Hinduism in Afghanistan

Hinduism in Afghanistan

Overview
Hinduism in Afghanistan has existed for almost as long as Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 itself. The religion was widespread in the region until the Islamic conquest of Afghanistan
Islamic conquest of Afghanistan
The Islamic conquest of Afghanistan began in the middle of the 7th century after the Islamic conquest of Persia was completed, when Arab Muslims defeated the Sassanid Empire at the battles of Walaja, al-Qādisiyyah and Nahavand. The Muslim Arabs then began to move towards the lands east of Persia...

. It has been documented in recent years that thousands of Hindus live in Afghanistan, mostly in major cities such as Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

, Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

, Jalalabad
Jalalabad
Jalalabad , formerly called Adinapour, as documented by the 7th century Hsüan-tsang, is a city in eastern Afghanistan. Located at the junction of the Kabul River and Kunar River near the Laghman valley, Jalalabad is the capital of Nangarhar province. It is linked by approximately of highway with...

, and others.


Hinduism in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 dates back to the Vedic periods when areas of the country shared a common culture with India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. Along with Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

, Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 was practiced.
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Encyclopedia
Hinduism in Afghanistan has existed for almost as long as Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 itself. The religion was widespread in the region until the Islamic conquest of Afghanistan
Islamic conquest of Afghanistan
The Islamic conquest of Afghanistan began in the middle of the 7th century after the Islamic conquest of Persia was completed, when Arab Muslims defeated the Sassanid Empire at the battles of Walaja, al-Qādisiyyah and Nahavand. The Muslim Arabs then began to move towards the lands east of Persia...

. It has been documented in recent years that thousands of Hindus live in Afghanistan, mostly in major cities such as Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

, Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

, Jalalabad
Jalalabad
Jalalabad , formerly called Adinapour, as documented by the 7th century Hsüan-tsang, is a city in eastern Afghanistan. Located at the junction of the Kabul River and Kunar River near the Laghman valley, Jalalabad is the capital of Nangarhar province. It is linked by approximately of highway with...

, and others.

History



Hinduism in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 dates back to the Vedic periods when areas of the country shared a common culture with India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. Along with Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

, Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 was practiced. Afghanistan gradually converted to Islam with the advent of Islam. The Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, a sacred text amongst the Hindus, mentions about King Shakuni
Shakuni
Shakuni , an avatar of Dvapara, the personification of Dvapara Yuga, was the brother of Gandhari in the Mahābhārata. He was portrayed as an extremely intelligent but devious old man, who was very fond of his nephew Duryodhana. He won the kingdom of the Pandavas' for his nephew, as a wager in a...

 who was the ruler of Kandahar region in Afghanistan. The Kushanas worshipped Hindu gods as well as Buddha and local deities. Some of them like Vasudeva were named after Hindu gods and heroes.

The Shahi
Shahi
The Shahi , Sahi, also called Shahiya dynasties ruled one of the Middle kingdoms of India which included portions of the Kabulistan and the old province of Gandhara , from the decline of the Kushan Empire in the 3rd century to the early 9th century...

 rulers of Afghanistan followed Hinduism and also supported Buddhism. The Shahi king Khingala installed one of the earliest Ganesha
Ganesha
Ganesha , also spelled Ganesa or Ganesh, also known as Ganapati , Vinayaka , and Pillaiyar , is one of the deities best-known and most widely worshipped in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India and Nepal. Hindu sects worship him regardless of affiliations...

 images, which was found in Gerdez. There are Hindu populations in major cities of Afghanistan.

Shiva worship



Ancient Hindu temples

Place Description Other Information
Sakawand Temple Logar Mentioned in several Muslim sources
Polusha Bhima Devi (Durga) and temple of Maheshvera Visited by Houen Tsang



Kushans and Buddhism


During the Kushan rule, Afghanistan became the center of Buddhist culture and learning.

3rd to 9th century -Buddhist Turk and Hindu Shahis


The Shahi (Devanagari
Devanagari
Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

 शाही), Sahi, also called Shahiya dynasties ruled portions of the Kabul Valley
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 (in eastern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

) and the old province of Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

 (northern Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 and Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

) from the decline of the Kushan Empire
Kushan Empire
The Kushan Empire originally formed in the early 1st century AD under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria on either side of the middle course of the Oxus in what is now northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.During the 1st and early 2nd centuries...

 in third century to the early ninth century.The Shahis continued to rule eastern Afghanistan until the late 9th century till the Ghaznavid invasions.

Various historical sources such as Martin Ewans, E.J. Brill and Farishta
Firishta
Firishta or Ferishta, full name Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah , was born in 1560 and died in 1620 and he was a Persian historian. The name Firishta means angel or one who is sent in Persian.-Life:...

 have recorded that the complete conversion of Afghanistan, Pakistan to Islam was during the rule of Sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni , actually ', was the most prominent ruler of the Ghaznavid dynasty who ruled from 997 until his death in 1030 in the eastern Iranian lands. Mahmud turned the former provincial city of Ghazni into the wealthy capital of an extensive empire which covered most of today's Iran,...

.

Al-Idirisi
Muhammad al-Idrisi
Abu Abd Allah Muhammad al-Idrisi al-Qurtubi al-Hasani al-Sabti or simply Al Idrisi was a Moroccan Muslim geographer, cartographer, Egyptologist and traveller who lived in Sicily, at the court of King Roger II. Muhammed al-Idrisi was born in Ceuta then belonging to the Almoravid Empire and died in...

 testifies that until as late as the 12th century, a contract of investiture for every Shahi king was performed at Kabul and that here he was obliged to agree to certain ancient conditions which completed the contract. The Ghaznavid military incursions assured the domination of Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 in what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Al-Idirisi
Muhammad al-Idrisi
Abu Abd Allah Muhammad al-Idrisi al-Qurtubi al-Hasani al-Sabti or simply Al Idrisi was a Moroccan Muslim geographer, cartographer, Egyptologist and traveller who lived in Sicily, at the court of King Roger II. Muhammed al-Idrisi was born in Ceuta then belonging to the Almoravid Empire and died in...

 (1100 AD -1165/1166 AD) testifies that until as late as the 12th century, a contract of investiture for every Shahi king was performed at Kabul and that here he was obliged to agree to certain ancient conditions which completed the contract.
The Hindu-Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 population in Afghanistan in 1990 was estimated to number around 200,000. Afghan Hindus and Afghan Sikhs often share places of worship. The main ethnic groups in Afghanistan which practice Hinduism are the Punjabis
Punjabi people
The Punjabi people , ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ), also Panjabi people, are an Indo-Aryan group from South Asia. They are the second largest of the many ethnic groups in South Asia. They originate in the Punjab region, which has been been the location of some of the oldest civilizations in the world including, the...

, and Sindhis
Sindhi people
Sindhis are a Sindhi speaking socio-ethnic group of people originating from Sindh, a province Formerly of British India, now in Pakistan. Today Sindhis that live in Pakistan belong to various religious denominations including Islam, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Christianity...

 who came as merchants to the region within the last few centuries. Along with Sikhs, they are all collectively known as the Hindki
Hindki
Hindki is the name given to an ethnic group who inhabit Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan. They are of the Khatri, Arora, and Brahmin caste, and are found all over the country. H. W. Bellew, in his Races of Afghanistan, estimated their number at about 300,000...

. Linguistic demographics among the Hindu community are diverse and generally follow regional origins: those hailing from Punjab generally speak Punjabi
Punjabi language
Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by inhabitants of the historical Punjab region . For Sikhs, the Punjabi language stands as the official language in which all ceremonies take place. In Pakistan, Punjabi is the most widely spoken language...

, Sindhis speak Sindhi
Sindhi language
Sindhi is the language of the Sindh region of Pakistan that is spoken by the Sindhi people. In India, it is among 22 constitutionally recognized languages, where Sindhis are a sizeable minority. It is spoken by 53,410,910 people in Pakistan, according to the national government's Statistics Division...

, Kabulis and Kandharis speak both Pashto
Pashto language
Pashto , known as Afghani in Persian and Pathani in Punjabi , is the native language of the indigenous Pashtun people or Afghan people who are found primarily between an area south of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and...

 and the northern and southern dialects of Hindko
Hindko language
Hindko , also Hindku, or Hinko, is the sixth main regional language of Pakistan. It forms a subgroup of Indo-Aryan languages spoken by Hindkowans in Pakistan and northern India, some Pashtun tribes in Pakistan, as well as by the Hindki people of Afghanistan...

. The Afghan Hindu community in Afghanistan is mostly based in the cities of Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 and Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

. The Loya Jirga
Loya jirga
A loya jirga is a type of jirga regarded as "grand assembly," a phrase in the Pashto language meaning "grand council." A loya jirga is a mass meeting usually prepared for major events such as choosing a new king, adopting a constitution, or discussing important national political or emergency...

 has two seats reserved for Hindus. More so than other ethnic groups, Afghan Hindus have fled to Pakistan and the West to escape religious mistreatment from the Taliban or to improve their economic well-being.

Mistreatment under Taliban


During the Taliban regime, which ran from 1996 to late 2001, Hindus were forced to wear yellow badges in public to identify themselves as non-Muslims so they would not be punished for not going to mosques during prayer times. Hindu women were forced to wear burqa
Burqa
A burqa is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic religion to cover their bodies in public places. The burqa is usually understood to be the woman's loose body-covering , plus the head-covering , plus the face-veil .-Etymology:A speculative and unattested etymology...

s, ostensibly a measure to "protect" them from harassment. This was part of the Taliban's plan to segregate "un-Islamic" and "idolatrous" communities from Islamic ones.

The decree was condemned by the India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n and American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 governments as a violation of religious freedom. Widespread protests against the Taliban regime broke out in Bhopal, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. In the United States, Abraham Foxman
Abraham Foxman
Abraham H. Foxman is the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.-Early life:Foxman, an only son, was born in Baranovichi, just months after the USSR took the town from Poland in the Nazi-Soviet Pact and incorporated it into the BSSR. The town is now in Belarus...

, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League
Anti-Defamation League
The Anti-Defamation League is an international non-governmental organization based in the United States. Describing itself as "the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency", the ADL states that it "fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects...

, compared the decree to the practices of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, where Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 were required to wear labels identifying them as such. Several influential lawmakers in the United States wore yellow badges with the inscription "I am a Hindu", on the floor of the Senate during the debate as a demonstration of their solidarity with the Hindu minority in Afghanistan.

Indian analyst Rahul Banerjee
Rahul Banerjee
Arunoday Banerjee A.K.A. "Rahul" is a Bengali Indian male actor of TV and films. He made his first stage appearance at the age of three years with his father’s theatre troupe Bijoygarh Atmaprakash in a play titled Raj Darshan...

 said that this was not the first time that Hindus were singled out for state-sponsored oppression in Afghanistan. Violence against Hindus has caused a rapid depletion in the Hindu population over the years. Since the 1990s, many Afghan Hindus have fled the country, seeking asylum in countries such as India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and United States.

See also

  • Religion in Afghanistan
    Religion in Afghanistan
    The official religion in Afghanistan is Islam, which is practiced by over 99% of its citizens. Sunni Islam makes up 80-89% of the total population while the remaining 10-19% are Shi'as and about 1% or less practice other religions....

  • Sikhism in Afghanistan
    Sikhism in Afghanistan
    Sikhism in Afghanistan is limited to small populations, primarily in major cities, with the largest numbers of Afghan Sikhs living in Jalalabad, Kabul, and Kandahar...

  • Buddhism in Afghanistan
    Buddhism in Afghanistan
    Buddhism in Afghanistan was one of the major religions during pre-Islamic era. The religion was wide spread south of the Hindu Kush mountains. Buddhism first arrived to Afghanistan in 305 BCE when the Seleucid Empire made an alliance with the Indian Maurya Empire...

  • Hindu temples of Kabul
    Hindu temples of Kabul
    Kabul was the capital of the great Hindu Shahi kings.Afghanistan was a great center of Vedic culture.There were many Hindu temples in Afghanistan...

  • Muhiyals in Afghanistan History
  • Pre Islamic Hindu and Buddhist heritage of Afghanistan
    Pre Islamic Hindu and Buddhist heritage of Afghanistan
    Up until the advent of Islam, some eastern portions of Afghanistan was ruled by the Hindu Kabul Shahi kings. When Xuanzang visited the region early in the 7th century CE, the Kabul valley region was ruled by a Kshatriya king who is identified as the Shahi Khingal and whose name has been found in an...

  • Khatri
    Khatri
    Khatri is a caste from the northern Indian subcontinent. Khatris in India are mostly from Punjab, region but later they migrated to regions like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu, Uttarkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber...

  • List of Hindu temples all over the world

External links