A peep into Afghanistan's Hindu Past

A peep into Afghanistan’s Hindu Past

It is commonly known that while the British, the Russians- both the Tsar and present communist regimes-, and the US met their Waterloo in Afghanistan, it was destined that the then King of Punjab in India could win and establish his rule there. 

GaneshaMay be it was a throwback to history, since Afghanistan has traditionally been a Hindu Kingdom. The year 980 C.E. marks the beginning of the Muslim invasion into India proper when Sabuktagin attacked Raja Jaya Pal in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is today a Muslim country separated from India by another Muslim country Pakistan. But in 980 C.E. Afghanistan was also a place where the people were Hindus and Buddhists. 

The name “Afghanistan” comes from “Upa-Gana-stan” which means in Sanskrit “the place inhabited by allied tribes”. This was the place from where Gandhari of the Mahabharat came from, Gandhar whose king was Shakuni. Today the city of Gandhar is known as Kandahar. The Pakthoons are descendants of the Paktha tribe mentioned in Vedic literature.

Till the year 980 C.E., this area was a Hindu majority area, till Sabuktagin from Ghazni invaded it and displaced the ruling Hindu king – Jaya Pal Shahi. Shiva worship was widespread in Afghanistan. There was a time when the entire region was replete with hundreds of Shiva temples celebrating Shiva – Parvati worship and abuzz with Shiv chants, prayers, legends and worship.

Archaeological excavations in this region conducted by Sir Estine (an East India Company official) led to the recovery of uncountable shrines and inscriptions. He has authored four books on that topic featuring photos of icons, icons and inscriptions discovered. The photos show a sun temple and a Ganesha statue too. An Islamabad University professor Abdul Rehman has authored two books on those finds recalling the glory and prosperity of those times.

Regimes of two Hindu rulers “Kusham” and “Kidara” lasted for fairly long periods. During their rule a number of Shiva temples were not only in Afghanistan but in other West Asian regions too. Uzbekistan and Takzikistan formed part of the Afghan kingdom in those times. Tashkent has one of those ancient Shiva temples standing even today.

Professor Abdul Rehman states that Bukhara region was known as “Shah Vihar” in ancient times. It was ruled by a Hindu king. When Arabs invaded that kingdom its queen traveled to Kashmir to seek military help. Arab chronicles mention her as ‘Khatoon’, meaning ’Woman’.

Shiva“Kalhan“, the ancient Hindu historian of Kashmir has mentioned that the army of the then Hindu ruler of Kashmir had a battle with a vast army of the Arab Khalifa Mamoon whose headquarters was Baghdad. At that time Bukhara had been under Muslim rule. He had invited a number of leading Hindu experts to Baghdad. An Ayurvedic practitioner of Varansi (alias Benares) had treated the Khalifa for some ailment afflicting the latter. In those days it was Hindu Ayurvedic practitioners who were eagerly sought by Arab patients. A number of Arabs had translated Sanskrit Ayurvedic texts into Arabic. A list of those translated Sanskrit texts appears in a Volume known as al “Frisht“.

Baku (capital of the Azerbaijan region) known for its underground petroleum yields has still an ancient Hindu temple of the Divine Flame generated by the subterranean petrol and gas). During the Czar regimes in Russia, a Punjabi priest officiated at that temple. The walls display some religious stanzas written in Punjabi Gurumakhi script. The market there also had Hindu merchants. Nearby was a locality too of Hindu inhabitants. Baku in Azerbaijani language actually signifies a Goddess. Therefore obviously Baku derives its name from a very ancient Vedic Goddess temple there.

Kenduj a province of Afghanistan was ruled by a king that had a Hindu prime minister. This is mentioned in history books. Albirruni’s travel account contains details of ancient Hindu Afghanistan, He mentions a Hindu king, Khingla whose coins bore the imprint of Shiva. The first ruler of that dynasty was Viahitagni.

History mentions a Shiva temple in Gardej township, which was plundered by Arab invaders. Khingla dynasty ruled the region from 666 to 843 A.D. From 843 to 850 A.D. a Brahmin Minister ruled the region. The Kalkaa community of Brahmins had acquired prominence in those times. They were later known as Kallers. A township of that name exists in Punjab. Prominent among them who find a mention in later history are Samantdev, Bheemdev, Jaipaldev, Anandpal and Trilochan.

Jaipaldev suffered a defeat in 1002 when Mohammed Gaznavi invaded India. Unable to bear that defeat Jaipaldev committed suicide. When Hsüan-tsang visited the region early in the 7th century CE, the Kabul valley region was ruled by a Hindu Kshatriya king, who is identified as the Shahi Khingal, and whose name has been found in an inscription found in Gardez.

The Hindu Shahi kings of Kabul and Gandhara may have had links to some ruling families in neighboring Kashmir and other areas to the east. The place where Kabul’s main mosque stands today was the site of an ancient Hindu temple and the story of its capture is kept alive in Islamic Afghan legend which describes the Islamic hero Sabuktagin who fought with a sword in every hand to defeat the Hindus and destroy their temple to put up a Mosque in its place.

The victory of Sabuktagin pushed the frontiers of the Hindu kingdom of the Shahis from Kabul to behind the Hindu Kush mountains Hindu Kush is literally “killer of Hindus” – a name given by Mahmud Ghazni to describe the number of Hindus who died on their way into Afghanistan to a life of captivity.

Hindu temples in AfghanistanAfter this setback, the Shahis shifted their capital from Kubha (Kabul) to Udbhandapura (modern Und in NWFP).

Sabuktagin’s son Mahmud Ghazni, kept up the attacks on the Shahis and captured Und. Subsequently, the Shahis moved their capital to Lahore and later to Kangra in Himachal. The recovery and significance of the inscription, telling a story of the Hindu ruler Veka and his devotion to lord ‘Shiva’, was told by leading epigraphist and archaeologist Prof Ahmad Hasan Dani of the Quaid-E-Azam University of Islamabad at the Indian History Congress. As per Prof Ahmad Hasan, “The date of 138 of present inscription, should be equal to 959 AD which falls during the reign of Bhimapala”, Dani said in a paper “Mazar-i Sharif inscription of the time of the Shahi ruler Veka, dated the year 138”.

The inscription, with eleven lines written in “western Sarada” style of Sanskrit of 10th century AD, had several spelling mistakes. “As the stone is slightly broken at the top left corner, the first letter `OM’ is missing”, he said 

According to the inscription, “the ruler Veka occupied by eight-fold forces, the earth, the markets and the forts. It is during his reign that a temple of Shiva in the embrace with Uma was built at Maityasya by Parimaha (great) Maitya for the benefit of himself and his son”. Dani said “the inscription gives the name of the king as Shahi Veka Raja and bestows on him the qualification of `Iryatumatu Ksanginanka’…. and (he) appears to be the same king who bears the name of Khingila or Khinkhila who should be accepted as a Shahi ruler”.

Dani further said “he may be an ancestor of Veka deva. As his coins are found in Afghanistan and he is mentioned by the Arab ruler Yaqubi, he may be an immediate predecessor of Veka deva… Both the evidences of inscription and coins suggest that Veka or Vaka should be accepted as an independent ruler of northern Afghanistan.”

“Thus we find another branch of the Shahi ruler in northern part of Afghanistan beyond the Hindukush. Veka is said to have conquered the earth, the markets and the forts by his eight-fold forces, suggesting that he must have himself gained success against the Arab rulers of southern Afghanistan”. Dani observed that going by the findings it seemed that during the rule of the Hindu Shahi ruler Bhimapala there was a break in the dynasty – one branch, headed by Jayapala, ruled in Lamaghan and Punjab, and another branch, headed by Veka, ruled in northern part of Afghanistan. The northern branch must have come to an end by the conquest of Alptigin in the second half of tenth century AD”, he said.

India has now developed a highly constructive, imaginative reconstruction strategy for Afghanistan that is designed to please every sector of Afghan society, give India a high profile with the Afghan people, gain the maximum political advantage with the Afghan government, to become an indispensable ally and friend of the Afghan people in the new century.

~ Dr. Bikram Lamba, a political and business strategist, can be contacted at



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  • I like the post. It has to be sopported by more evidence

  • Super…the origin of other religion was from Hinduism…evidences say…

  • It is a timely information which requires wide circulation among the people of all countries,especially to so called ‘pseudo intellectuals or rationalists ‘

  • Strange the article does not mention one of the main historical/Vedic connections with Afghanistan – Kashyapa Muni from where we get Kashmir from. I think Sewestan was originally part of Afghanistan and thats simply Sivastan. There is also the region of Palekshwara, Durgee, Siradurga, Pisheen (Bisheen – Siva), all regions dedicated to Siva and as we know Gandhari was a great Siva Bhakti and she came from the province of Gandahar, present day Kandahar.

    • Excellent observation…this information has to be spread as much as possible.Afghanistan was a Hindu state.

  • There are references to Gandhar in Valmiki Ramayana. Kaikeyi’s father is said to have been the King of this place.

  • God is loving, caring, to its follower/children. Why did our God(s) not help its followers (hindus)??
    Do to respond in haste. I think no man can give its reply
    Either style of our worship was wrong or God did not want to help us.

    • god did help hindus, today if you see many ppl who adopted other religion like afgansitan are suffering more than all. All country which choose budhism slowly converted to islam.

      • China/Japan/Korea/Vietnam….. . Do these names sound familiar? Sri Lanka? These are nations with Budhist majority.

      • You mean forced conversion? Buddhists and Hindus dont have a habit of converting willfully to Islam.

    • God always helping the followers but need to follow it in proper way. Hindus scripts Gita says Krishna is God but in real time there are many God even Monkey and elephant consider as a God by some people also Sai baba, Loknath Baba some people consider as a God but they are human. Here is the Gap for all the Hindu followers. After i go to ISKCON temple i figure out the difference between GOD and Debotta otherwise i never known. Try to read Gita as a Hindu scripts and follow what it says. hopefully God will help.

    • Mr Anand…I think u know KARMA theory…


  • It flourishes the hindu culture customs good endevour is made through this

  • Good information. Afghanis must be proud of their 5000 old history rather than 1000 old Arab history. Pathans as mentioned Paktha in vedic literature had played an important role in King Dashrath’s victory in Dashragya war.

  • Very informative article along with pictorial evidence. Is there a book on this that people could buy and read? Let us hope that we will be able to bring back all these distant relatives of ours together.

  • Speechless, Sad that the truth is no acknowledged about Hindu History. But time is witness.

  • Incredible Bharat, Incredible Hindu Sanatan Dharm. Must be made awareness in the public at a greater masses trend.

  • Dod is in Us- The power- The Strength- like,only potential energy is to be converted in to Kinetic Energy That’s all !!! Every body of Us- only awakening-Open up- with’ YES I CAN- My Bhaarath’- is need of the time? Our mind set is a Barrier, Try once, to cross it, Numerous ways will open up to proceed further !!!!!
    Guru Shows the Path ! -Guri-Aim- You own -Will be guided by God in You ????
    come on Let us together Can do any thing
    Nothing is impossible to a willing Mind

  • It’s historic evolution what we have been reading in this article, in fact, these are factual presentations to understand the geographical locations of then and the now boundaries of India.Whatever the religion may be we are humans born to live as humans civilized from barbarians to the present technocrats.Killings were the strategy for expansion of the dynasties and now what could be the strategy for killing innocent people around.We find no reason or cause.We are living in the highly sophisticated society but still hanging around the nomadic thinking and attitudes.This is the real trouble in the present day issues and complications around us.We need to address these trivials and understand the present to find a better solutions in changing the mindset towards god, religion and also the spirituality according to the present scenario.

  • “Om namo bagavate vasu devaya”
    Yeh jobi kare sirf shaithan hai hinke rag ra me rakshas abi tak hai

  • we all need make unity.
    phirse wohi din aayenge
    bus thoda aur samay lagega.

  • WHY only Afghanistan ??? The whole world was following HINDU way of life for their own spiritual emancipation, Before Christ and Prophet Mohammed came and modified the general public’s beliefs about spiritual emancipation, according to their own perceptions !!! The relics of Temples, Monasteries, and other Ancient Buildings which have survived the onslaught of Nature, and persecution by the Crusaders and Jehadis, stand as proof of the above. ( THIS IS WITHOUT PREJUDICE TO ANY FAITH ).

  • Places as far as Troy (in modern day Turkey), Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and Paras / Persia ( modern Iran) had trade links with ancient India and Hinduism influenced these cultures too. Hindus were influenced by the cultures of these places in return.
    This article is based more on emotions than facts.
    Gurumukhi as a script has been in use for not more than 500 years old.
    Goddess worship is as ancient as religion itself. Every Goddess mentioned in other cultures need not mean Hindu Goddess.
    Also all people who were or are Hindus need not be good people. Whether Hindus or Muslims the Pathans are a backward people. Some people in India think them to be superior to Indians and hence feel its a great thing to say the Pathans were Hindus and so on.
    But if people cannot live at peace with their own neighbors then they are the most wretched people of Earth. They are cursed by God to for ever live in bondage of others.
    Shame what they did to the Bamiyan Buddhas. Shame.

  • Very interesting, but also feel sad how hinduism has been squeezed and reduced continuously over the centuries, and continues to come under pressure. What is worse is people refuse to acknowledge the existential threat…which if not countered, may result in comeplete overrun, by a religion that is known for violence and terror wherever it exists.

  • Very nice article highlighting the existance of Hinduism in so many far away countries and so many centuries back. And it is very sad to see their state in present days. Complete demolition due to negligence and religious fanaticism makes one to cry.

  • Feel like crying reading this article. Being the first and oldest race/religion of the universe, hindu history is at the entire world, almost everywhere. But it depends on the current ruler’s attitude whether they wanna preserve the history or destroy the temples like the islam countries are doing. Almost all Shiva temple they destroy and replace with their mosque. What are they trying to hide? Somebody shld do research Arab too, who is the real mohamad, why are they against the vedic, why did they kill 600million hindus in total throughout their journey in ruling hindu states, why they destroy every Shiva temple wherever they go?
    King Vikram Aditya was the ruler of Arab in ancient times before Islam were born. You can get some info from a library in Turkey called Makteb-e-Sultania. They are still keeping some ‘truth’ there. In the Arabic Section of that library is an anthology of ancient Arabic poetry. That anthology was compiled from an earlier work in A.D. 1742 under the orders of the Turkish ruler Sultan Salim. Abu Amir Abdul Asamai, a distinguished Arabian bard who was the Poet Laureate of Harun-al-Rashid’s court has compiled and edited the anthology.

    You also can collabrate with this person’s article. All of you are doing a great job.

  • why are such important Topics are kept away from Schools.

  • Now its time for tha Pak and afghan Muslims to come back to there original religion.. JAI SRI RAM

  • Nice pix. But, there was no such thing as “Hindu” or “Hinduism” at that time.

  • Yes the word Hindu was not there,but in all practical sense the practice of the day was Hinduism. It was Sanathan Dharm or any Bharatiya Panth.
    But it is cancer ridden now and surgery is imminent.

  • Yes it is true the creator of the world is god Shiva, it said in Gita. Now what ever is written in Gita is right.

    • Quantum physics and string theory does say that whatever is written in the Vedanta and Upanishads is right

  • What does that prove? Hinduism did spread from Afghanistan to phillipins but now it has contracted only in India/ in a 100/200 it will disappear as Hindus are embracing other faiths

  • I hope my progeny do not have to read about India like this a hundred years from now..