Pajhwok Afghan News
By Danish Karokhel
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KABUL - Christopher Columbus may be rocked on his pedestal by an unlikely contender. A book authored by a Canadian writer claims that Buddhist monks from Afghanistan discovered America a thousand years before Columbus.
Popular history believes that Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492 while searching for India. This theory is however likely to be challenged soon with the publication of a book ‘An Impossible Journey from Kabul to Chiapas’ by Gary Geddes. Geddes argues that Afghan Buddhist monks had traveled to the American Continent a thousand years before Christopher Columbus.
Afghan historians and researchers have also confirmed the idea. The late Abdul Shakoor Rashad, doyen of Afghan historians with 30 books on history and literature to his credit, had written about this theory on several occasions, contending that Afghan monks had reached America through China.
Geddes, a poet and a historian visited Afghanistan in 2001 during the Taliban regime to collect material for his book. Geddes has investigated Rashad’s idea and studied the route on which the Afghan monks reached the coast of America through China, collecting evidence to back his theory.
A group of five Buddhist monks led by Hu Shin went to China from Kabul via the Silk Route in 458 A.D. and from there they got to the American coastlines of the Pacific Ocean by sea. This group toured Canada and America on foot and ended up in the Chiapas province of Mexico he says.
Academics have earlier also discussed the journey of people from the Asian coastlines of the Pacific to America and the release of the new book will bring new evidence to the debate.
The Canada Desk Director in the Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan, Mohammad Hassan Sobman, who helped Geddes in collection of the material, say the book will bring Afghanistan on the center stage internationally.
“Afghanistan has been put back on the stage after decades of isolation and now with disclosure of the fact that Afghans were the first discoverers of America, the country will be never drop off the map”, Sobman said.
Afghan artist, Mohammad Yousuf Asifi, appreciating the writer’s efforts, told Pajhwok that the historical monuments excavated from Afghanistan shows that Afghanistan was pioneer of other countries in religious affairs. “We have left back a strong history.,” he said.
He asked Afghan researchers and historians to embark on in-depth investigations and demonstrate to the world a clear picture and identity of Afghanistan.
Originally published on 02/08/2005