Balkh

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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Baktria on Map showing the route of Alexander the Great
Alexander The Great campaign India 326 BC
Map showing Balkh (here indicated as Bactria)
Names of territories during the Caliphate, Khorasan was part of Persia (in yellow)

Balkh (Persian/Pashto: بلخ Balkh) was an ancient city in what is now northern Afghanistan. It was also called Bactria.

Variants of name

Origin

According to James Tod[2] Balaram the elder brother of Sri Krishana, who left India after the Great War, may have founded Balich, or Balkh, emphatically called the ' mother of cities'.

Location

Today it is a small town in the province of Balkh, about 20 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some 74 km south of the Amu Darya. It was one of the major cities of Khorasan, since the latter's earliest history. Marco Polo described Balkh as a "noble and great city".[3]

History

The ancient city of Balkh was under the Greeks renamed Bactra, giving its name to Bactria. It was mostly known as the centre and capital of Bactria or Tokharistan. Balkh is now for the most part a mass of ruins, situated some 12 km from the right bank of the seasonally flowing Balkh River, at an elevation of about 365 m (1,200 ft).

Outside the town was a large Buddhist monastery later known as Naubahar.[4]

Balkh is considered to be the first city to which the Indo-Iranian tribes moved from the North of Amu Darya, between 2000 – 1500 BC.[5]

Since the Indo-Iranians built their first kingdom in Balkh[6] (Bactria, Daxia, Bukhdi) some scholars believe that it was from this area that different waves of Indo-Iranians spread to north-east Iran and Seistan region, where they, in part, became today's Persians, Tajik-Persians, Pashtuns, and Baluch people of the region.

Alexander the Great married Roxana of Bactria after killing the king of Balkh.[7] The city was the capital of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and was besieged for three years by the Seleucid Empire (208–206 BC). After demise of Greco Bactrian kingdom, it was ruled by Indo-Scythians, Parthians, Indo-Parthians, Kushan Empire, Indo-Sassanids, Kidarites, Hephthalite Empire and Sassanids before arrival of Arabs.

Visit by Xuanzang in 630 AD

Description by James Tod

According to James Todd[8] Kuru had two sons, Sudhanush and Parikshita. The descendants of the former terminated with Jarasandha, whose capital was Rajagriha on the Ganges, in the province of Bihar. From Parikshita descended the monarchs Santanu and Balaka : the first producing the rivals of the Great War, Yudhishthira and Duryodhana ; the other the Balakaputras.

The sons of Balaka founded two kingdoms : Palibothra, on the lower Ganges ; and Aror, on the eastern bank of the Indus, founded by Sahl.

James Todd[9] writes that Aror, or Alor, was the capital of Sind in remote antiquity : a bridge over the stream which branched from the Indus, near Dara, is almost the sole vestige of this capital of the Sogdoi of Alexander. On its site the shepherds of the desert have established an extensive hamlet ; it is placed on a ridge of siliceous rock, seven miles east of the insular Bakhar, and free from the inundations of the Indus. The Sodha tribe, a powerful branch of the Pramara race, has ruled in these countries from remote antiquity, and to a very late period they were lords of Umarkot and Umrasurara, in which divisions was Aror. Sahl and his capital were known to Abu-l Fazl, though he was ignorant of its position, which he transferred to Debal, or Dewal, the modern Tatta. This indefatigable historian thus describes it : "In ancient times there lived a raja named Siharas (Sahl), whose capital was Alor, and his dominions extended north to Kashmir and south to the ocean " [Ain, ii. 343]. Sahl, or Sahr, became a titular appellation of the country, its princes, and its inhabitants, the Sehraes. [See p. 21 above.] Alor appears to have been the capital of the kingdom of Sigerdis, conquered by Menander of Bactria. Ibn Haukal, the Arabian geographer, mentions it ; but a superfluous point in writing has changed Aror into Azor, or Azour, as translated by Sir W. Ouseley. The illustrious D'AnviUe mentions it ; but, in ignorance of its position, quoting Abulfeda, says, in grandeur " Azour est presque comparable a Mooltan." I have to claim the discovery of several ancient capital cities in the north of India : Surpur, on the Jumna, the capital of the Yadus ; Alor, on the Indus, the capital of the Sodhas ; Mandodri, capital of the Pariharas ; Chandravati, at the foot of the Aravalli mountains ; and Valabhipura, in Gujarat, capital of the Balaka-raes, the Balharas of Arab travellers. The Bala Rajput of Saurashtra may have given the name to Valabhipura, as descendants of Balaka, from Sahl of Aror. The blessing of the bard to them is yet, Tatta Multan ka Rao ( ' lord of Tatta and Multan,' the seats of the Balaka-putras) : nor is it improbable that a branch of these under the Indian Hercules, Balaram, who left India after the Great War, may have founded Balich, or Balkh, emphatically called the ' mother of cities.' The Jaisalmer annals assert that the Yadu and Balaka branches of the Indu race ruled Khorasan after the Great War, the Indo-Scythic races of Grecian authors. Besides the Balakas, and the numerous branches of the Indo-Medes, many of the sons of Kuru dispersed over these regions : amongst whom we may place Uttara Kuru (Northern Kurus) of the Puranas, the Ottorokorrhai of the Greek authors. Both the Indu and Surya races were eternally sending their superfluous population to those distant regions, when probably the same primeval religion governed the races east and west of the Indus.


The ruins of the town lie between Bhakkar and Khairpur, and are known by the name of Alor. Lieut. Maclagan says that it is also called Aror and that the band spoken of by Burnes is really an arched bridge. [There can be little doubt of the first syllable being the Arabic al, and the real name Rúr, as it survives in the modern town of Rorí, which stands close by the ruins of Alor.

Balhara Kingdom

Balhara according to Acad. Suren T. Eremian’s reconstruction of the original map of Central Asia from the Armenian geographical atlas ‘Ashharatsuyts’.

Kingdom of Balhara was a state situated in the upper course of Oxus River (present Amu Darya), and the foothills and valleys of Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountains (ancient Mount Imeon). Established ca. seventh century BC.

The inhabitants of Balhara were called Bulh in the fifth-seventh century AD Armenian geographical atlas ‘Ashharatsuyts’. The atlas describes them as an old settled, artisan and trading nation rather than nomadic tribe inhabiting the area centered around the ancient major city of Balkh that comprised roughly present northern Afghanistan and most of Tajikistan. According to Bulgarian historian Georgi Bakalov, Bulhi was probably the Armenian name of the ancient Bulgars. Historiographers in late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages such as Agathias of Myrina, Theophylact Simocatta, and Michael the Syrian also identify Mount Imeon as an early homeland of the ancient Bulgars.

The Bulhi contributed to the ethnogenesis of the present Tajiks in both Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and possibly the homonymous ethnic group of Balhara in India. Some of them migrated to Europe already BC.

Balkh in Jat History

15. बल्ख - कर्दम प्रजापति के बड़े पुत्र जिनका नाम ‘इल’ था, की पहली राजधानी ‘बल्ख’ थी जो कि अपभ्रंश है वाह्लीक का। ‘इल’ धर्मात्मा सम्राट् का शासन वाह्लीक देश पर था (वा० रा० उ० का० सर्ग 90)। यह वही बल्ख है जहां पर व्यास ऋषि ने गश्ताश्य शाह के अभिवादन पर उसके मन्त्री ज़र्दश्न अर्थात् ज़ौरेस्टर की वेदान्त में परीक्षा ली थी। (देखो दी फौंटेन हैड आफ़ रिलीजन बाई बाबू गंगाप्रसाद)।

नोट - वाह्लीक (बल्ख) देश - वरिक वाहिक-वाह्लीक गोत्र के जाटों के नाम पर इस देश का नाम वाह्लीक पड़ा।[10]

जाटों का विदेशों में जाना

ठाकुर देशराज[11] ने लिखा है .... उत्तरोत्तर संख्या वृद्धि के साथ ही वंश (कुल) वृद्धि भी होती गई और प्राचीन जातियां मे से एक-एक के सैंकड़ों वंश हो गए। साम्राज्य की लपेट से बचने के लिए कृष्ण ने इनके सामने भी यही प्रस्ताव रखा कि कुल राज्यों की बजाए ज्ञाति राज्य कायम का डालो। ....द्वारिका के जाट-राष्ट्र पर हम दो विपत्तियों का आक्रमण एक साथ देख कर प्रभास क्षेत्र में यादवों का आपसी महायुद्ध और द्वारिका का जल में डूब जाना। अतः स्वभावतः शेष बचे जाटों को दूसरी जगह तलाश करने के लिए बढ़ना पड़ा। .... बाल्हीकों ने अफगानिस्तान में बलख नाम से पुकारे जाने वाले नगर को अपनी राजधानी बनाया था। एक समूह ईरान में भी इनका बढ़ गया था जो आजकल आजकल बलिक कबीले के नाम से मशहूर है। याद रहे कबीला जत्थे और वंश को कहते हैं। यह बलिक आजकल मुसलमान हैं और सिदव प्रांत में रहते हैं। अच्छे घुड़सवार समझे जाते हैं। काश्यप गोत्री जाटों का एक जत्था इन्हीं बलिकों के पड़ोस में रहता है जो आजकल कास्पी कहलाता है। ईरान के सोलहुज जिले में कारापाया एक कबिला है। यह कारपश्व लोगों में से हैं। ये कारपश्व जाट मथुरा जिले से उठकर गए थे जहांकि उनकी राजधानी आजकल के कारब में रही थी। अफगानिस्तान में हमें महावन नामक परगना भी मिलता है। इसका नामकरण मालूम होता है इन्हीं कारपश्व लोगों ने किया होगा। फिर बिचारे वहां से भी सोलहुज जिला (ईरान) में चले गए होंगे। कारपाया लोग बड़े अच्छे घुड़सवार गिने जाते हैं। कहा जाता है कि आरंभ में यह इस जिले में केवल 800 कुटुंब लेकर आबाद हुए थे। आजकल भी यह इस सोलहुज जिले के अधिकारी हैं और मुसलमान धर्म का पालन करते हैं।

External links

References

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