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Kingdom of Ghandara
Hindu Shahi Rule 876 AD to 1022 AD

Kingdom of Ghandara [Gandhara] was established in eastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. It lasted until the 11th Century under the rulership of various Buddhist Kings. The kingdom of Gandhara had its capital at Peshawar. Some say that Gandhara was further north of Kamboja, comprising of modern NWFP (Pakistan), northern parts of Baluchistan and the whole SE belt of Afghanistan adjoining those areas, including kandahar(the name kandahar is supposed to have originated from gandhara). Some see ancient Gandhara as almost identical with the region of Pashtunistan. The Gandharan cultural area consisted of Oddiyana, Gandhara and Bactria, Tokharistan, across the Khyber Pass. The major cities of Gandhara were Takshashila on the Pakistani Punjab side of the Khyber Pass and Kabul on the Afghani side, with Swat being called Oddiyana.

Both Nagarahara and Gandhara were then subject to the king of Kapisa (near the Hindu Kush) and were governed by his deputies. The towns and villages of Gandhara were deserted, and there were but few inhabitants. The country was rich in cereals, and the people were timid and fond of literature. The 1,000 Sangharamas were deserted and in ruins, and there were about 100 Hindu temples.

While speaking of the kingdom of Gandhara, Houen Tsang gives an anecdote of Manohrita, a great Buddhist writer. He lived in the time of Vikramaditya "of wide renown," but Vikramaditya was a patron of Hinduism and Hindu learning, and Manohrita, was disgraced in a controversy in his court, and retired in disgust, saying "in a multitude of partizans there is no justice." Vikramaditya's successor Siladitya however was a patron of Buddhist learned men, and he honored Vasabandhu, the pupil of Manohrita, and the Hindu learned men "were abashed and retired." Elsewhere, in his account of Malwa, Houen Tsang says that Siladitya reigned sixty years before his time, i.e., about 580 AD and Vikramaditya's long reign would therefore fall before 550 AD.

A fairly vivid picture of the ancient Kingdom of Uddiyana comes from the year 630 AD, wehn the renowned heroic Chinese Buddhist pilgrim, known by the name of Huen Tsiang [Xuanzang], passed through the heart of Uddiyana on his way to India. he conjures a scene of healthy, tanned people, mostly clothed in pure white cotton. The men have white turbans, the women soft flowing saris, also white. These are a gentle, happy people, rarely endangered by war or calamity. They are a society appreciative of fine culture, and they are all, reported Huen Tsiang, great lovers of learning.

Greek architectural and sculptural forms are mainly confined to the site of the ancient city of Gandhara. The boundaries of the kingdom of Gandhara, as it existed in ancient times, are known with approximate accuracy. Hiouen Tsang, the great Chinese pilgrim, who had visited India between 629-645 AD describes the kingdom, as extending 1000 li (about 166 miles) from east to west, and 800 li (about 133 miles) from north to south, with the Indus as its boundary on the east. The great city of Purushapura, now Peshawar, was its capital. At 400 AD the earlier Chinese traveller, Fa Hian assigns the same position to the kingdom of Gandhara. The region, referred to by both Chinese pilgrims, corresponds to the tract known to the Greeks as Peukalaotis (Sanscrit Pushkalavati), the capital of which occupied the site of modern Hashtnagar, a few miles north of Peshawar.

The Gandhara territory, the situation of which has been thus defined, was the principal seat of Hellenic culture in India and from one or other part of it, nearly all the examples of Indo-Hellenic art in its most characteristic forms have radiated. Traces of the Greek teaching may however be detected in the remains at some particular localities in the northern and western India.

The Shahi dynasties ruled portions of the Kabul Valley (in eastern Afghanistan) and the old province of Gandhara (NE Afghanistan, northern Pakistan and NW India), known as Kabul-shahan, with twin capitals at Kapisa and Kabu, from the aftermath of the Kushan Empire in the 3rd century AD to the early 9th century. The term Shahi was a popular royal title in Afghanistan — used at various times by Achaemenids, Bactrians, Sakas, Kushan rulers and Huns (Hephthalites), as well as by the 6th- to 8th-century Shahi rulers of Kapisa/Kabul. Historians divide the Shahi Period of Kabul/Gandhara into two eras: the so-called Buddhist Turk-Shahis (before about 870 AD), and the so-called Hindu-Shahis (after 870 AD).

Alberuni (1031 AD) relates that the last king of the ancient Turki (or Kushan) dynasty of Kabul named Lagaturman was supplanted by his Brahman minister Kallar, who founded a 'Hindu Shahiya' dynasty, comprising Samand (=Samanta-deva), Kamalu (probably = Kamara), Bhima (=Bhim-deva), Jaipal (Jayapala), Anandapala, and Tarojanapala (= Trilochana-pala). The last named died in 412 A.H. (= April 1021-April 1022 A.D.), and his son Bhimapala perished five years later. The Kashmir chronicle tells of unsuccessful warfare waged by King Samkara - varman of Kashmir (883-901 AD) against a Sahi ( = Shahiya) king named Lalliya of Udabhandapura (Ohind). The title of Shahi (Shahiya, Sahi) was taken over by the Brahman kings of the Panjab from their Turki predecessors, who held both Kabul and the Panjab, and the date indicates that Lalliya must have been the earliest of the dynasty, who is called Kallar by Alberuni.

Abu Rihan al Biruni has the following statement respecting this dynasty: "Kabul was formerly governed by princes of Turk lineage. It is said that they were originally from Tibet. The first of them was named Barhtigin, '* ° ‘* “ and the kingdom continued with his children for sixty generations. ° ° ° " ° The last of them was a Katorman, and his minister was Kalar, a Brahman. This minister was favoured by fortune, and he found in the earth treasures which augmented his power. Fortune at the same time turned her back upon his master. The Katorman’s thoughts and actions were evil, so that many complaints reached the minister, who loaded him with chains, and imprisoned him for his correction. In the end the minister yielded to theltemptation of becoming sole master, and he had wealth suflicient to remove all obstacles. So he established himself on the throne. After him reigned the Brahman(s) Samand, then Kamlua, then Bhim, then Jaipal, then Anandpal, then Nardajanpal, who was killed in A.H. 412.(= April 1021-April 1022 A.D.)

His son, Bhimpal, succeeded him, after the lapse of five years, and under him the sovereignty of Hind became extinct, and no descendant remained to light a fire on the hearth. These princes, notwithstanding the extent of their dominions, were endowed with excellent qualities, faithful to their engagements, and gracious towards their inferiors. The letter which Anandpal wrote to Amir Mahmud, at the time enmity existed between them, is much to be admired. ‘I have heard that the Turks have invaded your dominions, and have spread over Khurasan ; if you desire it, I will join you with 5,000 cavalry, 10,000 infantry, and 100 elephants, but if you prefer it, I will send my son with twice the number. In making this proposal, I do not wish to ingratiate myself with you. Though I have vanquished you, I do not desire that any one else but myself should obtain the ascendancy.’ This prince was a determined enemy of the Musulmans from the time that his son, Nardajanpal, was taken prisoner; but his son was, on the contrary, well-disposed towards them."

Despite numerous references to the Shahis as decendents of the Kushans or Western Turks, the Shahi rulers of Kabul/Kapisa almost certainly descended from the warrior caste known as Ashvakas (the word from which, several scholars contend, the term "Afghan" is derived) who for many centuries dwelt in the region known as Kambojas on the northern and southern sides of the Hindu Kush range.

Major Shahi coinage consisted of Spalapati Deva silver issues struck at the capital Kabul (c. AD 800-870) and Samanta Deva, when Ohind became capital (AD 870-1026). The coins of the princes commonly called the 'Hindu Kings of Kabul', [876 AD to 1013 AD] although long familiar to numismatists, and extremely common in Afghanistan, the Panjab, and throughout Northern India, present a puzzle, or rather a series of puzzles. They occur in three types, namely, the ' bull and horseman', 'elephant and lion', and 'lion and peacock'. The 'elephant and lion' coins belong to three reigns, namely, Sri Padama, Sri Vakka-deva, and Sri Samanta-deva, and occur in copper only. The arrangement of the various kings in proper order is extremely difficult.

Although the 'Hindu Shahiya' dynasty is described by Alberuni as having succeeded the old Turki (Kushan) dynasty of Kabul, this statement should not be interpreted as meaning that Kabul was the capital of the Shahiyas. As a matter of fact, their capital was Ohind (Und, Waihind, Udabhandapura) on the Indus above Attock (Atak), while Kabul during their time was in the hands of the Musulmans, having been captured by Yakub Lais in 257 A.H. (= Nov. 870-Nov. 871 AD). It is most improbable that the Shahiyas had anything to do with that city. While the Arabic author was quite correct in affirming that the Shahiyas were the successors of the Turki dynasty of Kabul, he must not be understood to assert that the succession extended to the whole dominions of the older dynasty, which had included both Kabul and the Panjab. When the change of dynasty occurred, Kabul probably was already in the hands of the foreign invader, and the new royal family had to be content with possessions lying outside the immediate range of the armies of Islam.

At Ohind the Shahiya kings were in safety for a considerable time, until about 1013 AD, when the last of them to enjoy power, Trilochana-pala, was defeated decisively by Mahmud of Ghaznl on the bank of the Taushi (Tosi) river on the southern frontier of Kashmir. The members of the family enjoyed a high reputation and won the admiration of the Muhammadan savant in their conqueror's train, who generously observes, "We must say that, in all their grandeur, they never slackened in the ardent desire of doing that which is good and right, — that they were men of noble sentiment and noble bearing."

Gandhara Gandhara Gandhara

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Page last modified: 09-10-2012 17:25:28 ZULU