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Hinduism Outside India

Hinduism outside India (before 600 AD)

Iraq (300 AD)

“According to the Syrian writer Zenob, there was an Indian colony in the canton of Taron on the Upper Euphrates, to the west of Lake Van, as early as the second century B.C. The Indians built there two temples containing images of gods about 13 and 22 ft. high. When, about A.D. 304, St. Gregory came to destroy these temples, he was strongly opposed by the Indians. But he defeated them and smashed the images, thus anticipating the iconoclastic zeal of Mahmud of Ghazni.”

Note that, Zenob was an ancient Syrian historian/hagiographer ~300-400AD

Source: The History and Culture of the Indian People, Volume II: The Age of Imperial Unity, RC Mujumdar (pages 633-634)

Iran (400 AD)

Goddess Durga (Mahiśa-mardini) excavated from Deylaman, Iran. It was initially described as the head of the ancient Iranian goddess Drvaspa, attached to a spout in the form of a bull’s head.


The cult of this Goddess was very popular with the Hephthalites, which suggests a political motive behind its patronage. The invading Hunnic tribes often had a Buffalo as their tribal symbal.

The indication of this goddess as Durga is hinted from its Shaivite iconography of inverted crescents with a triangle painted on her forehead. It was actually excavated from Kabul which was likely a stronghold of Hinduism at this point. Even the animal head is specifically an Indian buffalo and not a bull as was likely understood before!


  1. An Indo-Iranian Silver Rhyton in the Cleveland Museum

Armenia (130 BC - 300 AD)

“St. Gregory appeared with 300 men to overturn their faith. The (Hindu) people flew to arms, and the first outbreak of the popular fury obliged St. Gregory to take refuge in a friendly castle. Both sides received reinforcements, desperate battles were fought, and over a thousand men fell. Artzan,​ the chief priest, and his son Demetr were slain in combat, having exhibited courage worthy of heroes. The Indians were overpowered, but they still implored that their idols might be spared. Six priests fell at the temple door, another died under torture without revealing the treasury of Demetr. The Christians then proceeded to break up the copper statues of the gods, which were 12 and 15 cubits high. The temples were razed to the ground, and on the site of Demetr’s temple, St. Gregory erected a church, while a wooden cross marked the place where Gisanê’s (Krishna) idol had stood. More than 5,000 idolaters submitted to baptism, and 438 persons, the sons of priests, or temple servants, who remained obdurate, had their heads shaved and were transported to Phaitakaran, near the shores of the Caspian”

Source: Kennedy, J. “The Indians in Armenia (130 BC-300 AD)” from The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1904): 309-314.

Turkey (1380 BC)

1380 BCE, 3400 Years Old Inscription of Treaty Between Hittite King Suppiluliuma I and Mittanni King Shattiwaza invoking Hindu Gods Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Ashvins as Divine Witness. This Inscription Was Found In Bogazköy, Turkey. The translation of the inscriptions can be seen here


Balkh(Bactria) - 305 AD

Majestic Shiva on the golden coin of Kushano-Sassanian emperor Peroz II.

Left: Peroz offers into holy fire. He holds a trident.

Right: A majestic Shiva holds a trident in one hand and Pāśa (noose) in the other. Nandi was also shown.

Provenance: Balkh(Bactria) Time: 305 AD


Kushano-Sassanians of Bactria and East Iran were devotees of Shiva. They inscribed him on almost all their coins. Peroz is an originally Iranic name. As Arabic did not have p(voiceless plosive) sound, the latter became a fricative. Peroz became Feroz. It is now hard to imagine a Hindu with the name Peroz/Feroz!