The Gandarians - the Gandhari of the natives, the Gan-darn, or, including kindred tribes, the Gandaridae of the Greeks - formerly occupied the tract of country enclosed between the Kabul and Indus rivers from the point of junction of the Kunar stream with the former, up to Chaghan Sarae and the Dumah range. In this extensive area are comprised the districts of Goshta, Bajawar, Swat, Buner, Chamla, Mahaban, Yusufzai or Mandar, Hastnaghar, Daudzar, and Gandhar. In other words, the Gandaria of the Greeks and the Sindhu Gandhara of the Indians, in the widest sense of the terms, comprised the Peshawar valley north of the Kabul river and the hills circling it in that direction up to the limits defined. In a more restricted sense, it was, it would appear limited to the tract between the junction angle of the Kabul and Swat rivers, bounded northward by the Kohi Mor mountain, and westward by the Kunar river This tract includes the modern districts of Goshta, Gandhar, and Daudzai, and may be taken to represent the Gandaritis of the Greeks.
It has been stated in a previous passage that, in the fifth or sixth century of our era, consequent to a very powerful irruption of various Scythic hordes from the northward, there took place an emigration en masse of the natives of Gandaria or Gandhara, and that, on quitting their homes on the Indus, they journeyed westward and joined a kindred people amongst whom they established themselves as a powerful colony on the banks of the Helmand, and there, it would seem, founded a city, which they named Gandhar after their native capital - a name which survives in the name of the modern city and province of Kandahar.
At that time these people were known as Gandarians, or Gandhari They were Budhists by religion, and carried with them in their long and arduous journey the most sacred relic of their religion left them - the water-pot of Budha - as has before been mentioned. What was their subsequent history in their new Gandhar, and whom they warred with and conquered, remains very much of a mystery, beyond the fact that they were Indians of a kindred race. It would seem clear, however, that for nigh two centuries they maintained their independence and their religion in all the country from the head waters of the Arghasan and Tarnak rivers in the east to the lower course of the Helmand through Garmsel to the borders of the Sistan lake and Farrah in the west; from the valleys of Shal and Peshun or Foshang on the south, to those of the Arghandab and Helmand on the north.
That they were not the only people inhabiting the country we learn from the accounts of the early Arab historians, who tell of a complex mixture of laces, languages, customs, and religions so late as the first century of the Muhammadan era - the seventh-eighth of our own It would seem, however, that they were decidedly the most powerful, and the dominant, of the several races who occupied the country with them. Among these latter we can certainly count the original Persian possessor, at that time of the Zoroastrian religion - a fire-worshipper. The Saka, too, who gave their name to the country of Sistan, were also long prior arrivals, as well as were the Tymanni and, perhaps, some Baloch tribes.
But whatever the composition of the population of the Kandahar country at that period, and it certainly contained no small element of Indian tribes - colonists during the Pandu rule at Ghazni and Kabul, long anterior to the Gandarian emigration - we are mainly interested here in tracing the fortunes and fare of the latter people As before stated, their early history in the new settlements about the Helmand is involved in mystery. It seems probable, however, that they early succumbed to the force of Islam, and that the bond of religious brotherhood, characteristic of that creed, though slow in being put on, when once securely fastened, soon destroyed their national identity, except in the remains of patronymics and local names which serve to guide the enquirer more correctly than half-forgotten or falsified traditions.
It is probable that the Afghan people (who were neighbours of these Gandarians and had very early accepted Islam) took a very leading part, with the Arab conquerors, in the subjugation of the infidel inhabitants of Southern Afghanistan, and in their conversion to the Muhammadan creed And, further, it is probable that, being the dominant race, they not only gave their own national name to their subjects, but, to a considerable extent, blended with them by intermarriage and the adoption of their language and many of their customs And this, much in the same way as is in our day occurring under the dominance of the Durrani as an independent government; for, in a loose way, all the different peoples inhabiting Afghanistan call themselves Afghans by nationality, and are generally so considered by foreigners, much in the same way as the originally different peoples of England Proper now call themselves Englishmen.
How long it took for these western Gandarians to lose their own national name and identity, and to become incorporated in the Afghan people, is quite uncertain, but it would appear that about three 01 four hundred years ago, when the Afghan genealogies of the present day began to be concocted, they were already thoroughly mixed up with their conquerors, counted as of kindred race, and reckoned very good Musalmans; which is more than can be said of the Pathan Proper, or of the Ghilzai.
It was in the first half of the fifteenth century, during the reign at Kabul of Mirza Ulugh Beg - the grandson of Tymur, or Tamerlane - that the retrograde emigration, previously mentioned, took place, when a large body of the Bud hist Indians, converted to Islam, and the Gandarians, transformed into Afghans, returned to their native seat upon the Indus The tubal traditions are to the effect that, about three or four hundred years ago, the Yusufzai, or Mandar, and Mahmand tribes of Afghans were settled on the Ghwara Margha and the head waters of the Tarnak and Arghasan rivers as neighbours and allies Beyond them, lower down the course of these rivers, were the Tarin, another tribe of Afghans, who still occupy the same positions, and the valley of Peshin. Their lands were in the summer subject to droughts, and were besides in great part waste, owing to the exhaustion at that season of the tributary streams and the diminished volume of the rivers. The consequence was a contest for the better lands, and the Tarin tribes, being the stronger of the two parties, gradually encroached upon the "Fat Pastures" (Ghwara Margha) of the Mandar and Mahmand tribes, and finally dispossessed them of their lands.