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The following text is by Ali Reza, an Iranian national, in response to Mr Najeeb’s comments about Pashtuns:

Najeeb had argued:

Pathans believe that they are all descended from a common ancestor, Qais. He is said to have met the Prophet Muhammad. The prophet gave Qais the name "Pthun, and Qais was to take Islam back to his home. One of Qais's sons was name Afghana, who had four sons. Every Pathan traces its descent from one of these four sons


Variations on the word "Afghan" may go back as early as a 3rd-century-AD Sasanian (a Persian dynasty) reference to "Abgan." (and that was only for Pashtuns) The earliest Muslim reference to the Afghans probably dates to AD 982, but tribes related to the modern Afghans have lived in the region for many generations.

History also said the Pashtuns have been living in Afghanestan about 5000 years ago and at that time prophet Mohammad wasn't yet born!

So AFGHAN, as Najeeb said by himself means PASHTUN and all the people of Afghanistan.
Islamic armies defeated the Sasanians in AD 642 at Nahavand (near modern Hamadan, Iran) and moved on to the Afghan area, but they were unable to hold the territory; cities submitted, only to rise in revolt, and the hastily converted returned to their old beliefs once the armies had passed. The 9th and 10th centuries witnessed the rise of numerous local Islamic dynasties. One of the earliest was the "Tahirids" of "KHORASSAN" whose kingdom included Balkh and Herat. they established virtual independence from the 'Abbasid caliphate in AD 820. The Tahirids were succeeded in 867-869 by a native dynasty from Seistan, the Saffarids. Local princes in the north soon became feudatories of the powerful Samanids, who ruled from Bukhara. From 872 to 999 Bukhara, Samarkand, and Balkh enjoyed a golden age under Samanid rule. sp Pashtuns were not the first who became Moslem in Afghanestan [as they claim!!]

Nader Qoli Beg took Herat in 1732 after a desperate siege. Impressed by their courage, Nader recruited many Heratis to serve in his army. He was elected shah of Persia, with the name Nader Shah, in 1736.
In 1738, after a year's siege, the city of Qandahar fell to Nader Shah's army of 80,000 men. Nader Shah seized Ghazna and Kabul and occupied the Mughal capital at Delhi in 1739. His booty included the Koh-i-noor diamond and the Peacock Throne.


The commander of the Nadir Shah's 4,000-man Afghan bodyguard was "Ahmad Khan Abdali" who returned to Qandahar where he was elected king (shah) by a tribal council. He adopted the title Durr-i Durran ("Pearl of Pearls"). Supported by most tribal leaders, Ahmad Shah Durrani extended Afghan control from Meshed to Kashmir and Delhi, from the Amu River to the Arabian Sea. The Durrani was the "second greatest Muslim empire" in the second half of the 18th century, surpassed in size only by the Ottoman.Ahmad Shah died in 1772. That means the first Pashtun Empire was working for an Aryan Empire then he became King!

About 6,500 Years ago, successive waves of people were migrating into a land which is now called Iran and Khorassan which is now called Afghanestan and northern Iraq. They called themselves the black-headed (dark- haired) people. We know them as the Aryan/Sumerian, ancestors of Iranians and the land in which they settled as the land of Sumer (Iran Plateau).Aryans in prehistoric times settled in Central Asia, which later around 2nd millennium BC, as isolated groups of people had appeared in Iranian plateau. The word Aryan, for the first time was mentioned in AVESTA (book of Zoroastrians)as the "AERYAN VAEJAH" (Land of Nobles) as one of sixteen lands including, Khwarazmia, Soghdia, Margiana, Balkh, Hilmand and etc (dated around 18th century BC).

As you can see there's no Kandahar in this list!
This means the pashtuns didn't exist at that time, 7000 years ago, the history of Pashtuns are about 4500 or 5000 years]

"Like it or not, Aryans of Afghanistan are Iranians, Iranian is the modern name for Aryans"
The Aryans/Sumerians established the first recognizable civilization with a workable system of government. Their other achievements include the invention of WHEELED VEHICLES and the use of written language. The ancient Iranians developed the scientific practice of agriculture; on the arts side, a distinctive style of architecture and a complex religion which is reflected in their literature.
The Aryans of ancient Land of Aryans were Mazdayasni Zarathushtris, ie. Worshippers of Ahura Mazda (the name of God in Avestan language i.e Allah in Arabic mean God) as revealed by the ancient prophet Zarathushtra (one of the 124000 prophets of God) thousands of years before Christ.(Isa)
The Arabic religion, Islam only began in Land of Aryans 1300 years ago.

The "Vendidad" is one of the ancient scriptures of the Zoroastrians, actually called the "Vi-daevo-dat" or the law to fight against evil. In the first "Fargad" or chapter, the Golden Age of the ancient Aryans is outlined with their greatest king, "Yima Kshaeta" who banished old age and death. Then, the ice age broke on the ancient home and the Aryans were forced to migrate southwards, to the southeast and the southwest.

The Aryans migrated from the ancient home to Iran and from there to India and Greece and Europe such as Germany, Italy, IRELAND (which also mean land of Aryans).

The ancient Iranian Aryans believed that the world as created by Ahura Mazda (God)was perfect, with no evil. The first man Gayo Maretan had no disease, no illness, no hunger and thirst. Only the good creation of God existed eg., the Dog, Cow and Bull, Horse,Birds etc. Then Ahriman the evil one attacked the world and caused evil to appear, disease and illness and old age, and the animals and the first man started to die. Night began to fall (before the sun was at the noon position - fixed, so there was no time). The evil brood of animals appeared eg. snakes, insects, and the cat breed. So evil in the ancient faith is an external introduction, which one day will be purged when the world will be bathed with the purification of fire - the latter also found in old German mythology. Paradise itself will be established on the earth, in the form of the Kingdom of Ahura Mazda. The English word "paradise" itself stems from the Avestan "PairiDaize", meaning the same. Also, the word "garden" probably stems from the Avestan "Garod-man" meaning the House of songs - the ancient name of heaven for the Aryans.

Today 60% of the people of the world are Aryans, in Europeans, Americans, Indians, Greece, Iranians (Includes Aryans from Afghanestan) and many more are all from Noble Race, Aryans, it's Aryans who brought civilisation to this world but it was religion which separate them, it was religion which make them kill eachother and hate eachother, the religion of Aryans, Zoroastrian, was the religion of brotherhood and love. it came to Zoroaster by Angel Gabriel and it was the first Religion of God in 7000 years ago. [Ali Reza]
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…..The Afghan language, or Pashto, is one of the EAST IRANIAN groups of languages. Among its characteristics, it contains a stratum of Indian words (Sanskrit) and its phonetic system has been influenced by Indian phonetic systems, which is not the case of other Iranian languages……...

(Source: Volume III, The crossroads of civilizations: A.D. 250 to 750. Editor B.A. Litvinsky Co-editors Zhang Guang-da and R. Shabani Samghabadi; Tokharistan and Gandhara under Western Türk rule (650 - 750) Part One History of the regions (J. Harmatta) Part Two Languages, literature, coinage, architecture and art (B. A. Litvinsky)

According to scholars, (Michael Witzel, Dr J. C. Vidyalankar, Rodney Lingam etc) Avestan was the language of the east Iranians whom they call the Kambojas.

According to Dr Michael Witzel, Avestan in the earlier times was the language of the region where the Pashto is spoken today.

The modern Pashto language had also evolved from the Avestan language.

The Young Avestan was the language of the Iranian Kambojas i.e. the Kambojas living in East Iran…the land of the Avestan speakers. [cf: Michael Witzel: East Iran=Ancient Kamboja].

Concludes Dr Michael witzel: In short, my Siddhaanta is that the Kambojas are an east Iranian people living in the Arachosia/Kandahar area and that they spoke a form of later Avestan, long before Pashto etc. took over in these areas… [Dr. Michael Witzel, Harvard University]

According to Sir Grierson, a distinguished Indianist and linguistic expert, Kambojas were a barbarous tribe of the north-west who either spoke Sanskrit with an infusion of Iranian words to which they gave Indian Inflexions or also spoke a language partly Indo-Aryan and partly Iranian (J.R.A.S. 1911, pp 801-802: See also ancient evidence/documentation from Yasaka (Nirukuta II.2)

………. and they (Kambojas) spoke a language which was either half Indian and half Iranian or any how had an infusion of Iranian words. (The Greeks in Bacteria and India, 1966, Pp 170, 138 by W.W. Tarn).

Yaska in the Nirukta, a text of about 500 B.C. explaining with illustrations certain selected Vedic words, tells us that the speech of the Kambojas differed in certain respects from the ordinary Indian speech, referring doubtless to the tribes living north-west of the Indus who bore that name. [Ref: Extension of the Aryan Civilisation; later Samhitas, Brahmanas, p 104, ch V, p 104)

Several European scholars have suggested that the Kamboja people were a MIXED TRIBE HAVING ETHNIC, LINGUISTIC AND POLITICAL AFFINITIES shared both with the IRANIANS AND INDIANS PEOPLE. (ref: Afghanistan, its people, its Society, its culture, by Dr Donald Wilber 1962, p 50; Afghanistan, Study of Political Developments in Central and Southern Asia, 1967, p 58, by Dr W. K. Fraser Tytler, Dr M. C. Gillet, cf: Dr Serge Thion etc etc).

Kambojas probably had both Iranian and Indian affinities. (Vedic Index of Names and Subjects Vol-I, p 138, by Dr A. A. Mcdonnel, Dr. A. B. Keath)

There are approximately 23 million Pashto-speakers in Afghanistan and Pakistan today[ . Morgenstierne, 1942; Gryunberg, 1987]
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Old11-18-2001, 01:54 AM
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Let us resume the main topic:
The Vata (=Varta)-Ashavkas were the Ashvakas who inhabited Eastern Afghanistan and who were included in the general term Kambojas. On their coins, there is a Kaboli in long robes doing obesiecance to Maurya symbol, Chandra on hill (J. R. A. S. 1936, 437). ………..The legend is in old Sanskrit script (brahmi)—Vatasvake. Here Vata is corruption of Varta which reminds us of varta-shasteropajivin description of theirs (Kambojas) in the Arathshastera….. [Hindu Polity, Part I & II, 1978, p 121, Dr jayswal]
Cf: Kambhoj-Surashtra-Kashatrya-shrenadyo-varta-shasteropajivin (A. S. XI.1.160, p 376) One of this group of republics seem to bear the name vata (=varta) ashvakas, the Ashvakas following varta (horse breeding/raising/trading). [see J.B.O.R.S. , XX, 289 on their coins]. (cf: op cit p 51, Dr Jayswal).

Pahlava-Sveta-Huna (white Huns)-chola (i.e.northern) (cf Ency Brit (11th ed, XIII, 330)- Avagana (=apagana=afghan)=Maru-China (XVI, 38, Vrahamihira, Brahata-Samhita).

Cf: ….But the Mecedonian conqueror made short shrift of the arrangement of Darius and over-running the Achaemenian empire, dashed into Afghanistan and encountered the stiff resistence from the Kambojas tribes called Aspasian and Assakenois, known in Indian texts as Ashvaya and Ashvakayana…..…[source: Punjab Past and Present, pp 9-10, History of Poros, pp 12, 38, by Dr Buddha Parkash).

Dr L. M. Joshi and Dr Fauja Singh, the two well known scholars of Punjab have also identified the Aspasios and Assakenois of the Greek with the Kambojas of Indian Texts. [History of Punjab, Vol I, by Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh).

Dr H. C. Raychaudhury and Dr B. N. Mukerjee, two very well known scholars of Bengal also identify the Assakenois/Aspasiois of the Greeks with the Ashvakas of Sanskrit texts and further with the Kambojas of ancient Sanskrit/Opalli Texts. (ref: Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 133, 216, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee). The reigning king of the Assakenois tribe at the time of Alexandra Assakenos. (P.H.A.C, 1996, p 217, Dr Raychaudhary, Dr B. N. Mukerjee). States Dr Raychaudhury: With the expression Assanam-ayatanam, ‘land of horses’ used by Pali texts in reference to the Kambojas (Dictionery of ali Proper Names, I, 526; cf MBH., VI.90.3) may be compared to the names Aspasio ans Assakenois given by the classical writers to the sturdy tribes living in Alishang and Swat valleys in the days of Alexandra (Camb Hidt Ind. I, 352 n). [PHAI 1996, p 133 fn 5, cf: p 216 fn 3).

Afrikes or Erix was an offshoot of the Ashvaka/Ashvakan Kamboja subtribe, whose chieftain had also been called Aphrikes by Diodoros or Erix by Curtius, obviously after the name of the sub-tribe (Aphrikese/Erixes) he represented or headed, as is usual for the Greek writers. ( The Afrikes tribe also appears mentioned as Aprytae in other classical writings of the Greeks: Ref: Gates of India, 1910 by Colonel Sir Dr Thomas Holdich, K. C. M. G., K. C.I. E., C. B. D. Sc; for Aparita/Apritah=Afridi, cf Hindu Polity, Part I & II, 1978, p 123, Dr Jayswal). This Afrikes, the king of Afrikese tribe, faced the onslaught of Alexandra after the defeat of other wing of his tribal branch called Aornos or Ora. The tribal name Afridi whose representaives are the modern Afridi Pashtuns, living mainly around the Khyber Pass these days is evidently derived from this above Aphrikes or Erix or Aprytae, according to the historians (Ref: Kamboja People and the Country 1979 by Dr. J. Lal Kamboj, These Kamboj people 1979 by K. S. Dard p 128, History of Panjaby Vol I& II by Dr. Fauja Singh and Dr L. M. Joshi). This Aphrikes of Diodoros and Erix of Curtius has been described as the brother of the king or chief of Assakenois (=Ashvakan) Kamboja tribe. (ref: Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 217, Dr Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee)..Chief Aphrikes led the flying defenders of the famous fortress of Aornos (Ora) against the Greeks (Camb Hist Ind I 356). Aornos is identified by Sir Aurel Stein with the height of Una between Swat and the Indus (Alexandera’s Campaign on the Frontier, Benares Hindu University, Magazine, Jan, 1927). The southern side of the stronghold was washed by the Indus (Invasion of Alexandra, 271). The inhabitants thus seem to have migrated to Khyber Pass and Kamma valley. The geographical region of Afghanistan to the south-east of Kabol river, falling between Jalabad and the famous Khyber Pass of Sfedkoh mountain system is also still called the Kamm or Kamma valley (Ref: Struggle for Afghanistan 1991 page 158 by Nancy P Newell, Richards C. Newell) which further reminds us of the ancient Kamboja vestige left in this area, south-east of the Kabol river. [cf: ref: Military Text Books Series: From Black Mountain to Wazirstan, by Col H. C. Wylly, C. B. 1912, p 237, 227 cf also: Kamma Daka, Kamma Shilman, Kamma Bela regions names]. These regions are the modern habitats of the Afridi tribe. Thus we learn that Afridis are also the descendents of ancient Ashvakan/Ashvakayan/Aspasin/Asvayan Kamboja tribes. [cf: History of Punjab, Vol I, by Dr Fauja Singh, Dr L. M. Joshi; also cf: These Kamboj People, 1980, p 128, K. S. Dardi; also cf: Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 287].

The Ancient Kamboja was a country famous for its finest breed of horses. Says Dr Michael Witzel: ….The best horses, according to Kautalya, are said to come from Kamboja (Kautlya Arathshaster 2.30.29) which is also well known from Mahabharata and Buddhist Jatakas (see Journal of Royal Asiatic Society 1912, p 253)….The Buddhist Jataka Sumanglavilasini designates the Kamboja land as the land of horses [‘Kambojo- Assan-ayatanam’: Sumanglavilasini (P.T.S.), Vol I, p 124] …which expression means: Kamboja== > home of horses. {also compare: Brahamanda, II, 2.16.16. D.P.P.N., I, p 526; Visuddhimagga, (.P.T.S.) 332; Jataka no 504, according to Jain Uttaradhyanasutra, a trained Kamboja steed excels all other horses (S.B.E. XLV, p 47; MBH II., 49.20; 51.4; 90.3; VII, 23.7; 36.36;X.132; Vamsa Bhaskara Madhyapithika etc etc. For Association of Kambojas with Ashvas, see our earlier write-up on "Kambojas and Their World Class Horses").

The horse is called Ashava in Sanskrit and Assan in Pali. Thus the ‘Assan’ of the Sumandlavilasini and several other Buddhist Jatakas refer to Ashva /Ashvaka of Sanskrit texts. The Kambojas were also popularly known as Ashvaka or Ashvakan, Ashvakayan or Asvayan in Sanskrit literature (e.g. Panini IV.3.99). The name also appears as Assaka in Palli texts. Here Ashvaka/Ashvakan/Ashvakayan (nickname) etc refer to the people connected with the horses..they were so nicknamed because of their prominent profession for breeding/rasing and trading horses etc. == >Thus the Kambojas, by virtue of their profession connected with horses, were popularly called Ashvakas or Ashvakans etc (cf: Dr K. P. Jayswal, Hindu Polity, p 140).

Besides the several authorities quoted above, other scholars like Dr Romila Thapar, B. Mathew etc and several more also identify the Ashavakas/Aspasins (Greek Assakenois/Aspasios) as being the sub-tribes of the general major tribe known in Sanskrit/Palli texts as Kambojas.

ASPASIOI/ASPASIS (Asvayans, Aspasins, Aspasians): Tribal people who were living in the valley of Kunar/Chitral rivers to north-west Indian Frontiers at the time of invasion of Alexandra, the great, had offered stiff resistance to Greek invader and Alexandra had to fight two battles with them before were finally reduced to submission [extract taken from: Dictionary of Indian History, 1967 by S. N. Bhattacharya, George Braziller, N. Y.]

ASAKANOIS (Ashvak/Ashvakan/Ashvakayan/Askenians): Tribal people who occupied at the time of invasion of India by Alexandra; the great portion of their the Swat valley near Markand pass, had a large army and seat of their government was at the fortified place called Massaga. It was formidable fortress , protected by nature and human art. Assakenois offered very stout resistance & on one occasion succeeded in wounding Alexandra with an arrow. But in the end, Alexandra triumphed, the fort of Massaga was captured and Assakenois were reduced to submission after severe slaughter. [extract taken from: Dictionary of Indian History, 1967 by S. N. Bhattacharya, Goerge Brazillar, N. Y.]

The relics of these clans are still identifiable from the modern Kamboja clan names like Ashoke, Asoi/Soi, Asavan/Sawan etc. The other well known Kamboja clans living in Kunar/Swat Valley
During the times of Alexandra were Gureans (=Gore), Gandaris (=Gandhe/Gaindey/Gandher), Mallois (=Mallas), Sabagrae (=Sabras), Glauganicians/Gillausians (=Gillauvey) etc. The names within brackets are the modern Kamboja surnames of these ancient clans.

The area of Kunar/Swat and Panjkors etc was inhabited by these Kamboja tribes during Alexdra’s times. The descendents of the Gureans are modern Gore tribe whose branches can still be found around the confluence of Swat/Panjkora rivers as well as on both sides of Kabol river where it merges with Lundei river. Note also that Lunde/Lundei is also a clan of the modern Kambojas.

Thus we gather that the Ashvakas/Ashvakans/Ashvakayans/Asvayans people were the clans of Kambojas. The general name for the tribe to which these people belonged was Kamboja. But local name Ashvaka was applied to the inhabitants of Kunar/Swat and Panjkora valleys simply because of their chief profession i.e. because they were famous people as horse breeders/raisers/traders.[ Cf: The Vata (=Varta)-Ashavkas were the Ashvakas who inhabited Eastern Afghanistan and who were included in the general term Kambojas ref p 121 of Hindu Polity, Dr Jayswal]

The modern Kambojas have physiognomic features resembling most prominently with many clans of modern Afghans. According to researcher K. S. Dardi, the Kambojas can be easily identified from other clans of Punjab on account of their unique physiognomic features. Ethnically, they are generally well built and tall people with brown eyes, sharp noses, reddish transparent body color, broad chests and long necks……. They resemble more with the Iranians and Afghans than any other tribes of north India (op cit. K. S. Dardi, p 346/47, 192-193 etc).

Cf also: Kambojas probably had both Iranian as well as Indian affinities. (Vedic Index of Names and Subjects Vol-I, p 138, by Dr A. A. Mcdonnel, Dr. A. B. Keath)

A. H. Bingley, in his well known book [The Sikhs], endorses the opinions of another English investigator about the Kambojas. Writes A. H. Bingley: …..One critique describes them ( Kambohs) as a tall, strong, skillful and stiff- necked race and therefore RESMBLING MORE WITH THE AFGHANS than ANY OF THE OTHER HINDU RACES living in the plains of Punjab among whom they (Kambohs) have now settled for several generations…….They are fit for military recruitment because they are generally a hardy and of powerful physique . [The Sikhs, A. H. Bingley, 1970, p 57].

The above are the comments of one English investigator about the Kambojas of Punjab which A. H. Bingley has reproduced as above in reference to the Kambojas, in his well known book.

[On Kambojas’ excellent physical build, hardiness and enduring courage which have been appreciated as their great qualities for military recruitment, please also compare: They (Kambohs) make excellent soldiers, being of a very fine physique and possessing great courage………. [Source: The Sikhs and the Sikhs wars: Reginald Holder (From the Punjab past and present Vol IV, Part I, April 1970 Serial No 7, edited by Dr Ganda Singh).]

And we have already demonstrated above based on scientific etymology, the name AFGHAN is evidently derived from the name of Ashvakan/Ashvakayan/Asvayan Kamboja sub-tribes…And these sub- tribes were just a particular clans of a vast frontier tribe known by the general name Kamboja in Sanskrit/Pali literature .

After his detailed investigation of the Kambojas and the Avestan language, Dr Michael Witzel ( Harvard University, USA) has concluded that ‘Kamboja’ was a general name for a numerous Iranian speaking people (non-Indo-Aryans=Iranian Aryans) living on the border lands of India and Iran. Most probably, the Kamboja was a blanket term covering all non-Indo-Aryans on the western border (cf: Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, I, p 10, with ann; p. XXXVIII) [Early Eastern Iran And the Atharaveda, Persica-9, 1980, p 115, fn 87], Dr Witzel.


IMPORTANT NOTE:: Kophen, Kaoufu, Kophes, Kubha, Kabol, Kipin, Kapicene, Kapish, Kambysis etc are synonymous terms, according to numerous scholars who further link these terms with Sanskrit Kamboj, Kabuj etc [, J.W. Mcgrindle, Sir H. M. Elliot, R. K. Mukerjee, Dr D. C. Sircar, Dr J. L. Kamboj etc]
For Kabuj=Kamboj, also ref to Dasam Granth, M/S Bhai Chater Singh ji & Co by Bhai Narain Singh Ji Giani, corrections by Dr Ajit singh Ji Aulakh Ph D
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Old11-18-2001, 02:00 AM
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An article written by DENIS N. FERNANDO which he claims he subscribed to the Mahaweli magazine several decades back has received wide publicity in the English media newspapers recently. It not only claims that the Avukana statue is modeled after the recently destroyed Bamiyan Buddha statue in Afghanistan but that it was a replica of the latter. When used in reference to iconography a replica has to be an exact copy of the original in all respects. The writer does not furnish any evidence to support that it is so. He expects the reader to believe [what he thinks was the sculptor’s view, namely] that ‘’the aesthetic beauty [of the work at Avukuna] was so graceful and pleasing that he gave it the name of the country of origin", which is ‘Afghanistan’ or its variation ‘Avagan’ in Turkish. …The other argument used is the seeming parallel in the names ‘Avukana’ and ‘Afghanistan’ or rather its variation in Turkish which the writer calls ‘Avagan’. [D. G. B. de Silva]



The above views by writers do confirm that the name Afghan or its equivalent form was indeed in existence much before Prophet Mohammad. But what was the true etymology and the acceptable logical and scientific explanation to the origin of the term AFGHAN has not been satisfactorily explained. It is fashion with numerous modern Moslem clans these days to link themselves/or trace their origin to Arab and claim that name Afghan has Arabic origin. But fashion or fad does not constitute genuine history.
The true origin of name Afghan….the more logical, scientific and reliable view comes from famous scholar of the classics, J. W. Mcgrindle, who states that:
 The name Afghan however has evidently been derived from ASHVAKAN, the ASSAKENOIS of historian Arrian (ref: Mcgrindle in Megasthenes and Arrian., p 180).
Dr Nand Lal Dey further endorses the above views of J. W. Mcgrindle (Goeographical Dictionery of Ancient and Medieval India, by N. L. Dey,).
Front ranking Indian historians and scholar like Dr J. C. Vidyalankar, in his classical book, ‘Itihaas Parvesh (An Introduction to History, 1948) also accept that the name Afghan is apparently seem to be evolved from Aspas or/and Ashvaks of the Sanskrit texts (Ashakayan/ Ashvakan and Asvayan of Panini).
Phillip Smith states that: Some modern scholars think that Afghan preserve the name of Assaceni (Curtius VIII, 10, 5.38), Assacani (Arrian Anab IV 25, V.20)  .

Note here that Assaceni and Assacani of the Greeks are the same tribes as the Aspasios and Assakenois of the other Greek writers. [These Asscani/Assaceni and Assakenois/Aspasios are the same as Sanskrit Ashavak/Ashvakan/Ashvakayan, Asvayan etc mentined in Panini IV-1, 110, 99 Ashtadhyai]

Cf: The tribes living in the hilly regions in the valleys of Kunar, Swat and Panjkora valleys have been called Aspasios and Assakenois (from Iranian Aspa=Sanskrit Ashva). Their Indian names may be taken to be Ashvayana and Ashvakayana, as mentioned by Panini (IV. 1,110,99). The coins known as vatasvaka are attributed to these people, who might be identified with Ashvaka (=Ashmaka mentioned by Panini (IV,1, 173). [Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, pp 98-100: History and Culture of Indian People, the Age of Imperial Unity, Vol II, p 45, Dr A. D. Pusalkar, Dr R. C. Majumdar, Dr Munshi etc.; cf: Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, pp 177178, Dr J. L. Kamboj; cf: These Kamboj People, 1980, pp118, 119,192].

NOTE THE CLASSICAL TRIBES OF PAROPAMISADEAN REGION: Assaceni (Curtius, VIII, 16. 5.38), Assacani Arrian Anab. IV, 25,V.20) Arrian treats them as separate tribes. Strabo distinguishes his Astaceni from the subjects of Asscenus, Aspasii, Guraei, Masiani and Nysaei. Nysaei are described as non-Indian while all the rest are described as Indian tribes[Dictionery of Greek and Roman Geography, 1843/1966, Vol I, p 243]
The CHIEF CITIES are described as Massaga, Peucela, Aornos (Ora), Bazira, Arigaeum, Andaka, Orobatis, Embolima and Dyrita.

Besides the views of the scholars as referred to above, there are numerous more well known scholars and Indologists like Luis Bishop and others also accept that that the name ‘Afghan’ is apparently derived from Ashvak/Ashvakan/Ashvakayan/Asvayan of Panini/Sanskrit texts.

Further also refer to ‘Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography’: Vol I, 1843/1966, William Smith, DCL, LLD, p 243).

Dr J. L. Kamboj, a distinguished Sanskrit scholar and specialist on ancient Kambojas, also agrees with scholars like J. W. Mcgrindle, Dr J. C. Vidyalankar etc who state that name ‘Afghan’ evolved from Sanskrit ASHVAKAN, the ASSAKENOIS of historian Arrian. (Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 118: also cf: K. S. Dardi: These Kamboj People, 1980, p 192).

[The use of ‘Ogan’ for Afghan has been reported by Sir Rober Scot in his well known book The Kafirs of Hindukush, 1895,]

[The term ‘Awagan’ for Afghan is also is in use in Afghanistan till date [p 14, Afganistan, its People, its Society, its Culture, 1962, by Donald N. Milber].

[The use of Avagan for Afghan is documented by Vrahamihira in his Brahata Samhiti, 16.38, as already stated above].


Ashvaka (Sanskrit texts)== > Ashvakayan (Panini IV-1, 110, 99; Ashtadhyai] == > Ashvakan (J. W. Mcgrindlle) == > Awakan == >Avakan (=Avukan, Denis N. Fernando) ==> Avagan (Brahta-Samhita of Varaha Mihira, cf: also ‘Avagan’ in Turkish, cf: also ‘Avagan’ in Firdousi’s Shahnama) == Awagan (= Ogan, Robert Scot) ==Apkan (=Abgan) [official records of Persian king Shapur III, 309-379 AD we find the term Apkan which term also appears as ‘Abagan’ in Sassanian records; also cf: A-po-kien (=Apkan) of Chinese Hiuen Tsang] == > Apagan (Dr Jayswal) == > Afghan. (seems quite logical to us).

The modern descendents of the ancient Ashvakan/Ashvakayan Kamboja clans of Panini are the Aspins of the Chitral and Yashkuns or Mashkuns of the Gilgit. The Massaga city of the Greek historians has its modern name as Mashkayan. This is the same city as the Mashkavati of Panini. This city is about 24 miles from Bazaur. The Asvayan Kamboja clans of Panini (Aspasins/Aspasians, Aspas) find their modern descendents in Asp, Isap, Pachai and Yusufzais. (A Comprehensive Hist of India, Vol II, p 118, Dr N. K. Shastry; Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 278, Dr J. L. Kamboj, These Kamboj People, 1980, p 120, K. S. Dardi). Asvayans, the ancestors of these people lived between Indus and Kabol rivers at the times of Alexander invasion.


There is one school of eminent scholars/Indologists identifying or locating ancient Kamboja mentioned in the Buddhist Jatakas and Sanskrit texts in the Paropamisadean region [SE of Hindukush covering Kabol, Begram, Alishang, Kunar, Swat & Panjkora regions of Afganistan and N.W.F.P of Pakistan] . There are numerous indisputable and irrefutable evidence which puts the ancient Kamboja in the above mentioned territories . This region was called Paropamisadean in Persian/Greek terminology. And it was the land of the Kambojas who stand prominently mentioned in Ashoka’s Inscriptions (Asoka’s Rock edicts V & XIII). [PHAI, 1996, commentary , pp 601,604-613 etc, Dr Raychaushury, Dr Mukerjee]
[For more evidence and further details, refer to the website ‘Location/Identification of Ancient Kamboja Mahajanapada’……the views of seconds school about Kamboja location.].

The first scholar who identified the Asssakenois and Aspasios of the classical writers….(= variously called Ashvaka/Ashvakan/Ashvakayan/Asvayan/Aspasian/Aspasin tribes in Sanskrit texts) with the Kambojas of Ashoka’s R.E. V (Yona-Kamboj-Gandharanam) & R.E. XIII (Yone-Kambojesu) as well as the Kambojas of other numerous Sanskrit and Pali texts was a well known French Indologist, E. Lamotte. (ref: Historie the Buddhism Indien, p 110).

Dr K. P. Jayswal has also established independently that the Assakenois, Aspaasios etc tribes of Greek writers and Ashvakas tribes of the Sanskrit were a clans of the Kambojas [which term was the general name for their vast tribe] mentioned in Ashoka’s R.E (V & XIII) and numerous Sanskrit and Pali Texts.
Argues Dr Jayswal: From Arrian, we get some light on the identification of Yona-Kamboja-Gandharas of the Ashoka. In the edicts these are grouped together, which means, they were all neighbors situated in that order. The enumeration is scientific, being in geographical sequence from west to east, which is confirmed by Arrian (I):--

The region beyond the river Indus on west are inhabited, upto the river Kophen by two Indian tribes, the Astakenois and Assakenois…….The Nysois however are not Indian race, but descendents of those who came into India with Dyonisos…The district in which he planted this colony the named Nysaia (=the Naisaya Janapada of Patanjli)…and city itself Nysa. But the mountain close by the city and on the lower slopes of which is built, is designated Meros (Meru)…In the dominions of the Assakenois, there is a great city called Massaka (Massaga), the seat of of the soverign power which controls the whole realm. And there is is another city, Peukelaitis (Pusklavati=Peshawer) which is also of great size and is not far from Indus. These settlements lie on the otherside of river Indus, and extend in western direction as far as Kophen (Kabol).
Says Dr K. P. Jayswal: Arrian, in the above passage, indicates that the Pusklavati was easternmost in this enumeration, and his Assakenois, or the Ashvakas, were on river Kabol and between the Nysa Yavanas and the Puskalavati. Puskalavati was in Gandhara. Ashoka’s Kambojas were between the Yavaans and the Gandhara. The Kambojas of Ashoka and of Sanskrit and Palli Texts thus occupy exactly the same position as Arrian’s Assakenois (Ashvakas). We thus get another name for the Kambojas i.e. Ashvakas. The Kambojas were famous for their horses and as CAVALARY-MEN (Ashva-Yuddha-Kushlah) [MBH Santi Parva , 105.5 (Kumbakonam, ed.); Ashvakas ,horsemen’ was the term popularly applied to them. [Hindu Polity, 1978, Part I & II, pp 139-140, Dr K. P. Jayswal).
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The Kambojas had been known in history for their best specimen of horses. Not only were they breeder/raisers of best breed of horses, but also were they wonderful cavalary-men and have been designated as Ashva-yudh-kushlah in classical Sanskrit literature.

(1)The Kamboja Cavalry-men in Mahabharata war had played a most prominent role on behalf of Kaurvas.

(2)Kamboja Cavalry had also played a key role in the composite army of Chandergupta Maurya nasd won him the throne of Magadha. (Buddhist Play, Mudrarakshas II.2).

(3)Kamboja cavalary men had aided the Haiyava/Talzung Kashatryas and had usurped the throne of Aydhya from Aryan king Bahu. The Kamboja cavalry-men again fought the second battle of Aydhya against king Sagara.

(4)In Kalika/ Kali war between Vedic king Kalika (Pushpamitra) and the last king of Mauryan, the Buddhist Kamboja Cavalry again sided with the Mauryan king against Vedic king Shungvaamsa Pushpamitra. The Kamboja cavalry has been described as BHIM-VIKARAMA…[i.e. of terrific prowess] in the Kalika Purana (Shloka 20/40).

(5) Kambohojas highlander cavalary-men had also joined the forces of Persian kings and had fought against Greeks and other tribes of the west.
We can quote zillions of instances like the above which clearly proves that Kamboja cavalry was much sought-
after in the ancient times and had helped in raising and maintaining some of the famous empires in ancient world history.

Also Compare:
Both the Puranas and the epics agree that the horses of the Sindhu and Kamboja regions were the finest breed and that the services of the Kambojas as cavalry troopers were requisitioned in ancient wars. In the Mahabharata war the Kambojans were enlisted
source: War in Ancient India - By V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar 1944. p. 103 -105)

They (Kamboja cavalry- soldiers) are said to have fought as far as Egypt and Greek while serving in the armies of Achaemenian kings of Ancient Persia. In this process many of these soldiers had settled in as far as Sudan/Africa [Dr J. L. Kamboj, People and the Country, 1981).

Kamboja and Gandhara were the outermost regions and they had by the fifth century BC already developed significant relations with the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. Evidence exists of tributes being paid to Cyrus of Persia and armies recruited from the two regions battling against the Greeks……….

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Old11-18-2001, 02:06 AM
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Afghans are mentioned as ‘Avagana’ as well as’ Vokana’ by Vrahamihira in (6th c AD) in his Brihat-Samhita (16/38, 11, 61, Brahta-Samhita, Varahamihira).
Cf: Afghans have also been described as ‘Vokanas’ by Vrahamihira in (6th c AD) in his Brihat-Samhita (16/38). [Afghan Immigration in early middle ages—article contributed by K. L. Lal in the book Studies in Asian History, p 20]
Cf: ‘ Pahlava-Sveta-Huna (white Huns)-Chola (i.e.northern) (cf Ency Brit (11th ed, XIII, 330)- Avagana (=Apagana=afghan)=Maru-China (XVI, 38 and XI, 61, Vrahamihira, Brahata-Samhita)’. [Hindu Polity, Part I & II, p 129, Dr Jayswal]
The name ‘Abagan’ was used for the Afghans by Iranians as is documented by the Sassanian Inscriptions of 3rd c AD. [Afghan Immigration in early middle ages—article contributed by K. L. Lal in the book Studies in Asian History, p 20).
Hiuen Tsang, the famous Chinese traveler of 7th c A.D. uses ‘A-po-kien’ for a people living between the Khyber pass and Gazni. Obviously, this Apokien of Hiuen Tsang stands for the term Afghan. [op cit, p 20]
Cf:  On his return journey from India, the Chinese pilgrim Hsüan-Tsang travelled from Varnu (possibly modern Wana) to Jaguda in Ghazni, crossing the land of A-p'o-k'ien, . [ Hui-li 1959, p. 188.] a word derived from Avakan or Avagan, meaning Afghans.
In Islamic sources, the first reliable mention of the Afghans is found in the Hudud al-alam, which says of a settlement on the borders of India and the Ghazni district that ‘there are Afghans there too'. Mention is also made of a local ruler some of whose wives were ‘Afghan women’.[Hudud al’Alam 1930 p. 16-A]
The use of ‘Ogan’ for Afghan has been reported by Sir Robert Scot in his well known book The Kafirs of Hindukush, 1895,)
The term ‘Awagan’ for Afghan is also is in use in Afghanistan till date [p 14, Afganistan, its People, its Society, its Culture, 1962, by Donald N. Milber].
The name Afghan in Turkish which is called ‘Avagan’.
In the official records of Persian king Shapur III, 309-379 AD we find the term ‘Apkan’ (=AFGHAN) referring to Afghan People. Professor Sprengler and Sir Olaf Caroe believe that this Apkan evolved into modern word of "Afghan".
In his Shahnama, Firdousi mentions the term Avagan, referring to a General in Faridoon's army.
The genesis of the word Afghan, as far as I know, is Persian. It is a derivation from the word 'Bagan', which means God. The corruption of this word can be found in the Hindi/Sanskrit language, which is Bhagwan for God .

The word Afghan is derived from the word ‘Abagan’ (i.e. without God), which the Persian coined for the Pakhtuns to describe them as non-believers. The antonym of Bagan (=believer in God) is Abagan (=non-believer) just as the antonym of political is apolitical in the English language.

The Persian bias for the Pakhtuns is a historical fact just like the bias of the Indians or British is in describing the Pakhtuns as savages and un-civilized.

Some authorities describe the genesis of the word Afghan to be a derivative of the Persian word ‘Fughan’, which means noisy lamentation. Since the Persians saw Afghans as noisy and un-civilized, they argue, therefore, they were named as Afghans. (Above views are from L Mar)
One thing becomes very clear from some of the documentation given above. We can at least see from the divergent views above that the name AFGHAN or any of its afore said earlier ‘supposed’ VERSIONS/DERIVATIONS existed from a time much earlier than Prophet Mohammed. Hence the traditional or a puranic account which some Moslem Afghan clans give about the origin of name ‘Afghan’ from the personal name of Afghana, the son of Qias is obviously a fallacy and hence misleading.
COMPARE: Although the origins of the Afghans probably lie in very ancient times, [ Morgenstierne, 1940; Grantovskiy, 1963] the first mentions of the Afghan people appear only in the sixth and seventh centuries.

Historically, the Afghans are first mentioned by name (Avagana) by early sith century Indian astronmer Varaha Migira in his Brahat Samhiti. A little later, the Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang mentions a tribe of A-po’kien, located in the Sulayman mountains. The earliest Moslem works mentioning them are the Hudud al’Alam (982 A.D.), the Tarikh-I-Yamini and those of Biruni. The Indian appellation Pathan does not occur till 16th c, but the change into Pathan (from plural of Pushtun; Pushtana) indicates that it must have been used at a much earlier date. Biruni places the Afghans in western frontier mountains of India. No Afghan settlement west of Ghazni is mentioned by early authors. The origin and early history of westernmost Pushtun tribe, the Abdalis remains obsecure [op cit, p 40]
In warfare at the end of twelfth century between the Moslems and Hindus, Afghans are represented as fighting on both sides, which suggests that although legend places their conversion in the early Islamic period, they had not yet all been converted to Islam. Repeatedly, they are referred to as a rebellious and turbulent people. Timur considered them brigands and is reported to have ravaged their strongholds ain the Sulayman mountains. Their reputation as a fierce race of mountain robbers and occasionally, soldiers of fortune turned to fame with rise to power in India of the Afghans adventurer, Daulat Khan Ludi of Ludi clan of Ghilzai………. [ibid, pp 40-41]

AFGHAN & AFGHANISTAN: An Etymological Overview.
By: Farid Maiwandi:

The earliest record of the word "Afghan" was found in a tablet at Naqsh-i-Rostam in Shiraz. Written during the reign of the Sassanid King, Shapur I who ruled between 260-273 AD, the tablet refers to a certain military officer as Vindifer Abgan Rasmand. Translated in modern Persian it means Vindafer Salar-i Jangi-e Abgan. The word Abgan is an old Pahlavi (Parthian) word, which is believed to be the derivative form of an adjective describing robustness, resilience, or bravery.

The word seems to have found a wider usage by the time of Shahpur III, who ruled between 309-379 AD, and used the term Apkan in his official title. Professor Sprengler and Sir Olaf Caroe call this term equivalent to the modern word of "Afghan". In his Shahnama, Firdousi mentions the term Avagan, referring to a General in Faridoon's army.

We encounter the word "Afghan" next in the works of the famous Indian astronomer, Varha-Mihira. He died in 578 AD after he wrote his famous book of Bharata Smitha, where the word "Afghan" appears as Avagana in verses 11-61 and 16-31.

Heun Tsung provides the next recorded reference of "Afghan". He was a Chinese traveller who visited Afghanistan between 629-645 AD. In his Memories of the West, he refers to the territories between Banu and Ghazi as Op-o-Kin. Modern researchers, such as Cunnigham, strongly believe the word Op-o-kin* to be the same as the modern "Afghan".

*COMMENT: The term which appears in Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsong is Ap-o-kien and not Op-o-kin as Farid Majwandi asserts.


It is in this period that the original word of Abgan, Apkan, Avagana, and others becomes Arabicized and transform to "Afghan". The first post-Islamic mention of the word is seen in Hudud-ul Aalam written by Jawzjani in 982 AD. On page 45, he writes about Sool: "which is located on top of a hill, where the ‘Afghans’ live."

In 1025 AD, Al-Atabi wrote his Tarikh-i-Yamini during the reign of Ghaznavids. It provides accounts of how "Afghans" were recruited into Sabuktagin's army. Another giant of the Ghaznavid era, Abu-Raihan Al-Biruni(d. 1048 AD), wrote about "Afghans" in his Kitab-al-Hind. Other mentions of the word "Afghan" or "Afghania" are in Al-Kamil of Ibn-i-Asir, Aadaab-al-Harb Wal-Shuja'a of Fakhr-i-Mudabir, Tabaqat-i-Nasiri of Minhaj Siraj Jawazjani, Tarikh-i-Guzeeda of Hamadulla Mastaufi, Makhzan-i-Afghani of Ferishta and many more.


Just like the name of nations, the names of geographical regions and states go through similar process of adaptability over times, until such time when the name finds national acceptability and becomes part of that country's daily life, history, and literature.

Contrary to popular belief, the word "Afghanistan" did not come to existence during the reign of Ahmad Shah Durrani who ruled only as recently as in the second half of the eighteenth century.

The oldest recorded mention of this word is found in Tarikh-i-Herat of Saifi Herawi, written around 1221 AD. He refers to the region between eastern Afghanistan and the Indus as "Afghanistan".

This clearly indicates that the word "Afghanistan" was in use even at the time when the area was being pillaged and plundered by Mongols and other invaders.

Maulana Kamaludin Samarqandi(b 1413 AD), a courtier of the Timurids of Herat, refers to the same lands that Saifi Herawi had mentioned as "Afghanistan" in his Rozat-ul Janaat. Later we see the word "Afghanistan" in reference to the areas inhabited by today's Afghans in Akbar Nama and similar works. Zahirudin Babur, who was forced to leave Ferghana and came to conquer our homeland in 1525 AD, reigned over territories that the Mughul historians repeatedly referred to as Afghanistan.

Although the origins of the Afghans lie in very ancient times,4 the first mentions of the Afghan people appear only in the sixth and seventh centuries. The Brhat-samhita (XVI, 38 and XI, 61) speaks of the pahlava (Pahlavis), the svetahuna (White Huns or Hephthalites), the avagana (Afghans) and other peoples. On his return journey from India, the Chinese pilgrim Hsüan-tsang travelled from Varnu (possibly modern Wana) to Jaguda in Ghazni, crossing the land of A-p'o-k'ien,5 a word derived from Avakan or Avagan, meaning Afghans. In Islamic sources, the first reliable mention of the Afghans is found in the Hudud al-calam, which says of a settlement on the borders of India and the Ghazni district that ‘there are Afghans there too'. Mention is also made of a local ruler some of whose wives were Afghan women.6 The Afghan language, or Pashto, is one of the East Iranian groups. Among its characteristics, it contains a stratum of Indian words and its phonetic system has been influenced by Indian phonetic systems, which is not the case of other Iranian languages. There are approximately 23 million Pashto-speakers in Afghanistan and Pakistan today.7 The mountains in the east of modern Afghanistan and the north of modern Pakistan were settled by Dards. They were known to the ancient Greek authors, who used several distorted names for them: Derbioi, Durbaioi, Daidala, Dadikai and Derdaios.8 In their descriptions of India, the Puranas speak of the Darada in the same breath as the inhabitants of Kashmir and Gandhara. They are repeatedly mentioned in the Ramayana and the Saddhar-masmrtyupasthana, together with the Odra (the Uddiyana). In Tibetan sources, the Darada are known as the Darta.9
There are two groups of languages that are now generally known as Dardic. The first are the languages of Nuristan (a region of Afghanistan): they form an 'individual branch of the Indo-Iranian family belonging neither to the Indo-Aryan, nor to the Iranian group'. The second group of languages (particularly the Dardic) are 'part of the Indo-Aryan [group], though far departed in their development from the latter'. The two groups, however, have much in common in their 'structural and material features [phonetical, grammatical and lexical]'.10 The Nuristani languages include Kati, Waigali, Ashkun and Prasun (or Paruni) and are chiefly spoken in Nuristan. The Dardic languages proper include Dameli, which is the link between the Nuristani languages and the Central Dardic. According to one classification, the Central Dardic languages comprise Pashai, Shumashti, Glangali, Kalarkalai, Gawar, Tirahi, Kalasha and Khowar. The Eastern Dardic group is divided into three sub-groups containing the Bashkarik, Torwali, Maiyan, Shina, Phalura and Kashmiri languages. In the early 1980s Dardic languages were spoken by 3.5 million people in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, of whom 2.8 million spoke Kashmiri, some 165,000 spoke Khowar and some 120,000 spoke Pashai. The Nuristani languages were spoken by around 120,000 people.11
Burushaski is a completely distinct language: it stands at the confluence of three great families – the Indo-European, the Sino-Tibetan and the Altaic – but belongs to none of them. Its speakers live in northern Pakistan, in the region of the Hunza and Vershikum rivers, and number around 40,000. The language's morphological structure is very rich and the verb has a particularly extensive system of accidence. Burushaski is one of the oldest tongues, but its place in the system of ancient and modern languages remains obscure. Although a literary tradition may well have existed in the early Middle Ages, when Buddhism was widespread, no literary records have been found, which hampers attempts to reconstruct the language's past. There have been repeated attempts to trace its affiliations, and links with the Caucasian, Dravidian, Munda, Basque and other languages have been suggested, but from the standpoint of contemporary linguistics the case is not conclusive. Burushaski was unquestionably more current in ancient times and occupied a number of regions where Dardic languages are now spoken and where Burushaski acted as a substratal or adstratal foundation. Grierson has even postulated that speakers of Burushaski or related languages once inhabited all or almost all the lands now held by Dardic-speaking
1. Lazard, 1971; 1975, pp. 595–7.
2. Fuchs, 1938, p. 452.
3. Oransky, 1988, p. 298.
4. Morgenstierne, 1940; Grantovskiy, 1963.
5. Hui-li, 1959, p. 188.
6. Hudud al-calam, 1930, p. 16-A.
7. Morgenstierne, 1942; Gryunberg, 1987.
8. Francfort, 1985, Vol. 1, pp. 397–8.
9. Tucci, 1977, pp. 11–12.
10. Edelman, 1983, pp. 14–15, 35–6.
11. Morgenstierne, 1944; 1967; 1973; Fussman, 1972; Gryunberg, 1980; Edelman, 1983.
12. Grierson, 1919; Zarubin, 1927; Lorimer, 1935, Vol. 1; 1938 , Vol. 2; Klimov and Edelman, 1970.
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Old11-18-2001, 02:07 AM
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There is a traditional, puranic or hearsay story about the origin of name Afghan. According to Makhzan-e-Afghani written by Niamatulah and Mustaothi Tarikh-e-Guzida, 18th generations down Adam was born Ibrahim who had Talut or Soul as his descendent. Talut had two sons Irmia and Girmia. Irmia had a son named Afghan who is believed to have given his name to Afghans. Qais was successor to Afghan who had come and settled in Ghor in Afghanistan and embraced Islam under Prophet Mohammed. After conversion, he was given the name Abdur Rashid by the Lord, Prophet Mohammed and was conferred the title of Malik or Badshah.

Pathans believe that they are all descended from a common ancestor, Qais. He is said to have met the Prophet Muhammad. The prophet gave Qais the name "Pthun, and Qais was to take Islam back to his home. One of Qais's sons was name Afghana, who had four sons. Every Pathan traces his descent from one of these four sons of Afghana.

Cf: The Abdali clan to whom the famous Afghan general Ahmad Shah Abdali alias Durani (Pearl of Pearls) belonged, claims to be direct descendents of some PERSONAGE named Abdal. Abdal is said to be a successor, five generations in the line to Qais who is stated to have sprung from the Israili tribe. Qais embraced Islam during times of the Prophet and was named Abdur Radhid in accordance with Islamic religious customs. [Ahmad Shah Durani by Dr Ganda Singh, 1959, p12).
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Old11-20-2001, 12:24 AM
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DefaultI have not yet seen/read A. H.
I have not yet seen/read A. H. Bingley's 'English' book on 'The Sikhs' inspite of my desire to do so.I have only presented the text of Bingley on Kambojs from a 'Punjabi text' translating it back into 'English' as best as I could do. My translation might have been somewhat different from the 'original text' of Bingley.

I'm sure there are some readers on this thread who might have access to A. H. Bingley's book on 'The Sikhs' in 'English'. We will appreciate if he can post the English version of Bingley's text on Kambojs on this thread.

Writes A. H. Bingley: …..One critique describes them ( Kambohs) as a tall, strong, skillful and stiff- necked race and therefore RESMBLING MORE WITH THE AFGHANS than ANY OF THE OTHER HINDU RACES living in the plains of Punjab among whom they (Kambohs) have now settled for several generations…….They are fit for military recruitment because they are generally a hardy and of powerful physique . [The Sikhs, A. H. Bingley, 1970, p 57].

The following text of Mr Reginald Holder about Kambojs is however in Original English.

They (Kambohs) make excellent soldiers, being of a very fine physique and possessing great courage………. [Source: The Sikhs and the Sikhs wars: Reginald Holder (From the Punjab past and present Vol IV, Part I, April 1970 Serial No 7, edited by Dr Ganda Singh).]
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Old11-21-2001, 10:21 PM
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Default'Ashvaka' is a Sanskri
'Ashvaka' is a Sanskrit word derived from Ashva. Ashva means the horse. Ashvaka has equivalent in Prakritic languages as 'Assaka' which also find mention in numerous pali Texts.

'Ashvaka' means 'horsemen'.

'Ashvakan' (=Ashvakayan of Panini) means 'horsemen' as well as it also means 'the land or home of horses'.

As stated above, the term 'Ashvakan/Ashvakayan' has also the meaning of "ASSAN-AYATNAM' == >' LAND OF HORSES'. [cf: Kamboja Assan-ayatnam Vol I, p 121, Sumanglavilasini)

Ancient Kamboja was indeed the celebrated 'land of horses' as has been documented by Sumanglavilasini, Mahabharata, Jaina Uttaradhyana Sutra and numerous other Sanskrit/Pali texts as well as by many Inscriptions. Some clans of the Kambojas who were exclusively dedicated to horse-raising/breeding and horse-trading profession were popularly addressed as 'Ashvakas or Ashvakans and Ashvayans' in common parlance. All Kambojas were very famous as cavalary-men and have especially been designated as Ashva-yudh-Kushlah (expert cavalry men)

Tatha Yavana-Kamboja Mathurambhitashach ye/
atai ashva-yudh-kushlah dakshinhatyaasicharminh://
(MBH 12/101/5).

These assakenois/aspasios (Aspasian/assakenian=Ashvakan/Ashvakayan, Ashvayan) were the very Kamboja clans who had offered the stoutest resistance to Alexandra, the Great at 'Massaga fort' [modern Mashkayan]in Swat/Kunar valleys..... . Along with their valiant wives and fearless daughters, these Kamboja clans had fought the Macedonian Army tooth and nail and majority of them had embraced martyrdom. We have already discussed this 'very splendid episode' of the Kamboj history in details, in our previous postings.

And undoubtedly, we are extremely proud of our 'brave Kamboja mothers and sisters' of Massaga who had valiantly crossed the swords with the well trained army of one of the greatest generals in the world history. We bow our heads in respect and salute to our these warrior mothers and sisters!!!!!

N.B. Our previous posts on "Ashvakan Kamboja gave their name to Afghans/Afghanistan" have some inadvertent typo errors as also some off-topic material (some sensitive readers must already have noted it). Sorry, I forgot to wittle down the paste-up which I picked up from some other site. However, the extra information I supplied does not hurt any way.
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Old11-23-2001, 03:59 PM
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There are two consonants sounds 'SH' and 'V' coming between the two vowel sounds "A" and 'A" in the SANSKRIT WORD ASHVAKA… == >‘ASHVAKAYANA’ of PANINI IV-1, 110, 99), ‘ASHVAKANA’ (of J. W. Mcgrindlle)’. Now remember the case of 'KAMBOJA/KAMBOJ' where also the hard consonant sound'J" coming inbetween two vowels "A" and "A" had got 'elitted'!On similar lines, the consonant sound "SH" (though softer than "J") in term ‘ASHVKANA’ falling between two vowels A and A has also got to be 'elited' by laws of linguistics. Remember that consonant sound 'SH' occupies a place immediately preceding consonant 'J' in DEVANAGARI SCRIPT (CHA, CHHA (=SH), JA, JHA ETC) and it belongs to the 'same line' of sounds in the DEVANAGARI script, though it is little softer than 'J'. Hence when consonant 'SH' gets elited from 'ASHVAKANA' we get the term AVAKANA.


Also we find numerous instances in INDO-ARYAN languages where soft ‘V’ and hard B are used interchangeably as also where P’ and PH/F are used interchangeably.

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Old11-23-2001, 04:13 PM
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The Bashgul valley area of Kafirstan in Kunar was inhabited by some Kafir Kamboj tribes which have been variously called Kam, Kamoje, Kamoze, Kamozee Kamtoz and Kastoz by the several investigators. This area was a portion of ancient country known as Kapisha (Panini). The scholars have investigated and now accept that Kapisha and Kamboja are synonymous terms. Some historians state that these Kafirs people are the original inhabitants of the country known as Kapisha. While some state that some Kafirs tribes have come from outside, from Badakshan, Kabol as well as Central Afghanistan (Kandhar). Whataever be the truth in the above statements of the scholars, it is undoubtedly true that many of these Kafir tribes are the descendents of ancient Kamboja tribe. We will not involve ourselves into the controversy as to whether the Nuristani (earstwhile Kafirs) of Kam/Kamoz, Katir/Kamtoz and Wai clans had moved from outside or are the descendents of the ancient Kapisha (Kamboja) tribe of Paropamisadae region of the Persian/Greek chronicles.

The Kam/Kamoz tribe (of Sir Robert Scott) though still numerically about 20,000 is the most dominant tribe of Nuristan. Second largest group called Katirs (or Kamtoz of Robertson Scott) The history of Nuristan, in fact, is the history of the Kam (Kamoz) tribe. Every writer/invesigator who has visited Nuristan and investigated the Kafirstani/Nuristani tribes has mainly concentrated on Kam tribe (being the star tribe of the Bashgul valley) and has devoted 90% of the material to Kam people of Kamdesh. They have, again as again, been styled as the ‘trouble makers’ in Nuristan and have been designated as the virtual kings of Bashgul valley (Kafirs of Hindukush, Sir Robertson Scott)
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Historians state that Kafir and Katir are synonymous words (for ref: Kamboja People and the Country 1979 by Dr. J. Lal Kamboj, Delhi University). The Kafirs & Katirs both refer to the people of Kafirstan (Kti, Katirs and Katawar=residents of the Katawar of medieval age= ancient Katas, a Kashatrya people).

Cf: In the west lived Kambojas and Katas who were expert in the warfare and were famous for their tenacity and courage [Ref: Hindu polity (The Ordinance of Manu) 1972 page 29 by Dr Arthur Coke Burnell].

According to Dr Thomas Holdich: "It appears that name Katawar was the general name for northern regions of Kafirstan…." (Ref: Gateways of India 1910, page 355, by Dr Thomas Holdich). Dr George Scott Robertson differentiates Katirs from Kti or Katawer Kafirs living in the modern Kti valley neighboring the Bashgul valley which region is the land of the Kamoj/Kamoz Kafirs.

A fraction of the Mediaeval age (14 th century AD) Katirs, Ktis, Katawer Kafirs of the Kti or Katawer valley are the modern Kafirs of Kafirstan while the rest form the fringe of the population who have over the years embraced Islam and now constitute the inveterate and truculent Mohamdans of the surrounding Afghanistan (Gate Way to India, Dr Thomas Holdich)

In fact, Katirs are an important and numerous tribal clan of the Shiaposh tribal group of Kafirstan and one of their principal tribes is still called Kamtoze in Pushtu [ Kafirs of Hindukush, Sir George Scott Robertson (1896)].

The word Kapisha or Kapisa is believed to have evolved from Sanskrit Kamboja, Persian Kambujia/Kambaujia or the Greek Kambysis. The inhabitants of Kapisa were a scion of the Kamboja people. In their writings, the ancient Arab geographers have written Kapisha, Kapisa , Kophen, Kapicene, Kipin etc as Kapis-stan. By popular mistake and by twist of history and time, this Kapis-stan later turned first into Kapir-stan (literally a land of the Kapir people, where Kapirs may be the same as Katirs) which further evolved into Kafir-stan which literally means the land of the ‘infidels’ or non-believers. Linguistically, the word ‘Kafir’ is derived from word ‘Kapir’ & ‘Kapir’ from ‘Kapis’ which is philological variation of some of the numerous Kamboja synonyms like Kieufieu, Kaofeu, Kubha, Kophen, Kapiscene, Kipin, Cambysis/Kambysis etc as wel will see soon.

Cf: The word Kafir in Kafir-stan needs some explanation. This does not seem to same as the Arabic word which implies ‘non-believer’ or ‘idolator’. To all probability, this Kafir is the philogical evolution from an ancient term ‘Kapir’. This way, Kafirstan, in fact, should mean the ’land of the Kapir people’. This term Kapir appears to be a version of Sanskrit term Kapisha. Here ‘sh’ of Kapish changed into ‘r’ in Kapir. This is not a surprise. The name of King Kanishak who ruled this land is found written as Kanerak as well. Here ‘sh’ of Kanishaka has changed into ‘r’ in Kanerka. This further evidences that the ancient name ‘Kapish’ first evoved into ‘Kapir’ and still later into well known ‘Kafir’. And Dr S Levi has already demonstrated that Kipin was another version of Kapir. Further, it has also been demonstarated that, philogically, ancient term Kapisha is another version of standard Sanskrit term Kamboja. (Geographical and Economical Studies in the Mahabharata, Upayana Parva, JUPHS, Vol XVI., Part II, 1943, pp48-53,Ancient Kamboja People and the Country, 1981, p 46, Dr J. L. Kamboj; cf: Cultural Heritage of India Vol I page 44,)

Based on the establishment of similarity between terms Kapisha with Kamboja, by Dr S. Levi, another Indologist Dr Motichander has suggested that the prefix ‘Kam’ in Kamdesh, Kamash/Kamach (name of a river in Kairstan), etc is very significant. In Kafir language, Kamdesh is also called Kambrom. The upper part of Bashgul valley is called Kargul. In Chitrali it is called Lutdeh while in Pushto it is Kamtoz. The middle part of Bashgul valley is called Madugul in Chitrali. The lower part is called Kam. In Chitrali it is called Kamdesh, while in Pashtu it is Kamoz. The Kam of Bashgul and Kamtoz of Pashtu reminds us of the ancient Kambojas of Kafirstan. [ Ancient Kamboja People and the Country, 1981, p 46, Dr J. L. Kamboj]

IMPORTANT: There are other relics of ancient Kamboja tribe still found in this land of Kafirstan of today (e.g. a place name Kamach or Kamash (p 158, Kafirs of Hindukush), a river name Kamah or Kama (p 81, Kafirs of Hindukush; palso called pech), and a pass named as Kammoh or Kammah. Besides, a villages in the area is also known as Kamu, Kamo (p 77 Kafirs of Hindukush), a hill known as Kama-tol (Kam cliff), a small valley in Bashagul known as Kama-gul (Richard F. Strand, Accounts of Kam History and Culture) also cf: Headquarters of Kama tribes is known as Kamdesh (Country of Kams…cf Kamboj desh) or Kambrom. Etc. Ref: The Kafirs of Hindukush p 77, by George Scott Robertson; pl also ref to the The official Gazzetteer of Afghanistan).

Also the geographical region of Afghanistan to the south-east of Kabol river, falling between Jalabad and the famous Khyber Pass of Sfedkoh mountain system is also still called the Kamm or Kamma valley (Ref: Struggle for Afghanistan 1991 page 158 by Nancy P Newell, Richards C. Newell) which further reminds us of the ancient Kamboja vestige left in this area, south-east of the Kabol river. [cf: ref: Military Text Books Series: From Black Mountain to Wazirstan, by Col H. C. Wylly, C. B. 1912, p 237, 227, cf also: Kamma Daka, Kamma Shilman, Kamma Bela regions names. These regions are the modern habitats of the Afridi tribe]

Cf: There is apparent trace of their (Kamboja’s) name in the ‘Caumozee’ of Kafirstan, who may have retreated to the mountains before the advance of Turk tribes: (Vishnu Purana, p 299, f.n. 15, H. H. Wilson; The Achamenids and India, p 13, De S. Chattopadhya ).

Cf: Writes Dr Nand Lal Dey According to Dr Loh, the Shiaposh tribes living in the Hindukush mountains are the descendents of the Kamboja people. (The Geographical Dictionery of Ancient and Medieval India p 87, by Dr. Nundo Lal Dey)

Cf: The western boundaries of ancient Kamboja must have reached Kafirstan. Elphinstone found in that district tribes like the Caumojee, Camoze and Camoje whose name remind us of the Kambojas [ ref: Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 133 by Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee, cf: M. Elphinstone, an account of the kingdom of Caubol, Vol II, pp. 375-377; cf: Bombay Gazetteer, I. 1, 498 n; cf: Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, 1843, 140; cf: Journal and Proceeding of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1874, 260 n; cf: Wilson H. H. Vishnu Purana, P III, 292].

There are tribes like Caumojee, Camtoze and Caumozee living in eastern Afghanistan. British researcher M. Elphinstone has found that these terms are apparently connected with Sanskrit term Kamboj. Before the arrivel of Turks, these tribes must have retreated into their present mountainous abodes. [Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 43-44, Dr J. L. Kamboj].

Cf: The Kambojas were inhabitants of regions around Hindukush mountain.. According to Elphinstone, many modern Kafirs of this region still address them as Kamohs (Sindhant Kaumde, Arathparkashaka, 1966, pp 20-22, by Acharya Radha Raman Pande)

Cf: Dr W. W. Tarn calls Kafirstan and Kapicene or Kapisa as the homeland of Kambojas. This region has also been known in history as the Parapamisdae Strappy of the Greeks as well as of the Achaemenian kings of Persia. "The Kapisha was the gate way of Kamboja country and formed its integral part" opines Dr Tarn (Ref: (Ref: The Greeks in Bacteria and India 1966 p 170, 461, by Dr W. W. Tarn ).

Cf: All that seem at all certain is that parts of modern Kafirstan formed a portion of Greek Strappy of Paropamisadea in 4th – 3rd c B.C. & the people were then called Kambojas who were of mixed Indo-Iranian descent. In fact, the scholars are of the opinion that Kamboja and Kapisha the native city of adjoining Greek Capital might be identical. .(Afghanistan, A Study of Political Developments in Central & Southern Asia, 3rd edition, 1967, p 58, W. K. Fraser- Tytler, M. C. Gillett ).

Cf: Parts of Nuristan (Kafirstan) formed a portion of Greek satrapy of the Paropamisadae in the fourth and third c B.C. The People were then called Kambojas and described as of mixed Indo-Iranian descent. Possibly they occupied a much larger area then and were gradually forced from central Afghanistan into their present mountains by the Moslem onslaught. One of their principal tribes is still called Kam or Kamtoz… (Afghanistan, its people, its Society, its culture, 1962, p 50, Donald N. Wilber)

Cf: Kadphizes is not a personal name, but derived from the name of a country which is variously called Kapisha, Kamboja etc (EI., Vol XIX-1, p 11).
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Old11-23-2001, 09:32 PM
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In the earlier nineteenth century, a British researcher Sir Mountstuart Elphenstone had also traveled through some parts of the impenetrable Kafirstan area of the Hindukush mountains and had met with several tribal groups who were called Caumoze, Camojee, Camoze or Cam (Ref: Elphinstone, An account of the kingdom of Cabol, Vol II, page 375-377). Their language, like that of rest of the Kamoze/Kamoje Kafirs of the Bashgul valley is Kati which is dialect of Indo-European language called Dardic language.

The derivation of their language seem fatal to the decent of the Kafirs from Greeks, and their traditions do not furnish us with any distinct account of their origin. The most general and only credible story is that they were expelled by advancing Moslemaans from neighborhood of Qandhar & made several migrations from place to place before they reached their present abode. They allege that they consisited of four tribes called Camoze, Hilar, Silar and Camoje of which the three former embraced the Mohammdan religion but the fouth retained its ancient faith and quitted the native country (Source: An Account of the Kingdom of Cabol, 1972, Oxford University, Press London, N.Y. Vol II, p 376-377 by M. Elphinstone).

Caufirs are remarkable for their fairness and beauty of their complexions……….(op cit p 376).

I must observe that….Pusha tribe of Caufirs which is stated to live towards Caubol and which I doubt not is the origin of Pushawees mentioned by Bauber and still found in the Cohistan of Caubol. (op cit p 376)

The tribes name of the Kaffirs mentioned by M. Elphinstonte are:

Camojee (Camoze, Caumoze, Cam), Camtoze, Kishtojee, Moondigul,Puroonee, Tewaanee, Poonooz, Ushkong, Usmshee, Sunno, Koolumee, Roose, Turkuma, Nisha, Chumga, Wave, Khallum, Demish, Eerait etc (op cit p 376).

"The name Caumojee, Camoze, Caumoze is apparently connected with Kamboja". (M. ElphinstoneAn Account of the Kingdom of caubol, p 619, f,n).

There are several languages among the Caufirs but they have many words in common, and have a near connection with Sanskrit….but also has Persian and Pushto touch in it. (a thousand called by Persian/Pushtoon name). (op cit p 376).

I imagine the inhabitants of Cohistan of caubol to have the same origins , particularly as the name Cohistan is applied to all lately converted Caifirs(op cit p 376).

Yet there are certain fixed festivals which prevail among the Camojees of Camdesh and which are general. Some of them are remarkable, but non resembles any festival I am familiar with except one in which the Caufirs throw ashes at each other as the Hindoos do a sort of poweder during holi (op Cit p 380).
Though exasperated to such fury by the persecutions of the Mohammadans, the Caufirs are in general harmless affectionate and kind hearted people. Though passionate, they are easily appeased. They are merry, playful, found of laughter and altogather of a social and joyous disposition. Even to Mohammadans, they are kind when they admit them as their guests… (op cit p 387).

All that seem at all certain is that parts of modern Kafirstan formed a portion of Greek Strappy of Paropamisadea in ¾ c B.C. & the people were then called Kambojas who were of mixed Indo-Iranian descent. In fact the scholars are of the opinion that Kamboja and Kapisha the native city of adjoining Greek Capital might be identical. .(Afghanistan, A Study of Political Developments in Central & Southern Asia, 3rd edition, 1967, p 58, W. K. Fraser- Tytler, M. C. Gillett ).

Now it seem more probable that at this period the ancestors of the Kafirs inhabited an area of much greater extent than at present. They may, in fact, have been, as they themselves say, the ancient inhabitants of Central Afghanistan who were gradually forced to retreat into the hills in face of continued Mohammadan encroachments. It is therefore possible that the Kafirs & the Kambojas who were apparently good friends of Greeks are the same people, the name Kambojas giving way to word Kafir which is common Moslem name for idolators, but being partly retained in the name of one of their principal tribe called Kam or Kamtoz/ Kamoz.(Afghanistan, A Study of Political Developments in Central & Southern Asia, 3rd edition, 1967, p 58, W. K. Fraser- Tytler, M. C. Gillett ).

Dr Thoms Holdich D. Sc. on Kafirs.
While surveying the Kunar valley along the Kafirstan borderland, I made the acquaintance of two Kam Kafrs of Kamdesh. Who stayed some little time in the Afghan camp, in which my own tent waspitched and who were objects of my much interest to members of the boundary commsission there assembled. They submitted gracefully enough to much cross-examination and amongst other things, they also sang a war hymn to their god Gish and exceuted a religious dance. Gish is not supreme in their mythology, but he is the god who receives by far the greatest amount of attention, for the Kafir of the lower Bashgul valley * is ever on the the raid, always on the watch for a chance for a Mohhamadan life. It is indeed curious that while tolerant enough to allow of the existence of Mohamadan communities, in their midist, they ( Kafirs) rank the life of a Mussulman as one of the greatest object of attainment; so much so that a Kafir's social position is dependent on the activity he displays in searching out the common enemy, and his very right to sing hymns of adoration to his war-god called GISH is strictly limited by the number of Mohammdan lives he has taken…….The Hymn which the Kafirs recired or sang was translated word for word, with the aid of a Chitrali interpreter, by a Munshi, who has the reputation of being most careful interpreter, and following is almost the literal ttranscript, for which I am indebted to Dr MacNab of the Q.O Corpus Guidees: -

· thou who from Gir Nysa’s (lofty heights) was born
· Who from its sevenfold portals didst emerge
· On Katan Chirak thou hast set thine eyes
· Towards (the depth of) Sum Bushgal dost go
· In Sum Baral assembled you have been.
· Sanji from the heights you see; Sanji you consult?
· The council sits. O mad one, wither goest thou?
· Say Sanji. Why dost thou go forth?

The Gir Nysa means mountanin of Nysa. Katan Chirak is ancient town in Minjan Valley Badakshan. Now in ruins. But was the first large place the Kafirs captured and apparently held to be symbol of victory. This reference connects the Kamdesh Kafirs with Badakshan and shows these people to have been more wide spread than they are at present……….

The eminent linguistic authority, Dr Grierson thinks the language in which the hymn is recited is derived from what the Sanskrit writers said was the language of the Pisacas, a people whom they dubbed as ‘demons’ and eaters of raw flesh, and who may be represented by Pashai dwellers in Laghman and in its vicinity to-day. Possibly, the name of the chief village of Kunar valley Pashat may claim the same origin, for Laghman and Kunar both spread their plains to foot of the mountains of Kafirstan …… (Source: The Gates of India, p 131-133; Dr Thomas Holdixch, D. Sc.).

Kafirstan has ever been an unexplored region—a mountain wilderness into which no call of Buddhism ever lured the pilgrim, no Moslem conqueror (excepting per haps Timur) ever set his foot, until the late Mir Abdur Rahman essayed to reduce that region and make it a part of civilized Afghanistan (1896 A.D.). Even he was content to leave it alone after a year or two of vain hammering at its southern gates. Kafirstan formed a part of the medieval province or kingdom of Bolor; but it is always written as the home of an uncouth and savage race of people, with whom, it was difficult to establish intercourse. Kafirstan is however, in these modern days very much curtailed as the home of the Kafirs. Undoubtedly, many of the border tribes fringing the country (Dehgans, Nimchas) who are now to be numbered amongst the most fanatical of Moslem clans, are comparatively new recruits to the faith, and therefore, handle the new broom with tradirional ardour; but they were not so long ago members of the great mixed community of of Kafirs, who driven from many directions into most inaccessible fastnesses of the hills by the advance of stronger races north and south, have occupied remote valleys, preserving their own dioalects, mixing up in strange confusion of Brahman, Zoroasterian and Buddhist tenets with classical mythology, each valley with apparently a law and a language of its own, until it is impossible to unravel the threads of their complicated relationship. Here we should expect to find (and we do find) the last relics of the Greek occupation of Bacteria and here are certainly remnants of a yet more ancient Persian stock, with all the flotsam and jetsam of High Asia intermingled. They are from point of view of Kabol court, all lumped to gather as Kafirs under two denominations, Shiaposh and Lalposh; and not till scientific investigation, such as has not yet reached Afghanistan, can touch them shall we know more than we do now……..  (Ref: The Gates of India 1910, page 270 by Dr Thomas Holdich, D.Sc).