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- Early History
- Ancient Era
- Later History
- Important Gandharans
Gandhara was known in Sanskrit as गन्धार gandhāra, in Avestan as Vaēkərəta, in Old Persian as Gadāra (Old Persian cuneiform: 𐎥𐎭𐎠𐎼, Gadāra, also transliterated as Gandāra since the nasal "n" before consonants was omitted in the Old Persian script, and simplified as Gandara) in Babylonian and Elamite as Paruparaesanna (Para-upari-sena), in Chinese as T: 犍陀羅/S: 犍陀罗 (Qiántuóluó), and in Greek as Γανδάρα (Gandhara).
One proposed origin of the name is from the Sanskrit word गन्ध gandha, meaning "perfume" and "referring to the spices and aromatic herbs which they (the inhabitants) traded and with which they anointed themselves.". The Gandhari people are a tribe mentioned in the Rigveda, the Atharvaveda, and later Vedic texts. They are recorded in the Avestan language of Zoroastrianism under the name Vaēkərəta. The name Gāndhāra occurs later in the classical Sanskrit of the epics. A Persian form of the name, Gandara, mentioned in the Behistun inscription of Emperor Darius I, was translated as Paruparaesanna (Para-upari-sena, meaning "beyond the Hindu Kush") in Babylonian and Elamitein the same inscription. Kandahar is sometimes etymologically associated with Gandhara. However, Kandahar was not part of the territory of Gandhara.It is instead etymologically related to "Alexandria".
The boundaries of Gandhara varied throughout history. Sometimes the Peshawar Valley and Taxila were collectively referred to as Gandhara; sometimes the Swat Valley (Sanskrit: Suvāstu) was also included. The heart of Gandhara, however, was always the Peshawar Valley. The kingdom was ruled from capitals at Kapisa (Bagram), Pushkalavati (Charsadda), Taxila, Puruṣapura (Peshawar) and in its final days from Udabhandapura (Hund) on the River Indus. In addition to Gandhara proper, the province also encompassed the Kabul Valley, Swat and Chitral.
Evidence of the Stone Age human inhabitants of Gandhara, including stone tools and burnt bones, was discovered at Sanghao near Mardan in area caves. The artefacts are approximately 15,000 years old. More recent excavations point to 30,000 years before the present.
Gandhara Grave Culture
Gandhara’s first recorded civilization was the Grave Culture that emerged c. 1400 BCE and lasted until 800 BCE, and named for their distinct funerary practices. It was found along the Middle Swat River course, even though earlier research considered it to be expanded to the Valleys of Dir, Kunar, Chitral, and Peshawar. It has been regarded as a token of the Indo-Aryan migrations, but has also been explained by local cultural continuity. Backwards projections, based on ancient DNA analyses, su...
The Gandhara Kingdom was one of sixteen mahajanapadas of Buddhism. The primary cities of Gandhara were Puruṣapura (Peshawar), Takṣaśilā (Taxila), Sagala (Sialkot) and Pushkalavati (Charsadda) - The latter remained the capital of Gandhara until the 2nd century CE, when the capital was moved to Peshawar. Gandhara produced influential thinkers such as the philosopher Kautilya, and Panini, whose grammar works standardized ancient Sanskrit. Gandhara is mentioned in the Hindu epics, the Mahabharata...
The decline of the Mauryan Empire left Gandhara open to Greco-Bactrian invasions. Present-day southern Afghanistan was absorbed by Demetrius I of Bactria in 180 BCE. Around about 185 BCE, Demetrius moved into Indian subcontinent; he invaded and conquered Gandhara and the Punjab. Later, wars between different groups of Bactrian Greeks resulted in the independence of Gandhara from Bactria and the formation of the Indo-Greek kingdom. Menander I was its most famous king. He ruled from Taxila and...
Around 80 BCE, the Sakas, diverted by their Parthian cousins from Iran, moved into Gandhara and other parts of Pakistan and Western India. The most famous king of the Sakas, Maues, established himself in Gandhara.
By 90 BCE the Parthians had taken control of eastern Iran and, around 50 BCE, they put an end to the last remnants of Greek rule in today's Afghanistan. Eventually an Indo-Parthian dynasty succeeded in taking control of Gandhara. The Parthians continued to support Greek artistic traditions. The start of the Gandharan Greco-Buddhist art is dated to about 75–50 BCE. Links between Rome and the Indo-Parthian kingdoms existed. There is archaeological evidence that building techniques were transmit...
After the fall of the Sassanid Empire to the Arabs in 651 CE, the region south of the Hindukush along with Gandhara came under pressure from Muslims. After failure of multiple campaigns by Arabs they failed to extend their rule to Gandhara. Gandhara was ruled from Kabul by the Kabul Shahi for next 200 years. Sometime in the 9th century the Kabul Shahi were replaced by the Hindu Shahi.
Hindu Shahi and Decline
Based on various records it is estimated that Hindu Shahi was formed in 850 CE. According to Al-Biruni (973–1048), Kallar, a Brahmin minister, founded the Hindu Shahi dynasty around 843 CE. The dynasty ruled from Kabul, later moved their capital to Udabhandapura. They built great temples all over their kingdoms. Some of these buildings are still in good condition in the Salt Range of the Punjab. Jayapala was the last great king of the Hindu Shahi dynasty. His empire extended...
By the time Gandhara had been absorbed into the empire of Mahmud of Ghazni, Buddhist buildings were already in ruins and Gandhara art had been forgotten. After Al-Biruni, the Kashmiri writer Kalhaṇa wrote his book Rajatarangini in 1151. He recorded some events that took place in Gandhara, and provided details about its last royal dynasty and capital Udabhandapura. In the 19th century, British soldiers and administrators started taking an interest in the ancient history of the Indian Subcontin...
The Gandharan Buddhist texts are both the earliest Buddhist as well as Asian manuscripts discovered so far. Most are written on birch bark and were found in labelled clay pots. Panini has mentioned both the Vedic form of Sanskrit as well as what seems to be Gandhari, a later form of Sanskrit, in his Ashtadhyayi. Gandhara's language was a Prakrit or "Middle Indo-Aryan" dialect, usually called Gāndhārī. Under the Kushan Empire, Gāndhārī spread into adjoining regions of South and Central Asia. It used the Kharosthi script, which is derived from the Aramaic script, and it died out about in the 3rd century CE, though Indo-Aryan languages like Punjabi, Hindko and Kohistaniare still spoken in the region today.
Mahāyāna Pure Land sutras were brought from the Gandhāra region to China as early as 147 CE, when the Kushan monk Lokakṣema began translating some of the first Buddhist sutras into Chinese. The earliest of these translations show evidence of having been translated from the Gāndhārī language. Lokakṣema translated important Mahāyāna sūtras such as the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, as well as rare, early Mahāyāna sūtras on topics such as samādhi, and meditation on the Buddha Akṣobhya. Loka...
Destruction of Buddhist relics by Taliban
Swat Valley in Pakistan has many Buddhist carvings, and stupas, and Jehanabad contains a Seated Buddha statue. Kushan era Buddhist stupas and statues in Swat valley were demolished after two attempts by the Taliban and the Jehanabad Buddha's face was dynamited. Only the Buddhas of Bamiyan were larger than the carved giant Buddha statues in Swat near Manglore which the Taliban attacked. The government did nothing to safeguard the statue after the initial attempts to destroy the Buddha, which d...
Gandharan Buddhist missionaries were active, with other monks from Central Asia, from the 2nd century CE in the Han-dynasty (202 BC – 220 CE) at China's capital of Luoyang, and particularly distinguished themselves by their translation work. They promoted scriptures from Early Buddhist schoolsas well as those from the Mahāyāna. These translators included: 1. Lokakṣema, a Kushan and the first to translate Mahāyāna scriptures into Chinese(167–186) 2. Zhi Yao (fl.185), a Kushan monk, second gene...
Gandhāra is noted for the distinctive Gandhāra style of Buddhist art, which shows influence of Parthian, Scythian, Roman, Graeco-Bactrian and local Indian influences from the Gangetic Valley. This development began during the Parthian Period (50 BCE–75 CE). The Gandhāran style flourished and achieved its peak during the Kushan period, from the 1st to the 5th centuries. It declined and was destroyed after the invasion of the White Huns in the 5th century. Siddhartha shown as a bejeweled prince (before the Sidhartha renounces palace life) is a common motif. Stucco, as well as stone, were widely used by sculptors in Gandhara for the decoration of monastic and cult buildings. Stucco provided the artist with a medium of great plasticity, enabling a high degree of expressiveness to be given to the sculpture. Sculpting in stucco was popular wherever Buddhism spread from Gandhara – Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Central Asia, and China. Buddhist imagery combined with some ar...
Important people from ancient region of Gandharaare as follows; 1. Pāṇini (4th century BCE), he was a Sanskrit philologist, grammarian, and a revered scholar from Gandhara. Pāṇini is known for his text Aṣṭādhyāyī, a sutra-style treatise on Sanskrit grammar. 2. Chanakya (4th century BCE), he was an ancient Gandharan teacher, philosopher, economist, jurist and royal advisor. Chanakya assisted the first Mauryan emperor Chandragupta in his rise to power, and his work Arthashastra is considered Pioneer of field of political sciencein India. 1. Garab Dorje (1st century CE), founder of Dzogchen(Great Perfection) tradition. 2. Kumāralāta (3rd century), Kumāralāta was the founder of Sautrāntikaschool of Buddhism. 3. Vasubandhu (4th century), Vasubandhu is considered one of the most influential thinkers in the Gandharan Buddhist philosophical tradition. In Jōdo Shinshū, he is considered the Second Patriarch; in Chan Buddhism, he is the 21st Patriarch. His writing Abhidharmakośakārikā("Comment...
Oct 14, 2021 · Nadir Shah Afshar (1736–1747), the founder of the Afsharid Dynasty, invaded the Mughal Empire of India with a huge army, eventually attacking Delhi in March 1739. His army had easily defeated the Mughals at the battle at Karnal region and would eventually capture the Mughal capital in the aftermath of the battle.