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Western Asia

"From at least around 2000 BC, this very region (Nevali Cori civilization) of Anatolia had a great amount of Vedic or Indo-Arian influence, whether it be Kikkuli's text of horseback riding with Sanskrit terms, or the Boghuz Koi inscriptions with the names of Vedic deities, or in the language and lore of many of the Indo-Aryan tribes who inhabited this and nearby areas. There are also a number of similarities between the Vedic and Sumerian traditions of about 3000 BC ..."

"Egyptian and Sumerian priests also had tonsured heads, but without the typical Vedic sikha depicted in the Nevali Cori sculpture. So, the oldest known sculpture in the world may be that of a Vedic priest."

B.G. Sidharth: The Celestial Key to the Vedas

Head with a sikha, Nevali Cori, Turkey

Yadus of Central Asia and Siberia

The following is excerpted from research on the writings of Colonel Tod. Col. Tod was a British military man who did extensive research into India's history. He spent much time in India during the 1800s and claimed to have found many ancient recorded evidences and writings in Rajasthan, India. These findings convinced him that India's people and civilization were the genesis of much of the world's civilization. In his book, "Rajasthan", he traced a multitude of links to India. Below are some of his findings on India's connection to Turkestan and Northern Asia.

The Turanians extending over the whole of Turkestan and Central Asia were originally an Indian people. Colonel Tod says, "Abdul Gazi says that Tamak, the son of Ture, is the Turishka of the Puranas. His descendants gave their name to Tocharistan or Turkestan." Professor Max Muller says, "Turvas and his descendants who represent Turanians are described in the later poems of India as cursed and deprived of their inheritance," and hence their migration.

Colonel Tod says, "The Jaisalmer annals assert that the Yadu (Lord Krishna's dynasty) and the Bahlika branches of the Indu race ruled Korassan after the Great War of Kurukshetra and are the Indo-Scythic races mentioned in the ancient Greek writings." Besides the Bahlika and the numerous branches of the Indo-Medes, many of the sons of Kuru dispersed over these regions, amongst which we may place the Uttara Kurus, or Northern Kurus of the Puranas. They were known as the Ottorocurae to the ancient Greeks. Both the Indus and the Surya peoples were sending their excess population to these distant regions."

A Mohammedan historian says that emigrants from India first inhabited the country of Khata. It is also known that Hindu settlers left India for Siberia, where they founded a kingdom, with Bajrapur as its capital. It is related that upon the death the king of that country in battle, three of Lord Krishna's sons, Pradyumna, Gada, and Samba, made a journey to Bajrapur. They were also accompanied by a large number of brahmanas (priests) and ksatriyas (warriors). The eldest brother, Pradyumna, ascended the throne. When Lord Krishna left this world, it is said that the inhabitants of Bajrapur came to Dvaraka, Krishna's city, to console His family members. (This is recorded in the Hari Vamsha, Vishnu Parva, Adhyaya 97.)

Colonel Tod continues, "The annals of the Yadus of Jaisalmer state that long before King Vikrama they held dominion from Ghazni to Samarkhand. They established themselves in those regions after the Great War of the Mahabharata and were not pushed back to the Indus until the rise of Islam. The Yadus of Jaisalmer ruled Zabulistan and founded Ghazni. They also claim Chagatai (a descendant of Genghis Khan) as being of their own bloodline. This is a claim I now deem worthy of credit."

The Afghans are the descendants of the Aphgana, the serpent tribe of the Apivansa region of ancient India. According to Abu Haukal, the city of Herat is also called Heri. This adjoins Maru or Murve, the country called Seestan, which was also a settlement of the Hindus. Seestan (the region of cold, see-stan) and all sides of the valley were occupied since very ancient times by another branch of the Yadus.

In fact the very name of the continent Asia comes from the Indian clan who were known as the Ashva. Also the name Europa comes from the Sanskrit words Surupa which means "beautiful form."

It has been shown that the Bactrians were an Indian people and that the Indian migrations extended to Siberia and the northernmost parts of Asia. This is evident from the fact that the descendants of these Vedic Aryans are still to be found there. The Samoyedes and Tchoudes of Siberia and Finland were originally known as the Shyamayadus and the Joudes of India. The languages of the two former races have a strong affinity and are classed as Indo-Germanic by Klaproth, the author of the book "Asia Polyglotta." Mr. Remusat traces these tribes to Central Asia, the exact place where the Yadu dynasty long held sway. Shyama is a name of Krishna and Krishna is known as the Lord of the Yadus and this branch of His family was known as the Shyama Yadus.

The race of Joude is described by Baber as occupying the mountainous range at the very spot mentioned in the annals of the Yadus as the point marking the furthest extension of their migrations. The most prominent hill in this range is called Yadu-ki-dang or "hill of Yadu". According to these records, they left India approx. 4000 years ago.

Some evidence confirming the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni to be Vedic

Around four thousand years ago, the Hurrians (Hari) controlled an important empire called Mitanni. It is principally among the Mitanni that Vedic Aryan names and words occur....In a famous treaty between the Hittite ruler Suppiluliuma and the Mitanni king, Mattiwaza (Mattiraja), about 1370 BC, the Aryan gods Mithra, Varuna, Indra and the twin Nasatyas are mentioned. Thus in the Mitanni kingdom Aryan gods were worshiped as well as Mesopotamian deities, which indicates an Aryan Vedic element."

Suttarna, son of Kirta, King of Mittani; two lions are defeated by a central single human-headed lion-demon in bird costume; worn and recut, the seal is used as a dynastic emblem by Saus'tatar in mid second millennium BC.

In this particular treaty, between the Hittite King Suppiluliuma and Mattiwaza (Mattiraja), king of the Hurrian (Hari) kingdom of Mitanni circa 1350 BC, listed among the divine witnesses "Mitra-ash, Uruwana, Indra, and the Nashatiyanu gods, the very Mithra, Varuna, Indra, and the Nasatya gods of the Vedic/Hindu pantheon".

Another treatise from the State Archives of the Hittite Empire was discovered in Boghaz-keui in modern Turkey. It is a treatise on chariot racing and it uses Sanskrit words such as "Aikavartana = One Turn, Teravartana = Three Turns, Panzavartana = Five Turns, Sattavartana = Seven Turns."

Excavations in El-Amarna in Egypt have yielded the fact that about the middle of the 2nd millennium BC, Kings and Princes with typical Vedic names were ruling in the region of modern day Syria. Some of the names are Artamanya, Aryavirya, Yashodatta and Suttarna.

From Mitannian proper names such as Shuwardatta one can also infer the presence of the Vedic Sun God Surya in the Mitanni pantheon. Surya was also worshiped by the Vedic Aryan Kings of Babylon, the Kassites, by the name of Suryash.

Akhnaton was born in the beautiful Charuk palace, in Thebes, in or shortly after 1395 BC (some scholars place his birth a few years later). At the young age of 12, Akhnaton was crowned King of Egypt. Records show that in the beginning, he merely reigned, while his Mitanni Mother, Queen Tiy, governed. The King of the Mitanni, King Dashratha (Dushratta), writing to congratulate him on his accession, addresses himself to Queen Tiy, not to Akhnaton directly. Even in later letters of this period, Dashratha writes to Akhnaton advising him to "refer to his mother" about important matters. At the age of eighteen years, he came into complete power of the Kingdom. It was at this time that he proclaimed his faith in One God-The Sun, which he designated by the name of Aton, ie. The Disk or Fiery Orb. He publicly proclaimed his faith in Aton, as the God of Gods.

Some have claimed that as a Sun worshiper, Akhnaton was more of an animist nature worshiper rather than a devotee of A Supreme Godhead. However Akhnaton's own words confirm that this is not the case. Akhnaton spoke of the Sun disk as being the Eye of Aton and a representative of Aton's Power. In the Bhagavad Gita, the Sun is also described as one of the unlimited eyes of God's Universal form. In the Brahma-Samhita the Sun is also described as the Eye of God. Akhnaton's reverence of the Sun is properly understood in this context.

Vedic Indians of Ancient Greece and Mid-East

By Susama Lodhe

The average person does not connect India with the ancient Middle East, but the existence of some trade between these two regions is documented, even in the Bible. Note the reference to spikenard in the Song of Solomon (1:12; 4:13-14) and in the Gospels (Mark 14:3; John 12:3). This is an aromatic oil-producing plant (Nardostachys jatamansi) that the Arabs call sunbul hindi and obtained in trade with India. It is axiomatic that influence follows trade, and the vibrant culture of India could not help but impact on anyone exposed to it. The influence on Judaism came for the most part indirectly, however, via the Persians and the Chaldeans, who dealt with India on a more direct basis. (Indeed, the Aryans, who invaded and transformed India over 1500 years before Christ, were of the same people who brought ancient Persia to its greatest glory. Persia's name today - Iran - is a corruption of Aryan.) The ancient Judeans absorbed much of this secondhand influence during the Babylonian captivity of the sixth century BC, and during the inter testamental period, when Alexandria became the crossroads of the world, intellectuals both Jew and Gentile were exposed to a variety of ideas, some of which originated on the Indian Subcontinent.

From Pythagoras, who believed in the transmigration of souls, apparently because of his contacts with religious teachers from the east, Pindar, who believed in metempsychosis, Plato, who could not have been ignorant of Karma, through Klaxons, the Indian sage, who accompanied Alexander, Apollonius of Tyana, who came to Taxila to study under the Brahmins, Clement of Alexandria, the early Christian teacher of the second century AD, who refers to Buddhists and Brahmins in his work and Plotinus, who went to Persia to meet the Brahmins, the Contacts between India and Greek thinkers seem to have been continuous.

According to Klaus K. Klostermaier, in his book A Survey of Hinduism pg 18-19: "The kings of Magadha and Malwa exchanged ambassadors with Greece. A Maurya ruler invited one of the Greek Sophists to join his court, and one of the greatest of the Indo-Greek kings became famous as the dialogue partner of the great Buddhist sage Nagasena, while in the opposite direction, Buddhist missionaries are known to have settled in Alexandria, and other cities in the Ancient West. It is evident then, that Indian thought was present in the fashionable intellectual circuit of ancient Athens, and there is every reason to suppose that Indian religious and philosophical ideas exercised some influence on early and classical Greek philosophy. Both Greeks and Romans habitually tried to understand the religions of India by trying to fit them as far as possible into Greco-Roman categories. Deities in particular were spoken of, not in Indian but in Greek terms and called by Greek names. Thus Shiva, was identified as "Dionysos," Krsna (or perhaps Indra) as "Heracles." The great Indian epics were compared to those of Homer. Doctrinally, the Indian concept of transmigration had its counterpart in the metempsychosis taught by Pythagoras and Plato; nor was Indian asceticism altogether foreign to a people who remembered Diogenes and his followers."

At the Source of Indo-Georgian Historical Ties (A Short Review)

By Dr. Nikoloz Kenchoshvili, Tbilisi, Georgia

In accordance with traditional historiography the first historical ties (mostly economical) between ancient Georgia (Kolha-Kolheti) and India are fixed in antique period: for example Plavius Ariene notes that on the left bank of the river Phazisi (the present river Rioni in the west of Georgia) is located the town of Phazisi (the name of the present seaport Poti, at the West Georgian Black Sea shore) where could be heard the speeches in sixty different languages, among them Indian languages too. ne French Georgianologist. Mari Brosse in his work "The Life of Kartli (Georgia)" (Tbilisi, 1849, p. 129) outlines that the direct or indirect commercial, political and cultural type ties between Georgia and India might have been taking place from times immemorial.

Later this idea was accepted and developed in different ways by many other Georgian scholars dedicating several significant works, but the problem fundamentally never had been explored. So in this direction the present article (published in Georgian language, in the journal Tsiskari, in December 1993) may be considered as the first attempt of fundamental research of the Indian phenomenon's reflection in different Georgian sources, describing the historical and cultural intercommunications between ancient Georgia and the Indian subcontinent.

Taking into consideration and comparing the publications of the last decades in linguistics, archaeology, ethnography, anthropology etc. we can logically conclude that hypothetically the historical and cultural elements of communication between ancient Georgia (Caucasus) and Sindhu Valley civilization are observed even from 4-1 millennium BC, that is while intensive migration periods in the Near East (including Caucasus), towards Iran and the Indian sub-continent until the invasion of Greeks (Alexander the Great) on India.

Naturally, the statement of the question in this way again is reminding that none of the civilizations of the world was formed in complete isolation without intercommunication with other civilizations of nearer or remote regions. In this respect neither Georgia nor India are exceptions, namely, the Near East should be considered as a "connecting bridge" between the Caucasian (including ancient Georgian) and the Indian sub-continent settlements in the period of formation of the cultures of the Proto-Georgian and Mesopotamian Sindhu-Valley civilizations (Dravidian), Sumerians, Akhadians, which in historiography commonly is considered as an integral part of the history of the spiritual and cultural life of ancient Georgia. (See works of Kipert, Homel, S. Kramer, F. Bop, Fogt, M. Brosse, A. Snanidze, M. Tsereteli, N. Berdzenishviii, I. Javakhishviii, J. Sharashenidze, Z. Kiknadze, Z. Gamsakhurdia, etc.)

Gamkrelidze and Ivanov (see Indo-European Languages and Indo-Europeans, Tbilisi, 1984, p. 890) suppose that namely South of Georgia up to Mesopotamia are those regions (territories) where the linguistic and cultural intercommunications were accomplished in the 4th millennium BC (that is the most intensive tribe migration period towards India). So Proto-Dravidians, those of Mediterranean origin, moving towards North- East on the way to neighbouring India, could not avoid communications with the relative civilization of ancient Georgia (Caucasus) resulting in mutual linguistic, cultural or any other type of ties, borrowing and dispersing of common words, mythology, symbols, etc.

Namely this was the reason that T. Emanow and Burrow made an attempt to compare Georgian and Sanskrit languages, or some other scholars to compare the ancient Persian alphabet (Zaden) with the Georgian. However, there are certain linguistic resemblances between Indo-Iranian and Georgian.

For example, the Sanskrit wist (= mosti) in Georgian is mustu; the Sanskrit kudi (= brush) in Georgian is kudi (= tale); the Sanskrit mala garland) in Georgian is mala (= spinal, like garland); the Sanskrit noun bandha tie) in Georgian is used as a verb bandva (= to tie); but the Sanskrit verb mil(na) to meet, to connect) in Georgian is used as a noun mili (= connecting pipe). The Sanskrit root mar (= to kill, to hit) in Georgian is carrying the same sense, to kill, grave or the sense of eternity in the words sa-mar-e (= grave), dasa-mar-eba (= to kill), mar-adi (= eternal).

The Indo-Aryan words tanu (= body), ena (= tongue), nav (= boat) in Georgian are the same: navi (= boat), tani (= body), ena (= tongue, language). According to R. Mukherji Tantra (in Tantrism) means the extension (like growing body) of process of inner consciousness of self. These three words tan, en, nav are met in Dravidian and Sumerian languages too (I. Javakhishvili and A. Lipin). The German Georgianologist Heinz Fanrich considers the resemblance of Ibero-Caucasian (Proto-Georgian) and Dravidian languages to have a system character (Ibero-Caucasian and Dravidian Languages, Tbilisi, 1972 (in Georgian) and Kartwelisch und Dravidianische spachparalleteit, Berlin, 1991 (in German)). It is interesting to note the following proto-Georgian and proto-Dravidian lexical parallels: tsitel (= red) in Georgian and tsitai (= red) in Tamil; tsuri (= udders) in Georgian and tsuro (= udder) in Tamil; karri (= wind) in Georgian and karri (= wind) in Tamil; etc.

The Georgian anthropologist M. Abdushelishvili (working several years in India) supposes that the Dravidians (origin North-West or Near East) were in communication with ancient Mesopotamians (Sumerians) and Iranians too. So the builders of Sindhu Valley civilization, being bearers of a semitic culture at the first stage of migration to the valley of river (nadi) Sindhu could lay the base of "Brahmi language" (Brahmi Lipi) which is considered to be of Phoenician origin. Perhaps R. Pataridze is also right in proving that the ancient Georgian alphabet "Asomtavruli" is also of Phoenician origin. While comparing "Sohgaura's" copy plate scripts with the ancient Georgian alphabet "asomtavruli"

The resemblance between them can be easily noticed. D. Struve in the preface of D. Makey's book Ancient Culture of Sindhu Valley (Moscow, 1951) notes that the Dravidian slave-keeping society was very close to that of Sumerian one and indicates to the similarity of iconography and mythology, proving the religious closeness to Sumerian (that is, proto-Georgian) and Sindhu Nadi. A. Kondratev, in his research Proto-Indiati Script (Moscow, 1976, p. 484) outlines that I.A. Uodel made the first attempt (experiment) to read proto-Indian script-Brahmi Lipi-through the Sumerian language.

The Sumero-Akhadian king's name "Naramsin" in Indian scriptures is known as "Narasimha" and the Khatian king's name "Ganish" in India is known as "Ganesh." Perhaps it is not by chance that S.C. Chatterjee considers that the significant portion of Indian civilization is of non-Aryan origin. But the historian R.C. Majumdar considers that Dravidians of Mediterranean origin were more civilized than those proto-Australoids that came to the Indian subcontinent much earlier. All the above mentioned enables us to presume that the word "Sumer" can be interpreted in the following way in the ancient Indian language Sanskrit: su (Surya) = sun, mer (Meru) = mountain full of sunshine that is the place of Sumerians, that is, sumeru (golden coloured mountain or lotus filled up with sunshine). So we may think hypothetically that by the inhabitants of Sindhu Valley sumera had been called [text missing] Mesopotamians (Sumerians, Akkadians, etc.).

As another source of proto-Indo-Georgian ties may be considered the period of influence of Aryans in ancient Iran and India through the Caucasus-namely through Georgia, resulting not only in linguistic inter-borrowing, but in inter-influencing and interchanging of cultural phenomena too. In Khetian texts a lot of horse-breeding Aryan terminologies are met (see I. Klizarenkova, Rigveda: Selected Hymns, Moscow, 1072, p. 7, Preface).

The Georgian ethnologist S. Makalatia considers that the Indo-Iranian deity "Mitra" in the ancient Georgian paganic calendar is known as the month of Mirsoba (March). With the name of "Mitra" (god of Sun) are connected also the ancient Georgian theophoristic names as "Mitridatte," "Mihraan," later transformed in the modern Georgian name "Mirian".

The existence of erotic dancers (like "devadasis") in the North mountain regions of ancient Georgia, S. Makalatia prescribes to the worshiping of the cult of the phallus (Shiva-Lingam) in Caucasus in the paganic epoch. M. Vodbolski outlines that on the "Phiala" excavated in Armazi (ancient Georgian monument in the center of Georgia) the horse is expressed, which is the animal used to be sacrificed by idol-worshipers. In the first chapter of Brihadaranyakopanisad with Commentaries of Sankaracharya (1965, sixth edition), we read: "On the head of the sacrificial horse is the dawn, its eye the sun,..." (p. 6).

Some of these common cultural phenomena penetrated into ancient Georgia, not only during the influence of Aryan culture through Georgia (Caucasus), but later too, suppose through ancient Greece or Anatolia, or through any other way of the Near East, in some way towards India too.

While exploring the sources of Indo-Georgian historical or cultural ties, we meet with certain other aspects to which no attention has been paid by modern scholars, e.g., the French ethnographist of the last century, Abbe J.A. Dubois, who spent nearly twenty years in South India and was greatly appreciated by Max Muller, presumes: "At the time when the Hindus began to regard the waters of the Ganges, Indus and Godavari as peculiarly sacred, and to attribute to them those cleansing properties which could purify both soul and body, the inhabitants of Colchis (that is, ancient West Georgians, N.K.) and other peoples living near the Phasisi (the author means river Phasisi-the present river Rioni, N.K.) credited the waters of that river with the same efficacy amongst the Egyptians."

Accordingly, the habit of cremation in ancient India amongst the Hindus was widely spread in ancient Georgia too (in the second millennium BC). At that time - considers the well-known Georgian historian I. Javakhishvili - the chiefs of ancient Georgian tribes, after their death, were burnt and the ashes, together with their chariots, rifles and other belongings, were put in a large, deep burial mound.

It is of great interest that Abbe J.A. Dubois had the following opinion on the origin of Brahmanism (Brahmins): "I don't trace the origin of the Brahmins either to Egypt or to Arabia, and I believe them to be descendants not of Shem, as many argue, but Japhoth. According to my theory they reached India from the north, and I should place the first abode of their ancestors in the neighbourhood of the. Caucasus." "Mago's name and Gaudama's, commonly called Gotama, Ma or Mahu, signifies "great," so that Gotama must mean the Great God or Magog."

"Furthermore, pagan history adds weight to these conjectures of mine on the origin and antiquity of Brahmanism. Learned men allude to more than one Prometheus. According to the Greeks the most celebrated of them all is a son of Japeth." "Why should not Brahma and Prometheus be one and the same person? The Hindu divinity is known also under the names of Brama and Prume in some of their tongues. All these names bear resemblance to Prometheus (chained in Georgia on the Caucasus mountains, N.K.) or the god Preme of the Greeks."

"But admitting that Tartary or neighbourhood of the Caucasus was the birthplace of the Brahmins, it is not easy to decide the precise date of their arrival in India. It appears certain, however, that they were already established there in a flourishing condition more than nine centuries before the Christian era (see Di-., 1, 2)."

These considerations of Abbe J.A. Dubois seem rather truthful as in the history of Georgia of this time and later, Brahman-type saints were called "Shishvelmartalni" (half-dressed true men) or later as "Gimnosophist" (Brahmans) which probably should have looked like contemporaries of the Jain Digambars (dressed with heaven).

Abbe J.A. Dubois' hypothesis, in a particular sense, at least from the point of chronology of formation of Vedic ideas or creation of Vedas itself, proves the 129th Sukta of the fourth book concerning the creation of the world by Brahma. In this portion of the Vedas we easily can note a certain resemblance of connotation with the creation of the world in the Old Testament.

1.2. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters..." In Veda (in the above mentioned portion) we read:

Of course these judgements, in particular sense, are the subject of a separate discussion, and are going outside the frame of the main problems raised in the present article, but it is beyond doubt also that all the above given arguments cannot solve the problem of the sources of historical, cultural or any other type of ties between ancient Georgia (Caucasus) and India. But, anyway,there is no doubt that all these problems are tightly bound with the historical processes that had taken place in the Near East and the Indian subcontinent and are an integral part of the history of ancient Georgia and Sarasvati-Sindhu-Valley Civilization as well.

Islamic Vedic culture in Afghanistan

By Muzaffar Hussain

(here under is a free-rendering of an article Muzaffar Hussain contributed to the Hindi Daily. Ranchi Express, dated Sunday, 27 February 2000)

The very Kandhar city in Afghanistan which was recently the scene of a perilous hijack by Muslim / militants, of nearly 200 persons in an Indian aeroplane. Even less than 50 years ago the Hindu population in Kandhar was 150,000, while the Sikhs numbered 25,000.

Kandhar is the current mispronunciation of the Sanskrit term Gandhar which was the capital of a flourishing ancient Hindu kingdom. Gandhari belonged to the region.

After their defeat in the Mahabharat war, many of the Kaurava descendants settled in the Kandhar region which was their maternal home. From there they gradually moved to what are currently known as Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In ancient times Arab horses were well-known for their fine breed (Arva in Sanskrit signifies a horse. Consequently the Sanskrit term Arvasthan / currently mispronounced as Arbastan signifies `a land of horses.')

Being warriors Kauravas highly appreciated the well-bred horses of the region. That is why they named the region as Arvasthan.

God Shiva was the deity worshiped in that entire region. Conversion to Islam led to the extinction of Shiva and Sun worship in the region.

Shiva worship was widespread in Afghanistan too. But later the spread of Buddhism led to the gradual extinction of Shiva worship. Since Buddhism was an indigenous sprout, its religious practices were akin to those in vogue earlier. But the new religions (Christianity and Islam) led to the extinction of the earlier Vedic and Buddhist cultures in West Asia. Perhaps that was the result of contrasting soils. India being a fertile region, the religions and cultures there were tolerant and loving, while the religions and cultures originating in hot, desert lands of West Asia were intolerant and cruel.

Gradually Afghanistan was occupied by Muslims invaders. Arab, Turk and Mongolian invasions led to the gradual extinction of Hindu, Vedic and Buddhist culture. One wonders how long can any vestige of its original, tolerant Hindu, Vedic culture survive in Afghanistan when that entire region is a victim of waves of Muslim militants sheltering Osama-bin-Laden, an intolerant Muslim leader. Thus the history of Afghanistan is the history of the rise and fall of Shiva worship that was prevalent for long in the region.

There was a time when the entire region was replete with hundreds of Shiva temples celebrating Shiva-Parvati worship and abuzz with Shiva 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 idols and inscriptions. He has authored four books on that topic featuring photos of icons and inscriptions discovered. The photos show a sun temple and a Ganesh idol 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 erected not only in Afghanistan but in other West Asian regions too. Uzbekistan and Tadzhikistan formed part of the Afghan kingdom in those times. Tashkent has one of those ancient Shiva temples standing even today. Professor Abdul Rehman states that Bukhara region was known as Shah Vihar in ancient times. It was ruled by an Hindu king. When Arabs invaded that kingdom its queen traveled to Kashmir to seek military help. Arab chronicles mention her as Khatoon, meaning 'Woman'. Kalhan, the ancient Hindu historian of Kashmir, has mentioned that the army of the then Hindu ruler of Kashmir had a battle with a vast army of the Arab Khalifa Mamoon whose headquarters was Baghdad. At that time Bukhara had been under Muslim rule. He had invited a number of leading Hindu experts to Baghdad. An Ayurvedic practitioner of Varanasi (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 petroleum and gas. During the Tzar regimes in Russia a Punjabi priest officiated at that temple. The walls display some religious stanzas written in Punjabi Gurumukhi script. The market there also had Hindu merchants. Nearby was a locality too of Hindu inhabitants. Baku in Azerbaijani language actually signifies a Goddess. Therefore obviously Baku derives its name from a very ancient Vedic Goddess temple there.

Kenduj, a province of Afghanistan, ruled by a king had a Hindu prime minister. This is mentioned in history books. Albiruni's travel account contains details of ancient Hindu Afghanistan, He mentions a Hindu king Khingla whose coins bore the imprint of God Shiva. The first ruler of that dynasty was Vahitagni. History mentions a Shiva temple in Gardej township, which was plundered by Arab invaders. That dynasty ruled the region from 666 to 843 AD. From 843 to 850 AD a Brahmin minister ruled the region. The Kalka 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 Ghazni invaded India. Unable to bear that defeat Jaipaldev committed suicide.

Arabs began invading Afghanistan around 1055 AD. A Persian chronicle TARIKH-E-SISTAN records that invasion and the plunder and devastation of a Shiva temple there. The invader Ibn-e-Samurah carried away the gold idol of Shiva among other valuables. When Ibn Samurah invaded Kandhar he carried out a general massacre.

Abbasi khalifas repeatedly invaded Kabul. The notorious khalifa Yajid, at whose behest Sindh province ruled by Raja Dalhir was invaded by Arab forces, sent his army commander to invade the Hindu kingdom of Kabul. That proved to be a disastrous misadventure because in the fierce battle fought in Kabul the Arab army suffered a humiliating defeat.

Dr. Rehman's book carries photos of the coins and temples of Hindu rulers of Afghanistan. Along with them are reproduced photos of smashed idols of Shiva and Durga from temples destroyed in Gardej. The book mentions that temples in the Kherkana area of Kabul suffered great devastation. Idols of Shiva, Durga and the Sun are very attractive. Some of the coins recovered in excavations bear the names of the Hindu rulers there in Sanskrit. At Hudud on the banks of the Attack river stood a very massive fort of Hindu rulers. Excavations conducted in that township have revealed inscriptions concerning the regimes of Bheemadev, Jaipal, Rajkumari, Ratnamanjari and Maharani Kameshwari Devi. All those are on display in the museums at Lahore, Kabul and Peshawar. The inscription alluding to the reign of Jaipaldev, ruler of Kabul, has 13 lines in that Sharda script of Sanskrit language.

That Afghanistan where in times bygone Hindu and Buddhist flags, signifying peace, piety, prosperity and progress held sway, is now the scene of slaughter and destruction. Looking at mulla Umar's current directives and the slaughters rampant in Afghanistan these days, memories of Afghanistan's ancient peaceful, noble and prosperous times seem to fade out of one's memory.

(We are grateful to Shree Muzaffar Hussain, who wrote that article, and to Dr. Shreekrishna Simha Sondh of Chittarpur who vigilantly mailed it to us. The Sistam region obviously is the Sanskrit term Shiva sthan, an area of sacred Shiva worship.)

Kurds and Vedic India

By Rohini Priya d.d.

The mysterious relationship of the Kurds with Vedic India

The Kurd people live in some remote territorities of Eastern Turkey and Iraq. They are not actually at home in the Muslim environment, although at present there is hardly any possibility of establishing Kurdistan proper.

Some Kurds are nominally Muslims, but they have their own cult the centre of which is the Sanctuary of Sheikh Adi, north of Al Mawsil (Mosul). This is the site of a very old civilization, with the ruins of erstwhile Niniveh. The Kurds may be direct descendants of the Old Persians who used to call themselves Yezidis. Now, the word Yezidi comes from the Avestan Yazata and Persian Ized, meaning “worshippable”, and having its origin in the Sankskrit word jayatah, also meaning worshippable, i.e. deva. There are traces in the Yezidi cult of not the Avesta of Zarathustra, but of later Persian religious speculations called Zurvanism. The Zurvanite speculation is basically dualism, with constant struggle between Light and Darkness, forces of good and evil. Since these powers are equally strong, as they believe, there is no hope for peace in the near future.

These good and evil powers are of course the devas and the asuras of the Rgvedic time in India. They have even the same names, except that the devas of India have become devils and vice versa.

The predecessors of the present Kurd people must, in some point of history, have had close contacts with Gnosticism. So they have some idea about the serpent in the Paradise, but they call him the friend of mankind; the one who has brought enlightenment to the first human pair.

Islam had non lasting influence on these curious people, but some time in the 11th century Sheikh Adi, a famous Sufi mystic, organized them into an order, in a manner similar to that of the Sufi dervishes. The common people are called Murids (disciples), because everybody is considered to be a potential initiate. They have various leaders, kahanas and sheikhs, just like the Sufis. Some rituals are kept secret but it is clear that they depict the Supreme Being as a mystical peacock; so that sometimes they are termed as the followers of the Peacock Angel (Melek Taus). They believe in reincarnation and they dread having to come back as animals, since this is an indication of evil life. Their rites consist of dancing and chanting before the Peacock, while chanting is hardly anything but the repetition of the holy name, Melek Taus.

Rituals, teachings, customs must have been modelled on their counterparts in India. There are initiation ceremonies, even a holy thread of intertwined black and red wool is worn by the initiates, next to the bare skin. Scholars are notwithstanding convinced that the cult has its root only in old Persian religion, Gnosticism and Sufism.

There is, however, a very queer thing showing that the Yezidi cult has its origin, like every other religious system worthy of this name, in India. As Kali-yuga progresses and it gets harder and harder to preserve secrets, some more representations of the Supreme Being of the Yezidis left the antiquated gloom of the caves and appeared freely in the West. Now it is clearly seen that this Supreme Being is not a peacock, but a very beautiful four-armed person of blue colour with curly black hair, shown sitting in a cross-legged position, with the image of a red serpent on his body, which is obviously nothing else but the Kundalini of the more esoteric yoga schools. The peacock is standing right behind him, showing all his “sun-eyes” on its extended tail. This beautiful blue person is surely Visnu-Narayana of India, since the other blue deity, Murugan (Karttikeya or Skanda) of South India, has rarely if ever been depicted with four arms.

Exiled Kurds have been performing their rituals in Europe since the beginning of the last century showing that the old Vedic teachings can never be quite forgotten and that they creep back into the human consciousness sometimes in rather devious ways.

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