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Zabulistan (Persian/Pashto: زابلستان), originally known as "Zavolistan", is a historical region based around today's Zabul Province in southern Afghanistan.

Note - Zabulistan should not be confused with Kabulistan which is a historical regional name referring to the territory that is centered on present-day Kabul Province of Afghanistan.

Variants of name

Origin of name

Bhim Singh Dahiya [1] and Prof. B.S. Dhillon consider it to be originated from the Indian Jat clan named Jauhla/Johal. There is need to search relation with Jat clan Jewlia.

Zabulistan translates to "land of Zabul" or "land of the Zabuls". The name "Zabuls" is probably a transliteration of Zunbils, a Hindu and Buddhist dynasty that ruled the area during the Islamic conquest of Afghanistan.

Mention by Panini

Jabala (जाबाल) is mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [2]

Mahajabala (महाजाबाल) is mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [3]


V. S. Agrawala[4] writes that Panini notices kantha-ending place names as being common in Varṇu (Bannu Valley) and the Usinara country between the lower course of the Chenab and Ravi River, and also instances some particular names such as Chihaṇa-kantham and

[p.468]: Maḍura-kantham, which rather appear as loan words (ante,p.67-68). In fact Kantha was a Scythian word for ‘town’, preserved in such names as Samarkand, Khokan, Chimkent etc.

The above data point to somewhat closer contacts between India and Persia during the reigns of Achaemenian emperors Darius (522-486 BC) and Xerxes (485-465 BC) as a result of their Indian conquests. This explains the use in India of such terms as Yavana, Parsu, Vrika, Kantha. To these we may add two others, viz. Jābāla (goat-herd) and hailihila (poison) mentioned by Panini (VI.2.38) which were really Semitic loan words.

This evidence points to Panini’s date somewhere after the time of these Achaemenian emperors.

Babur, founder of the Mughal dynasty in the 16th century, records in Baburnama that the territory south of the Hindu Kush between Kandahar and Ghazni is generally known as Zabulistan. According to Persian mythology, Zabulistan was the country of Iranian hero Rostam.

Buddhist and Hindu Shahi period: From the 7th century to 11th century, the region was ruled by Shahi kings. Later, it was conquered by the Ghaznavids of Ghazni.

James Todd[5] writes... The Yadu was the most illustrious of all the tribes of Ind, and became the patronymic of the descendants of Budha, progenitor of the Lunar (Indu) race. Yudhishthira and Baladeva, on the death of Krishna and their expulsion from Delhi and Dwaraka, the last stronghold of their power, retired by Multan across the Indus. The two first are abandoned by

[p.102]: tradition ; but the sons of Krishna, who accompanied them after an intermediate halt in the further Duab1 of the five rivers, eventually left the Indus behind, and passed into Zabulistan,2 founded Gajni, and peopled these countries even to Samarkand......

1 [The capital of Sambos was Sindimana, perhaps the modern Sihwan (Smith, EHI, 101).]
2 [This is very doubtful.]


According to book writer André Wink,

"In southern and eastern Afghanistan, the regions of Zamindawar (Zamin I Datbar or land of the justice giver, the classical Archosia) and Zabulistan or Zabul (Jabala, Kapisha, Kia pi shi) and Kabul, the Arabs were effectively opposed for more than two centuries, from 643 to 870 AD, by the indigenous rulers the Zunbils and the related Shahi of the dynasty which became known as the Buddhist-Shahi. With Makran and Baluchistan and much of Sindh this area can be reckoned to belong to the cultural and political frontier zone between India and Persia. It is clear however that in the seventh to the ninth centuries the Zunbils and their kinsmen the Kabulshahs ruled over a predominantly Indian rather than a Persian realm. The Arab geographers, in effect commonly speak of that king of "Al Hind" ...(who) bore the title of Zunbil."[6]

According to another book by William Bayne Fisher and Richard Nelson Frye:

"One of the most important aspects of early Saffarid policy of significance for the spread of Islam in Afghanistan and on the borders long after their empire had collapsed, was that of expansion into eastern Afghanistan. The early Arab governors of Sistan had at times penetrated as far as Ghazna and Kabul, but these had been little more than slave and plunder raids. There was fierce resistance from the local rulers of these regions, above all from the line of Zunbils who ruled in Zamindavar and Zabulistan."[7]

Jat History connections

Like Nanda dynasty, Taka family also suffered at the hands of Puranic Chronicles. Contemporary Puranas have ignored pedigree and chronology of this family in general. However we have traced out a very handful names from different sources; when Alexander invaded India (325 BC) he found the Paraitakai, the mountain (Pahar) Tak, inhabiting the Paropamisos range; nor is it by any means unlikely that Taxiles [Arrian says that his name was Omphis (Ambhi)]. Hence, perhaps (from Tak), the name of Indus Attok, not Atak or forbidden according to modern signification the ally of the Macedonian king, was the chief of the Takas; and in the early history of the Bhatti prince of Jaisalmer, when driven from Zabulistan, they dispossessed the Takas on the Indus, and established themselves in their land the capital of which was called Salivahanpura. It is by no means unlikely that Salivahana or Salbhan (who was a Takshaka) the conqueror of the Tuar Vikrama, was of the very family dispossessed by the Bhattis who compelled them to migrate to the South. [8] [9]

Bhim Singh Dahiya writes about Chahal clan that a part of Khionites/white Hunas, the Chahlas (Chols of European historians) in the fourth century AD, were settled on the east of Caspian sea. This was the period when Jauvlas/Johls were occupying Zabulistan in Ghazni area. In 438-39 AD the Iranian Emperor Yazdegirel II led an expedition against the Chahls to the north of Gurgan. It was at Gurgan in steppes of Dahistan that Yazdegird I had been killed by the Jats in 420 AD, even in his own military headquarters, as Gurgan really was.[10] The Chahls must have come to India in the fifth century AD.[11]

According to Bhim Singh Dahiya[12] The date of occupation of Gandhara in 477 A.D. is further proved by the Chinese pilgrim, Sung-Yun, who stated in 520 A.D. that the Yetha had conquered Ye-Po-Lo, about two generations ago. Here the Ye-Po-Lo of the Chinese stands for Jauval/Jabul and the Yetha, of course, stands for the Jats; the Chinese Ye, giving the sound of 'J'. It is interesting to note that Hephthal III, who defeated and killed the next Iranian emperor Peroz, in a decisive battle in 484 A.D., is called Ye-ta-i-li-to meaning (Jaṭlāṭa) the king of the Jats. In fact, the Chinese used two words for the purpose, viz., Yetalito and Yue-che wang. The first is a transliteration of jatrat, and the second is a sort of translation of the same word, i.e. Guti-wang or Guti king or Jat king.

Prof. B.S. Dhillon [13] writes that In A.D. 510 Mihiragula succeeded his father as the "Great" king. Sir Cunningham[14] says Jauvla was the name of their tribe or clan. According to him, the name of the Jabuli tribe of the White Huns is still preserved in Zabulistan (land of Jauvla) and their language called "Zauli" also still existed in the tenth century A.D.. It is interesting to note here that many Jat clans claim their land of ancestors in Zabulistan (some areas in modern Afghanistan). Furthermore, as per Bhim Singh Dahiya [15] Jauvala is the Indian Jat clan name called "Jauhla". In fact, Johal is an important clan of the Jats who belong to the Sikh faith. Jat Sikhs called Johal could be found in several western countries, today.

In A.D. 520 Mihiragula succeeded his father Toramana Jauvla. In turn Mihiragula was succeeded by his son called Ajitanjaya and after the disintegration of their Indian empire the Jauvala or Johals secured for themselves Zabulistan or Jabulistan. It is interesting to note the remarks of Sir Cunningham[16] concerning the reading of a coin of White Huns "But in the two Pahlavi legends of the reverse I read on the left and to the right Zaulistan (Jaulistan)". This says it very well that the actual name is "Jaulistan" (land of Jauls or Johals) instead of "Zabulistan".

Prof. B.S. Dhillon [17] quotes Sir A. Cunningham[18]: He wrote, "Even so late as the beginning of the eleventh century A.D. Mahmud of Ghazni gave his sister in marriage to Malik Shahu (Shahu is the Jat title), the chief of the Afghans of Zabulistan (land of the Johal Jats)".

Jwala Sahai[19] writes that The tradition of the Jats claims the regions west of the Indus as the cradle of the race, makes them of the Yadu (Jadon) extraction and corroborate the annals of Yadus, which state their migration from Zabulistan and pronounce them as an important colony of Yuchi, Yuti or Jits.

External links


  1. Jats: The Ancients Rulers, Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, India, 1980, pp. 170-171, 77, 174-230, 22, 35-37.
  2. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p. 220
  3. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p. 220
  4. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.467-468
  5. James Todd Annals/Chapter 7 Catalogue of the Thirty Six Royal Races,p.101-102
  6. Al-Hind: Early medieval India and the expansion of Islam, 7th-11th centuries By André Wink Edition: illustrated Published by BRILL, 2002 Page 112 to 114 ISBN 0-391-04173-8, ISBN 978-0-391-04173-8
  7. The Cambridge history of Iran By William Bayne Fisher, Richard Nelson Frye Page 110
  8. James Todd Vol I, p.125
  9. Dr Naval Viyogi: Nagas – The Ancient Rulers of India, p.146
  10. See Erashahr by J. Harquart, p. 56
  11. Bhim Singh Dahiya, Jats the Ancient Rulers, p. 249
  12. Jats the Ancient Rulers (A clan study)/Harsha Vardhana : Linkage and Identity,pp.221
  13. History and study of the Jats/Chapter 2,p.46
  14. Cunningham, A. (Sir), Later Indo-Scythians, from the Numismatic Chronicle 189394, edited by Prof. A.K. Narain, reprinted by Indological Book House, Varanasi, India, 1979, pp. 94-95, 99, 112, 121, 271, 255, 247, 188, 176-177, 189.
  15. Jats: The Ancients Rulers, Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, India, 1980, pp. 170-171, 77, 174-230, 22, 35-37.
  16. Cunningham, A. (Sir), Later Indo-Scythians, from the Numismatic Chronicle 189394, edited by Prof. A.K. Narain, reprinted by Indological Book House, Varanasi, India, 1979, pp. 94-95, 99, 112, 121, 271, 255, 247, 188, 176-177, 189.
  17. History and study of the Jats/Chapter 3, p.58
  18. Cunningham, A. (Sir), Later Indo-Scythians, reprinted by Indological Book House, Varanasi, India, 1979, pp. 108-109, first published in 1893-94.
  19. History of Bharatpur/Chapter I,p.1