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Thoughts on Afghanistan’s Buddhist History

Our nation’s longest war has finally come to an end. To all those who lost loved ones during this conflict, I extend my deepest sympathies and heartfelt compassion.

It is said that the Buddha-Dharma was first introduced to the region now known as Afghanistan by King Ashoka. An inscription about Buddhism dating back to 260 BC was found in the city of Kandahar.

The world’s first Buddhist statuary done in a style which is now known as Gandharan originated in Afghanistan. The now famous and no longer existent Bamiyan Buddhas were erected in the 5th Century AD and were said to be located near an even larger reclining Buddha statue now long gone as well.

The famous Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang visited Afghanistan around 630 AD and, in his writings, he talked about great Buddhist monasteries, stupas and active Buddhist communities that were existent at that time in Afghanistan.

However, by the 11th century, the Buddha-Dharma was completely gone from Afghanistan. I wonder if this would have been a different world today if the Buddha-Dharma could have survived in Afghanistan?

The people of Afghanistan are in my thoughts. Gassho.



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