Afghanistan was never “Hindu”


Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road has an extensive section on Afghanistan. The Bamiyan Buddhas reminds us what the texts make clear: up until 900 AD the highlands in an around modern Afghanistan were heavily Buddhist. The Turki Shahi kings of Kabul seem to have patronized Buddhism. In contrast, their successors, the Hindu Shahi kings, seem to have tilted toward what we would call Hinduism.

Because I’m posting a Substack on Afghanistan soon the civilizational and cultural identity of Afghanistan is on my mind. After my reading and reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that the area and the people can be thought of as a crossroads between Persian, Central Asian, and Indian. Central Asia includes both Iranic and later Turkic cultures, while the Persian influence reflects a deeply west Iranic sensibility. Finally, it has hard to deny that India and much of southern and western Afghanistan are deeply connected geographically, biologically, and culturally.

And yet some Indians keep claiming that “actually Afghanistan use to be Hindu…” This is false. At least by any comprehensible definition of “Hindu.” It is true that Afghanistan was once heavily Buddhist, but Buddhism is not Hinduism. It is true that there have long been Indians in Afghanistan, but there have been Indians in Southeast Asia as well. It is true that the Iranian pagans, like the Nuristanis, worshipped gods and practiced traditions that descend from one’s affinal to the Vedic Aryans, but the pre-Vedic religion of the Indo-Aryans was not Hinduism as we’d understand it.

To a great extent, this sort of cultural imperialism is harmless and cringe. But it’s a bit on the insensitive side given what’s going on in Afghanistan, where ironically Indian-origin Deobandi Islam is is reigning supreme…

48 thoughts on “Afghanistan was never “Hindu”

  1. I thought 3 of the vedas were composed in Afghanistan

    Wouldn’t the vedic religion be considered as a hindu religion or a proto hindu religion

    1. @Mareez
      RV’s core was almost certainly composed on the steppe, long before there were ārya in what we now call Afghanistan. Though as oral compositions go, there were a lot of accretions into RV as well. SV / YV are more Greater Punjab and their language already has a fair bit of Prakritization of OIA. grabh- > grah- etc

      I actually think it is better to understand RV content as an Indo-Iranian (or even IE) canon as opposed to just Indic branch related. It’s just that the conservatism of the Indic branch has kept the traditional canon, but parts of it would have been recognisable to even the C Asians who hadn’t yet split off into those branches.

  2. A lot of the sham-Indologists and untrained-historians that frequent the Hindutva-leaning online conferences and book-festival circuit (Festival of Bharat, Jaipur Dialogue type places) have been talking about Hindu-Shahi rulers in very favorable light.

    ‘Buddhism is not Hinduism’

    Modern day Hindus do pray to the Buddha as the ninth avatar of Vishnu. So there is affinity. This is magnified because (a) Unlike say Bhutanese or Sri Lankans there are no Afghan Buddhists that can say ‘Fuck off’ at modern Hindus. (b) The struggle and conversion of the Buddhists of Afghanistan against the same Turkic Muslims also resonates.

    cultural imperialism (heavy word btw), insensitivity, cringe and Afghanistan: Dada, this is a made up grievance/statement. Pakistan just physically took over Kabul! Killed your American countrymen, no one cares about what noises some Hindus make, it is statistically insignificant even from the POV of a researcher.

  3. I know you’ve said Hinduism only really emerged as a reaction to other religions, which would fit with folks like my comparative religions prof saying Judaism is different from the religion of the Hebrews, but I don’t think that’s how laymen normally think about religion. Their concept of a persistent identity would be more like Nozick’s take on the Ship of Theseus. Hinduism is the “closest continuer” to the ancient Vedic religions.

  4. Modern day Hindus do pray to the Buddha as the ninth avatar of Vishnu. So there is affinity.

    why are you making a moron point? there’s an affinity between Christianity and Judaism, no one confuses them (except moron judeophilic evangelical Protestants in the USA).

  5. cultural imperialism (heavy word btw), insensitivity, cringe and Afghanistan: Dada, this is a made up grievance/statement. Pakistan just physically took over Kabul! Killed your American countrymen, no one cares about what noises some Hindus make, it is statistically insignificant even from the POV of a researcher.

    shut the fuck up. I’ll post what i want to post. if you want to object I’ll ban you next time.

  6. Wouldn’t the vedic religion be considered as a hindu religion or a proto hindu religion

    Not exactly. The Hinduism that we know today emerged between the 5-7 centuries CE. It was a merger between the philosophy of the Upanishads and the various local cults that worshiped forest deities like Shiva. The ultimate aim of this merger was to integrate the cults of the forest tribes into a new religion thus assimilating its practitioners into a newly rigid caste structure. The Puranas were written to give this new religion a mass appeal and draw away converts from Buddhism and Jainism. Since the Brahmins, owing to royal patronage, had become the wealthiest land owning class in India at this time (second only to the Kshatriyas) , they required access to labor which became the shudras. Cow protection also became a thing at this time since they became an economic asset. Hindu theology provides ample justification for the subjugation and exploitation of the shudra caste.

    While Hindus pay lip service to the vedas, the new religion of Hinduism which emerged in late antiquity developed concepts like Caste, Karma, and Dharm, which were interwoven into the amoral escapist philosophy of the Upanishads. For all practical purposes, the religion of the vedas was a different religion altogether and most Hindus do not even worship Vedic deities like Varun, Indra, or Agni.

    1. True of any religion then. Christianity as we understand it today has nothing to do with Jesus Christ who was a Jewish preacher and disciple of another Jewish preacher John the baptist.

      In fact, one could credibly claim that most of what we know as early Christianity was simply invented by Paul of Tarsus.

      Not to mention that this Christianity then went through the prism of Roman paganism and resulted in catholicism with all the saints and strange affectation for the virgin mother (a clear allusion to their pagan mother goddess figure).

      And of course one cannot discount the role the church played in the genocide and subjugation of non-white native peoples of the Americas and to a lesser extent Africa.

      Heck the church even conducted a pogrom against Hindus and crypto-Hindus in Goa.

      Not to mention all the child abuse, etc. that has been widely reported.

      The psychological damage Christianity inflicts on indigenous populations is really deep. Every time I go to a church in India the baby Jesus is always portrayed as blue eyed and blonde haired.

      You can make this case re subjugation, caste, etc against any religion. Pinning this on Hinduism alone is becoming a stale argument.

      1. “The psychological damage Christianity inflicts on indigenous populations is really deep. Every time I go to a church in India the baby Jesus is always portrayed as blue eyed and blonde haired.”

        Your definition of psychological damage must be radically different than mine. If blue eyes on an icon gives people the vapors, I can’t imagine what blue skin on an image of Vishnu must do.

    2. Karma and Dharma at least were a huge deal many centuries earlier wheb Buddhism took them as central.

      It are you saying those ideas originated I the heteridox religions and got imported into Hinduism only late in the game?

    3. Your estimated dates are too recent. Push it back by 500 years (1 to 200 AD). The samanic traditions like Buddhism and Jainism were a reaction to a changing South Asian society of the second urbanization period and the older Vedic tradition. The Puranic era Hinduism was a reaction to that reaction. The details are hefty but this is the general summary.

    4. It was different.But a non institutionalized religion is bound to undergo changes over a period of thousand of years

      If u actually study the topic you fill find that modern Hinduism is undisputedly a product of Vedic religion.

      Open a 15th century Hindu Text and it will be full of references to the Vedas. Vedic religion is a precursor of present day hinduism
      They are not distinct religions

  7. Wouldn’t that be the case even with the “Hinduism” of the 8th century Northern India with the Hinduism of today? A “hindu” from 8th century Bharata would probably not recognize many aspects of Hinduism of today.

    If Afghanistan hadn’t been conquered by Islam, today it would’ve definitely been a Dharma centric country/society just like Bali is today.

    Statues of Mahavinayaka, EkamukhaShivaLingam were definitely found in Afghanistan, and not to mention the coinage with Shiva/Rudra on them.
    All religions and societies evolve.
    Proponents of arguments such as, “Indo-Aryan religion is nothing like Hinduism” are just dishonest attempts to disprove the continuous evolving nature of Hinduism.

    Btw, your argument is an asinine one, just like the above argument. It seems like you wrote this just to piss off the Internet Hindutvavadis. I guess it’s your blog and you can post anything, however, there are people who will call out your bullshit!

  8. People should start using dharmic instead of hindu when saying stuff like this. I’m sure 90% of statements that would seem problematic while using ‘hindu’ would just be plain facts with the latter.

  9. This is clearly a “labeling” discussion. It could go both ways. Just some historic overhang –

    – Chanakya, in his Arthashastra, does not refer to Buddhism. He however refers to Samkhya, of which, the Buddha was an exponent.

    – Megasthenes does not refer to the existence of any separate, distinct body of exposition called Buddhism.

    – Neither do Strabo, Pliny, Arrian or any of the Greek writers when they write about India.

    Yet Samudragupta (4th century AD) clearly states in his Allahabad inscription on the Ashoka Pillar, that the Shahanu-Shahi (rulers of the Afghan region) have requested for the Garuda-Dvaja to be flown and used as an emblem. The Garuda symbol is the notifier of Vishnu and is used throughout India in temples as a flag where Vishnu is worshipped.

    From purely an epigraphic perspective, it is beyond doubt that Afghanistan served as a periphery that flitted in and out of Vishnu-worship.

    Keep in mind the Kushanas, the predecessors of the Shahanu-Shahis (Sassanian), were worshippers of the Buddha. So it is highly likely that the Sassanians (worshippers of Zoraster) paid tribute to the Guptas and had a temporal alliance to oust the Kushanas before they asceneded.

    I would say, very clearly from a historic perspective (not cultural or theological), that Afghans pretended to be Hindu from time to time when the Game of Empires was afoot. They were Buddhist, they were Hindu, they were Zoroastrian when the rulers demanded so.

    This is also the reason of the pitiable state of the Afghans today – they have forgotten how to hedge. By completely turning to Islam, they do not know how to make temporal adjustments. After all, life is change.

    If, a big if, a majority of modern Afghans had been willing to become Christian, things would have been much more difficult for the Americans to pull out.

  10. This is not true and weak journalism, Afghanistan was a Hindu nation run by Shakuni this is well known and documented. There were temples all across the nation

  11. True of any religion then. Christianity as we understand it today has nothing to do with Jesus Christ who was a Jewish preacher and disciple of another Jewish preacher John the baptist.

    In fact, one could credibly claim that most of what we know as early Christianity was simply invented by Paul of Tarsus.

    That is a historically accurate summary of early Christianity. Similarly, early Islam was basically just Judaism for Arabs but evolved and changed over time. So what?

    You can make this case re subjugation, caste, etc against any religion. Pinning this on Hinduism alone is becoming a stale argument.

    Except that in Christianity and Islam, that sort of subjugation isn’t central to the core tenets of either of those faiths. There is nothing about exploitation and subjugation in either the Apostle’s creed nor Islam’s 5 pillars. This is why slavery and feudalism ended relatively quickly (but not soon enough in my view) in the west, whereas in India, caste oppression dragged on for millennia and still persists.

    You, and other Internet Hindus who weep crocodile tears about the mistreatment of the aboriginals (laughable from those justifying caste) need to realize that Christianity created stable, functioning, and prosperous societies over time. If there were something inherently wrong with Christian values, that would have been impossible. Although culture and IQ play a stronger role than religion in my view. Scandinavian countries barely had any colonies and were largely absent from imperialism. Yet their societies are the most developed.

    The Catholic Church may have done some rotten things, but their legacy is enduring. They shaped the rational autonomy based ethics of the west, they founded Cambridge and Oxford which invented the master’s degree. Their influence shaped the modern world. Isaac Newton’s mother tried to make a farmer out of him, but Newton’s uncle however, had him enrolled in Cambridge. In India, a shudra or dalit who showed intellectual acuity would have been given the Eklavya treatment. See what this has produced.

    1. realize that Christianity created stable, functioning, and prosperous societies over time.
      Realize that, nobody gives a shit about your worthless desert cult.

      If there were something inherently wrong with Christian values, that would have been impossible
      In case you don’t know the meaning of a Secular State, it separates Church from the State. The Church was encroaching on people’s rights and they told Church to fuck off and now you come here talking about how the Secular Modern State is based on “ChRiStIaN VaLueS”.

      In India, a shudra or dalit who showed intellectual acuity would have been given the Eklavya treatment.
      There we go again with the Cherry Picking and historical Amnesia, John Locke was stockholder in a slaveholding company and he’s called the father of Liberalism. ​Need i remind you of Serfdom and all horrible the ways Peasants were treated in Feudal Europe? You still haven’t answered me, how is being a Peasant in Feudal Europe DIFFERENT from being a Shudra in Medieval India? If you could answer that question, you may have some semblance of validity in my eyes. You said that Casteism is “worse” than Slavery and you have yet to prove that Shudras lived worse lives than Peastants in Feudal Europe.

      Although culture and IQ play a stronger role than religion in my view
      Coincidentally, this is the same line of thought that many asshole Brahmins use to justify the status of dalits. “They’re low IQ and only good for taking out my trash, they’re too dumb&uncultured to do anything else so why bother educating them!? They’ll never come up with a decent Society, only WE can do that!” Its funny how you have the same line of thought as the racist brahmins you hate so much, almost like you’re projecting.

      See what this has produced.
      You completely gloss over&deny Colonial Exploitation of India and pretend like India exists in its current state purely due to its own inability to modernize like Japan, like i said in my other post. You’re just an Abrahamic lapdog, nothing more, nothing less.

      P.S:I don’t care if you reply to me or not, i’m satisfied knowing that you’re gonna read this, dumbass!

    2. @Xavier: “ realize that Christianity created stable, functioning, and prosperous societies over time”. That is historically untrue. Stable, functioning and prosperous societies were created by the European renaissance and enlightenment (seeking inspiration from its pagan Greek and Roman past) which was OPPOSED by the Church every step of the way. You can search “Galelio Galelei” and “inquisition” on your computer for one salient example. Your fellow Jesus fanatics gave Europe its medieval dark ages full of religious bigotry, witch huntings and Jewish, Muslim and pagan genocides. Heck Church oppressed medieval Europe made Islam look liberal by comparison. It was only when the shackles imposed by the Church were broken that Europe could truly create prosperous, tolerant societies.

      “ Although culture and IQ play a stronger role than religion in my view. Scandinavian countries barely had any colonies and were largely absent from imperialism. Yet their societies are the most developed.” That is totally disingenuous. Culture and IQ are SOLELY responsible for the developed state of Scandinavia. Christianity has got nothing to do with it. Scandinavia is amongst the most secularised, de-Christianised regions of Europe and its helped them motor ahead. This is because Christianity is ANTITHETICAL to science and reason. Europeans have gradually woken up to the fact and have over the decades discarded Christianity, which has roughly been coterminous with rising living standards and scientific achievements and creation of pleasant, tolerant, liveable societies.

      “The Catholic Church may have done some rotten things, but their legacy is enduring…Their influence shaped the modern world.” Some rotten things? Such as the full and complete genocide of the native peoples and cultures of Latin America, for instance? Yeah sure, some enduring legacy, that.

      Thankfully, unlike Christianity, Hinduism is not bound by one irrational book. It has the capacity for introspection, reformation and evolution. Sure, the caste system is vile. We have already eradicated the worst aspects of it over the last couple of centuries. More work remains to be done and will be done. Hinduism will reform and evolve. No dogma is sacred and no shibboleth unchangeable. Can’t say the same for Christianity.

  12. The pashais and nuristanis were probably followers of a proto-rigvedic religion.
    Even Gandhara and Kamboja mahajanapadas displayed vedic features.

    Afghanistan was never even nearly hindu majority though.

    That being said Afghanistan did have a “hindu” presence. During the Shahi rule, both Turk and Hindu shahis, Brahminical deities were worshipped in the extreme northeast of Afghanistan( Kabul,Laghman,Kunar,Nangarhar) and neighbouring areas of KPK like Swat,Hund,Mingora,Peshawar,Salt Range. These areas were probably dominated by the Dards.

    Statues of Gardez Ganesha, temples of Surya like the Khair Khaneh are proofs of the presence of Brahminical Hinduism during the 7th to 10th AD centuries. A Vishnu Temple has also been excavated in swat valley. (https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thehindu.com/news/international/ancient-hindu-temple-discovered-in-northwest-pakistan/article33141958.ece/amp/)

    https://www.academia.edu/849388/The_Shahi_Period_A_Reappraisal_of_Archaeological_and_Art_Historical_Sources
    .This article has documented some of the Hindu deities. You can find a lot more on this topic on academia and researchgate.

    So yes. Modern day- Afghanistan was never in the grasp of Puranic Hinduism. But it did have a significant presence in the northeastern regions.
    Not to mention Gandhara did have art displaying later hindu deities (https://books.google.co.in/books?id=xJ-lzU_nj_MC&redir_esc=y)

  13. A small correction, Nuristanis are not Iranic pagans but entirely an independent group. The third pole of the more well known Indic and Iranic branches.

    By the way Franklin Southworth found possible Dravidian loanwords in Nuristani languages that possibly predate the absorption of such words in Vedic Aryan languages.

  14. Though Afghanistan did not ever have a significant “Hindu” presence as a whole, the NE regions of Afghanistan were certainly under the grasp of “Brahminical Hinduism” during the Shahi period( both Turk shahis and Hindu shahis)(7th- 10th century AD)
    These regions were probably dominated by dardic peoples.

    https://www.academia.edu/849388/The_Shahi_Period_A_Reappraisal_of_Archaeological_and_Art_Historical_Sources.
    This article documents some of the hindu deities found in Northeast Afghanistan( Kunar,Laghman, Nangarhar,Kabul)

    Gardez Ganesha, Khair Khaneh temple of Surya, and Swat Vishnu temple are further evidences of the presence of Hinduism during the Shahis
    This also includes KPK areas of Hund, Mingora, Salt range, Peshawar etc.

    The Pashais and Nuristanis probably followed proto-Rigvedic religions. Janapadas of Kamboja and Gandhara also displayed vedic features.

    Moreover, Gandhara, later on wasn’t cut off from the developments in Hinduism.(https://books.google.com/books?id=xJ-lzU_nj_MC)

  15. My thoughts on this are described here:
    https://www.brownpundits.com/2018/07/14/afghanistans-history/

    For over a thousand years after the passing of Buddha, the Madyamaka sect of Mahayana sect of Sutrayana insisted that it was Astika Sanaathana Dharma. I believe this was true of the Yogachaara sect of Mahayana sect of Sutrayana too, although I need to research that.

    There were thousands of simultaneous systems, philosophies and cultures. People authentically belonged to many at once. My view is that there was a common civilizational area across much of but not all of Asia. I think Razib has called it the “Indian religion” in other posts. Others call it by different names.

    In the Mahabharata Gandhara (Afghanistan, ruled by king Shakuni), Kamboja (Turan, ruled by king Sudhakshina), Sakas (probably the Sistan provinces of Iran and some parts of Turan, they fought under the C2 of king Sudakshina in the kurukshetra war but may not have been ruled by him) are described as part of this common civilizational area.

    But there were many Mlecchas (albeit Ayra Mlecchas) who lived in these lands as per the Mahabharata.

    The Arya Yavanas like the Arya Bharatas are the children of Yayati who settled in the far west. Over time they came to be called Mlecchas by many of the Bharatas. However I would call them Arya Mlecchas. I think the Yavanas were what today would be called Vincas, Serbs, Greeks etc. But others would disagree with me.

    I consider all the descendents of Yayati to be Ayra–even if many over time would be called Mlecchas by the Bharatas.

    I think some are using the phrase “Hindu” to refer only to the Bharatas. Or a people + geographic area. Others use the phrase: “Hindu” in a broader way.

  16. Hinduism was very well present in Northeastern Afghanistan.
    During the Shahi period, both Turk and Hindu, Brahminical deities were found in many places in NW Pakistan and NE Afghanistan. https://www.academia.edu/849388/The_Shahi_Period_A_Reappraisal_of_Archaeological_and_Art_Historical_Sources

    A statue of Ganesha in Gardez, a temple of Surya( Khair Khaneh) in Kabul and a Vishnu temple found in Swat are furthee evidences of presence of Hinduism in this region( Laghman,Kabul, Nangarhar, Kunar and Salt Range, Potohar, Mingora, Swat, Hund)

    These places were probably Dardic during the Shahi period( 7th to 10th century AD)

    Gandhara during its buddhist period wasnt cut off from developments in hinduism either. Hindu deities are significantly
    found in Gandharan art

    Now looking at Vedic Hinduism, the Janapadas of Kamboja and Gandhara do show Vedic features. So do the Pashayis and Nuristani, who followed a proto-rigvedic religion.

    You are almost right though, hinduism was never a force in afghanistan as a whole. But it did have a presence in the northeast for well above 250 years.

  17. They were on the other side of the Indus river, and thus by definition not Indian / Hindu, using “Hindu” in the ethnographic sense as it originally was. The religious meaning of “Hindu” is much more socially constructed, and it’s certainly reasonable to include vedic-related religion of the Afghans (and the Mitanni and modern day Kalash) in the scope of “Hinduism”.

  18. I have read in some sutta that buddha said to someone(probably a layfollower) “our teachings and way are very diffrent than those of brahmins”.
    Hindus have been trying from then to make hinduism share more values to buddhism.Hindusim is a sphere which can soak so much of diffrent traditions and nobody really cares.
    anyway BUT thing is afganistan was less hindu than buddhist for sure.But saying it was never hindu is just wrong.

  19. plenty of statues of shiva and ganesha belonging to hindu-shahi period have been unearthed in afghanistan. i wonder what religion other than hinduism make such statues, and for what purpose?

    you are making your case based on a certain picture of contemporary hinduism in your mind. yes, afghan hinduism was not hinduism in the sense that they didnt recite ram-charit-manas in prayers or, probably, didnt celebrate durga-puja. but that doesn’t make them any less hindu. even within modern india hinduism practiced in different areas can be vastly different. may be the afghan hinduism is unrecognizable to you precisely because afghan flavor of hinduism went extinct?

  20. Never seen folks so agitated about “ what was Hindu” or not. I mean there are regions which were Hindu after Afghanistan and they aren’t today.

    Hell, there are regions which are becoming less-Hindu as we speak. But yeah let’s first discuss if Afghanistan was Hindu or not. After that we can discuss if Iraq was Hindu( cos mittani) 😂😂😂

  21. Saurav, do you consider the Mlecchas, Adivaasis, Daityas, Danavas, Naagas, Kinnaras, Garudas, Adityas, Raakshashas, Vidyaadharas, Yakshas, Kimpurushas, Gandharvas, Suparnas, Vaanaras, Valakilyas, Pisachas, Rudras, Maruts, Nivatakavachas, Kaleyas, Vasus, all the manas putras of Brahma, all the Prajaapatis, Brahma, the Lokic Realms, Hiranyagarbha, Mahat to be “Hindu”?

    If not, how would you break this down?

    What about the Alokic realms (including Kailash, Vaikuntha, 4 Arupa Swargas described by Buddha)?

    Buddha described 31 levels of Heaven or Samaadhi. Which of these would you define as Hindu?

    Buddha described his past lives and said he was Rama and Kapila. Hence the reverence Madyamakha buddhists have for the philosophy of Kapila, or Saamkhya.

    After Buddha mahasamaadhi, all 500 Arahants at the first Buddhist council at Rajgir (Raajagṛiha) were “Brahmins.” This does not mean their ancestors were Brahmin, but rather they had become Brahmins by this time.

    Have you read Krishna’s critique of fallen Brahmins and vedic karmas in chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita?

    1. AnuragSharma, I strongly disagree with this article by Ruchika Sharma. This is a very woke culturally marxist post modernist take.

      It is full of so many factual errors that I don’t even feel like refuting it.

  22. plenty of statues of shiva and ganesha belonging to hindu-shahi period have been unearthed in afghanistan. i wonder what religion other than hinduism make such statues, and for what purpose?

    midwit comment. the hindu shahi were probably indian in origin. there were plenty of indians in Afghanistan before and after Islam.

    the rest of the comment is dumb hindu maximalism.

    1. “the rest of the comment is dumb hindu maximalism.”

      LoL. I will be last to make any irredentists claims based on past glories. I still have too much of leftist irreverence for territories and borders in me to go down that path.

      India’s tally in recently concluded olympics was a grand total of 7 medals. (china won 88 medals in comparison). even if afghanistan, pak and bangla were united with india, our tally would have remained exactly 7. our per capita GDP would probably be lower. and crazy pashtun idiots would be running amok in our cities firing guns in the air, killing people randomly with stray bullets, as they are doing in kabul right now. so thanks, but no thanks.

      my comments were based on hard evidence. will write more on that later.

          1. ” crazy pashtun idiots would be running amok in our cities firing guns in the air”

            Wasnt that true of India’s Kashmir and N-East as well. Dont remember anyone arguing we are better off without them.

    2. “the hindu shahi were probably indian in origin. there were plenty of indians in Afghanistan before and after Islam”

      you seem to be making a distinction between afghan people and indian people. but whoever was living in afg at a certain point of time was afghan, wasn’t it?

      in fact we have reasons to believe that afg was deeply indic in character in antiquity. pashtuns are recent migrants to afg. their expansion into eastern afg and peshawar valley took place as late as babar’s times. babar noted their colonization of their current habitat in his autobiography. pashtun ethnogenesis itself took place post turkish conquest of afg.

      JDsinh has already posted an excellent article on hinduism in afg, so not much remains to be said. just couple of points –

      if hindu-shahi royalty were hindu, a good reason to believe the generation population was hindu too. masses take their cue regarding religion from the elites.

      and indo-greek kings of bactria of were certainly NOT indian in origin. so if Agathocles of Bactria issued coins honoring krishna and balarama, i have strong reasons to believe that these were deities worshipped by general population, and the king was trying to win over the population by honoring gods of the masses.

      you article should have been properly titled – pashtuns/tajiks/hazaras were never hindu.

      1. you seem to be making a distinction between afghan people and indian people. but whoever was living in afg at a certain point of time was afghan, wasn’t it?

        this is retarded. the dominant group in Afghanistan was east Iranian. later turks joined them.

        there were greeks, arabs, and mongols, periodically. but Afghanistan wasn’t greek arab or mongol.

        there were plenty of indians in Afghanistan, though the genetic impact is far lower than you would expect based on the texts of al-biruni (i think this is because so many were slaves and so did not replace themselves). this means indian cultural influences were present in Afghanistan. first, Hinduism. later, Buddhism. (the two perhaps at the same time) even deobandi Islam is really indian!

        this doesn’t mean that afghan culture is necessarily hindu or deobandi.

        i am responding to idiotic people opining “well ackchually Afghanistan was hindu before it was Muslim.” no it wasn’t. it was a mix of pagan, zoroastrian, Buddhist, and hindu. the zoroastrian part was probably the most dominant if i had to bet…like hinduism it was mostly an oral religion so gets underweighted in textual sources.

        now, you might say these people are marginal, but they’re not. and unfortunately when marginal people aren’t rebutted their arguments spread. so i am responding on this blog post to draw a line in the sand.


        1. “there were plenty of indians in Afghanistan, though the genetic impact is far lower than you would expect based on the texts of al-biruni (i think this is because so many were slaves and so did not replace themselves).”

          kings dont issue coins and sculpt statues honoring gods of the slaves. obviously a lot of free population was hindu/buddhist.

          there is significant AASI component in pashtuns. where is it coming from? the simplest explanation is that it is coming from a bedrock indic population that they absorbed as they spread across afg.

          if i were to take a guess, i would say that the majority of afg population in antiquity, from the time of mauryan empire down to the period of indo-greek kingdoms was indic, both in blood as well as in religious’ traditions. up to the time of hindu-shahi kingdom things probably changed. rise of arab, samanid and ghazanavid empires must have set in motion large scale population movement, that may have changed the overall character of afg population. it was in this period E-iranian component probably become dominant.

          so, there is some justification in the claim that afg was hindu at some point of time in history.

  23. “where ironically Indian-origin Deobandi Islam is is reigning supreme…”

    Presumably, you are referring to the Islam of the Taliban. Are there are other sects or schools of Islam present in Afghanistan that are subordinate, but have meaningful numbers of local adherents?

  24. Presumably, you are referring to the Islam of the Taliban. Are there are other sects or schools of Islam present in Afghanistan that are subordinate, but have meaningful numbers of local adherents?

    hazara are shia and the rest are hanafi sunni. deobandi comes out of hanafi sunni, though it’s different/more extreme/more rationalist

  25. The funny thing is a good bit of what we now call “Hinduism” in N/NW India is derived from E Iranic paganism (eg. pretty much all of śiva / oešo iconography is E Iranic; spread via Alchon Huns)

    Afghanistan was never Hindu, but whatever it was contributed a lot to modern-day Hinduism of the NW of the Indian subcontinent.

    The ethnic cleansing that happened of non-Muslims with Partition means that practically nothing of this survives in Pakistan and only pockets in India’s north. Hinduism is the last refuge of the C Asian pagan 🙂

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