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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)

Names of territories during the Caliphate, Khorasan was part of Persia (in yellow).

Greater Khorasan (Persian:خراسان بزرگ) is a modern term for eastern territories of ancient Persia since the 3rd century A.D. Greater Khorasan included territories that presently are part of Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.


Khorasan is a Pahlavi word which means "the land of sunrise".


Jat clans after Khurasan

Khurasan (खुरासान) is gotra of Jats. This gotra originated from ancestral person who came from place Khurasan (खुरासान) or Khorasan. [1]

Khurasya (खुरासया) is gotra of Jats. This gotra originated from ancestral person who came from place Khurasan (खुरासान). [2]

Jat History

Ram Sarup Joon[3] writes that ...It has been mentioned in Malfuzat Temuri that is the time of Temuri's invasion of India, Jats were the first to intercept him many Jats were killed in the encounter. Timur had for long harboured an animosity against the Jats. Timur was from Chughtaiya (Saktaya) the capital of which was in Trans Oxiana. A great Jat king Kokaltas invaded Khurasan and occupied it. After that he invaded Trans Oxiana. The king fled away. But the nephew of that Amir Timur was a clever and far sighted man. He offered due apologies on behalf of his uncle and admitted the suzerainty of Kokaltas, who had one Lakh (100,000) brave Jats in his army. King Kokaltas died issue less in 1380. Timur occupied the throne and also married a Jat Rajkumari. But Jats did not accept the rule of Timur. A mutiny flared up and continued for long time. Finally Timur managed to suppress it, carried out a mass massacre of the Jats and drove out the remnants from the country. By 1349 he succeeded in finally establishing himself, but still he was not free from Jat troubles. He writes in Timur Nama, that he did not intend to kill so many Jats, because they were handsome, stalwart people, but he had to do so. It is written in MulfuZai Temur P 429 that when he invaded India, he was interrupted by the Jats who took a heavy toll of his army. It is also mentioned in Todd's Rajasthan with reference to Tazke-babri that at the time of Babar's invasion of India a large number of Jats resisted him at Thanesar and most of them were slain.

Khorasan province

These days, the adjective greater is partly used to distinguish it from Khorasan province, in modern-day Iran, that forms western parts of these territories, roughly half in area [4]. It is also used to indicate that Greater Khorasan encompasses territories that were perhaps called by some other popular name when they were individually referred to. For example Transoxiana (covered Uzbekistan and Tajikistan), Bactria, Kabulistan [5] , Khwarezm (containing Samarkand and Bukhara) [6] .

Until the devastating Mongol invasion of the thirteenth century, Khorasan was considered the cultural capital of Persia. (Lorentz 1995)

Greater Khorasan contained mostly Nishapur and Tus (now in Iran), Herat, Balkh, Kabul and Ghazni (now in Afghanistan), Merv and Sanjan (now in Turkmenistan), Samarqand and Bukhara (both now in Uzbekistan), Khujand and Panjakent (now in Tajikistan) and Balochistan (now in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran).

Geographical Distribution

According to Mir Ghulam Mohammad, Afghanistan's current territories formed the major part of Khorasan[7] while other sources say otherwise. According to these latter sources, Khorasan province of Iran roughly comprises half of Greater Khorasan.[8] Khorasan's boundaries have varied greatly during ages. The term was loosely applied to all territories of Persia that lay east and north east of Dasht-e Kavir and therefore were subjected to change as the size of empire changed.

In the Middle Ages, Persian Iraq and Khorasan were the two most important parts of the territory of Greater Iran. The dividing region between these two was mostly along with Gurgan and Damaghan cities. Especially the Ghaznavid Empire, Seljuq dynasty and Timurid dynasty, divided their Empire to Iraqi and Khorasani regions. This point can be observed in many books such as "Tārīkhi Bayhaqī" of Abul Fazl Bayhqi, Faza'ilul al-anam min rasa'ili hujjat al-Islam (a collection of letters of Al-Ghazali) and other books.

Ghulam Mohammad Ghubar, an ethnic Tajik scholar and historian from Afghanistan, talks of Proper Khorasan and Improper Khorasan in his book titled "Khorasan"[9]. According to him, Proper Khorasan contained regions lying between Balkh (in the East), Merv (in the North), Sijistan (in the South), Nishapur (in the West) and Herat, known as The Pearl of Khorasan, in the center. While Improper Khorasan's boundaries extended to Kabul and Ghazni in the East, Balochistan and Zabulistan in the South, Transoxiana and Khwarezm in the North and Damaghan and Gurgan in the West.

In Memoirs of Babur, it is mentioned that Indians called non-Hindustanis (non-Indians) as Khorasanis. Regarding the boundary of Hindustan and Khorasan, it is written: "On the road between Hindustān and Khorasān, there are two great marts: the one Kābul, the other Kandahār." 1 Thus, Improper Khorasan bordered Hindustan (old India).

Historical overview

Greater Khorasan is one of the regions of Greater Iran. Before being conquered by Alexander the Great in 330 BC, it was part of the Achaemenid dynasty Persian Empire. In 1st century AD, the eastern regions of greater Khorasan fell into the hands of the Kushan empire. The Kushans introduced Buddhist culture to these regions, as numerous Kushanian temples and buried cities with treasures in the northern and central areas of Khurasan (nowadays mainly Afghanistan) have been found. However the western parts of Greater Khorasan remained predominantly Zoroastrian as one of the three great fire-temples of the Sassanids "Azar-burzin Mehr" is situated in the western regions of Khorasan, near Sabzevar in Iran. The boundary was pushed to the west towards the Persian Empire during the Kushans. The boundary kept changing until the demise of the Kushan Empire where Sassanid dynasty took control of the entire region. In Sassanid era, Persian empire was divided into four quarters, "Xwawaran" meaning west, apAxtar meaning north, Nīmrūz meaning south and Xurasan (Khorasan) meaning east. The Eastern regions saw some conflict with Hephthalites, but the borders remained much stable afterwards until the Muslim invasion.

Being the eastern parts of the Sassanid empire and further away from Arabia, Khorasan quarter was conquered in the later stages of Muslim invasions. In fact the last Sassanid king of Persia, Yazdgerd III, moved the throne to Khorasan following the Arab invasion in the western parts of the empire. After the assassination of the king, Khorasan was conquered by the Islamic troops in 647. Like other provinces of Persia it became one of the provinces of Umayad dynasty.


  1. Dr Mahendra Singh Arya, Dharmpal Singh Dudee, Kishan Singh Faujdar & Vijendra Singh Narwar: Ādhunik Jat Itihasa (The modern history of Jats), Agra 1998 p. 236
  2. Dr Mahendra Singh Arya, Dharmpal Singh Dudee, Kishan Singh Faujdar & Vijendra Singh Narwar: Ādhunik Jat Itihasa (The modern history of Jats), Agra 1998 p. 235
  3. History of the Jats/Chapter IX, p. 150
  4. Dabeersiaghi, Commentary on Safarnâma-e Nâsir Khusraw, 6th Ed. Tehran, Zavvâr: 1375 (Solar Hijri Calendar) 235-236
  5. For example refer to Shahname. e.g. So happy became the king of Kabulistan from the marriage of the sun of Zabulistan [1]
  6. or refer to Anvari Qasida in which he refers to Samarqand as Turan and complains about devastation in Khorasan (and more generally Iran) caused by Ghuz Turks. [2]
  7. Ghubar, Mir Ghulam Mohammad, Khorasan, 1937 Kabul Printing House, Kabul, Afghanistan
  8. Dabeersiaghi, "Commentary", Nâseer khusraw, Safarnâma, 6th Ed. Tehran, Zavvâr:1375 (Solar Hijri Calendar) 235-236
  9. Ghubar, Mir Ghulam Mohammad, Khorasan, 1937 Kabul Printing House, Kabul, Afghanistan

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