Time changed, names changed, memories faded and monuments were demolished. Yet traces can be knitted together to narrate the glorious history of the land of Gandhaar and Jabul.
Indian Subcontinent, a geographical descendant of Indus Saraswati civilization traces its oldest existence through great compilation and reference in four Ved. The Rig Veda earlier than any human imagination appears to refer to a period between 1500 BC to 3000 BC when river Kubha finds reference. Rig Ved refers to a city called Kubha along this river and thus the earliest reference of present day Afghanistan begins. Avesta another religious text of Zoroastrianism refers to a similar name Kubha and reference about its inhabitant.
The word Afghanistan itself has a Sanskrit origin. In Sanskrit the word “Ashwa” means Horse. If this is suffixed with “Ghan” which means tribe or group, it completes into a word Ashwaghan. The meaning of this is “who is the Keeper of Horses”. The word “Stan” means place or land. Thus, the original word “Ashwaghanistan” means the Land of the Horse Keepers. The deformed and abridged word turned out to be Afghanistan.
Afghanistan appears to be ruled by Maurya from Patliputra, Kushan Migratory tribe from China, Parthian from Upper Gandhaar, Huns migratory tribe from west and King Vikramaditya of Ujjain. Some coins and calligraphic evidence are available for citation, yet mostly have been purposefully destroyed by Islamist.
The Zunbil 600 to 870 AD dynasty were the earliest among all to have controlled a vast geography of Gandhaar. Some reference in Persian text and Zororastrian text is what is now left about this Zunbil dynasty.
Hindu Shahi dynasty 840 AD to 1026 AD were the last Hindu dynasty who fought valiantly for the Afghan pride.
Not much could be preserved about the belief of Zunbils except the fact that they worshipped Zun, a popular name of Lord Surya. Baloch tribe, the current inhabitant of West Pakistan are linked to Zunbils and descendants of Lord Surya worshippers.
Lord Shiva representing other Hindu Gods was found to be very popular and visible among the Hindu Worshippers in Ancient Gandhaar. Lord Buddha representing Buddist belief was another popular belief in this region for nearly 1500 Years. Lord Shiva worship is traced to the Kushan Empire who promoted this form of polytheism in this region.
There is a Lagar province in north Afghanistan where in an excavation a miraculous stone carving of Lord Shiva on sitting position while holding trident in hand was unearthed. This sculptor is examined to be of around 300 AD. Numismatics evidence of Lord Shiva as primary belief has been found from almost every mountain high including this province of Lagar.
Another revered text of Sanatan Hindu belief Lalitha Sahasra naama stotram explains about the auspicious Shrine of Lord Shiva. Reference of Odhyaana Peetham is mentioned there and that is situated in Afghanistan. The popular form of worship of Lord Shiva in the Valley of Jabul upto Kashmir called (ललिता-उपासना) appears to have originated from here only.
Mis-e-Ainak Balkh and Bamiyan were the primary centers of Buddish belief and Vihar. Numerous Buddhist shrines existed from Jabul to Balkh, which were systematically destroyed by Turkish invaders. The Turkish, besides Arab, brought with them Islamic faith.
The Bamiyan Buddhist Sculptor was found mentioned in both Persian and Chinese traveler accounts. It was an imposing grandeur of Stone carving which even modern engineering has failed to replicate. There rest an amazing painting of deity Shiva Avalokiteshwara inside the caves of around 7th Century AD. It was around the same time when Zunbils were ruling this geography.
Before the advent of Islam in Afghanistan, it was a serene, picturesque and prosperous land. It had a glorious history, a civilization, a belief and some engineering marvel to boast about. It is a fascinating story of Brave Hindus of Afghanistan (The ancestor of today’s Tribal Pathan) who battled hard with Invading Arab and Turk to protect their life and identity for nearly 200 years. Yes Hindu Shahis fought against treacherous Turks and Arabs.
The abysmal decline of this decorated Hindu history of Gandhaar into today’s chaos and violence has been the most sordid story of mankind. The brave believers were enslaved and a civilization was ruined. Untold yet A popular folklore says the Curse of Gandhaari robbed this land of its grandeur. What is this folklore? Will connect you in my next article.
The land of Rig vedic period and Scholar Panani has yet not lost its hope. It is still in memory and practice. Sanskrit still survives in Afghanistan. Panini still stays in memory of Afghanistan. Many cities in the country have retained their Sanskrit origin and its name. Balkh=Bahlika, Nangarhar=Nagarahara, Kapisa=Kapisa, Laghman=Lampaka, Kabul=Kubha, Badakhshan=Dvyakshayana, Ghor=Giri, Bamiyan=Varmayana, Wardak=Vartaka, Kandahar= Ghandhaar and so on.
Let us wait to see what unfolds tomorrow.
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