Thursday, March 7, 2013

Barmakids of Balkh (752 AD)

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Dharma Fellowship of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Urgyen Trinley Dorje......"In 672 an Arab governor of Sistan, Abbad ibn Ziyad, raided the frontier of Al-Hind and crossed the desert to Gandhara, but quickly retreated again. The marauder Obaidallah crossed the Sita River (aka: Kabul River) and made a raid on Kabul in 698 only to meet with defeat and humiliation. Vincent Smith, in Early History of India, states that the Turkishahiya dynasty continued to rule over Kabul and Gandhara up until the advent of the Saffarids in the ninth century. Forced by the inevitable advance of Islam on the west, they then moved their capital from Kapisa to Wahund on the Indus, whence they contin­ued as the Hindushahiya dynasty. This was in 870 A.D. and marks the first time that the KINGDOM OF SHAMBHALA actually came under Moslem domination. The Hindushahis recaptured Kabul and the rest of their Kingdom after the death of the conqueror Yaqub but never again maintained Kapisa as their capital.".....http://www.dharmafellowship.org/biographies/historicalsaints/lord-padmasambhava.htm#eightcentury

"The Barmakids (Persian: برمکیان‎ Barmakīyān; Arabic: البرامكة‎ - al-Barāmikah, from the Sanskrit: pramukha प्रमुख "leader, chief administrator, registrar"..... were an influential family from Balkh in Bactria where they were originally Buddhists, and subsequently came to great political power under the Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad. Khalid, the son of Barmak became the Prime Minister or Wazir of Al Saffah, the first Caliph of the Abbasid dynasty. His son Yahya aided Harun Al-Rashid in capturing the throne and rose to power as the most powerful man in the Empire. The Barmakids were remarkable for their majesty, splendor and hospitality. They are mentioned in some stories of the Arabian Nights.....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barmakids

Islam and Tibet: Interactions Along the Musk Routes (Ashgate Publishing: 2011)
edited by Anna Ayşe Akasoy, Charles S. F. Burnett, Ronit. Yoeli-Tlalim
Chapter 3....The Bactrian Background of the Barmakids by Kevin van Bladel

"In a unique ninth century manuscript found at Dunhuang, called Huichao wang wu tianzhuguo shuan (Account of Huichao's Journey to the Five Lands of India)...Around 726 AD a Buddhist monk from Silla (Korea?) named Huichao travelled in the region of Balkh.......After coming to India from China by sea, Huichao made his way through much of India, and then travelled over the Hindu Kush into Tokharistan before returning to China overland through the Tarim basin. In the time since Xuanzang's visit (629-645 AD), Arab armies had conquered all of the Persian Empire and had been making war on Tokharistan for a long time....In 725 AD the Arab garrison had been moved into Balkh proper, as Arab sources tell.........

"From the land of Bamiyan I travelled northwards 20 days, and I arrived in Tokharistan (Tuhuoluo-guo). The home city of the king is called Balkh. At this time the troops of the Arabs are there and they occupy it. Its king was forced to flee one month's journey to the east and lives in Badakhshan. Now Balkh belongs to the Arabs' domain.....the language is different from that of the other lands; though somewhat similar to that of Kapisa....From the King to the lowly people, they all wear fur and cotton....there are plenty of horses, camels, cotton and grapes....the king, the nobles and the people revere the Three Jewels....the men cut their beards and hair....the land has many mountains...."....From a unique ninth century manuscript found at Dunhuang, called Huichao wang wu tianzhuguo shuan (Account of Huichao's Journey to the Five Lands of India).....In his view the King of Balkh was still alive and in exile in Badakhshan (Pashto/Persian: بدخشان‎) a historic region comprising parts of what is now northeastern Afghanistan and southeastern Tajikistan. The name is retained in Badakhshan Province which is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, in the far northeast of Afghanistan, and contains the Wakhan Corridor.

"The family had its origin in a line of Pramukhas (hereditary Buddhist administrators) from Balkh. .....(http://books.google.com/books?id=FcKtIPVQ6REC&pg=PA371&lpg=PA371&dq=Pramukhas+balkh&source=bl&ots=V-AmJEfkJD&sig=xrvExe0Q_foTwJQbb0sHDytBYog&hl=en&sa=X&ei=iYc4UeOeCMqMyQG_s4HIBg&ved=0CEQQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Pramukhas%20balkh&f=false)......Historians of Islam have sometimes considered the Barmakids to have been Zoroastrian priests before converting to Islam, an erroneous view based on the fact that Balkh was known as an important centre of Zoroastrianism, or from a simple failure of early Islamic sources to distinguish Zoroastrians from Buddhists. In fact, the Barmakids descended from the chiefs, or administrators of the Buddhist monastery called Navavihāra (Skt. नवविहार) or "New Monastery", that was described by the Chinese Buddhist diarist Xuanzang in the seventh century which may have led to the Persian and Arabic error of thinking that the term "Nowbahār" was the name of a Zoroastrian fire temple headed by the Barmakids as reported in Islamic sources. The Pramukhas converted during the Arab invasion of the Persian Empire......The Barmakids were highly educated, respected and influential throughout Arabia, Persia, Central Asia and the Levant. In Baghdad, the Barmakid court became a centre of patronage for the Ulema, poets, scholars alike...."...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barmakids

"Religious encounters between Islam and Buddhism is as old as Islam. the first encounter between the Buddhist Community and Islam, took place in the 7th CE of East Persia, Tranxsonia, Afghanistan and Sindh (now in Pakistan, reminiscient of very strong Sufi influence, and the harbinger of the Islamic trend into this part of the South Asian World). early muslims did extend the Quranic Category of the ahl al-kitab (i.e the people of the Book) to include the Hindus and the Buddhists" (Encyclopedia of Islam, s.v Balkh)

Ibn al-Nadim in his work al-Fihrist, writes.....These people (Buddhists of Khurasan) are the most generous of all the inhabitants of the earth and of all the religionists. This is because their prophet Budasaf (Bodhisattva) has taught them that the greatest sin, which should never be thought of or committed is the utterance of 'No'. Hence they act upon this advice; they regard the uttering of 'No' as an act of Satan. And it is their very religion to banish Satan. (S.M Yusuf, The Early Contact between Islam and Buddhism, University of Ceylon Review vol 13 1955, p. 28)......a well known scholar within the Islamic World, Muhammad Hamidullah, observes that in keeping with the Quranic view of prophet-hood, the Buddha can be regarded as one among the previous prophets...... among the pioneers of comparative religion, al-Sharastani, in his section on Ara al Hind (The Views of the Indians) of his magnum opus Kitab al-milal wan0nihal, pays high spiritual respect to the Buddha. he identifies the Buddha with the Quranic figure of al-Khidr as a seeker of enlightment mentioned in the Quran. (Quran, 18:64, Bruce Lawrence, Shahrastani on the Indian Religions, The Hague, Mouton, 1976, pp. 141-155).......http://www.slideshare.net/kingabid/j1478-1913201001312x

"Balauhar and Budasaf or Bilawhar wa-Yudasaf is a legendary Islamic telling of the story of Siddhartha Gautama originating in the Sogdian language (Middle Iranian). It came into Christianity as Barlaam and Josaphat.....Wilfred Cantwell Smith (1981) traced the story from a 2nd to 4th century Sanskrit Mahayana Buddhist text, to a Manichaeian version, which then found its way into Muslim culture as the Arabic Kitab Bilawhar wa-Yudasaf (Book of Bilawhar and Yudasaf), which was current in Baghdad in the 8th century.... The Brethren of Purity's Rasail Ikhwan al-Safa (c.960) refers to Balauhar's conversation with Budasaf, given in the form of Yuzasaf.....One example of Bilauhar and Bfidisaf is written in the Turfan dialect of the Uyghur language in the 10th century. Yuzasaf occurs as a spelling in the Rasail Ikhwan al-Saja of the Brethren of Purity and other sources......

"The reign of the Abbasid Caliph Harun Rashid (786-809) has been noted for its literary brilliance. He has often been described as Charlemagne of the East. According to Amir Ali, the distinguished scholar, “the glory and renown of Rashid's administration are mostly due to the wisdom and ability of the men to whom he entrusted the government of the empire for the first seventeen years of his reign”.......Abbasids owed their elevation to Persians, particularly to people of Khurasan. In turn, their rule saw ascancy of Persians over Arabs. The Khurasani family, which played a crucial role (752-904) during the Abbasid rule was the celebrated house of Barmak or Barmecides. They wisely directed the affairs of the caliphate. Through generous patronage of learning, lavish hospitality and wise administration they conferred lustre on the reigns of first five Abbasid Caliphs. The Barmakids were the most efficient administrators the Caliphate had seen and their vizirate brought peace and stability to the outlying provinces. In Baghdad the court of Barmaks became a Centre of patronage for the Ulema, poets, scholars alike. The arts of civilised life were cultivated everywhere......This noble ancient Persian family has been hailed by scholars for its statesmanship, generosity and administrative capacity. Barmaks served Abbasid rulers with unswerving fidelity and extraordinary ability. The people were prosperous and happy. The empire had grown rich and strong. National wealth had increased. The Barmak family headed the Revenue Department. They followed a strict policy of taxation with the sole objective of enriching the state treasury. The Barmaks were keen in displaying leniency and gave concessions to the eastern provinces, particularly Khurassan even at the cost of the Treasury.".....http://ikashmir.net/rktamiri/barmarks.html

"According to Prof. C.S. Upasak (History of Buddhism in Afghanistan) the name 'Baramik' is a derivative of the term Vara-Aramika, meaning the 'Chief of the Attants of an Arama' or Buddhist monastery. Aramika is an attant of an Arama or Sangharama who looks after the Vihara, its property etc. as appointed by the Sangha. The Nava-Vihara possessed good landed property amounting to hundreds (1500 sq kms) of sq. kms. and so, numerous aramikas were appointed to look after it. The Chief of the Aramikas was called 'Vara-Aramika'."......http://ikashmir.net/rktamiri/barmarks.html

"J. Harmatta and BA LiTvinsky present a different view (History of civilizations of Central Asia, Vol. III, p. 371). They argue that the famous Barmakid family were apparently the descants of the Hephthalite pramukhas of the Naubahar at Balkh. According to them the Hepthalite ruler of Balkh bore the Bactrian title sava (King), while the name of his son, Pariowk (in Armenian, clerical error for Parmowk) or Barmuda, Parmuda (in Arabic and Persian, clerical error for Barmuka, Parmuka) goes back to the Buddhist title pramukha. It shows that he was the lord and head of the great Buddhist Centre Naubahar at Balkh. His dignity and power were thus more of an ecclesiastic than of secular nature.".....http://ikashmir.net/rktamiri/barmarks.html

"Prof. S. Maqbool Ahmed, former Director Central Asian Studies Kashmir University, is of the view that the Barmak family originated in Kashmir. During the years of turbulence, mother of Khalid bin barmak and Khalid had sought refuge in Kashmir."....http://ikashmir.net/rktamiri/barmarks.html

"Nau-Vihara Temple : Balkh is one of the oldest towns in the world, being the birthplace of Zoraster. As per Zorastrian tradition Balkh was built by first Aryan ruler Bakhdi. Ancient Greek historians called, it Bactra, (Baktra or Bactria) and the whole country 'Bactriana'. Situated in north-west Afghanistan, its present capital is Mazar-i-Sharif. It is a small town now, lying in ruins.....The Nava-Vihara was an important Buddhist monastery in Balkh for advance learning. It was a strongly built Vihara and was remarkable for its imposing structure. This Vihara was most sacred place of Balkh for it housed in its shrine-hall the water-basin (pot) and a tooth-relic of the Buddha, about one inch long of yellow-white colour. At this place a sweeping brush of the Buddha, made of Kusa grass, about three feet long and seven inches round with ornamented handle, was also kept. These sacred objects made this Vihara a shrine of great esteem and veneration for monks and lay-devotees alike..".....http://ikashmir.net/rktamiri/barmarks.html

"Several revolts were made against the Arab rule in Balkh........The Arabs' control over Balkh could not last long as it soon came under the rule of a local prince, called Nazak (or Nizak) Tarkhan. He threw out Arabs from his territories in 670 or 671. He was a zealous Buddhist. He is said to have not only reprimanded the Chief-Priest (Barmak) of Nava-Vihara but beheaded him for embracing Islam. As per another account, when Balkh was conquered by the Arabs, the head priest of the Nava-Vihara had gone to the capital and became a Muslim. This displeased the people of the Balkh. He was deposed and his son was placed in his position.......Nazak Tarkhan is also said to have murdered not only the Chief Priest but also his sons. Only a young son was saved. He was taken by his mother to Kashmir where he was given training in medicine, autonomy and other Indian sciences. Later they returned to Balkh. Prof. Maqbool Ahmed observes," One is tempted to think that the family originated from Kashmir, for in time of distress, they took refuge in the Valley. Whatever it be, their Indian origin is undoubted and this also explains the deep interest of the Barmaks, in later years, in India, for we know they were responsible for inviting several scholars and physicians from India to the Court of Abbasids." Prof. Maqbool also refers to the descriptions of Kashmir contained in the report on India prepared by the envoy of Yahya bin Barmak. He surmises that the envoy could have possibly visited Kashmir during the reign of Samgramapida II (797-801). Reference has been made to sages and arts.".....Several revolts were made against the Arab rule in Balkh......http://ikashmir.net/rktamiri/barmarks.html

Click on the map to enlarge

".....the only certain account of the Arab conquest of al-Qunduhar, which must be Old Kandahar, comes from al-Baladhuri (futuh al-buldan) who died in AD 892, mentally deranged after drinking the juice of the anacardia (baladhur), hence his name. This is quoted as an etiological legend (Enyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed.). According to al-Baladhuri the general 'Abbad ibn Ziyad raided the frontier of aI-Hind from Sijistan (Seistan) in the time of the Umayyad Caliph Mu'awiya' (AD 661-80) 'as far as the river Hindmand' (Murgotten 1924: 212) which probably refers to the Hilmand (the Erymandus of Pliny VI, 61,92; the Haetumant and so on). Ziyad 'crossed the desert until he came to al-Kunduhar' (Murgotten 1924: 212), travelling eastwards from 'Kish' (cf. al-Istakhri and ibn Hauqal below) across the semi-arid land between the Khash-rud and the Hilmand/ Arghandab confluence about the region of Bost."....Kandahar of the Arab Conquest.....S. W. Helms.....World Archaeology, Vol. 14, No.3, Islamic Archaeology (Feb., 1983), 342-354.

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Email....okarresearch@gmail.com

John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….March 2013

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