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Role of Kushana Empire

in BUDDHISM AND
HINDUISM
By
Adesh katariya
(plast.adesh@gmail.com)

Kushana Empire and the Silk Route

Their Capital was Purushpura Currently Peswar in Pakistan

Kushana Origin
Kushana was a Gotra ( sub-tribe ) of Yuezhi( Guzar),
also called Tushar.
In the epic Mahabharata, tocher called as Tushar were
descendents of ancient Suryabanshi.
In Hindu mythology, the Lunar dynasty (also known
as Somavansha, Chandravansha and as Ailas) was one
of the four principal houses of the Kshatriya varna, or
warriorruling caste.

Migration of Aryans to Tarim Basin


The Vedic Vayupurana describes a battle waged among the ancient
Aryans. It was as a result of this war that Anavs part of the
Chandravanshi clan and Gurtar ( Guzar ) of suryabanshi had to
immigrate to wester Aryabart area of modern Iran (Iran means
"land of Aryans") to Tarim basin.
It was in these regions, where the fertile soil of the mountainous
country is surrounded by the Turanian desert, that the prophet
Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) was said to have been born and gained his
first adherents. Avestan, the language of the oldest portions of
the Zoroastrian Avesta, was once called "old-iranic" which is related
to Sanskrit.
Chandravansi known as Sythians and Suryabanshi known as Guzar
by Tibbetian , Yuezhi by Chineese , Tocharian by Romans and
Tushara by Indians.

Formation of Kushana Empire


In 176 BC, the Yuezhi were driven from Tarim Besin to
westward by the Xiongnu, a fierce people of Magnolia.
The Yuezhi under the leadership of the Kushanas came down
from Central Asia and swept away all earlier dynasties of the
Northwest in a great campaign of conquest. They established
an empire which extended from Central Asia right down to the
eastern Gangetic basin.
In Bactria, they conquered the Scythians and the local IndoGreek kingdoms, the last remnants of Alexander the Great's
invasion force that had failed to take India.
From this central location, the Kushan Empire became a
wealthy trading hub between the peoples of Han China,
Sassanid Persia and the Roman Empire.
Roman gold and Chinese silk changed hands in the Kushan
Empire, at a very tidy profit for the middle-men.

Kushana Empire Map

Main Kushan Rulers


Heraios ,who was probably the first of the Kushan kings. He may have
been an ally of the Greeks, and he shared the same style of coinage.
Kujula Kadphises who set himself up as king of a kingdom called
Guishuang. He invaded Anxi (Parthia) and took the Gaofu (modern day
Kabul)
Vima Taktu, seems to have been a devotee of the Hindu god Shiva,
because some of his coins clearly show an image of Shiva.
Vima Kadphises , issued an extensive series of coins and inscriptions and
expend his empire upto Panjab.
Kanishka I, the second great Kushan emperor, fifth Kushan king, who
started Shaka Era in 78AD.
Vsishka rulled for 20 year reign following Kanishka. His rule is recorded
as far south as Sanchi (near Vidisa), where several inscriptions in his
name have been found.
Huvishka, rule was a period of retrenchment and consolidation for the
Empire. In particular he devoted time and effort early in his reign to the
exertion of greater control over the city of Mathura.

Cont..

Vasudeva I was the last of the "Great Kushans." Named inscriptions


dating from year 64 to 98 of Kanishkas era.
Kanishka II
Vashishka
Kanishka III is known from only one inscription, known as the Ara
inscription for the place where it was found, near the town of Attock
in what is now Pakistani Punjab.
Vasudeva II
Vasudeva III
Vasudeva IV reported possible child of Vasudeva III,ruling in Kandahar,
uncertain.
Vasudeva of Kabul reported possible child of Vasudeva IV,ruling in
Kabul, uncertain.
Chhu
Shaka I
Kipunada

Early religions of Kushana


When the Kuas entered Gandhra, they were Sanatani but they
respect other religions also.
The originally Sumerian goddess Nn, the Persian gods Wd (Bactrian
OA), and Ath (spelled A in Bactrian script), the Indian Buddha
and Skanda and a hybrid local god W (Bactrian OHO), Heracles of the
Greek and Zoroastrian fire worship are depicted by their symbols and
images.
The Kuhaas apparently introduced the very first anthropomorphic
representations of Indian gods for their coins in central asia.
Hindu mythology was endorsed and shaped by the Kuas through
their coinage and by representing gods in sculptures. They depicted less
known local deities for the first time on their coins and frequently
added their names .
The emergence of Gandhran Hinduism can be observed by the rise
and change of deities on Kua coins.

The religious policy of Kujula Kadphises


Kujula Kadphises was the one who introduced the term King
of the Kuas in his legend.
Kujula retained the Greek style of the coinage in certain
developmental stages, and used the same few Greek deities
(i.e. Zeus, Nike and Heracles) on reverses.
Hence, from his coinage we cannot deduct any new
developments in the Gandhran religious scenario.
Most probably, he respect the cultures of central Asia to gain
the support of local religious leaders.

Religions under Vima Taktu and Vima


Kadphises

Vima Takto seems to have been a devotee of the Hindu god Shiva,
because some of his coins clearly show an image of Shiva.
Vima Kadphises issued an extensive series of coins and inscriptions
based on hinduism and greek religions. He was the first to introduce
gold coinage in India, in addition to the existing copper and silver
coinage. His coins are of such high quality that some historians
believe that they must have been made by Roman mint masters in
the service of the Kushana kings.
He issued his W type coins both in gold and in copper in different
varieties, i.e. W standing alone, holding attributes, W standing
in front of a bull with his attributes and one type shows him with
attributes only, i.e. liga, trident and akua (Gbl 1984: nr. 1-20).

Kanishka- Hindu but protector of all


religions
Kanika's coinage shows gods of the Iranian sphere on its reverse,
indicating their names in Graeco-Bactrian instead of the previously
used Kharoh .
In spite of Kanikas promotion of deities from the Iranian religion,
W remained an important god.
Now, the iconography of W became more and more elaborate with
multiple hands holding a broad variety of attributes that reminded of
other deities that used to habitually keep those items. This multiplicity
being an Indian feature resulted in a transition that saw W becoming
more of an indigenous Indian deity.
In his time, he started minting of Buddhist coins in much qty.
God Shiva with Nandi and reverse side Buddha on Kanishkas coins
indicate that Buddhism and Hinduism were common religions.

Cont.
They comprise Iranian deities of Ath (spelled A in Bactrian
script), Mh (Bactrian MAO), Mithra/Mihira (Bactrian MIIPO), Wd
(Bactrian OA) etc.
Forth Buddhist council held during Kanishka region.
Like Asoka, Kanishka converted to Buddhism, employing 500 monks
to regulate Buddhist teachings in his empire.Kanishkas monks
meetings resulted in the creation of Mahayana Buddhism, more
closer to Hinduism.
Kanishka's reliquary casket, for example, features cast
representations of Buddha as well as Hindu dieties Brahma and Indra,
Persian sun and moon gods on the sides of the container and a
garland, supported by cherubs in typical Hellenistic style.
Kanishka attacked over Patliputra for in-tolerence nature of Brahmin
king
The multiplicity of gods that are shown backing the Emperor Kanihka
added to his status and importance and do not seem to indicate any
of his personal religious preferences.

Religion policy of Huvika


While Kanikas religious suppositions were based on Bactrian
creeds, Huvika followed more innovative religious strategies and
admitted a wide range of Greek, Brahmanical, Buddhist and
Zoroastrian gods for his numismatic pantheon
This innovative phase was mainly restricted to the beginning of his
reign, when a great number of variant gods were depicted on the
reverse of his coins. Somewhat later towards the middle of this
reign W became his main and favourite god.
Huvika initiated coins of MAACHNO (Mahsena), Hindu god,
popularly known today as Skanda or Krttikeya. Skanda, Kumra,
Vika and Mahsena were four different gods to Huvika, which
later on merged into one deity that became known under the name
Krttikeya in Hinduism

Hinduism of Huvishka
King Huvika demonstrated his innovative approach with a variety of
deities and also introduced a new form of W .Before the time of
Huvika, W was shown with one or three heads (Perkins 2007) and
two or four arms holding varying attributes.
The W of Huvika appears regularly with three heads, four arms and
hands, holding a vase, a thunderbolt, a trident, and a club. The central
face has a third eye, the hairs are knotted. This form of W became
the model for iva in Gandhra.
Huvika introduced divine couples on his coins. In the pair W-Nn
(Gbl 1984: nr. 167) both deities assimilate their Indian counterparts:
W assumes characteristics of iva and Nn takes on features of
Parvat. Accordingly, this earliest representation of the divine couple
influenced depiction of the iva-Parvat iconography in Gandhra.
Similarly, the pair W-Omm (spelled OH, ) (Gbl 1984: nr.
310) influenced the idea of Um-Mahevara in Gandhra.

Wes (Shiva) on Vima Kadphesis coins

Wes( Shiva) on Huvishkas coins

Wes ( Shiva)on Vasudevas coins

Kushan Shiva Peshawar Musiuam

Shiva-Parvati in Kushan Time

Garuda- Gandhara Art

Shiva and Buddha on Kushana Coins

Buddhism

Buddhists texts are full of praise for the Kushan Kanishka, "King of Kings" (circa 100 AD),
whose benevolent patronage supported Buddhism like no one else during his lifetime.
Buddhist Patronage. Kanishka's reputation in Buddhist tradition began with convening
the 4th Buddhist Council in Kashmir, circa 100 AD, which became essential to the
development of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition.
Kanishka provided encouragement to both the Gandhara school of Greco-Buddhist Art
and the Mathura school of Hindu art.
His greatest contribution to Buddhist architecture was the Kanishka stupa at Peshawar.
Archaeologists who rediscovered the base of thes stupa in 1908-1909 ascertained that
this stupa had a diameter of 286 feet.
Reports of Chinese pilgrims such as Xuan Zang indicate that its height was roughly 600 to
681 feet high and was covered with jewels.
This immense multi-storied building must have ranked among the wonders of the ancient
world.
Buddhist monks from the region of Gandhara during Kanishika's lifetime played a key
role in the development and the transmission of Buddhist ideas from India and Gandhara
to China.
For example, the Kushan monk, Lokaksema (c. 178 AD), became the first translator of
Mahayana Buddhist scriptures into Chinese and established a translation bureau at the
Chinese capital Loyang.

First Sermon

Tucker, p.
48

Birth of the Buddha


Grey schist frieze
Gandhara
2nd-3rd centuries AD

Standing
Buddha
Grey schist
Gandhara
2nd-3rd centuries
AD

Head of the
Buddha
Grey schist
Gandhara
2nd-3rd centuries
AD

Standing Bodhisattvas
Grey schist
Kushana -Gandhara, 2nd-3rd century AD

Tucker, p.
46

Tucker, p.
207

Buddha in
meditation
Limestone
Bactria
2nd century AD

Tucker, p.
39

Head of the
Buddha
Stucco
Gandhara

Maitreya Buddha, Kushana Gandhara, 1st-2nd

Big Buddha at Bamiyan

Thanks
The motive of this this presentation is, to attract good scholers to discuss and research on
the great contribution of Kushana of Yuezhi/Gurjar Tribes.
-Adesh Katariya