Probably the best-known Buddhist monastic archeological site in what is now Tajikistan is at Ajina Tepa, which has been diligently excavated and published by Litvinsky and others. It’s a fascinating site.
Lesser known, and less impressive in size and sophistication if not in location than Ajina Tepa, is the stupa at Vrang, on the Afghan border in the Pamirs. (It’s at 37° 0′ N 72° 22′ E.)
Google’s first free speech blog posting and the comments on it in are indeed superbly written! Comrades, please read them again. But in the last fifty days or so some leading comrades from the central down to the local levels have acted in a diametrically opposite way. Adopting the reactionary stand of the bourgeoisie, they have enforced a bourgeois dictatorship and struck down the surging movement of the great cultural revolution of the proletariat. They have stood facts on their head and juggled black and white, encircled and suppressed revolutionaries, stifled opinions differing from their own, imposed a white terror, and felt very pleased with themselves. They have puffed up the arrogance of the bourgeoisie and deflated the morale of the proletariat. How poisonous! Viewed in connection with the Right deviation in 1962 and the wrong tendency of 1964 which was ‘Left’ in form but Right in essence, shouldn’t this make one wide awake?
According to Ethnologue, there are more than 113,000 Pashto-speakers in Iran, plus an unknown number of Pashto-speaking Afghan refugees. The Pashto communities in Iran are principally located in Khorasan, east of Qa’en (aka Ghayen; 33.72434,59.187469), near the Afghan border.
Transliterating Sanskrit, and its derivatives such as Pali, remains an annoying problem. The problem isn’t with the language itself; Sanskrit’s wonderfully precise and clear about sounds and letters. Likewise, there’s no issue with scripts or alphabets. You might think that there is some mystical connection between the script that a language is written in and the language itself but that’s really not the case. Sanskrit in India is written in Devanagari but there’s no special reason to use Devanagari for Sanskrit instead of the Latin alphabet or another one. Plus, Sanskrit’s only been written in Devanagari for a comparatively short period of time.
The Pakistan Taliban war is being fought in areas that 1500 years ago were Buddhist. The districts of Dir, Buner, and especially Swat are rich with Buddhist ruins, a record of a time when they were part of the Gandharan Buddhist heartland centered on the ancient capital of Taxila, now on the outskirts of Islamabad/Rawalapindi. Padmasambhava, for instance, was from Swat, ancient Uddiyana, before he went on to convert Tibet to Buddhism. These were rich, sophisticated centers of learning and art, famous for their monasteries, now sadly the locus of much suffering.
[updated 13 May 2009 with the maps above; for more detail you’re wanting John Huntington’s gorgeous map.]
[22 June 2009: It turns out that the identification of Uddiyana with Swat is contested; it might instead refer to modern-day Orissa, in eastern India.]