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Kushana Ruler Notes | History of Kushana Ruler | Ancient Indian History UPSC

Table of Contents: 

  • About Kushana Ruler 
  • Rulers of the Kushan dynasty 
  • The Decline of the Kushana Empire 
  • Gandhara Arts and Culture 

 Notes on Kushana Ruler:

Kushanas belonged to the Yuezhi tribe who lived in Central Asia near the Chinese frontier. 

Kushana rulers are known as Guishuang in Chinese history.

Kushana initially made dominance in central Asia in other Yuezhi tribes, later they defeated Parthiansa ( Iran) and Saka in the first century AD.

The Kushan empire was spread in present-day Western China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India. They controlled the whole Indo- Gangetic plain during the mature period of the empire 

Kushana rulers were contemporaries of Saka and Satavahana rulers.

The most prominent ruler of Kushana was Kanishka, he organized the fourth Buddhist council in 72 CE in Kashmir.

The Indo-Greek rulers first issued a gold coin in India. But the prevalence of gold coins started from the time of Kushan. The Kushan ruler "Vima Kadphis" issued a large number of gold coins in India. Kanishka, who was the son of "Vima Kadphis", released the pure form of gold coins in India during his reign.

Kushan rulers are also known for issuing gold, silver, and copper coins in India.

The Kanishak king is also known for issuing coins depicting Budhha.

Kushana Ruler Yaudheya issued the coins depicting God Kartikey.

Kushan rulers ultimately adopted the Indian culture, and become Saivism and Buddhism. 

Gandhara Art and culture riched in a prominent stage under Kushana rulers. Various statues were made of Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and future Buddha Maitreya. Gandhara Art was a combination of the Indo-Greek-Persia style of Architecture.

Mathura art also developed during the Kushana period.

Devaputra tile was adopted by the Kushan rulers.

Kushana Ruler

The following are the rulers of the Kushan dynasty;

  • Kujula Kadphises or Kadphises ( 30 to 80 CE)
  • Vima Taktu or Sadashkana ( 80 to 95 CE)
  • Vima Kadphises ( 95 CE to 127 CE
  • Kanishka [ 128 CE to 150 ACE)
  • Vasishka
  • Huvishka
  • Kanishka II
  • Vasudeva I ( last king of Kushana)

Kujula Kadphises:

Kujula Kadphises was the first Yuezhi tribe chief who founded Kushana rule in India. He adopted the "epithet Dharma-thida", which refers to adherence to the Buddhist and Shaiva faiths.

Vima Kadphises: 

Vima Kadphises is best known for a large number of issuing of Gold Coin. He was the father of Kanishaka. He also controlled the silk route.

Kanishka : 

Kanishka was the son of Vima Kadphise. He was known for issuing the purest gold coins.  

He had control of the complete silk route. His main capital was Peshawar, which was known as Purushpura. His second capital was Mathura. 

The fourth Buddhist council was held in Kundalgram in Kashmir under the Kanishka king. Vashumitra was the chairman of this council, who had written a book named “Mahabhaashya”. He patronized the Ashvaghos, who was the writer of BudhaCharita.

The name of scholars in the court of Kanishka was Parsva, Vashumitra, Ashvaghosa, Nagarjuna, Charaka, and Mathara. Charak was the royal doctor of Kanishka. Ashvoghosa is also considered to be the first Sanskrit Dramatist.

He also patronized the Greek engineer Agesilaus.

He spread the Mahayana sect of Buddhism in Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan.

He patronized Buddhism, however, he was very tolerant in his religious view. His coin contains a mix of Indian, Greek, and Zoroastrian deities.

Kanishka was considered the great Kushana king and also a great king of ancient India. 

The Decline of the Kushana Empire:

The following are some prominent reasons for the decline of the Kushana empire-

  • External Invasions
  • Internal conflicts
  • Rise of Regional Kingdoms
  • Economic decline
  • Cultural Assimilation

External Invasions: 

The Central Asian tribes and nomadic groups repeatedly attacked the Kushanas, tweaking their hold on the region. The Hephthalities, also known as the White Huns, launched many attacks on Kushana.

Internal conflicts:

Succession disputes and rivalries among different branches of the royal family weakened the more and caused fragmentation. These internal divisions weakened their ability to respond effectively to external threats and maintain stability within their territories.

Rise of Regional Kingdoms:

The decline of Kushana's power leads to the emergence of various regional kingdoms.

Economic decline:

The disruption caused by invasions and internal conflicts lead to a decline in trade and commerce, led to the loss of wealth and prosperity for the Kushanas. Major sources of Kushana came from the Silk Road, loss of control over the silk trade led to a significant decline in revenue.

Cultural Assimilation:

The Kushana promoted the Buddhist culture and also adopted the Indian culture. Cultural assimilation led to the weakening of their distinct identity.

Vasudeva I was the last king of Kushanas. After his death, the empire disintegrated away. The empire was divided into two parts. Easter part was merged with the Gupta empire. 

Gandhara Arts and Culture:

Gandhara Arts emerged in the Ancient region of Gandhara, located in present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan, during the Kushana period from the 1st to 5th Century CE.

Gandhara Arts were developed as a fusion of Hellenistic ( Greek), Persia, and Indian artistic traditions, resulting in a unique distinctive style of art.

The following were characteristics of Gandhara Art:

Greco-Roman Influence: The art style incorporates elements such as realistic human figures, drapery, and architectural motifs of classical Greek and Roman art.

Buddhist Iconography: Gandhara art primarily served as a visual expression of Buddhism, including images of Buddha and Bodhisattvas. It also depicts scenes from the life of the Buddha, Jataka tales, and stories of the Buddha's previous lives.

Use of Schist and Stucco: Schist is a metamorphic rock, which was used for sculptural works in Gandhara art. Stucco is a plaster-like material, that was commonly used for cultures and architectural decorations. 

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