The Dard people are an ethnic group found predominantly in northern Pakistan, north west India and eastern Afghanistan. They speak mainly Dardic languages. The largest populations are in the regions of Gilgit–Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Dards, known as Brokpa, Drokpa and Shin, are also a minority in Ladakh, which is part of Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir.
Parpola (1999) identifies "Proto-Dardic" with "Proto-Rigvedic", suggesting that the Dards are the linguistic descendants of the bearers of proto Rigvedic culture ca. 1700 BC, pointing to features in certain Dardic dialects that continue peculiarities of Rigvedic Sanskrit, such as the gerund in -tvī (p. 189).
The majority of Dardic peoples are Muslims except a small population of polytheistic Kalash. Dardic religion in Indian Ladakh, particularly in the villages of Da and Hann, retains marked traces of the pre-Buddhist animistic religion, Bon-chos. The Kalash tribes found in Chitral, are exceptional in having retained their ancestral polytheistic religion and are officially protected by the Government of Pakistan.
As of 2001[update], the Dards in Ladakh region (better known as Brokpa, Drokpa etc.) of Indian administered state of Jammu and Kashmir were classified as a Scheduled Tribe under the Indian government's reservation program of positive discrimination.
- "List of Scheduled Tribes". Census of India: Government of India. 7 March 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
- Swat: an Afghan society in Pakistan : urbanisation and change in tribal environment. City Press. Retrieved 2007-08-01.
During Swati rule. The pre-Islamic faith of the dards was the Kalash faith which survives today in Northern Pakistan.
- The India magazine of her people and culture, Volume 14. A. H. Advani. Retrieved 2007-08-01.
Dardic religion in Ladakh, particularly in the villages of Da and Hann, retains marked traces of the pre-Buddhist animistic religion, Bon-chos
- Asko Parpola, 'The formation of the Aryan branch of Indo-European', in Blench and Spriggs (eds), Archaeology and Language III, London and New York (1999).