Yaghistan, the land of free and unruly

Aug 2014
1,249
pakistan
#1
By Khan Barmazid (me)


Pashtun highlands in the past have been called Yaghistan which means the land of the free and unruly (Yaghi means uncontrollable and unmanageable). Amir Abdur Rahman Khan referred to the tribal belt between British India and Afghanistan as Yaghistan in his autobiography. Colonel Brazier Creagh of the Indian Army, who visited the area in 1893-4, wrote, "When went to the frontier it was Yaghistan ; it was a forbidden land, and no Englishman had ever been there before.....It was impossible to go [inside] and if you did your bones would be left there.”

Yaghistan, referred to as Roh in medieval times (Roh means mountains) was the land where no man was above another. They were not subjects of any body and they were not the part of any kingdom of a king according to Afsana-i-Shahan. The fiercely independent Pakhtun tribes of Yaghistan remained independent during the Ghaznavid period and Ghaznavid sources reveal that Turkish Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni attacked Afghans who used to raid his frontier districts and killed large numbers of them but Afghans remained unruly and his successors had struggle with ever rebellious Afghans. These Afghan tribes of mountains maintained their independence during Ghurid, Mongol, Timurid, Delhi Sultanate, Mughal , Durrani and Sikh periods and could not be forced to pay any taxes. Lavish subsidies were paid by the Mughals as protection money to keep the passes through Yaghistan open. In 19th century (before 1893) the tribes of Yaghistan did not belong either to the British raj or Amir of Kabul.
 
Jan 2013
881
Toronto, Canada
#4
The Pashtun highlands are similar to Mongolia, Ukraine or the Steppe. If you were unhappy with the social limitations in your society (Tang, Czarist, Mughal, etc.), you headed for the hills or the plains. The terrain made centralized control of these territories difficult and often impossible. Naturally, the people living there emphasized local autonomy because they were the descendants of the people who fled there to get away from political hierarchies in the first place.
 

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,392
New Delhi, India
#5
No, the people inhabiting these places were Aryan tribes. It would not be correct to brand them as fugitives. Avesta/Vendidad mention these as the Aryan homelands: Samarkand, Merv, Balkh, Miamana, Herat, Vaereketa, Gazni, Khuzdar, Kandhar, Lashkargah, Rustam Bazar, Wardak, Bannu, Hapta-Hendu and Raghza (in that order). These lands were much fertile at that time, the climate has changed now.
 
Last edited:
Jan 2016
1,637
India
#6
No, the people inhabiting these places were Aryan tribes. It would not be correct to brand them as fugitives. Avesta/Vendidad mention these as the Aryan homelands: Samarkand, Merv, Balkh, Miamana, Herat, Vaereketa, Gazni, Khuzdar, Kandhar, Lashkargah, Rustam Bazar, Wardak, Bannu, Hapta-Hendu and Raghza. These lands were much fertile at that time, the climate has changed now.
The poster you're responding to has written in context of more recent and documented polities such as the Mughal Empire and Tsarist Russia, so I have no idea how either of them could possibly be connected to the 'Aryan tribes'.

In any case, why would it be incorrect to call the Aryan tribes as 'fugitives'? Aryans were a heavily tribal people with little central governance, and their society was certainly organised on patterns more similar to that of Pashtun of Yaghistan than any sedentary people living in agriculturally fertile lands. While some of the regions you have mentioned have indeed been quite urbanised at different points in history, especially Samarkand and Balkh, I'm not sure if urban tradition in those regions can actually be traced back to the Aryan times. Herat region, for example, was not very sedentary or urban for most of its ancient history, and had no town of note until the early Islamic times.
 
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Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,392
New Delhi, India
#7
The people who live there are from the Aryan stock, of course, there have been heavy admixtures later. When one talks about Aryans, we should not look for cities before their settlement in Sapta-Sindhu. Vish/Grama/Khel was the norm. I think the culture still remains the same.
 
Aug 2014
1,249
pakistan
#8
I feel sorry for people of FATA who are targeted by both, the Americans and the Pakistanis. That was perhaps the land where Daksiputra Panini, the great Sanskrit grammarian, was born (Village Lahur, Older name - Salutara) around 500 BC.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pāṇini
The historical town Lahor is located in Swabi which is a plain area and was inhabited by Indic people Gandharis before colonization by Pashtuns in 11th century. Yaghistan strictly means the mountainous tracts which were not under rule of any kingdom. On the other hand Pashtun tribes of plain areas have recognized authority of either Mughals or Safavids in medieval times, and the military forts of these empires were built in the plain areas of Pashtuns. For example Abdali tribe, which lives in plain areas, were either part of Safavid empire or Mughal empire. According to Ain-i-Akbari , entire Abdali tribe paid 50 sheeps to the Mughals as annual tribute which is nominal but is sign of submission. On the other hand Kakars of hills maintained their independence and Mughals had no away over it. They blocked the passage of Mughal armies which were marching for conquest of Kanadahar in first half of 16th century.
 
Likes: Rajeev

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,392
New Delhi, India
#9
Thanks, Azad. Swabi - need to find more about it. Checked about Lahor erlier, got it in two places. One time in PK, other time in FATA.
 

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