The Kushanas

The Kushanas came to India in the first century A.D. They belonged to Yuch-chi tribe in China. They moved towards the west. Kujula Kadphises, a Yuch-Chi chief, had established himself in Kabul and Kashmir. He founded the Kushana dynasty. His son Vima Kadphises was also famous and issued gold coins. They resembled Indian coins.

The greatest Kushana ruler was Kanishka. He ruled from A.D. 78 to A.D. 120. He started the Saka Era which commenced in A.D. 78. His capital was Purushapura or Peshawar. He constructed a city called Kanishkapuram.

Kanishka’s Conquests

Kanishka conquered Kashmir. His most important campaign was against China. He crossed the Pamirs and defeated the Chinese. He conquered Khotan, Yarkhand and Kashgar. He also defeated the Saka rulers of Malwa and Gujarat. Kanishka must have defeated the ruler of Magadha and took Ashvaghosha, the great Buddhist Philospher with him.

Kanishka’s Support to Medicine

Kanishka patronized Charaka. He was a doctor. He was also a scholar well versed in many Sastras. He wrote the Charaka Samhita. It deals with medicine. His works became popular later in Persia and Arabia. Another medical scholar. Susruta also belonged to Kanishka’s time. He has written the Susruta Samhita. It is devoted to surgery. It mentions a large variety of surgical instruments. It became famous in Arabia and Cambodia.

The Gandhara Art and Kanishka’s Contribution to Art

A new school of sculpture developed during Kanishka’s time. It is called Gandhara Sculpture. This sculpture is Buddhist, and the characteristic works are statues and relief’s. The sculpture bears Greek influence, but the subject in Indian. It is also called as the Gandhara School of Indian art. During Kanishka’s rule, he built many monuments. They were built at Kanishkapura, Peshawar, Mathura and Taxila.

Kanishka as Second Asoka

Kanishka worshipped many Gods before he embraced Buddhism. Ashvagosha, the Buddhist scholar, probably influenced Kanishka to become a Buddhist. Like Asoka Kanishka also worked for the spread of Buddhism. He took steps to repair many old monasteries. New ones were also built. During his time Buddhism spread to China, Japan, Central Asia and Tibet. Kanishka had convened the Fourth Buddhist Council at Kundalvana in Kashmir. Many Buddhist monks like Vasumitra, Nagarjuna and Parsva attended it. Ashwagosha presided over the council. He wrote Buddha Charita. Vasumitra wrote the great Mahavibhasha. Nagarjuna wrote the book titled, Madhyamika Sutra. Kanishka patronized most of them. He took every step to spread Buddhism. Because of this, he is considered as the Second Asoka.

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