A Discussion On The Nuances Of Ethnic Identity: Ancient Afghan Heritage And Its Link To Hinduism — Part Two

Several months ago (gosh, I can’t believe how long it’s been!), I shared a very interesting discussion I had on my wall about Pashtun/Afghan origin, identity, and how it is linked to Hinduism. I shared the first part of the discussion on my blog, a few months back, so if interested or if you would like a refresher prior to reading this post (which is a continuation of the same discussion, but focused more on Afghan heritage and Hinduism), you are more than welcome to read it here.

Anyway, before anyone gets defensive or anything on this topic, I want to make it clear to my readers (specifically Pashtun/Afghan readers) that I am not an expert on this topic; it’s something I actually learned about recently as well. Perhaps once I have more knowledge (with sound evidence to back up any claim I make) on this topic, I’ll be sure to write a piece on it.

However, as of now, the persons (whose names I’ve kept anonymous to protect their privacy) who had this discussion on my wall are much more learned and knowledgeable than I am, and I don’t expect my readers to accept and agree with everything that they read. It’s only for educational purposes, and perhaps even to help open our minds to information and ideas that we may or may not have known. Also, I advise reader discretion, as some of the comments in the discussion might be religiously and culturally sensitive. Again, these are not my thoughts and I don’t necessarily agree with nor endorse each and everything I share on my blog, no matter how sensitive or controversial they may be.

However, if any of my readers have something to contribute, criticize or debunk about the discussion here, please feel free to leave your thoughtful comments in the “comment section” of the blog, right below the post, bearing respect and civility in mind. I always welcome comments as some can be quite educational and enlightening.

Thanks for your cooperation and understanding. Happy reading!🙂

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L: It’s hard to believe that Afghanistan was once a part of India; once the land of the Hindus. Yet, neither Afghans nor Indians are taught this in schools. It should be a part of history teachings. Why is the truth concealed? Afghan Muslims/Taliban have deliberately wiped out all evidence of this. Conversely, the mountainous extension of the Himalayas in Afghanistan is still known as the Hindu Kush, which literally translates to Hindu slaughter in Farsi. Millions of Hindus had been massacred and converted in Afghanistan.

Gandhara (a.k.a. Kandahar) and the area of Peshawar played an important role in the Hindu epic of Ramayana (story of Lord Rama) and Mahabharata (the great war that took place 5000 years ago well before Islam). This is all documented in those ancient and sacred texts. Yet, Afghans choose to be in denial of their own ancestry; their Hindu/Indus/Vedic past. I will be sharing several links with you below to prove everything that I am saying.

I have Hindu friends whose grandparents are from Afghanistan. It infuriates me so much that Afghans can be so ignorant about their very own history/ancestry. But I don’t blame them – for centuries they have been taught to deny any evidence or trace of anything other than Islamic culture. They have been taught to destroy statutes/idols and that not nothing but Allah is the truth. It’s typical Muslim brainwashed/ignorant thinking. Surprisingly, I have met many informed Muslims from Afghanistan and Iran who have researched their history out of curiosity. They know the truth, i.e. many Zoroastrians are aware of their links with other Aryans like North Indians. The similarities between our beliefs (respecting all of the elements, deities, and beings) and holy texts (worshipping the ancient Vedas which are the sacred texts of the Hindus) are astonishing to say the least. In some areas even the Vedic drink Soma (in Sanskrit) and Haoma (Avestan) is still drunk by both communities: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soma

Shakuni, from the Mahabharata, was brother of Gandhari (named after Kandahar). Shakuni was King of Kandahar. Shakuni was maternal uncle of Duryodhana so also known as Shakuni mama (mama means maternal uncle in sanskrit and hindi). Here is a section I’ve taken from the link below:

Gandhāra is the name of an ancient kingdom, located in parts of modern-day northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the Peshawar Valley, the Pothohar Plateau and the Kabul River Valley. Its main cities were Purushapura (modern Peshawar), literally meaning “city of men”, and Takshashila (modern Taxila) .

The Kingdom of Gandhara lasted from the early 1st millennium BC to the 11th century AD. It attained its height from the 1st century to the 5th century under the Buddhist Kushan Kings. The Hindu term Shahi is used by history writer Al-Biruni to refer to the ruling Hindu dynasty that took over from the Turki Shahiand ruled the region during the period prior to Muslim conquests of the 10th and 11th centuries. After it was conquered by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1021 CE, the name Gandhara disappeared. During the Muslim period the area was administered from Lahore or from Kabul. During Mughal times the area was part of Kabul province.

The name Gandhara is of Sanskrit origin, but its ultimate etymology is uncertain. The region was first mentioned in the Rig-Veda. One proposed origin of the name is from the Sanskrit word gandha, meaning perfume and “referring to the spices and aromatic herbs which they [the inhabitants] traded and with which they anointed themselves.”

The Gandhāri people were settled since the Vedic times on the banks of Kabul River (river Kubhā or Kabol) down to its confluence with the Indus. Later Gandhāra included parts of northwest Punjab. Gandhara was located on the northern trunk road (Uttarapatha) and was a centre of international commercial activities. It was an important channel of communication with ancient Iran, India and Central Asia.

The boundaries of Gandhara varied throughout history. Sometimes the Peshawar valley and Taxila were collectively referred to as Gandhara and sometimes the Swat valley (Sanskrit: Suvāstu) was also included. The heart of Gandhara, however, was always the Peshawar valley. The kingdom was ruled from capitals at Kapisa (Bagram), Pushkalavati (Charsadda), Taxila, Purushapura (Peshawar) and in its final days from Udabhandapura(Hund) on the Indus. According to the Puranas, they were named after Taksha and Pushkara, the two sons of Bharata, a prince of Ayodhya.

Evidence of Stone Age human inhabitants of Gandhara, including stone tools and burnt bones, was discovered at Sanghao near Mardan in area caves. The artifacts are approximately 15,000 years old. More recent excavations point to 30,000 years before present.

The region shows an influx of southern Central Asian culture in the Bronze Age with the Gandhara grave culture, likely corresponding to immigration of Indo-Aryan speakers and the nucleus of Vedic civilization. This culture survived till 1000 BC. Its evidence has been discovered in the hilly regions of Swat and Dir, and even at Taxila.

Gandhara had played an important role in the epic of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Ambhi Kumar was direct descendant of Bharata (of Ramayana) and Shakuni (of Mahabharata). It is said that Lord Rama consolidated the rule of the Kosala Kingdom over the whole of the Indian peninsula. His brothers and sons ruled most of the Janapadas (16 states) at that time.

In Mahabharata, the princess named Gandhari was married to Hastinapur’s blind king Dhritrashtra and was mother of Duryodhana and other Kauravas. The prince of Gandhara Shakuni was against this wedding but accepted it, fearing an invasion from Hastinapur. In the aftermath, Shakuni influences the Kaurava prince Duryodhana and plays a central role in the great war of Kurukshetra that eliminated the entire Kuru family, including Bhishma and a hundred Kaurava brothers. According to Puranic traditions, this country (Janapada) was founded by Gandhāra, son of Aruddha, a descendant of Yayāti. The princes of this country are said to have come from the line of Druhyu, who was a king of the Druhyu tribe of the Rigvedic period. According to Vayu Purana (II.36.107), the Gandharas were destroyed by Pramiti, aka Kalika, at the end of Kaliyuga.

K: Look folks, I like to reserve the title “Afghan” to all citizens of Afghanistan and Pakhtun for those who are ethnic Afghans, not necessarily citizens of Afghanistan. If you are NOT a citizen of Afghanistan, you are not an Afghan, you may have Afghan ancestry, but you are NOT legally an Afghan, unless you feel like an honorary citizen of Afghanistan. I am not a citizen of Afghanistan, but I feel Afghan. Legally, I am an American, but spiritually, I am Afghan.

As far as phenotypic features are concerned. Sure Pashtuns come in different phenotypes, but there is an average feature. If you place an average Pakistani/Indian, Irani, Afghan, we can all differentiate between them. There is an average difference, so let’s not fool ourselves by pretending we all look the same and there is no difference. It is true that there are blonds in India, but lets face it, the average Indian does not look blond.

[Note: The above comment was actually in response to something one of the commenters had stated in an earlier conversation. Again, you can read the first part to this series here. I thought about removing it, as it’s irrelevant to this topic, but then decided to leave it in. Perhaps it may elicit a dialogue of its own even though I do NOT, at ALL, agree with the comment.]

L: http://GLOBALHINDUISM.WORDPRESS.COM
http://www.hindunet.org/hindu_history/modern/hindu_kush.html

Hindu Kush means Hindu Slaughter.

All Standard reference books agree that the name ‘Hindu Kush’ of the mountain range in Eastern Afganistan means ‘Hindu Slaughter’ or ‘Hindu Killer’. History also reveals that until 1000 A.D. the area of Hindu Kush was a full part of Hindu cradle. More likely, the mountain range was deliberately name.

http://HINDUNET.ORG
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gandhari_(character)
http://www.thevedicfoundation.org/bhartiya…/mahabharat.htm
http://THEVEDICFOUNDATION.ORG
http://www.chakranews.com/invaluable-hindu-amd…/2224
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kafiristan

K: First of all, your entire Hindu culture was imported. Sanskrit is not native to India, nor is the culture of the invaders that came and became Indian. Just look at the wide difference between northern India languages and the ones in the south. Southern Indians like the Tamils can hardly understand a word of Hindi, an imported language from Central Asia. Afghans have no connections with Indians, except for those amongst us that invaded India thousands of years ago.

K: Here is your school of thought and this article says it all: http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2014/10/30/42161/

K: There is an average look because there is an average genetic make-up. The likelihood of finding a Pashtun with R1a1a genetic marker is close to 60 %, where as the same genetic marker is close to zero in Italians, but about 20% in Germans. There is an average for everything. The very foundation of existence is based on probability—hence the theory of Quantum Mechanics.

[Note: Again, off-topic, but decided to leave it in for obvious reasons.]

L: Actually, the first eye surgery ever performed was described in our ancient Vedas which Muslims stole and put in the Quran just like the Hindu/Sanskrit Numerals by Arabs calling them Arab Numerals.

K: Look, we are not here to talk about religion. We are here to discuss matters based on logic and scientific methods. If we are out of those bounds, the information provided to me is useless and worthless. Neverthelss, the Quran states NOTHING about eye surgery. Did a Muslim describe the concept of vision and the properties of light, he sure did. Did he obtain some of his information from India, perhaps.

L: North Indians (Aryans) were nomads. They settled in North Indian eons ago with their Sanskrit language and Hindu religion. They were the same Aryans as Persians, Germans, Greeks, Afghans and Italians. You’ll notice the ancient pagan religions of Greeks, Romans, Zorastrians, Egyptians were almost identical to Hindus. I don’t know why you’re comparing North with South India as being the same thing. This shows your level of ignorance. The two are vastly different. Let me enlighten you! Tamils are Dravidian (originally from Africa). Their language would, therefore, not be Hindi. They are not Aryan. North Indians are Aryan. In regards to dark skin features and skin complexion, that will vary from region to region. Over the thousands of years there have been intermixing of races. The darker skin people in the north are likely a mix. Hindi is a language derived from Sanskrit. There is the strict form used in temples and in holy texts and there is the hindi used in colloquial speech which has a mix of Persian and Urdu to accommodate the foreigners. “Afghans have no connection with Indians?” Umm excuse me. I just proved to you already Afghanistan was part of India just like Pakistan. Our great maharajas were from Kandahar and Peshawar. The great Hindu epic Mahabharata took place there and Ramayana mentions Lord Rama’s presence there as well. These sacred texts are more than 5,000 years old…that is when the Mahabharata War occurred.

L: Not according to some Muslim scholars…they claim the eye surgery came from them and argue it is in the Quran which makes no sense considering it is only a 1400 year old religion.

[Note: The comments may not seem to flow well, as I omitted all of the ‘personal attacks’ (yes, unfortunately, there was quite a bit of that) as they are extremely irrelevant and unnecessary. I just included commentary that I felt were important and hopefully educational to some degree.]

K: Afghanistan part of India, India was part of Ariana, the ancient Afghanistan. We conquered India, and we imported our culture, langauge (sanskrit) and genes into India. Hindu Kush simply means the mountains that literally killed Hindu slaves because it was so cold.

L: Have you ever read the Mahabharata? Again, I will mention it is 5,000 years old. They were kings and queens. Rulers of Afghanistan. All Hindu!

K: Having common religion doesn’t make one of common nationality, ethnicity or origin. I am Muslim, and so are 1.2 billion others, but that doesn’t mean we share common heritage, history, etc. the only fact we share in common is religion and the fact that we all migrated out of Africa, either during the first or second wave of human migration out of Northeast Africa.

L: You don’t share a common history or heritage because you invaded every country and forced those of other cultures to convert. So how possibly could Muslims have a common identity? Nothing is original. Everything was stolen. North Indians Hindus share a common culture, heritage just like South Indians do. South Indians, as I already mentioned are Dravidian (African origin). That should prove to you how old Hinduism is. That even in Africa it was being practiced.

K: We Invaded India, too. We set the cast system to differentiate between us and the native Indians. Hinduism was our practical method of keeping ourselves separate from the natives we conquered. We destroyed the Indus Civilization when we imported Hinduism to India.

L: So now you are admitting your ancestors are Hindu?

L: Caste system is in the holy texts so please separate fiction from fact. It was a division of labour that has been around since the beginning of Hinduism. At that time democracies did not exist. Merit based on achievement did not exist. Wealth was based on one’s inheritance…kingdoms.

K: I don’t know if my ancestors were Hindu or not, but I can say there were Hindus and Buddhists in Afghanistan and they were native to Afghanistan, but so were the Zoroastrians (a religion native to Afghanistan), a far older religion than Hinduism. My ancestors could have been Hindu, Buddhist or simply Zoroastrian, or pagan. I am not like Pakistani’s to deny my heritage. If we were Hindus and Buddhists then we were Buddhists and Hindus, nothing to be ashamed of.

L: Zoroastrianism is not older than Hinduism. It’s a fact that Hinduism is the oldest religion. Everyone knows this. In Saudia Arabia long before Islam, Hinduism was the largest religion alongside Judaism and then later on Christianity. Zoroastrianism is also a very ancient religion. I am not doubting this. Judaism was even influenced by it, incorporating certain aspects like the Amesa Spenta later becoming the Judaeo-Hebraic Archangels. They were exposed to it, in particular, when Jews were exiled to Babylon.

If you look over your comments, K., you will see that you are full of contradictions. I’m glad, though, that you admit your ancestors were Hindu, the possibility at least. That was my point. These links might give you more evidence. P.S. Did you know Muhammed’s uncle was also Hindu?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAy8O-fo2H8

Kaaba is a shiv temple.

This video proves that the Kaaba is a Shiva temple.

L: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv20RU51gbo…

K: L., there are communities of Brahmans that have very high frequency of the R1a1a gene close to 80 % in some cases, which indicates closed intermarriages and separation from their surroundings. And the R1a1a gene is common in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Northern Indian. The genetic separation and affiliation of Brahmans indicate they are OUTSIDERS that decided to stay as outsiders through closed intermarriages.

L: There is no certainty of closed intermarriages amongst a whole set of communities. No such thing! Maybe that gene was detected. But, I’m sure there are many other genes that exist or have not yet been detected. In South India, in Tamil communities there was a gene detected that showed the link with certain tribes in Africa…exact same gene! Even rituals and surnames were the same, aside from features and skin complexion of course. Does that mean all South Indians are the same? No. there are many Aryans that live in South India. Many have also mixed with them. You will see many fair skin people in the South too. Some have kept their distinct surnames.

K: Hinduism is not older than Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism is a proto-religion that dates back to when the north Indians and Iranic peoples became distinct comglomeration of ethnicities.

L: Proto-Indo-Iranian religion “means the religion of the Indo-Iranian peoples prior to the earliest Vedic (Indian) and Zoroastrian(Iranian) scriptures. These share a common inheritance of concepts including the universal force *rta (Vedic rta, Avestan asha), the sacred plant and drink *sauma (Vedic Soma, Avestan Haoma) and gods of social order such as *mitra (Vedic Mitra, Avestan and Old Persian Mithra, Miϑra), *bhaga (Vedic Bhaga, Avestan and Old Persian Baga). Proto-Indo-Iranian religion is an archaic offshoot of Indo-European religion.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo-Iranian_religion

So, in fact, the Proto-Indo-Iranian religion are NOT Zoroastrians/Avestas. It is considered the precursor of the Vedic religion and Zoroastrianism. It predates both. But it no longer exists. Zoroastrians and Hindus were likely the same people once upon a time. Both of them combined were probably what comprised the Proto-Indo-Iranian religion/civilization. Hinduism has detailed documented texts that are believed to have been recordings of everything from the beginning of time. Zoroastrianism does not! In world religion classes you would be taught that Hinduism is the oldest known religion in the world just as in Linguistic classes one argument that is proposed is that Latin derived from Sanskrit and all other European languages came from Latin. It is very likely the Hindus and Zoroastrians both divided off from the original Proto-Indo-Iranian religion into separate practices over time. Modern Hinduism is different from the Vedic practices. Zoroastrianism, too, changed significantly. But every religion has evolved in some respect. Judaism was influenced by Zoroastrianism. Christianity by Jesus’ lost years of which 17 or 18 were spent in India, in the Himalayas, studying and learning from Hindu monks/gurus concepts of non-violence (known as Ahimsa in Sanskrit), self-realization, enlightenment etc. making the New Testament vastly different from the vindictive, jealous, condescending, angry and arrogant god of the Tanakh.

Here is something I will paste from another site. Some interesting facts, though I don’t know about the credibility:

There are many things common between Zoroastrianism and the Vedic religion. For example, Ahuras are the good guys in Z. and Daevas are the bad guys. Their names are similar to Vedic Asuras and Devas.

It was Zarathusr (Zoroaster), who made significant changes in the original religion, and thus founded Zoroastrianism. He exalted the earlier god of wisdom to the position of Supreme being or Creator, Ahura Mazda. Later Zoroastrianism was influenced by other factors from 1500 BC to the 6th century BC. By the sixth century, Zoroastrianism became a formal independent religion. The religion of the Vedic period (also known as Vedism) was the religion of the Indo-Aryans of northern India. It is a historical predecessor of modern Hinduism, though significantly different from it.

The Vedic religion was characterized by deities like Indra, Agni, Varuna, and yajnas. There was no idol worship or temples. Many defining traits of modern Hinduism – like idol worship, prominence of Vishnu-avatar and Shiva, came later. The time is not clear, but most probably its few centuries in the beginning of the Common Era, in the reign of the Imperial Guptas. Also, the Bhakti movement of the medieval age led to significant change in the meaning of Hinduism.

M: I think the reason why Pukhtane of Afghanistan refer to themselves as Afghan first is because Afghans in general have more inter-marriages and get along better on personal level as compared to different Pakistani ethnic groups. It’s the same with non-Pukhtane of Afghanistan. Even though the term Afghan being used for them won’t historically and ethnically be correct, majority of the country has adapted each other’s traditions, cultural practises and some even learning each other’s languages which has made the cultural/lingual barrier even smaller.

Besides that I don’t believe in taking pride in what I was born as since I had no control over that, but I do believe in getting to know your country and culture and try and find the beauty in it. If there are Pukhtane who consider themselves Pakistanis first then it shouldn’t be anyone’s business telling them what to consider themselves and what not to consider themselves as.

K: Well, however you cut this cake, we imported Hinduism to India. We made you Hindus, and god know what you were before that. […] You forget that when we brought Hinduism to India, we made heaps of heads from the dead Indians. So, I guess, our import of Hinduism to India was just as violent as the import of Islam. Let us view some videos about how Hindu Aryans made heaps of heads from the native’s of India.

L: M., I’ve only used Hindu religious books as a source to show that Afghanistan was mentioned as being the same country as the rest of India. How could I not? It proves my argument. It’s documented proof.

And, K., […] No one can prove where the Hindu Aryan nomads came from. And Afghanistan was already a part of India so we are the same people. And South Indian Hindus were already in India before the Aryans. Also you mentioned Afghans created the caste system. […] What else? And that Zoroastrians and Proto-Indian-Iranians are the same thing? Earlier you said Afghans were not hindus. You should support your arguments with facts […].

R: From what I know, a Pashtun doesn’t necessarily have to be a pathan. Term has more to do with the ‘Pahtun Wali’ traditions and culture. A pashthun could be a non-pashto speaker as well and may regard Punjabi/Saraiki/Potohari as the first language. Durranis of Sindh, Niazis and Awans of Punjab comes to mind, the likes of Imran Khan.

P: […] Afghan today is no longer a word for pashtuns only, it refers to all citizens of Afghanistan. I always identify as Pashtun, nothing more, not pakistani or afghan. The term “pathan” is however a big no-no.

[Note: The last two comments are off-topic, but again, I decided to leave it in because it’s relevant to the overall discussion.]

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I hope my readers managed to take away something from this intriguing discussion. Make sure you leave your thoughts below!

2 responses to “A Discussion On The Nuances Of Ethnic Identity: Ancient Afghan Heritage And Its Link To Hinduism — Part Two

  1. i did not read your article,i left it when you said you don’t have your own insight of the topic and instead started posting some kids comments.
    ” It’s hard to believe that Afghanistan was once a part of India; once the land of the Hindus. Yet, neither Afghans nor Indians are taught this in schools. It should be a part of history teachings. Why is the truth concealed? Afghan Muslims/Taliban have deliberately wiped out all evidence of this. Conversely, the mountainous extension of the Himalayas in Afghanistan is still known as the Hindu Kush,”
    OMG like a typical conspiracy theorist lol
    the kid is confusing kandahar with gandahara. historically kandahar have nothing to do with Gandahara. it just happened by chance that they sound same.
    it’s true Hinduism was once a religion in Afghanistan but religion does not mean Afghan have indian origin. it;s like saying all muslims have Arab origin. Hinduism spread into Afghanistan in kushan era. kushan rose to power from Kabul valley and were secular , they welcomed hindu preacher.before that Afghan were mostly Buddhist. Budhisam spread when Afghanistan was part of Mauryan empire. other than that Afghanistan was never a part of any indian empire.

    • There was no Indian empire in history, India was never even a unified entity or country before the British came, it was only unified 3 times in history, first by the Mauryas who ruled over Afghanistan too, then the Mughals and then finally the British who formed a country/colony called “India” otherwise India was just a region called as such by the Greeks,Arabs,Persians etc meant nothing to the locals, like how “America” means nothing to the First nations/Native “Americans”.

      As for Afghanistan not being “ruled” by “Indians”, you’re right there is no Indian race or nationality(prior to 1947), South Asia is a multi-racial region, but Afghanistan was indeed ruled by the Mauryas,Hindu Shahis and most recently the Sikhs (if they are considered Indian?) and historically and genetically east Afghanistan is part of the Indus valley/Mehrgarh civilization and genetic cline, of course western Afghanistan has more to do with Iran/Khorasan and the north has more to do with Uzbeks/Cental Asians etc since those lands were only recently annexed by Afghanistan.

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