Story of Sadhu Gandhara, Explorer, Lover, Reformer, Warrior & Chief of Afghanistan
Frontiers of Bharat Varsha (5,000 BCE) With account of how Afghanistan (Avagana) became a part of Bharat Varsha
Selected extracts from Return of the Aryans by Bhagwan S. Gidwani, published by Penguin Books, India, ISBN 0-14- 024053 – 5
(Main Reference Pages: 223 to 255; 257 to 258 from Return of the Aryans)
‘At the foot of the mountains above Kubha, about 20 yojnas (100 miles) away, we rested. We had to. I gave birth to my son. Your father named him Kush which was the short form of my father’s name.
‘Your father also named the mountain range Hindu Kush in honour of the beautiful, bouncing son I had.’ Dhrupatta’s arm went around his brother Kush, who smiled, realizing that they spoke of his birth.
She continued : ‘We rested at Hindu Kush valley for quite a while before resuming our journey. At last, we reached your father’s ashram at Kubha. He had left Kubha alone but returned with me as his wife and a little son Kush after an absence of many years.
It was a rousing welcome; many joined his ashram to call themselves ‘Hindu’ and took a pledge against slavery, abduction and exploitation.’
Dhrupatta asked and she told him the story of the thongs. He already knew how, on the spur of the moment, his father had put a thong round the Chief’s neck at Kama river, to bind him to the pledge of ‘one man, one wife.’ Later, he realized that such outward symbols were needed for a growing number of his ‘Hindu’ disciples, to remind them of their pledged words; besides he wanted his disciples to be identified in the villages as persons who came to help and meant no harm.
Some suggest that the modern practice of wearing neck-wear possibly grew from wearing thongs round the neck. This is doubtful; no Memory song supports this theory. Also later, in Avagana itself, thongs were replaced with 108-bead necklace. None wore thongs in the land of Sindhu. The Sindhu people kept 108-bead rosaries for prayers, but they were not worn as necklaces; however, it was common in the lands of Sindhu to wear a sacred thread (Yajnopavita). This sacred thread was a cord of three cotton threads, each of nine twisted strands. The three threads represented the gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and the nine strands represented the planets. The sacred thread, hung over the left shoulder and under the right arm, was generally worn at the age of seven and thereafter continuously. However, tribals adopting the Hindu fold could begin wearing it at any age. The Gayatri Mantra was recited when the sacred thread was worn.
Incidentally, it is said by some that wearing the sacred thread started around 5125 BC, in the time of the eighteenth Karkarta, Suryakarma, after his wife Gayatri was abducted by the tribal raiders and that Suryata, his son was the first to wear it, as a measure to invoke the protection of the gods. However judging from early songs, it seems that the system of the sacred thread is far more ancient. Possibly, this mistaken attribution to Karkarta Suryakarma arose because his wife was called Gayatri and he himself was a sun-worshipper. And what more, the Gayatri hymn in the Rig Veda is addressed to the old solar god Savitar (the Sun god). On the other hand, the Gayatri Mantra recited even in Suryakarma’s time, at the time of wearing the sacred thread, referred not to the Sun god alone, but also to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and was intended to glorify the various manifestations of God rather than seek protection.
‘Did my father go to Hari rath again?’ Dhrurpatta asked.
‘Oh yes. He went but without Kush and me, and with many followers, horses, draft animals, provisions and weapons to protect the people of Hari rath and surrounding areas. There he came face to face with awesome tragedy the people there had faced . Raiding enemies had come in vast numbers, ably led, to wreak havoc. Only seventeen survived to tell the gruesome tale.
‘Your father visited many nearby colonies of cave-dwellers attacked by raiders. Their situation was worse. None knew the location of the raiders – only that they came from the south.
‘With his many followers, and some from Hari rath, he took the southern route. It was not too difficult to find the raiders’ camp. Everyone was frightened of them but the raiders were afraid of none. They had not taken the trouble to guard against a surprise attack. Your father attacked. The raiders were taken unawares and were soon at your father’s mercy.
‘Your father’s victory led to the release of eighty-four women whom the raiders held prisoner. Slave-traders were also caught, leading to the release of 216 more. Unfortunately, among them were only two women from Hari rath. The rest had been sold by the raiders and could not be located.
‘Your father established an ashram at Hari rath and another ashram on site of the raiders’ camp which he called Sindhan, after his beloved Sindhu river. The Sindhan Ashram was fully armed, always charged to go into action against raider activity anywhere in the region, while the ashram at Hari rath concerned itself with civic problems.’ (NOTE: Presently Sindhan is known as Shindhan. Location: Afghanistan, south of Heart. Map Reference: 33.18n;62.08e)
She paused, her eyes moist, her hand on the purse that held her husband’s ashes. ‘Yes, the ashes must go to Hari rath and to Sindhan too.’
She continued, ‘But then even after Sindhan, your father led expeditions, mostly peaceful, but there were engagements in which blood was shed to liberate the abducted women and enslaved men, and to free the regions from those that terrorized them. There too his ashes will go. Your father carried marks of eight wounds from those expeditions.’
Dhrupatta nodded. He had seen the scars of those wounds on his father’s body at the cremation.
She was silent. Her eyes went to the small fire burning in the kitchen. Perhaps she saw in it the image of the flames that must have consumed her husband at the cremation.
It was Dhrupatta who spoke, lost in wonder over his father’s travels and exploits. ‘What was my father! A sadhu! An explorer! A man of God! A man of the people! A ruler! A chief! A reformer! What!’
She looked at him. Quietly she said, ‘He was a human being.’
Dhrupatta thought that she had possibly misunderstood his remark and felt that he was trying to diminish her husband by placing him in a particular category. He wanted to correct the impression and said, ‘He lives with God; he is far above us; he is a part of God’s Eternal Self.’
‘No,’ she said. ‘He lives with us as a part of all of us. He is a Hindu.’
Dhrupatta returned from Avagana to the land of Sindhu.
Little has been said, over the centuries, of the Pledge To Avagana that bound Bharat Varsha with the people of Avagana. Perhaps there was little to tell, except that it was a pledge of unity and eternal friendship. The Memory song spoke of the approval by the Hindu Parliament of the pledge made by Karkarta Dhrupatta to support Avagana in the spirit of unity and oneness, without seeking reward, return or remuneration. And, supplying all the goods, services, implements for farming, cattle, seeds, teachers of crafts, artisans, builders and others that the people of Avagana might need to lead a self sufficient, fuller and more abundant life and further, that every Hindu who entered Avagana would be bound by the principles of Sadhu Gandhara which totally excluded slavery, exploitation and greed.
Dhrupatta returned from Avagana with twenty-two of the eighty-eight men he had taken there. The sixty-six left behind would go to various parts of Avagana under the orders of the Vaid who was now the headman. Their task was to train the people of Avagana in farming, tree-planting, well-digging, housing arts, crafts and, where necessary, to defend their villages from attacks by raiders. The small number of sixty-six was certainly insufficient for the vast area to be covered – and Dhrupatta decided he would send more of his people. Meanwhile, he brought with him a contingent of ninety-four men and seven women from Avagana. They would be settled in the land of Sindhu for a year to learn new arts and crafts and to return to their homes thereafter as teachers and instructors.
Dhrupatta submitted his Pledge To Avagana to the Assembly for approval. There were those who could not resist the insinuation that such generosity to Avagana was the result of the family affiliation of Karkarta himself. Would he, asked some, have been so liberal but for the involvement of his own father, Sadhu Gandhara? Would he have placed this enormous load on his own land to support Avagana, if his father did no have his second wife and son there? Did he not acknowledge them openly as his own mother and brother? Was Sindhu’s wealth to be frittered away to meet the family obligations of its Karkarta?
But these questions were quickly quashed by the staggering response of the people. Volunteers came by the hundreds, demanding to be sent to Avagana, at their own cost. Some, of course, were looking for adventure – even an escape from boredom – but many had searched their hearts and understood what the obligations of the Hindu should be towards what Sadhu Gandhara had begun.
When Sahaji rose in the Assembly, ostensibly to support the Pledge To Avagana, he ended with the snide observation that among the many good reasons in its favour were also the family affiliations of Karkarta Dhrupatta. Immediately, however, the woman councilor, Hansuya rose. Speaking of Sadhu Gandhara, she said,
‘. . . . . He who was one of us went ahead through dark, stormy nights and ordeals of patient,
arduous journey to discover those lands in the immensity of this earth
and the infinity of the universe.
Why? To enlarge the heritage of humanity.
He knew what every one of
Sanantan Dharma knows – that the children of this earth
are all bound as members of one single family. . .’
‘. . . . Do we not then dishonour our family affiliation
if we fail to support humanity
in all the lands discovered in the bosom of this great earth? . . . . .’
She then glared at Sahaji charging him with ‘trivializing, debasing and degrading the debate in the Assembly with his insidious, ignominious and unscrupulous reference to the family affiliations of Karkarta Dhrupatta, in order to divert attention form the cardinal Hindu principle of supporting humanity in all the lands that may be discovered in the bosom of this great earth.
There was perhaps much more she had to say, but the applause in the Assembly and even from the spectators interrupted her and she sat down, happy and flushed.
The Pledge To Avagana along with the request of Avagana to join the Sindhu clan of Sanatan Dharma was approved unanimously.
With the approval of Pledge To Avagana, caravans of volunteers left for Gandhara to place themselves under the Vaid to serve Avagana, in fulfillment of the pledge. With them went large loads of goods, implements and domestic animals needed in Avagana.
So many had volunteered for the task, along with generous donations, that Karkarta Dhrupatta sought the assistance of the guilds to screen and select the men and materials to be sent. About goods and implements to be sent to Avagana, there was little doubt. As for the individuals, it was only those who thought clearly, felt nobly and acted rightly that were chosen.