|American edition of The Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42, author William Dalrymple (R), at Asia Society, New York, Feb. 2012. (Suzanna Finley/Asia Society)|
|Shah Shoja, puppet of the British, holds a durbar in Kabul, during the First Anglo-Afghan War (Print Collector/Getty Images/TheGuardian.com)|
|Author in Pasadena (levantinecenter.org)|
|Early Buddhist art: birth of the Buddha, aka Prince Siddhartha Gautama (studyblue.com)|
|Shakyaland = Indo-Scythia (CC)|
|Buddhism spread out from Afghanistan, India|
In swift-paced prose, Dalrymple chronicles Britain's first Afghan war (as it came to be known) through British, Afghan, and Russian eyes.
|Afghan Maitreya, Gandhara (AA)|
No less than five separate kingdoms, empires, military dynasties, and tribes battled and jostled with one another during this 300-year period to establish a buffer state or homeland in this rugged, remote region. These five overlapping powers and tribes were:
- The Parthian Empire
- The Indo-Greek Kingdom
- The Indo-Parthian Kingdom
- The Yuezhi Invasion and
- Indo-Scythian Rule; which was supplanted and pushed aside by The Kushan Empire. More
Azam Ahmed (irishtimes.com, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014)
|Marine listening to music before invading forces withdraw from Camp Bastion, Helmand province, this weekend. The last US Marines and British combat troops have "officially" ended operations. Unofficial combat roles will continue indefinitely (Omar Sobhani/IrishTimes).|
Explaining "Afghan Buddhism"
ANSWER: Good question! We speak of Afghanistan's Buddhist past, as a citadel of the Dharma at Bamiyan (where the CIA/Taliban blew up the world's biggest Buddha statues, the likely site of the original Kapilavastu, the seasonal Scythian capital of the Shakya clan and their republic or janapada, "foothold of the clan") and Mes Aynak ("Little Copper Well," the unexcavated and incompletely logged site of the world's most massive Buddhist temple/town complex, which is at least one square mile of archeological treasures threatened with destruction for the sake of Chinese mining interests) and other archeological sites both found (i.e., "Golden Hill" or Tillya Tepe) and yet to be discovered.
|The Buddha's urn, Bimaran casket (W/BM)|
But recent research by Senior indicates Azes II never existed (R.C. Senior, "The Final Nail in the Coffin of Azes II," Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society 197, 2008, pp. 25-27) and archeological finds attributed to his reign should probably be reassigned to King Azes I. The container also had coins sometimes dated to a slightly earlier date of 50 CE, based on a redeposition theory, and sometimes much later (2nd century CE), based on artistic assumptions. It is currently in the collections of the British Museum.
|Priceless Afghan Buddhist cultural treasures cataloged by the U.S. Dept. of War/DOD (CC)|
The Buddhist past of Iran is completely obscured, overtaken by official Muslims, remnant Zoroastrians (one or both of which were aligned with the Titans, the Asuras, rather than the Shining Ones, the Devas, of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain cosmology/mythology), and blended in with mystical Sufism.
One thing is sure, having asked one, the Hazaris are proud of their spiritual heritage and archeological history -- much as most U.S. citizens are proud of our Native American roots, relations, and lore. We're proud enough to protect it with anti-vandalism laws, UNESCO World Heritage and/or similar certifications, making ancient sites popular tourist attraction, like the whole of Sedona and the Grand Canyon, the National Forests and Parks, but not enough to preserve the life and active culture of those same peoples.
If anyone should wish to learn about the impossible history of faraway Afghanistan and the massively influential "Afghan Buddhism," here are just four recent links. Wisdom Quarterly: American Buddhist Journal is one of the few sites in the world to constantly pursue lines of inquiry where past politicians, historians, and archeologists put up apparent roadblocks so that the truth would never come out.
We would like to acknowledge and thank the maverick historical research and documentation of
- Dr. Ranajit Pal (ranajitpal.com),
- Prof. Brent E. Huffman,
- Ven. Karunananda Thero, Ph.D. (BodhiMission.com) whose degree is in Indian archeology,
- American Afghan experts Fitzgerald and Gould (invisiblehistory.com),
- Hendon M. Harris (ChineseDiscoverAmerica.com),
- G.P. Malalasekera (Dictionary of Pali Proper Names),
- the Buddhist Publication Society (BPS.lk, the second wave of Western scholars that included Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ven. Nyanaponika, Ven. Nyanatiloka, and Maurice O'Connell Walshe)
- the Pali Text Society, the first wave of European "Orientalists" who translated the ancient texts into English.
A Scythian tribe
|Wondrous Buddhist treasures of Afghanistan, Indo-Scythia, Gandhara, Central Asia|
|Indo-Scythian coin designs|
Explaining "Afghan Buddhism"
Here are four articles that give a taste of the obscured history of Buddhism outside of any place that could be called "India." The the first images of the Buddha in human form came from Gandhara, which is now Afghanistan/Pakistan is also significant. The people of that culture were not dominated by Brahmanism, the influential religion of the Brahmins of "India" at the time of the Buddha or the stunning spiritual diversity along the Indus and Ganges rivers.