The Kandhar city in Afghanistan is the current mispronunciation of the Sanskrit term “Gandhar” which was the capital of a flourishing ancient Hindu kingdom. Gandhari (wife of King Dhritarastra) belonged to the region.
After their defeat in the Mahabharata war, many of the kaurva descendants settled in the Kandhar region which was their maternal home. From there they gradually moved to what are currently known as Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In ancient times, Arab horses were well-known for their fine breed (Arva in Sanskrit signifies a horse). Being warriors, Kaurvas highly appreciated the well-bred horses of the region. That is why they named the region as Arvasthan (Land of Horses).
Shiva worship was widespread in Afghanistan
There was a time when the entire region was replete with hundreds of Shiva temples celebrating Shiva – Parvati worship and abuzz with Shiv chants, prayers, legends and worship. Archaeological excavations in this region conducted by Sir Estine (an East India Company official) led to the recovery of uncountable shrines and inscriptions. He has authored four books on that topic featuring photos of icons, icons and inscriptions discovered. The photos show a sun temple and a Ganesha statue too. An Islamabad University professor Abdul Rehman has authored two books on those finds recalling the glory and prosperity of those times. Regimes of two Hindu rulers “Kusham” and “Kidara” lasted for fairly long periods. During their rule a number of Shiva temples were not only in Afghanistan but in other West Asian regions too. Uzbekistan and Takzikistan formed part of the Afghan kingdom in those times. Tashkent has one of those ancient Shiva temples standing even today. Professor Abdul Rehman states that Bukhara region Was known as “Shah Vihar” in ancient times. It was ruled by an Hindu king. When Arabs invaded that kingdom its queen traveled to Kashmir to seek military help. Arab chronicles mention her as 'Khatoon', meaning ’Woman’. “Kalhan“, the ancient Hindu historian of Kashmir has mentioned that the army of the then Hindu ruler of Kashmir had a battle with a vast army of the Arab Khalifa Mamoon whose headquarters was Baghdad. At that time Bukhara had been under Muslim rule. He had invited a number of leading Hindu experts to Baghdad. An Ayurvedic practitioner of Varansi (alias Benares) had treated the Khalifa for some ailment afflicting the latter. In those days it was Hindu Ayurvedic practitioners who were eagerly sought by Arab patients. A number of Arabs had translated Sanskrit Ayurvedic texts into Arabic. A list of those translated Sanskrit texts appears in a Volume known as al “Frisht“.
Baku (capital of the Azerbaijan region) known for its underground petroleum yields has still an ancient Hindu temple of the Divine Flame generated by the subterranean petrol and gas). During the Czar regimes in Russia a Punjabi priest officiated at that temple. The walls display some religious stanzas written in Punjabi Gurumakhi script. The market there also had Hindu merchants. Nearby was a locality too of Hindu inhabitants. Baku in Azerbaijani language actually signifies a Goddess. Therefore obviously Baku derives its name from a very ancient Vedic Goddess temple there.
Kenduj a province of Afghanistan, ruled by a king that had a Hindu prime minister. This is mentioned in history books. Albirruni’s travel account contains details of ancient Hindu Afghanistan, He mentions a Hindu king, Khingla whose coins bore the imprint of Shiva. The first ruler of that dynasty was Viahitagni. History mentions a Shiva temple in Gardej township, which was plundered by Arab invaders. That dynasty ruled the region from 666 to 843 A.D. From 843 to 850 A.D. a Brahmin Minister ruled the region. The Kalkaa community of Brahmins had ancquired promince in those times. They were later known as Kallers. A township of that name exists in Punjab. Prominent among them who find a mention in later history are Samantdev, Bheemdev, Jaipaldev, Anandpal and Trilochan. Jaipaldev suffered a defeat in 1002 when Mohammed Ganzavi invaded India. Unable to bear that defeat Jaipaldev committed suicide.
When Hsüan-tsang visited the region early in the 7th century CE, the Kabul valley region was ruled by a Hindu Kshatriya king, who is identified as the Shahi Khingal, and whose name has been found in an inscription found in Gardez.
The Hindu Shahi kings of Kabul and Gandhara may have had links to some ruling families in neighboring Kashmir and other areas to the east.
Later the spread of Buddhism led to the gradual extinction of Shiva worship. Since Buddhism was an indigenous sprout its religious practices were akin to those in in vogue earlier. But the new religions (Christianity and Islam) being forged and forced on the inhabitants of West Asian regions being intolerant, they led to the extinction of the earlier Vedic and Buddhist cultures in West Asia. Perhaps that was the result of contrasting soils. India being a fertile region, the religions and cultures there were tolerant and loving, while the religions and cultures originating in hot, desert lands of West Asia were intolerant and cruel.
Gradually Afghanistan was occupied by Muslims invaders. Arab, Turk and Mongol invasions led to the gradual extinction of Hindu (Vedic) and Buddha culture. Arabs began invading Afghanistan around, 155A.D. A Persian chronicle TARIKH-E-SISTAN records that invasion and the plunder and devastation of a shiva temple there The invader ibn-e-Samurah carried away the gold idol of Shiva among other Valuables. When ibn Samurah invaded kandhar he carried out a general massacre.
Abbasi Khalifas repeatedly invaded Kabul. The notorious khalifa yajid, at whose beheast Sindh province ruled by Raja Dalhir, was invaded by Arab forces, his army commander invaded the Hindu Kingdom of Kabul-that proved to be a disastrous misadventure, because, in the fierce battle fought in Kabul the Arab army suffered a humiliating defeat.
Dr. Rehman’s book carries photos of the coins and temples of Hindu rulers of Afghanistan. Along with them are reproduced photos of smashed idols of shiv and Durga from temples destroyed in Gardej. The book mentions that temples in the kherkana area of Kabul of Kabul sufferd great devastation. Idols of Shiva. Durga and the sun are very attractive. Some of the coins recovered in excavations bear the names of the Hindu rulers there in Sanskrit. At Hudud on the banks of the Attack river, stood a very massive fort of Hindu rulers. Excavations conducted in that township have revealed inscriptions concerning the regimes of Seemadex, jaipal, Rajkumari, Ratnamanjari, and Maharani Kameshwari Devi. All those are on display in the Musecums at Lahore, Kabul and peshwar. The inscription alluding to the reign of Jaipaldev, ruler of Kabul has 13 lines in that Sharda script of Sanskrit language.
That Afghanistan where in times bygone Hindu and Buddhist flags, signifying peace. Piety, prosperity and progress, held sway, is now the scene of cjaptoc slaughter and destruction. Looking at Mulla umar’s current directives and the slaughters rampant in Afghanistan these days, memories of Afghanistan’s ancient peaceful, noble and prosperous times seem to fade out of one’s memory.
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