Post by Quadibloc Post by Paul S Person
On Fri, 27 Aug 2021 22:07:13 -0700 (PDT), Quadibloc
On Friday, August 27, 2021 at 6:20:09 PM UTC-6,
Post by email@example.com
What religion or religions were practiced in Afghanistan before
the Muslim conquests?
Looking at Wikipedia's page on the history of Afghanistan, in
addition to Buddhism, Hinduism and Zoroastrianism were also present.
I suspect that, if you go back farther, more obscure and
less-well-known forms of religion preceded those.
Oh, of course, but the people who practiced them may not have left
written records, leaving us in the dark about the details.
Basically everyone in that part of the world spoke Indo-Iranian
languages at some point not long before recorded history. (Treating
some Hindu religious texts as irrelevant, anyway. If you want to
take those seriously, multiply each millennium in question by about
a hundred, and have humans evolve in India.)
Indo-Iranian is mostly now seen as having three branches:
Indo-Aryan - Sanskrit, Hindi, etc. Kashmiri is an outlier from the
Dardic group of Indo-Aryan languages.
Iranian - Persian, "Kurdish", etc. Pashto is not so much of an
outlier in this group.
Nuristani - A small part of Afghanistan, between Kashmiri and Pashto,
is believed still to speak these in-between languages.
Unsurprisingly, these languages' speakers had, until 19th-century
jihads, a pantheon sort of in between the Hindu and Magian pantheons.
(The Magian religion is the one Zoroaster reformed into dualism.)
It's probably a safe bet that in any given part of Afghanistan until
maybe AD 200, you'd find people who worshipped some recognisably
Indo-European pantheon. There were Greeks, there were Scythians,
and there were lots of speakers of Indo-Iranian languages. (Most
Scythians spoke Iranian languages, probably, anyway.) After AD 200
it gets muddier, not least because Buddhism takes more serious hold
I researched this in 2004 because some aspect of my miscellaneous
historical researches convinced me that the people in question were
relevant to the potential survival of the *Greek* pantheon until
early modern times. I'd been living with my mother and then in her
house until she died in 2004, and a friend found me a distraction by
asking me to research things for his planned role-playing game. I
knew of a legend of a lost Roman legion somewhere in Central Asia,
and the only way they could've stayed polytheist up to the campaign
date (1640) would've been to be in, let's say, Nuristan. This was in
keeping with badly informed notions of British scholars of the early
19th century, for example. Mind, we have no reason to think such a
legion ever existed - this was a 19th century scholarly legend, not
something from the actual ancient world - but for a game, it was good
enough to go on with.
So I imagined a scenario with a lot of conflict. Some gonzos in the
Italian Renaissance actually went as far into paganism as the papacy
worried they would, the Greek gods got some additional energy from
their worship, and used it to transport both the Italians and a bunch
of Roman/Nuristani descendants to the New World, the campaign setting.
Where, since the Nuristani pantheon wasn't really all *that*
homologous to the Greek one, and of course the Greek gods had
forgotten to install translation software, lots of conflict ensued.
I figured to put them somewhere near Virginia, where of course none
of them, to make matters worse, would have a clue how to farm.
The campaign, unfortunately, fell apart long before this could be
relevant, since the characters never got out of New York (or, then,
Sorry this is so late. I can't yet afford Windows DVD Player, which
I'd prefer since its ancestor was much more tolerant of damaged
library DVDs than what I use in Linux, VLC. But until I can afford
that, I have very little incentive to spend time in Windows, except
that that's where I post from.
Joe Bernstein, writer <***@gmail.com>