Friday, January 29, 2016


Kanishka I, or Kanishka the Great, was the emperor of the Kushan dynasty in 127–151 famous for his military, political, and spiritual achievements. A descendant of Kushan empire founder Kujula Kadphises, Kanishka came to rule an empire in Bactria extending from Turfan in the Tarim Basin to Pataliputra on the Gangetic plain during the Golden Age of the Kushanas. The main capital of his empire was located at Puruṣapura in Gandhara (Peshawar in present Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan), with two other major capitals at ancient Kapisa (present Bagram, Afghanistan) and Mathura, India. His conquests and patronage of Buddhism played an important role in the development of the Silk Road and the transmission of Mahayana Buddhism from Gandhara across the Karakoram Range to China.

Kanishka's era was used as a calendar reference by the Kushans and later by the Guptas in Mathura for about three centuries. Kanishka's era is now believed by many to have begun in 127 AD on the basis of Harry Falk's ground-breaking research. The actual source, however, gives 227 AD as Year One of a Kuṣâṇa century without mentioning Kanishka's name.

Kanishka's reputation in Buddhist tradition is based mainly that he convened the 4th Buddhist Council in Kashmir. Images of the Buddha based on 32 physical signs were made during his time.
He provided encouragement to both the Gandhara school of Greco-Buddhist Art and the Mathura school of Hindu art (An inescapable religious syncretism pervades Kushana rule). Kanishka personally seems to have embraced both Buddhism and the Persian cult of Mithra. His greatest contribution to Buddhist architecture was the Kanishka stupa at Peshawar, Pakistan.

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