Monday, August 31, 2009

The Glory of Buddhist Gandhara

Qasim Ali Moini (

Gandhara was a cosmopolitan confluence of cultures, East and West (

KARACHI, Pakistan — Ancient Gandhara was a cosmopolitan confluence of cultures where East met West and where, thanks to the network of monasteries, reliquaries (stupas), and temples as well as state patronage, Buddhism experienced a golden age, exemplified by the relics of Gandharan art that survive to this day.

This Buddha is an example of Gandhara art; manuscripts at UC Berkeley.

This view was expressed by Mahmood-ul-Hasan Shah, assistant director in the federal government’s directorate-general of archaeology and museums, while delivering a virtual presentation on Gandhara at the Goethe-Institut here on Monday.

The presentation was based on an exhibition titled "Gandhara – The Buddhist heritage of Pakistan: legends, monasteries, and paradise." The exhibition was on display for 10 months in the German cities of Bonn and Berlin. Mr. Shah represented Pakistan during the exhibition in Germany. He initially gave a historical background of the area known in antiquity as Gandhara, consisting of parts of modern Afghanistan and north-western Pakistan.

Buddhism was patronised by the area’s Kushan rulers – who had originally come from Central Asia – and experienced its golden age from the first to the fifth century AD, when it was "dealt a death blow," as Mr. Shah put it, by the White Huns, who practiced Hinduism [or early Vedic religion].

He described the people of Gandhara as "totally cosmopolitan," adding that the art that emerged from the area was influenced by indigenous cultures as well as Greco-Roman culture. More>>