During the Bronze Age, that is roughly from 2300 to 1700 BC, Tajikistan was part of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex. It’s boundaries spread over present day northern Afghanistan, Eastern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan. The civilization flourished on the banks of the the Amu Darya. In ancient Indian scriptures, the Amu river goes by the name ‘Vaksh’ (वक्ष) which the Greeks later changed to ‘Oxus’. The name derives from the Sanskrit ‘Vakshan’ (वक्षण) which means ‘river’ or ‘river-bed’. The name of the river Vaksh has often been translated from  Sanskrit as ‘chest’ (Vaksha) or ‘oxen’ (Vakshas), but these are incorrect.

Bactria too was the Greek name for the region that today goes by the name ‘Balk’, located in northern Afghanistan. Balk is also the name of a tribe that appears as ‘Bahika’ (बाह्लीक) in the Mahabharata. Margiana was the Greek name for Margu, the capital of which was Merv. The ancient Sanskrit name of Merv was the familiar Meru (मेरु), and was located, in modern-day south-eastern Turkmenistan.

A coin from 3rd century AD found at Balkh depicting
Oesho, the Iranian/Bactrian avatar of Vedic Lord Shiva.
Note the ‘trident’, the ‘snakes around the neck’ and ‘Nandi, the bull’.

The currency is ‘Dinar’. ‘Dinar’ is derived from Sanskrit ‘Dhana’ which

distorts to ‘Dina’ in Avestan language. Hence ‘Dinar’.

As per the Mahabharata, most of modern Tajikstan, including territories as far as Zeravshan valley in Sogdiana, had formed parts of the ancient Kamboja kingdoms.The Greeks later changed the name of Kamboja to Komedes. The inhabitants of Kamboja are regarded as the ancestors of the Tajiks of Tajikistan. They were a kshatriya (warrior) race and in the Mahabharata appear in the roles of horsemen and breeders of horses. 

That Hinduism once flourished in Tajikistan is established by the relics excavated from Tajikistan. Depiction of the Panchatantra tales have been recovered from salvaged temple walls of Tajikistan.

mural of Shiva excavated from
Lord Shiva artifact (3rd -1st Century BC)


Shiva-Parvati mural from

For a look at a Shiva-Parvati statue excavated from Tajakistan click here.

‘Panel with a goddess riding a lion’ found in Panjikant, Tajikistan
An ancient Tajik depiction of the Vedic Goddess ‘Durga’
Photo Courtesy: State Hermitage Museum

Painted Wood Panel, Shiva with Trishula
Sogdiana, 7th-8th century CE, Panjikent
The State Hermitage Museaum, St. Petersburg
Shiva with Trisula | The Sogdians (si.edu)



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