Buddhist heritage of Afghanistan: what remains of ancient relics today
Afghanistan is an Islamic state in Central Asia, where the civil war that began in 1978 continues to this day. In this situation, it is very difficult to believe that once this country was a peaceful Buddhist nation. It turns out that before the state was devoured by ravaging wars and religious extremism, pilgrims from all over Asia liked to come here, they built beautiful monasteries and erected majestic statues, meditated and prayed.
The origin of Buddhism, Afghanistan is obliged to the ancient Kushan Empire. Emperor Kanishka the Great, who ruled at the beginning of the 2nd century AD, was a devotee of Buddhism and contributed to the spread of this religion throughout the Karakorum ridge to India, China and other Asian countries.
However, with the penetration of Islam into Afghanistan, the global destruction of Buddhist temples began. Islam gradually completely replaced Buddhism, taking the place of the state religion. Impatience with the symbols of a different faith continues here and now. So, in 2001, two monumental Buddha statues were blown up near the city of Bamyan. They were carved in the rock in the 3rd-6th centuries, were covered with precious stones and shone with golden color, but most importantly, these were one of the most famous cultural attractions of the region, which were visited by thousands of pilgrims from all over the world.
If we turn to the past, we will see that the city of Bamyan itself was one of the main centers of Buddhism in Afghanistan, and the monks of the 7th century describe it as a prosperous Buddhist city with many monasteries.
Summing up, it should be noted that today there are almost a few ancient Buddhist relics left in the country, but even they at any moment run the risk of being destroyed, like everyone else.