Hinduism in Afghanistan

An argument has been made that there was no Hindu Afghanistan. This is unfortunately wide off the mark. Afghanistan was not just Buddhist but Hindu and Buddhist and Hinduism was the other major religion of the region besides Buddhism.

The evidence of Hinduism in Afghanistan is quite overwhelming and it begins to appear already during the Indo-Greek period, and continues during the Kushan period, the Kidara, the Hephthalite and the Kabul Shahi period.

The earliest evidence of Hinduism in Afghanistan among the Indo-Greeks is as old as 180 BCE and it comes north of the Hindu Kush for good measure.

The first known bilingual coins of the Indo-Greeks were issued by Agathocles around 180 BCE. These coins were found in Ai-Khanoum, the great Greco-Bactrian city in northeastern Afghanistan, but introduce for the first time an Indian script (the Brahmi script which had been in use under the Mauryan empire). The coinage depict various Indian iconography: KrishnaVasudeva, with his large wheel with six spokes (chakra) and conch (shanka), and his brother SankarshanBalarama, with his plough (hala) and pestle (masala), both early avatars of Vishnu.[22] The square coins, instead of the usual Greek round coins, also followed the Indian standard for coinage. The dancing girls on some of the coins of Agathocles and Pantaleon are also sometimes considered as representations of Subhadra, Krishna’s sister.

Hinduism is also evident in Afghanistan during the Kushan period. The first great Kushan king or emperor was Kujula Kadphises and he never ruled any territory east of the Indus. Yet he is already shown on his coins as a devotee of Shiva.

Contrary to earlier assumptions, which regarded Kujula Kadphises as Buddhist on the basis of the epithet of the ‘satyadharmasthita’ epithet, it is now clear from the wording of a Mathura inscription, in which Huvishka bears the same epithet satyadharmasthita , that the kingdom was conferred upon him by Sarva (Shiva) and Scamdavira (Candavlra), that is, he was a devotee of the Hindu God Siva. It is striking to see that Kujula Kadphises has already adopted the worship of Siva and the use of Kharosthï script at such an early date.

A coin of Vima Kadphises with Shiva standing before a Nandi on the reverse.

 

Hinduism was either practiced or patronised by all later Kushan emperors but then they were also rulers of much of North India in addition to Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia. The last of the Great Kushans was named Vasudeva. This is as Hindu as it can get.

The Kushans were succeeded by the Kidarites, after a brief interlude when Sassanians captured Kushan homeland Balkh, who claimed descent from the Great Kushans. The Kidarite or the Lesser Kushans, had little political control beyond Indus or Punjab. But they are credited with spread of Hinduism in Sogdiana no less. Have a look at this –

https://sogdians.si.edu/dancing-shiva/

Although largely faded, the once–bright blue colors used to depict the body of the Hindu deity Shiva still dominate this image. Framed by a decorated arch supported by two half-columns, this complex representation of Shiva depicts the deity with a halo, poised in what some scholars believe is either a dancing or an alidhasana stance, with one leg bent at the knee and the other stretched forcefully to the side.

This is a Ganesha statue from Afghanistan which was installed by a king known as Khingila, whose identity is a matter of debate. Scholars speculate that he may have been from the Turki Shahi dynasty but the dating is uncertain and therefore the statue or Murti is dated anywhere between 6th to 8th century CE.

Hinduism lasted in Afghanistan as a major religion right upto the conquests of Mahmud of Ghazni.

The Zunbil and Kabul Shahis were connected with the Indian subcontinent through common Buddhism and Zun religions. The Zunbil kings worshipped a sun god by the name of Zunfrom which they derived their name. André Wink writes that “the cult of Zun was primarily Hindu, not Buddhist or Zoroastrian”, nonetheless he still mentions them having parallels with Tibetan Buddhism and Zoroastrianism in their rituals.

“During the 8th and 9th centuries AD the eastern terroritries of modern Afghanistan were still in the hands of non-Muslim rulers. The Muslims tended to regard them as Indians (Hindus), although many of the local rulers and people were apparently of Hunnic or Turkic descent. Yet, the Muslims were right in so far as the non-Muslim population of eastern Afghanistan was, culturally linked to the Indian sub-continent. Most of them were either Hindus or Buddhists.”

I think this brief information should be sufficient for understanding that Hinduism was a major religion in Afghanistan for at least a 1000 years before the coming of Islam. It is only natural to expect this as Afghanistan south and east of Hindu Kush was always a part of the Indian subcontinent geographically, culturally, politically and genetically.

 

35 thoughts on “Hinduism in Afghanistan”

  1. Afghanistan was one of the centers of the Sharada civilization before Buddha’s birth. After Buddha’s birth Afghanistan’s Sharada civilization was enriched by the various Buddhist Sampradaayas.

  2. Hinduism was never a dominant force in Afghanistan.
    Though the Eastern regions surely had a significant Hindu presence.

    During the Shahis ( both turki and Hindu), “Brahminical” Hindu deities were extensively found in the NE regions( Kabul,Laghman,Kunar,Nangarhar and also the Salt range, Hund, Mingora, Swat in Pakistan) for well over 250 years. These regions were probably dominated by Dardic people at the time.

    https://www.academia.edu/849388/The_Shahi_Period_A_Reappraisal_of_Archaeological_and_Art_Historical_Sources.
    Here is a good collection of deities from this period.

    Adding to the Gardez Ganesha, a temple of Surya- Khair Khaneh has also been excavated. Amb temple complex and a Vishnu temple in Swat are products of the same Shahi culture.

    The Shahi kings were caste-identified if I remember correctly. Kallar, the shahi minister was a Brahmin.

    Looking at the Vedic religion now, the Pashayis and Nuristanis followed a proto-rigvedic religion until recently. The Janapadas of Kamboja and Gandhara also showed strikingly Vedic features.

    Moreover, during the
    Buddhist period of Kushanas, Mauryas etc., The region of Gandhara wasn’t cut off from the developments taking place in Hinduism. The Hindu deities were found in Gandharan art and coinage substantially.
    https://books.google.co.in/books?id=xJ-lzU_nj_MC&redir_esc=y

    To conclude, Modern day AFG was never “Hindu” , but it will be wrong to say that it wasn’t present in the region at all.
    NorthEast Afghanistan, in fact, was dominated by Hinduism for nearly 3 centuries

  3. Jaydeepsinh_Rathod,

    “It is only natural to expect this as Afghanistan south and east of Hindu Kush was always a part of the Indian subcontinent geographically, culturally, politically and genetically.”

    With all due respect, this isn’t true at all.

    Southern Afghanistan (Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzghan, Zabul, and Nimroz; also northern Balochistan in Pakistan) has always been an extension of eastern Iran, both culturally and geographically.

    ^ Genetically too, the southern Pashtuns are very similar to Farsiwan from contemporary eastern Iran, with the only real difference being that they have more steppe/European-related ancestry (southern Pashtuns are 25-30% steppe, while far eastern Iranians are more around 10-15%).

    That being said, eastern Afghanistan south of the Hindu Kush is a slightly different matter.

    ^ You can divide Pashtun eastern Afghanistan into two zones: the Karlani citadel of greater Paktia (which also includes the Karlani belt of northwestern Pakistan), and the Sarbani/Gharghakht territories of greater Nangarhar.

    The Karlani heartland is absolutely distinct from any part of South Asia, both geographically and culturally.

    ^ Genetically too, if you go by fst distances, the people here are closer to Chechens and Lezgins than they are to UP Brahmins, and are actually slightly closer to far away western Iranians and Kurds than they are to the geographically close Punjabi Biraderi people of Pakistan.

    ^^ The region has always been regarded, from the very beginning of such geographic terminology, as the most isolated part of “Khurasan”.

    ^^^ Both Greater Kandahar and Greater Paktia are subregions of Khurasan. Back in the day, they used to call all of it “Zabulistan”.

    But now, this is where your statement becomes accurate, to a certain extent: Nangarhar.

    Kabul, Nangarhar, and the greater region of Peshawar does have a deep and ancient connection to the Indian subcontinent.

    ^ This is the famed “Gandhara” region, and the Pashtuns of old used to call it “Kabulistan”.

    The Indian affinity here is very deep, as evinced by the Dardic peoples known as Pashayi (Afghanistan), as well as the Kohistani (Pakistan).

    And in truth, the Indian affinity goes beyond such unique/isolated cultural groups; the urban centers of Gandhara/Kabulistan have long been home to “Hindkowan” (who are basically just Punjabis who live alongside Pashtuns and Tajiks), and in rural contexts you have people variously known as “faqir”, “gujjar”, and “jatt” (these are not the Jats of India. They are just rural agriculturalist Hindkowan).

    ^ The Pashtuns of this region are intrusive; their expansion occurred in the full light of history. It’s even evident in the genetic affinities; Gandharan Pashtuns share 75-80% of their autosomal genetic ancestry with Pashtuns from Zabulistan, and are thus still quite distinct from the relict Indian populations that remain in the region.

    But even Gandhara isn’t straightforwardly South Asian.

    Even before the first Pashtun invasions in the 15th century, Gandhara was a transitional region between greater India and Central Asia. It always has been.

    Depending on the period in question, the region has switched between varying levels of Indian, Turanian, and Iranian affiliation and influence.

    Even today, if you enter Peshawar from FATA, you feel like you’re finally on the verge of the subcontinent. But if you approach Peshawar from the Punjab, you feel like you’re finally on the verge of Central Asia.

    ^ To this very day, still a transitional region. Too South Asian to be properly West Asian or Central Asian… yet also far too West Asian and Central Asian to be truly South Asian.

    With regard to Hinduism, I think that Razib has the right idea; there were always Hindus, and the region has always been open to Indian influences. Heck, Indian culture was an important force as far north as the Tarim basin!

    But I don’t think anyone would consider the Tarim basin an extension of India. Or Sogdia. Or any other part of eastern Iran and southern Turan. (And at the end of the day, in the big picture, we must admit that Iran, Turan, and Hind are all, to a certain extent, “sister regions”. There are deep connections here. Islam, and the Turkification of Central Asia, has obscured much of that)

    1. I had some idea of zunbils and Kabul shahis before I visited the blog, but not much on sogadian hindu heritage. Which to me seems far more interesting and intriguing than Afghanistan”s Hindu heritage.

    2. the urban centers of Gandhara/Kabulistan have long been home to “Hindkowan” (who are basically just Punjabis who live alongside Pashtuns and Tajiks), and in rural contexts you have people variously known as “faqir”, “gujjar”, and “jatt” (these are not the Jats of India. They are just rural agriculturalist Hindkowan).

      I have doubts about the accuracy of this statement. Hindkowans are physically indistinguishable from the surrounding Pashtuns. The Hindkowan villages around Peshawar are collectively known as “Khaleesa”. They are probably Pashtuns who recently got Punjabi-ized during the Ranjit Singh rule.

      1. Seems Hindkowans are like Bhumihars, neither the Rajput (Pathan) nor the Brahmins ( Punjabis) wants to own them .LOL.

      2. BaasiDabalRoti,

        “Hindkowans are physically indistinguishable from the surrounding Pashtuns.”

        ?

        My ancestry is divided into three sections: I have Pashtun ancestry from Afghanistan; I have Pashtun ancestry from FATA; I have Pashtun ancestry from KPK.

        My KPK Pashtun side has changed very much now; they’ve all married Hindkowan women.

        The difference between their appearance, and the appearance of their husbands, is stark.

        And the children of these marriages bear little resemblance to the older fully Pashtun generation.

        Maybe, just maybe…. I might post pictures of my fully Pashtun KPK relatives, alongside the Hindkowan people.

        I’ll think about it.

        Whether I do that or not though, I’ll tell you one thing: some of my KPK relatives are blond-haired, and blue-eyed. There was also a redhead (she passed away long ago). And all of them have extremely chiseled faces (like very bony faces), and very distinctive noses.

        ^ The Hindkowan though… almost all of them look 100% Punjabi.

        The least Punjabi-looking ones look like Muslim Kashmiris. Not one of them can pass as fully Pashtun.

        1. AASI strongly affects phenotype and gives desi look. Birdari supremacists enjoy denying/minimizing this. This is at least at some magical threshold they use to separate themselves to the slightly more AASI shifted peoples to their East. They want to maximize affinity towards their West.

          Pashtuns are streotyped as good looking precisely because they look distinctively more West Eurasian and desi culture has a long history of brainwashed hatred against darker pigmented skin and tropical features.

          Anyway I don’t want to get into whether how “good looking” some average phenotypes are is what proportion subjective/objective aka genetically/culturally driven. You know my position on that.

          1. thewarlock,

            “AASI strongly affects phenotype and gives desi look.”

            Look at these people here:

            https://youtu.be/z86xwuR3dxk

            These are Iranians, from the northwest. Some of them look straight up Indian. Especially the guy first seen at 2:05 (tell me he couldn’t pass deep inside the subcontinent?).

            Look at this Greek American actor:

            https://images.app.goo.gl/JNLazXHqaDbL66EKA

            Tell me: with straight hair, could he not pass as a Pakistani (Punjabi/Sindhi type Pakistani)?

            There are many people in West Eurasia with not even the faintest possibility of any AASI admixture who look quasi-Indian.

            This is why old physical anthropology regarded north Indians as simply being “Caucasoid”.

            Anyway, “AASI” probably isn’t even real; I posted a topology a few days ago.

            ^ It’s complicated stuff. But you should examine it, and read my explanation.

        2. A lot of the prior praise by racist Europeans is based on closer phenotypic proximity. Some of their acceptance as refugees in other parts of S Asia is based on this.

          Some of the Rohingya rejection is based on more AASI looks. Racism is a huge component. AASI matters a lot in S Asia. It is not a lens that is properly acknowledged enough.

          1. I dont think Rohingyas have particularly high AASI…not anymore than North Indians. But they naturally have a lot of South-East Asian admixture(may be 20%) which is distantly related to AASI but this South-East Asian admixture should also reduce their AASI significantly.

        3. Irfan Pathan calls himself a Pathan. Is he really a pathan? I mean i have seen Hindu Gujjus who look more ‘pathan’ than Irfan Pathan.

        4. Anyone who has grown up in Northern Pakistan knows that there is no distinct Pashtun phenotype. They can be fair skinned and light eyed but they can also be dark and AASI. Even in the same family they can be different. But they just cant keep themselves from jacking off at their “non-indian” looks.

          Maybe your family members are distinctly non-indian looking but it doesn’t mean all Pashtuns look like that.

          Hindkowans know who they were. Maybe you can ask your Hindkowan aunties about their origins. Take a walk in Qissa Khwani Bazar and see if you can tell a shaven Hindkowan face from a shaven Pashtun face.

          1. BaasiDabalRoti,

            “Anyone who has grown up in Northern Pakistan knows that there is no distinct Pashtun phenotype.”

            I’m sorry, but I have to say this:

            What? Lol

            Of course you can tell apart Pashtuns and Kharyan.

            You don’t honestly think that anyone could confuse people at an Afridi or Mohmand jirga in the tribal territory near Peshawar with a crowd of Hindkowans?

            “Maybe your family members are distinctly non-indian looking but it doesn’t mean all Pashtuns look like that.”

            Don’t know about that; whenever you meet a Pashtun who looks Kharay, it turns out that the dude is half Hindko.

            “Maybe you can ask your Hindkowan aunties about their origins.”

            In broken hybrid Pashto-Urdu, they always tell me, “bacha, mung kho Pathan hai” ?

          2. You don’t honestly think that anyone could confuse people at an Afridi or Mohmand jirga in the tribal territory near Peshawar with a crowd of Hindkowans?

            The highlands around Peshawar are a different story all together. There you are talking about a tribal endogamous people. The lowlands down til the Attock crossing is a different story. Hindkowans fit easily into the lowland types north of the Salt Range, which includes the Pashtuns. In anecdotal terms, maybe the probability of a Pashtun looking non AASI is higher, but there is no clear definition. But of course you are free to create your own demarcations on which features constitute a “pure” Pashtun.

            If Hindowans are an ancient relic population who by your own admission have been widely intermarrying with Pashtuns, how would they still be “clearly distinguishable” from Pashtuns?

            Maybe all the darkies who identify as Pashtuns have something hide then.

          3. BaasiDabalRoti,

            “The highlands around Peshawar are a different story all together. There you are talking about a tribal endogamous people.”

            Ah… so we’re not even talking about the same subject.

            Unless you’re just changing the goalposts here.

            “… looking non AASI is higher… ”

            No such thing as looking non-AASI vs AASI; that’s what you’d call a conceptual confusion.

            “If Hindowans are an ancient relic population who by your own admission have been widely intermarrying with Pashtuns, how would they still be “clearly distinguishable” from Pashtuns?”

            Widely intermarrying is a post-60’s process.

            ^ Before that, in the Peshawar valley there were clear demarcations between true Pashtuns (man who participated in the daftari system, with some inam), qasibgar (Pashto speakers of Indian ancestry; Mullahs, shopkeepers, weavers, field laborers, etc), and Hindkowan who hadn’t assimilated to Pashtun identity.

            ^ Today, no one even knows what “daftar-inam” is… and Qasibgar proudly identify as Pashtuns (even though they wouldn’t have done so just 100 years ago). And nowadays, even “unassimilated” Hindkowan can speak Pashto.

            ^^ And I think that that’s all for the best; the caste system is alien to Pashtun culture… so it was always odd for Pashtuns to live like Spartans among Helots.

          4. “Spartans among helots”

            There you go again with your derogatory language. It isn’t even accurate. Helots are part of Spartan caste system.

            If Pashtuns arent integrated, they aren’t some warrior caste like rajputs, even if you want to make a caste argument.

            Your insult wreaks of supremacism and isn’t even internally consistent

            You really enjoy elevating this trope of Pashtuns as some sort of magical soldiers of highland heaven.

            They are simply people who practice tribalism. Go to Papua New Guinea, the Amazon, the Australian outback. The social structure, in terms of tribalism, isn’t far off.

    3. Sein,

      Hey Bro how are you doing ? Are you still commenting over at Eurogenes ? Saw your comments about AASI on the open thread and found it quite interesting.

      Southern Afghanistan (Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzghan, Zabul, and Nimroz; also northern Balochistan in Pakistan) has always been an extension of eastern Iran, both culturally and geographically.

      I think we differ here from a matter of perspective. You are looking at it from a regional perspective while I am looking at it from a subcontinental perspective. People across the subcontinent have a wide variation of genetic profiles. Within that if one looks at the ANI-ASI cline, the Pashtuns are at the high ANI low ASI end, similar to the Jats, who are definitely Indians. Obviously there is some Near Eastern ancestry in Pashtuns which is lacking in Jats but that likely dates from a later period.

      Moreover, their paternal ancestry is majorly composed of R1a Z93, L1a, L1c and R2, all of which are found further to their east. And as you say, there is a big difference in the steppe ancestry proportion between the Farsivans (10-15 %) vs the Pashtuns (25-30 %). This is highly significant distinction between neighbouring populations and I wonder why you downplay it. Especially since this high steppe component in Pashtuns coupled with low AASI is quite similar to the composition of the Jats, Rors, Kalasha etc. and emphasise their eastern genetic links.

      In the narrow regional perspective the western and northern groups maybe closer to the Eastern Iranians and Central Asians respectively. But then these regions were also connected to the Indian subcontinent since a very long time in the past. After all, the Indus Periphery samples were mostly from Shahr I Sokhta, Eastern Iran. The cattle in Eastern Iran is of the Zebu type which is also of Indus origin and connections between Eastern Iranian civilisations of Helmand and Halil Rud (Jiroft or Marhasi) on one hand and the Indus civilisation on the other are all too evident in archaeology. In fact, the Akkadians note of a war with the Marhasians for control of Elam (western Iran) where the Meluhhan (Indus) troops also participated on the side of Marhasi. That’s more than 4000 years ago.

      Sometime back I saw a video on YouTube by Bahador Alast (Iranian), on the similarities between Sanskrit and Persian and was pleasantly surprised to read comments by some people of East Iranian origin who said that the pronunciation in their language was similar to Sanskrit than to Persian. Many of the East Iranian languages (Pashto, Wakhi etc.) have aspiration and retroflexion in their languages, which is similar to Indo-Aryan languages, but is absent in West Iranian.

      Moving from prehistory to history, the connections of East Iran with the Indian subcontinent seem to have dwindled away, likely due to pregressive drying up of Baluchistan, while that between Afghanistan and Eastern Iran, obviously continued. At the same, much of Afghanistan continued having Indian influences for which it then also became a conduit for further spread northwards.

      The population of South Asia is nearly 20 times the population of the Iranian plateau. So obviously the genetic variation between groups in the Indian subcontinent is going to be huge. I agree that the Afghan region is a crossroad, a transition zone and a dividing line in the great Indo-Iranian landscape. But genetically the Afghans are what you would expect from a South Asian population at the very Northwestern edge of the subcontinent. They fit on the Indian cline and don’t stand out abruptly which should be the case if they were some radically different population.

      On a related note, it is quite possible that the Jats, Pashtuns and Kalasha is some ways preserve the ancient genetic composition of the Indo-Iranians from the Bronze Age. The homeland of the Indo-Iranians was the NW of the Indian subcontinent (as the Rigveda & the Avesta amply attest) and in the Bronze Age, NW India-Eastern Iran-southern Central Asia (BMAC) were quite culturally connected which is likely the earliest archeological evidence of a Indo-Iranian cultural zone.

      I am going to post today on how agriculture was an essential component of IE and Indo-Iranian cultures and how Indo-Iranians have greatly preserved the ancient PIE agricultural vocabulary sorely lacking in the European IE, and how the steppe, including the Yamnaya and Sintashta, shows no evidence of agriculture. Do read it and share your views.

      1. Jaydeepsinh,

        I’m doing good bro! Thank you for asking (hope you’re doing well too!).

        And I do quite miss that blog! I remember that all we did was talk about d-stats/f4, ADMIXTURE/STRUCTURE, PCA/MDS, qpgraph, qpadm, etc. And the debates were spirited/heated… but in a productive way.

        ^ Those were the days; it was fun. And Dave is a great guy (very generous with his time, and his attention).

        But I don’t leave comments there much anymore. The general quality of the discussions has taken a nosedive; a lot of idiots.

        Regardless, I’d love to read whatever you have cooking.

        PS: I’m glad that you found the topology to be of some interest.

        All I’ll add is that the graph which I presented is fairly typical; these are the sorts of solutions preferred by automated qpgraph exploration.

    4. Pashtuns from Afghanistan and Pakistan can have a fair amount of variation. They are not entirely homogeneous. For example, in some cases, there are Pashtuns who are closer to Eastern Persians (Khorasan/Mashhad) than they are to even other Pashtuns.

      Is this purely a result of geography or a combination of that and their ethnogenesis? It’s likely a complicated mix of the two. Could it be the result of Pashtunization of other populations, which has recent examples such as modern Nuristanis?

      Going off that, many Pashtuns seem to be closer to Gujarat and UP Brahmins (ignoring NW Brahmins) than to Chechens (the exception being those of Southern/Central Pashtun origins). Furthermore, it seems many Pashtuns are much closer to Punjabi Biradaris (Khatri, Jatt, Arain, PK Gujjar, mixed Punjabi Sikh group, etc) than to Western Iranians. This is without even taking into consideration Ror or Haryana/West UP Jaat pops.

      As for North Caucasians, they seem to be fairly distant to Pashtuns on average. Almost as much as the Gujarati general population (using a “Patel” like pop as a reference) is from some Pashtuns. Although certain Pashtuns (ie Southern/Central Pashtun belt origin) are equidistant or a bit closer to Chechens vs UP Brahmins.
      In the case of Northeastern Pakhtuns (majority of all Pak Pashtuns), things change a bit. Populations such as Yusufzai (largest tribe in Pakistan), Uthmankhel & Tarkalani from Northern KPK or Laghman (and likely neighboring Kapisa, Kunar and Nangarhar) seem to be generally much closer to Punjabi biradaris than to western Iranians and are still closer to various north and west Indian upper castes than to Chechens. The more western shifted North Pashtun (Kunduz/Baghlan migrants), Kandahar and Kabul (cosmopolitan city) groups look different but even with them, Punjabi biradaris seem to be closer or at least equidistant as west Iranians and Chechens.
      Lastly, for the Kandahar 2 reference I shared above, you should create a run with them too to show some Southern Pashtuns can be more IVCp shifted too
      Kandahar_Pashtun2,0.08840267,0.02166433,-0.06901333,0.042636,-0.05601032999999999,0.03151467,0.00219333,-0.00238467,-0.02358833,-0.01372833,-0.00481733,0.00069933,-0.0015363299999999998,-0.012156670000000001,0.012441,0.02081633,0.00343367,-0.001816,-0.00020967,-0.012714330000000001,-0.0031196699999999997,-0.004122,0.00579267,-0.006346000000000001,0.00247467. Punjabi Lohore includes Punjabi C and D groups, and the large distance from them vs Punjabi Biradaris shows the relative affinities.

      Distance to: Pakhtun_Laghman
      0.03455728 Kamboj
      0.04382766 Khatri
      0.04749398 Punjabi_Jatt
      0.05195139 Punjabi_Sikh_India
      0.05243728 Gujar_Pakistan
      0.05979393 Tajik_Ishkashim
      0.07326167 Gujar_India
      0.08306935 Iranian_Persian_East
      0.08468602 Brahmin_Gujarat
      0.09778106 Tajik_Yagnobi
      0.10943422 Punjabi_Lahore
      0.11879275 Brahmin_Uttar_Pradesh
      0.12074232 Iranian_Persian_Shiraz
      0.12212608 Iranian_Fars
      0.12759938 Iranian_Zoroastrian
      0.13185566 Iranian_Azeri
      0.13771281 Iranian_Lor
      0.14352576 Chechen
      0.14444877 Gujarati
      0.14575996 Kurdish
      0.16448923 Iranian_Arab_Khuzestan

      Distance to: Pashtun_North_Afghanistan
      0.03119565 Tajik_Ishkashim
      0.05321879 Kamboj
      0.05682775 Iranian_Persian_East
      0.06511252 Tajik_Yagnobi
      0.06790426 Punjabi_Jatt
      0.06830299 Khatri
      0.07389103 Punjabi_Sikh_India
      0.07991180 Gujar_Pakistan
      0.09767101 Iranian_Persian_Shiraz
      0.09890446 Iranian_Fars
      0.09923839 Gujar_India
      0.10528338 Iranian_Azeri
      0.10584680 Iranian_Zoroastrian
      0.10939382 Brahmin_Gujarat
      0.11582517 Iranian_Lor
      0.11708210 Chechen
      0.12407506 Kurdish
      0.13299103 Punjabi_Lahore
      0.14129772 Brahmin_Uttar_Pradesh
      0.14275028 Iranian_Arab_Khuzestan
      0.16997040 Gujarati

      Distance to: Pashtun_Kandahar
      0.04206959 Tajik_Ishkashim
      0.05061350 Iranian_Persian_East
      0.05691338 Kamboj
      0.06289949 Tajik_Yagnobi
      0.07134873 Punjabi_Jatt
      0.07226732 Khatri
      0.07849214 Punjabi_Sikh_India
      0.08232222 Gujar_Pakistan
      0.08968453 Iranian_Persian_Shiraz
      0.09041093 Iranian_Fars
      0.09596908 Iranian_Zoroastrian
      0.10024401 Iranian_Azeri
      0.10294834 Gujar_India
      0.10693923 Iranian_Lor
      0.11310255 Chechen
      0.11463016 Brahmin_Gujarat
      0.11523429 Kurdish
      0.13540449 Iranian_Arab_Khuzestan
      0.13936276 Punjabi_Lahore
      0.14588437 Brahmin_Uttar_Pradesh
      0.17560486 Gujarati

      Distance to: Pashtun_Kabul
      0.03419835 Tajik_Ishkashim
      0.04926301 Kamboj
      0.06291050 Khatri
      0.06327161 Punjabi_Jatt
      0.06580688 Iranian_Persian_East
      0.06893878 Punjabi_Sikh_India
      0.07307232 Tajik_Yagnobi
      0.07453492 Gujar_Pakistan
      0.09402839 Gujar_India
      0.10353844 Brahmin_Gujarat
      0.10608175 Iranian_Persian_Shiraz
      0.10717992 Iranian_Fars
      0.11355853 Iranian_Azeri
      0.11374099 Iranian_Zoroastrian
      0.12438272 Iranian_Lor
      0.12512267 Chechen
      0.12719356 Punjabi_Lahore
      0.13163581 Kurdish
      0.13584706 Brahmin_Uttar_Pradesh
      0.15110341 Iranian_Arab_Khuzestan
      0.16405041 Gujarati

      Distance to: Uthmankhel
      0.02546315 Kamboj
      0.04051143 Punjabi_Jatt
      0.04077288 Khatri
      0.04658561 Punjabi_Sikh_India
      0.04677058 Tajik_Ishkashim
      0.05255737 Gujar_Pakistan
      0.07222158 Gujar_India
      0.07716771 Iranian_Persian_East
      0.08303825 Brahmin_Gujarat
      0.08938247 Tajik_Yagnobi
      0.10824253 Punjabi_Lahore
      0.11552702 Brahmin_Uttar_Pradesh
      0.11662585 Iranian_Persian_Shiraz
      0.11825228 Iranian_Fars
      0.12426341 Iranian_Zoroastrian
      0.12707801 Iranian_Azeri
      0.13444091 Iranian_Lor
      0.13921151 Chechen
      0.14334012 Kurdish
      0.14468001 Gujarati
      0.15877918 Iranian_Arab_Khuzestan

      Distance to: Tarkalani
      0.02734899 Kamboj
      0.04154608 Khatri
      0.04244486 Punjabi_Jatt
      0.04796544 Tajik_Ishkashim
      0.04831299 Punjabi_Sikh_India
      0.05280059 Gujar_Pakistan
      0.07304155 Gujar_India
      0.07634165 Iranian_Persian_East
      0.08414895 Brahmin_Gujarat
      0.08971387 Tajik_Yagnobi
      0.10938137 Punjabi_Lahore
      0.11572860 Iranian_Persian_Shiraz
      0.11754844 Iranian_Fars
      0.11758747 Brahmin_Uttar_Pradesh
      0.12336275 Iranian_Zoroastrian
      0.12674410 Iranian_Azeri
      0.13364234 Iranian_Lor
      0.13902261 Chechen
      0.14218565 Kurdish
      0.14565486 Gujarati
      0.15829346 Iranian_Arab_Khuzestan

      Distance to: Yusufzai
      0.01728526 Kamboj
      0.03220542 Khatri
      0.03367753 Punjabi_Jatt
      0.03869004 Punjabi_Sikh_India
      0.04407243 Gujar_Pakistan
      0.05436549 Tajik_Ishkashim
      0.06369811 Gujar_India
      0.07462181 Brahmin_Gujarat
      0.08413666 Iranian_Persian_East
      0.09809427 Tajik_Yagnobi
      0.09987702 Punjabi_Lahore
      0.10780371 Brahmin_Uttar_Pradesh
      0.12299563 Iranian_Persian_Shiraz
      0.12493869 Iranian_Fars
      0.13106779 Iranian_Zoroastrian
      0.13386808 Iranian_Azeri
      0.13619255 Gujarati
      0.14084177 Iranian_Lor
      0.14655646 Chechen
      0.14977318 Kurdish
      0.16419248 Iranian_Arab_Khuzestan

  4. As it is, the “hinduism” of Assam has such a different look and feel to that of Gujarat. I wonder what the scale of difference between the practices of Punjab and Kandahar were in the 8th century. Where does buddhism exist without local gods, and in the case of Afghainistan, what were these local gods? Or were they truly practicing this austere buddhism without the cultural substrate bubbling up whatsoever? Central asians always occur to me as “nirguna” types, sky worshipers at best

    1. “ As it is, the “hinduism” of Assam has such a different look and feel to that of Gujarat. “

      Is it so? I have visited Assam and tbf it seems far more North Indian influenced then it should be ( much to chagrin to local axomiya Hindus ), at least far more than southern India. Granted not a total copy but give it a decade or so…

      1. Indeed, but when citing cultural standards, controling for recent influence. If not we would end up with unhelpful findings like people from region A have more in common with the USA because more people speak english and wear nikes than have any awareness of the customs and languge of region B.

  5. Afghanistan was never Hindu because “Hinduism” itself nothing more than a vague geographical marker, the word “Hindu” is never once mentioned in Indic Texts. People still don’t make a distinction between India’s indigenous local deities&customs and Vedic Rituals&Customs.

    What it means to be a “Hindu” is whatever you want it to be.

  6. Greco Buddhist art, a major influence on Sinhalese Art and Architecture making it distinctive from next door South Indian art.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Buddhist_art

    https://www.ft.lk/ft-lite/Did-the-Greeks-create-our-Buddha-statues-/6-671166

    Kushan King Kanishka (127–150 CE), is honoured as the first king to create a Buddha image on one of his coins and then on a relic casket. Starting from then, the concept of a Buddha statue spread across the Buddhist world. The Buddhist art of the Kushans is known as the Gandhara School or the Greco-Buddhist arts.

    It may be during the same time or slightly later, the Mathura Art School also produced the Buddha statue. Based on archaeological evidence, archaeologists say that during the time of Asoka the Buddha statue was not in use. There could be many reasons for this. Some scholars say that since the Buddha is described as appatima (cannot be represented in an image), early devotees may have had a fear or reluctance to create the Supreme One in human form.

    https://ceylontoday.lk/news/pinnacle-of-buddhist-iconography

  7. Some parts of this article are misleading. With regards to “Zun” the deity of Zabulistan, most scholars actually consider it to be Iranian Zurwan and zurvanite in nature, not Indian. Almost all of the modern scholarship on this issue points to it being Iranian not Indian. Bactrian documents show that this deity was also worshiped in Northern Afghanistan(Bactria) and even by the rulers of Kabul. Additionally southern Afghanistan(arachosia) is actually considered by some scholars such as Gherardo Gnoli as being the second homeland of Zoroastrianism, and was the dominant religion there for a very long time. Even the buddism which was practiced in Afghanistan had an “Iranian” flavor(according Richard N. Frye). Hinduism was never a major religion in Afghanistan.

    1. I play a game called Crusader Kings 2, in which Zunbils can intermarry Hindus and Buddhists but can’t marry Iranians (since they are muslim)

      1. Ok, and why does that matter? Are you saying video games are somehow more authoritative than academics and scholars? I suppose call of duty is a more accurate way of learning WW2 history than scholarly works? Also the Zunbils worshipping the Sun has long been debunked.

        Very well respected scholars who specialize in this area of the world such as Ginaroberto Scarcia, helmut humbach, heinrich schaeder, Nicholas sims Williams, Richard N Frye and many others all consider Zun as equal to Iranian Zurwan.

  8. Tbh,whether Afghanistan was Hindu or not is not really that important to me.
    It is far more interesting to know what is the Indo-Aryan heritage of Afghanistan.

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