most widely adhered-to religions, Buddhism.[6] Magadha empires, notably under the Maurya andGupta dynasties, unified large parts of South Asia under a central rule.[7] Its capital Patna, earlier known as Pataliputra, was an important center of Indian civilization. Nalanda was a centre of learning established by the 5th century CE in Bihar. Today, Bihar lags behind the other Indian states in human[8] and economic development terms,[9][10][11] Economists and social scientistsclaim that this is a direct result of the skewed policies of the central government, such as the freight equalisation policy,[12][13] its apathy towards Bihar,[3][14][15] lack of Bihari subnationalism (resulting in no spokesperson for the state),[13][16][17] and the Permanent Settlementof 1793 by the British East India Company.[13] The current state government has however made significant strides in improving governance.

Recent Turnaround of ImageThe improved governance has led to an economic revival[19] in the state through increased investment in infrastructure, better health care facilities, greater emphasis on education, and a reduction in crime and corruption.[20][21] Indian[22] and global business and economic leaders feel that Bihar now has good opportunity for sustainable economic development, and as such have shown interest in investing in the state.[23][24] A recent New York Times article talks about vastly improved law and order situation in the state and the economic growth shown in past 5 years.[25] Another BBC article titled "Where 'backward' Bihar leads India"[26] talked about how the state has made strides in the areas of women empowerment, judiciary reforms, tax reforms, and public safety. [edit]Etymology

of the name), which means "abode". The

The name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit word Vihara [27] (Devanagari:

word Vih r is itself derived from the word Brahmavih ra[28] meaning Brahma abidings, or "Sublime

Angika, Bhojpuri, Magadhi or Maithili.



The region roughly encompassing the present state was dotted with Buddhist vihara, which were the

abodes of Buddhist monks in the ancient and medieval period. [edit]History Main article: History of Bihar See also: Timeline for Bihar, Magadha, History of Buddhism in India, and Decline of Buddhism in India

Gautama Buddha undertaking extreme ascetic practices before his enlightenment on the bank of river Falguin Bodh Gaya, Bihar.

A part of Bihar was called "Magadha" in ancient times. From Magadha arose two religions,Jainism and Buddhism. The greatest Indian empire, the Maurya empire, originated from Magadha, with its capital at Patliputra (modern Patna) in 325 BC. The Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka, who was born in Patliputra ( Patna ) is believed to be one of the greatest rulers in the history of India and theworld. After seeing all the carnage that war causes, he was placed on the path of Lord Buddha by his Brahmin spiritual guide Manjushri.[30][31] According to indologist A.L. Basham, the author of the book The Wonder that was India,

The age in which true history appeared in India was one of great intellectual and spiritual ferment. Mystics and sophists of all kinds roamed through the GangaValley, all advocating some form of mental discipline and asceticism as a means to salvation; but the age of the Buddha, when many of the best minds were abandoning their homes and professions for a life of asceticism, was also a time of advance in commerce and politics. It produced not only philosophers and ascetics, but also merchant princes and men of action.[32]

Bihar remained an important place of power, culture and education during the next one thousand years. The Gupta Empire, which again originated from Magadha in 240 CE, is referred to as the Golden Age of India in science, mathematics, astronomy, religion and Indian philosophy. The peace and prosperity created under leadership of Guptas enabled the pursuit of scientific and artistic endeavors. Historians place the Gupta dynasty alongside with the Han Dynasty, Tang Dynasty and Roman Empire as a model of a classical civilization. The capital of Gupta empire was Pataliputra, present day Patna. The Vikramshila and Nalanda universities were among the oldest and best centres of education in ancient India. Some writers believe the period between the 400 CE and 1000 CE saw gains byHinduism at the expense of Buddhism.[33][34][35][36] Although the Hindu kings gave much grants to the Buddhist monks for buildingBrahmaviharas. A National Geographic edition[37] reads, "The essential tenets of Buddhism and Hinduism arose from similar ideas best described in the Upanishads, a set of Hindu treatises set down in India largely between the eighth and fourth centuries B.C."

Kalidasa's Sanskrit playAbhij na

kuntala is one of the Legacy of the Gupta Empire.

The Buddhism of Magadha was swept away by the Muslim invasion under Muhammad Bin Bakhtiar Khilji, during which many of the viharas and the famed universities of Nalanda and Vikramshila were destroyed, and thousands of Buddhist monks were massacred in 12th century CE.[38] [39] [40] [41]

The region saw a brief period of glory for six years (15401546 CE) during the rule of Sher Shah Suri, who built the longest road of the Indian subcontinent, the Grand Trunk Road. The economic reforms carried out by Sher Shah, like the introduction of Rupee and Custom Duties, is still used in the Republic ofIndia. He revived the city of Patna, where he built up his headquarter.[42][43] In the years 155356 Afghan dynasty ruler 'Adil Shah' took the reigns of North-India and made 'Chunar' his capital. He deputed 'Hemu' the Hindu General, also known as 'Hemu Vikramaditya' as his Prime Minister and Chief-of-Army. Hemu fought and won 22 battles continuously against Afghan rebels and Akbar's forces at Agra and Delhi and established 'Hindu Raj' in Delhi, after a foreign rule of 300 years. Hemu, who was bestowed the title of 'Samrat' at Purana Quila, Delhi was then known as 'Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya'. Hemu lost his life while fighting in the 'Second Battle of Panipat' against Akbar's forces on Nov. 7,1556. During 1557 1576, Akbar, the Mughal emperor, annexed Bihar and Bengal to his empire.[44]

With the decline of the Mughals, Bihar

passed under the control of the Nawabs of Bengal. Thus, the medieval period was mostly one of anonymous provincial existence. The tenth and the last Guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh was born in Patna. After the Battle of Buxar (1764), the British East India Company obtained the diwani rights (rights to administer, and collect revenue or tax) for Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. From this point, Bihar remained a part the Bengal Presidency of the British Raj until 1912, when the province of Bihar and Orissa was carved out as a separate province. Bihar now celebrates its birthday as Bihar Diwas on 22 March from 2010. In 1935, certain portions of Bihar were reorganised into the separate province of Orissa.

Babu Kunwar Singh of Jagdishpur and his army, as well as countless other persons from Bihar, contributed to the India's First War of Independence (1857), also called the Sepoy Mutiny by some historians. Resurgence in the history of Bihar came during the struggle for India's independence.

Rajendra Prasad (Sitting left) &Anugrah Narayan Sinha (sitting right) during 1917 Satyagraha movement

It was from Bihar that Mahatma Gandhi launched his pioneering civil-disobedience movement, Champaran Satyagraha. Bhumihar Brahmins inChamparan had earlier revolted against indigo cultivation in 1914 (at Pipra) and 1916 (Turkaulia) and Pandit Raj Kumar Shukla took Mahatma Gandhito Champaran and the Champaran Satyagraha began.[45] Raj Kumar Shukla drew the attention of Mahatma Gandhi to the exploitation of the peasants by European indigo planters.Champaran Satyagraha received the spontaneous support from many Bihari nationalists like Rajendra Prasad who became the first President of India and Anugrah Narayan Sinha who ultimately became the first Deputy Chief Minister cum Finance Minister of Bihar.[46] In the northern and central regions of Bihar, peasants movement was an important consequence of the Freedom Movement. The Kisan Sabha movement started in Bihar under the leadership of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati who had formed in 1929, the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS), in order to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights.[47] Gradually the peasant movement intensified and