Revisiting the Persian-Tajik Cosmopolis E-mail


By Richard Eaton

For several centuries now, the writing of South Asian history has been plagued by a tendency to see the past through the lens of religion – especially Hinduism and Islam, which are commonly understood as essentialized, timeless, and locked in binary opposition, if not mutual hostility.


Suggesting a radically different way of theorizing cultural space, however, Sheldon Pollock recently coined the term "Sanskrit cosmopolis", referring to the enormous geographic sweep of Indic culture that stretched from Afghanistan through Vietnam from the fourth to the 14th century.


For Pollock, what characterized this cosmopolis was not religion, but the ideas elaborated in the entire corpus of Sanskrit texts which, for more than a millennium, circulated above and across the vernacular world of regional tongues.

The History of Medicine in Ancient Persia E-mail

The history of medicine in Iran is as old and as rich as its civilization. In the Avesta, science and medicine rise above class, ethnicity, nationality, race, gender and religion.

Some of the earliest practices of ancient Iranian medicine have been documented in the Avesta and other Zoroastrian religious texts.

During the Achaemenid era (559-330 BCE), the 21 books of Avesta encompassing 815 chapters were an encyclopedia of science consisting of medicine, astronomy, law, social science, philosophy, general knowledge, logic and biology.

It can be inferred from these books that Zoroastrians placed great importance on personal hygiene, public health and the prevention of contagious diseases.

The best teachers of medicine and astrology were Iranian Magi and Mobeds (Zoroastrian priests) who passed their knowledge on to their pupils from one generation to the next.

According to Avestan texts, King Jamshid was the physician who initiated the custom of bathing with hot and cold water.

Iranians refrained from polluting the four elements. They would not bathe or wash dirty objects in flowing water, and urinating or spitting into water was considered a great sin.
Pirooz in China: Defeated Persian army takes refuge E-mail



By Frank Wong

In 651 A.D., the Persian king Yazdgerd III was captured and beheaded by Arab invaders in what is today's Turkmenistan. His son, Pirooz survived and fled east to China. Here's an account from Chinese historians.


I read the story of Pirooz written in a formal and ancient aristocratic Chinese language. It was quite tough, but with the help of my Chinese friends and associates I got through it. It was written by Prince Nah-shieh (Narseh), who was the son of Prince Pirooz, who was the son of King Yazdgerd III-- the last Sasanid king of Persia. Narseh was a Chinese general stationed in the Tang Chinese military garrisons in what are today's Afghanistan, Tajikistan and parts of Uzbekistan.


In 751 A.D., the Chinese lost a decisive battle to the Arabs at Talas (now in Uzbekistan), and they retreated from their colonies in Central Asia. All the garrisons shut down, and the armies fled back into China. Many Persians and Sogdians followed the Chinese back into China and abandoned their homes in Central Asia in wake of the Muslim Arabic invasions. Some Sogdians came as widows who then married Chinese soldiers along with their orphaned children.

Challenging the Core of Greek and Iranian Identities E-mail



Challenging the Core of Greek and Iranian Identities

One of the most interesting political develropments in the late 20th century, especially the 1990s, was the downfall of the Soviet Union and other affiliated Communist regimes in the eastern bloc. The break-up of the Soviet Union led to rise of wholly new nation states as did the fragmentaiton of former Yugoslavia.

One of the most interesting developments in the rise of these nation states was the rise of historical revisionism. Iran and its ancient Persian legacy is not the only ancient historical nation which has witnessed its historical icons and geographical names hijacked in the quest to manufacture new nation-states. Attempts at revisionism have been directed against other ancient historical nations such as Greece. The latter case can be clealry seen with respect Greece. Today the core of Greek identity is being challenged by revisionists who question the Greek origins (and legacy) of Alexander the Great.

From the Manghits to a Democratic State E-mail



By Iraj Bashiri

From the Manghits to the Soviets


Part One of this volume entitled "Samanid Renaissance and Establishment of Tajik Identity," concluded, among other things, with a statement that, although the fall of the Samanids occurred at the hands of the Turks, pressures from Baghdad and the Buyids had already weakened the dynasty and made it vulnerable. Building on the information already provided about the interactions between the Iranians and the Turks of Central Asia, Part Three examines the role of Russia (1868-1920), and of the Soviet Union (1920-1991) in the continuing conflict between the Turkic and Iranian populations of the region.

The section begins with a general view of the Emirate of Bukhara, describing its social mores, administrative organization, and ideological trends. This view is then followed by a relatively detailed history of the Manghit amirs of Bukhara, stressing the role of Russia in the Turkish administration of Tajik territories. Due to the dearth of materials on the Manghits, especially materials that reflect the Tajik view, this subject is given more attention than would otherwise be justifiable.

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