Post Mauryan period- Political, Social, Economic, Religious and Cultural life during Kushana

The Kushanas: Short introduction

In the early 2nd century BC, a tribe on the Central Asian frontier of China called Hsiung-nu defeated a neighboring one known as Yueh-chih. After more conflict, the survivors of the Yueh-chih were dislocated west, passing down the Ili river valley and along the southern shore of lake Issyk Kul. This movement also pushed Saka tribes (and others) ahead of them. Sometime between 145 and 125 BC, these nomad invaders burst into Bactria and Parthia. A generation later, they were pressing into the Kabul valley and onto the Punjab plain. At around the beginning of the Christian era, one of the five Yueh-chih chiefs, K’iu-tsiu-k’io, attacked and defeated the others, leaving his clan in control; the Kuei-shang (Kushans).

Kujula Kadphises (30-80 AD) established the Kushan dynasty in 78 AD by taking advantage of disunion in existing dynasty of Pahalava (Parthian) and Scytho-Parthians, and gradually wrested control of southern prosperous region, which is the northwest part of ancient India, traditionally known as Gandhara (now Pakistan). It was his grandson Vima Kadphises who made Kushan a paramount power of northern India. His reign saw emergence of Kushan empire when he conquored north-western India (modern Punjab). Soon he came under influence of Hinduism (most likley embraced it for good) and took opportunity to proclaim himself Mahishwara, another name for Lord Shiva, on his coins (Shiva is a prominent Hindu god). Kushan kings introduced gold and copper coins, a large number of them have survived till today. It was the Kushan emperor, Vima Kadaphises who introduced the first gold coins of india. Kushan empire covered north west of India (includes Pakistan and modern Afganistan) and northern India. Ample evidences of trade with China, cental Asia, Egypt and Rome are available which made their economy very strong and kingdom wealthy and prosperous.

Vima’s able son Kanishka (100 – 126 AD) followed and took control of this dynasty in 100 AD. Kanishka is the legendary ruler of ancient India and according to most historians the greatest ruler of Kushan dynasty. He and his descendents called themselves `Devputra’ which means son of god, who ruled Aryavarta, the India. He established an era, commonly known as Shaka era, starts from 78 AD. Shaka era is still in use in India. Kanishka’s empire consisted Bactria (modern Afghanistan), part of central Asia (Tajikistan), north-western India (modern Pakistan) and Northern India till Pataliputra or Patana. Kushan empire.

Huvishka succeeded Kanishka I. He was founder of a city Hushka in Kashmir named after him (described by Kalhan in Rajatarangini). Kushana empire was at its zenith during Kanishka’s and Huvishka’s reign. After Huvishka’s reign, Vasudeva I took control of this dynasty which by then had lost control over regions beyond Bactria or perhaps the Bactria itself. The Kushan dynasty had been totally assimilated in Indian culture. Vasudeva I was the last great king of the dynasty when Kushana empire was at it’s height of splendor and prosperity.

Kushan empire had started its decline soon after Vasudeva’s death. Vasudeva was followed by his son Kanishka II who lost all the territories west of river Indus to Sassanians. Vasudeva II, Vashishka, and Shaka are the kings who followed after the Kanisha II. After Vashishka the Kushan empire had completly disintegrated into few small kingdoms. By fourth century AD this dynasty went into total obscurity with advent of mighty Gupta emperors.



His Date:

There is a sharp controversy about Kanishka’s date centering round two points:

(1) Whether the Kanishka group preceded or succeeded the Kadphises group, and

(2) Whether Kanishka started his rule in 78 A.D. or later or earlier.

(1) Cunningham was the first writer to sponsor the theory that Kanishka’s era started from 58 B.C. which came to be known after­wards as Vikrama Samvat: Cunningham, however, gave up this theory later on, but Fleet and after him Kennedy held this view with all ear­nestness. As a corollary of the above contention it follows that Kanishka group of kings preceded Kadphises group of kings.

But on a careful analysis of the archaeological and numismatic evidences scholars have come to the conclusion that there can be no doubt that the Kanishka group of kings did not precede but followed the Kadphises group of kings.

In support of this view scholars point out if the series of coins issued successively by alien rulers of India upto Vasudeva-I, are care­fully studied it will be evident that the coins of the Kadphises kings were issued immediately after those of the Sakas and the Parthians.

Again, the coins of Kanishka and Huvishka, although differ in some details, they seem to be largely prototypes of Wima Kadiphises.

It must also be noted that the practice of issuing bilingual and by scriptural coins introduced by the Indo-Greek kings was continued throughout the Saka-Pahlava period upto the time of Kadphises. The continuity of the practice without break till the time of Wima Kadphises was broken only at the time of Kanishka who gave up the practice of issuing bilingual coins.

The legend of his coins was Greek but most of them were not, however, in Greek. Hurishka and Vasudeva followed the practice of Kanishka. Thus we find that while there was a continuity in the method of the striking coins followed upto Wima Kadphises from the line of the Indo-Greeks a different method was followed and continued by Kanishka and his successors. These two different sequences when compared leave no doubt that the Kushana group followed Kadphises group of kings.

Turning to the second point, we find that scholars like Sir John Marshall, Sten Konow, Vincent Smith, Van Wijk and some other scholars are of the opinion that Kanishka began his rule in the first quarter of the second century A.D., sometime between 125 to 128 A.D. which lasted for about a quarter of a century.

But Ferguson had held long before that Kanishka started his first regional year in 78 A.D. and inaugurated an era from that date which came to be known as the Saka era (Sakabda) which is still current in different parts of India. Ferguson’s view has been supported by scholars like Oldenberg, Thomas, Rapson, R. D. Banerjee, Dr. Raichaudhuri and others. One of the latest scholars to support the view that Kanishka started his rule in 78 A.D. which was also the beginning of an era is Van Lohuizen-de Leeuw.

It has been argued against the above view held by most of the scholars, that if we agree that Kadphises-I reigned about 50 A.D. and Kanishka about 78 A.D. then we are left with only 28 years roughly for the two reigns of Kadphises-I and Kadphises-II which is a very short span for two reigns. But when we remember that Kadphises died at the age of eighty, his son Kadphises-II must have ascended the throne at pretty old age. This makes accession of Kanishka in 78 AD. quite tenable.

Marshall, Sten Konow and others who are of the opinion that Kanishka ruled in the first quarter of the second century A.D. is- directly against the evidence of Junagarh inscription of Rudradamana. Dr. Raichaudhuri draws our attention to the fact that it is clearly mentioned in the Junagarh inscription that Rudradamana held sway over the lower Sindhu region in the first half of the second century A.D.

The South Bihar (Sui-Bihar) inscription of Kanishka mentions lower Sindhu area as within the dominions of Kanishka. Obviously, both Rudradamana and Kanishka were not rulers over the same region simultaneously. This proves the untenability of the view that Kanishka ruled in the second century A.D. There is also no evidence to show that there was the inauguration of any era in the second century A.D.

Dr. Majumdar’s contention that Kanishka was the founder of Traikutaka-Kalachuri-Chedi era of 248-249 A.D. is absolutely unten­able in view of the Chinese evidence that An-Shi-Kao who lived dur­ing the second century A.D. translated a work Margabhumi-sutra written by Sangharaksha, chaplain of Kanishka. This precludes plac­ing Kanishka in the third century A.D. as Dr. R. C. Majumdar has done. Dr. R. G. Bhandarkar’s view that Kanishka ascended the throne in 278 A.D. is untenable on the same grounds.

Thus most of the scholars are of the view that Kanishka started his rule in 78 A.D. which was also the year from which the Saka era is counted.

It has been contended by some scholars that if the era was found­ed by Kanishka why should it have been named Saka era and not Kushana era, after all the Kushanas were not Sakas. But it may be pointed out that the close association of the Yue-chi people of which the Kushanas were a branch, with the Saka-Pahlava made them a com­posite people with a composite culture in which the contributions of the Sakas was quite large.

Further, the Kushanas were not Greeks but some of Kanishka’s coins bore Greek legend on them. It is therefore no conclusive argument to say that since the era was called Saka era Kanishka could not be its founder. Likewise the contention that the Saka era was not followed in northern India although Kanishka was a ruler of the north is untenable.

Facts are, however, otherwise. This era was abandoned temporarily during the Gupta rule when it was confined to the south where its use was spread by the Jainas. But with the end of the Gupta rule the Saka era came back into use and Continues to be used even today in different parts of India.

Thus after an analysis of evidences, literary, numismatic as well as epigraphic, the balance of arguments remains in favour of placing the Kanishka group of kings after the Kadphises group of kings and fixing 78 A.D. as the starting point of Kanishka’s rule, and also the beginning of the era known as Saka era or Sakavda.

His Conquests: Extent of His Empire:

Kanishka was alone among the Kushana kings who has left a name cherished by tradition and famous in India as well beyond her limits.

At the time of accession to the throne Kanishka’s empire compris­ed Afghanistan, large part of Sindhu, portions of Parthia and the Punjab. He appears to have not forgotten to avenge the defeat of his predecessor Kadphises at the hands of the Chinese general Pan-chao. He also played the part of a conqueror in the early years of his reign. Dr. Smith credits him with the conquest and annexation of the Kashmir Valley. He certainly showed, remarks Smith, a marked preference for that delightful country.

Here he erected nume­rous monuments and founded a town, which although now reduced to a petty village, still bears his honoured name. We have, however, no details about the war with the king of Kashmir. Rajatarangini refers to three kings Hushka, Jushka and Kanishka who are described as decendants of Turuksha ruler and were given to acts of piety and built monasteries, Chaityas and similar other structures.

According to tradition Kanishka penetrated into the interior of India and attacked Pataliputra, the capital of Magadha. It is said that he carried away Asvaghosh, a Buddhist tradition, after the capture of Pataliputra and Buddhist Philosopher Asvaghosa fell into the hands of Kanishka who took the saga with him. Asvaghosa was in­deed one of the luminaries that graced the court of Kanishka. We may, therefore, conclude that at least a part of Magadha including Pataliputra was conquered by Kanishka.

Kanishka seems to have waged war against the western Satraps of Ujjaini. Numismatic evidence proves the inclusion of Malwa in his empire. Sylvan Levi, D. C. Sircar and Rapson suggest that the western Satrap Nahapana who ruled over Kathiawar, Malwa and Sourashtra had been a vassal of Kanishka. Some scholars hold that it was Chastana who was defeated by Kanishka and was compelled to hand over a part of Malwa to him.

According to Dr. Smith, Kanishka also waged war against the Parthians. Kanishka also con­quered Kashgarh, Khotan and Yarkhand. He is credited with defeat­ing the Chinese and thereby avenging the defeat of his predecessor Kadphises II at the hands of the Chinese general Pan-chao and com­pelled the Chinese to surrender hostages to him.

From the Chinese source as also from Buddhist traditions we come to know Kanishka conquered Kajangal in the Rajmahal hills in Bengal, some parts of Malda, Murshidabad, Bogra, Midnapur, etc. But in absence of any other evidences to support the indirect evidence furnished by the find spots of the coins of Kanishka it is difficult to come to any definite conclusion with regard to the inclusion of Bengal in Kanishka’s empire.

Kanishka’s empire comprised vast tacts of land extending from Afghanistan, and Khotan, Yarkhand, Kashgarh, etc. in Central Asia to Benares, and perhaps to parts of Bengal. His empire included Gandhara, Peshawar, Oudh, Pataliputra, Mathura. Inclusion of Kashmir is borne out by both the Chinese and Buddhist evidences. The western Satrapies seem to have been under his suzerainty.

Ac­cording to Hiuen TSang Kanishka Raja of Gandhara in old days having subdued all the neighbouring provinces and brought into obe­dience the people of distant countries, governed by his army a wide territory even to the east of the Tsung-ling mountains. All this proves that Kanishka’s sway extended beyond the borders of India.

The Buddhist tradition and Kanishka’s own inscriptions are ample testimony to the vast expanse of his dominions within India. Selec­tion of Purushapura, i.e. Peshawar, proves that Kanishka’s imperial possessions spread far towards the west and north.



Kanishka was a mighty conqueror, but no less was his ability as an administrator and he was even mightier in peaceful pursuits and in his solicitousness of the welfare of the people. For an effective and efficient rule of the empire he resorted to the system of Satrapies and appointed Mahakshatrapa Kharapallana and Kshatrapa Vanaspara in the eastern part of the empire.

The northern part was ruled by Gene­ral Lala as Mahakshatrapa with Vaspasi and Laika as Kshatrapas. The seat of the Central Government was at Purushpura or Peshawar. This practice of rule through Great Satraps and Satraps was the con­tinuation of the system followed by the Sakas and the Pahlavas.

We find a conscious emulation of the methods of Asoka by the Kushana king Kanishka. He pursued the policy of propagating Bud­dhism both within India and outside India. It was in connection with his missionary activities that he established close relationship, religious cultural and commercial, not only with China, Tibet and Central Asia but also with Rome and influx of gold from China and Rome in parti­cular. The prosperity of the empire attested by the fine gold coins struck by Kadphises I appears to have increased under Kanishka. The unmistakable influence of Rome on the Indian coinage of the time could be noticed.

From the Periplus we know that gold and silver specie constituted one of the imports of Barygaza, i.e., Borach, a port on the eastern sea board of India. Swell has also mentioned to huge hoard of Roman coins of the first five Roman emperors discovered in the Madras Presidency. The very name dinara of gold coins seems to have close affinity with the Roman denarius and drama for silver coins has been adopted from the Greek drachma.

Kanishka assumed epithet like Shaonaus Shoo, as found on his coins, was an adaptation of the Parthian title Basileos Basileon. From Shaonaus Shoo the letter Shaahan Sha was derived.


As it is customary for the Buddhist writers to depict a person wicked before conversion and turned into saint after conversion to Buddhism. Kanishka has been described by them to be devoid of the sense of right or wrong before his conversion. This view of the Buddhist writers has not been accepted by most of the scholars who think that it is an attempt on the part of the Buddhist writers to glorify Buddhism.

Before conversion to Buddhism Kanishka was a believer in many gods, Persian, Greek, Hindu, etc. This is proved by the figures imprinted on his coins. The exact date of conversion of Kanishka is, however, not known. The conversion is supposed to have taken place after some years he had been on the throne. It is supposed that after his association with the Buddhist philosopher and Saint Asvaghosha, he must have come under his influence.

Asvaghosha must have won the heart of Kanishka so completely that the latter gave up his alle­giance to his previous gods and got converted to Buddhism. Here is a second instance of a great conqueror and emperor being converted to Buddhism and taken to the policy of peace and brotherliness in place of the policy of military conquests.

Kanishka was a close copy of Asoka. What is specially noteworthy about Kanishka is that he was the only foreigner who became a con­vert to an Indian religion and turned into zealous missionary. In his missionary activities we find him to an emulator of Asoka whose foot­steps he tried to follow closely.

We renovated the old monasteries which were in a state of disrepair and built many a new one. He endowed the monasteries with liberal money grants for the maintenance of the monks who dwelt in them. Kanishka caused the construction of a number of stupas in the memory of Sakyamuni.

He also sent missionaries for the propagation of Buddhism to China, Tibet, Japan and Central Asia. The sculptors, painters, as well as the architects of his time also became active propagandists of Buddhism. The celebrated Chaitya it Peshawar constructed under his orders excited the wonder and appreciation of travellers down to a late period and famous sculp­tures therein included a life-size statue of himself.

During his time there arose disputes about Buddhism, among 18 schools of Buddhism prevalent at that time, as we know from the Tibetan historian Taranath. It became necessary to restore the dis­putes and to that end Kanishka convoked the Fourth Buddhist Coun­cil to which was attended by 500 monks.

There is a controversy with regard to the venue of the Council. According to some it was held at Kundavana in Kashmir but others hold that it met at Jullundur in the Punjab. In the Council the entire Buddhist literature was thoroughly examined and commentaries on the three Pitakas were prepared, which were compiled in Mahavibhasha which is the greatest work on Bud­dhist Philosophy.

This voluminous work is considered to be the encyclopaedia of Buddhism. The decisions of the Council were ins­cribed in copper plates and deposited in a stupa built for the pur­pose, packed in stone chests. Vasumitra acted as the President and Asvaghosha as the Vice-President of the Council.


Buddhist Council:

The period of Kanishka saw the transformation of the Hinayana form of Buddhism into Mahayana form. In the Hinayana form the worship of Buddha was only by relics like footprint of Buddha, an empty seat of Buddha, that is, some sort of symbol used to be placed in front of the worshipper.

There used to be no figure or image of Buddha to worship. This needed great concentration of mind on the part of the worshipper and the method was very subtle and could be followed by persons of great self-control, and of deepest religious bent of mind. This method of proceeding along the Path of Buddhist reli­gion was called Hina-Yana, i.e., lesser vehicle, i.e., subtle mode of trans­port in the path of religion.

But during Kanishka’s time worship of the image of Buddha came into use. It became easy to concentrate by keeping as visible representation of Buddha in form. This was a greater and easier method hence called Mahayana Buddhism. In the Hinayana form of worship emphasis was laid on good action but in Mahayana system worship of Buddha and Bodhisattvas was emphasis­ed. The use of Pali as the language of the Buddhist religious books was now replaced by Sanskrit.

Art and Learning:

Kanishka’s patronage of art and learning marked the beginning of a cultural renaissance which was to reach its peak and flower under the Guptas A large volume of Sanskrit literary works both religious and secular, was produced during the period. Asvaghosha, the great­est Buddha Philosopher, saint and literary figure of the time adorned the court of Kanishka.

He was a versatile genius whose contributions to the cultural life of the time centred round poetry, philosophy, drama, music. Buddhacharit and Sutralankar are his two most famous works. Buddhacharit on the life of Gautama Buddha in Sanskrit verse has been regarded as a Buddhist epic. Another great Buddhist writer of fame who adorned the court of Kanishka was Nagarjuna. He was the greatest exponent of Mahayana Buddhism.

Charaka, the celebrated master of the science of medicine, was the court physician of Kanishka. Mathara, a politician of great acumen, was a minister of Kanishka. Be­sides these worthies, the Greek engineer Agesilaus and many others played a leading part in the religious, literary, scientific, philosophical and artistic activities of the reign. It is of great interest to know that Nagarjuna in his celebrated work Madhyamikasutra expounded the theory of relativity in its preliminary form.

Another celebrity that adorned the court of Kanishka was Vasu­mitra who presided over the Fourth Buddhist Council held during the reign of Kanishka.

Kanishka was also a great builder and a patron of art and archi­tecture. The works of architecture, art of sculpture of his time are found in Mathura, Peshawar, Taxila and Amaravati. The Sirsukh city in Taxila with its hall, buildings and monasteries was built by him. Statues, sculptures, monasteries added to the beauty of the city.

The Gatidhara School of art was the product of Graeco-Roman-Buddhist school of art and sculpture. Totally indigenous art also flourished during his reign at Amaravati. The ornamental sculpture depicted in the Amaravati medallion bear testimony to the excellence of purely Indian style uninfluenced by any foreign art. At Mathura find of Kanishka’s headless statue is an example of the massive sculptural art of the time.

Estimate of Kanishka:

Kanishka happens to be one of the few kings in history who came in as a conqueror and won an empire but was conquered by the religion, language and culture of the country of his conquest. He was an intrepid warrior, a mighty conqueror but what was more he was equally great as an administrator. If he was great in war and administration he was greater still in the arts of peace.

He was a great patron of art and literature. He built a vast empire which ex­tended from Central Asia to Mathura, Benares and probably to parts of Bengal but he gave it an administration which brought peace and prosperity to the country and the people, which conduced to pursuit of religion, art, architecture and literature. Before his conversion to Buddhism he was eclectic in his religious belief and was a polytheist.

After becoming a Buddhist he became an ardent missionary of the Mahayanism. He rendered a great service to Buddhism by convening the Fourth Buddhist Council which resolved the disputes that arose among the Buddhists about Buddhist religion. He was a great patron of Buddhism as his predecessor of the Maurya Dynasty Asoka. Like Asoka he sent missions for propagation of Buddhism in China, Japan, Tibet, Central Asia, etc.

He patronized the Buddhist philosophers like Asvaghosha, Basumitra, Nagarjuna, Political scientist like Mathara, medical scientist like Charaka, and engineer like Greek Agesilaus.

He was a great patron of art and architecture. The city of Purushapura, his capital, Taxila, Mathura were beautified by monas­teries, stupas, etc. The tall Chaitya at his capital with its sculpture forced the admiration of visitors even after long time.

The beneficence of his rule was seem in the prosperity of the people resulting from the influx of huge quantity of gold by way of trade with foreign countries like China, Rome, etc.

Kanishka has been likened to Asoka as a conqueror, preacher. But although he was definitely a lesser personality than Great Asoka, he was the nearest emulator of Asoka in his spirit of toleration of other religions, patronage of Buddhism, and missionary zeal. He, how­ever, was not an apostle of non-violence as Asoka had been yet he had initiated a cultural renaissance which reached its zenith under the Guptas.

Kanishka’s reign constituted a brilliant epoch in the his­tory of ancient India and the darkness that descended on the Indian History after the fall of the Mauryas was lifted during his reign. Kanishka rightly deserves a place among the best rulers of the ancient history of India.

Art, Sculpture and Architecture in Kushana Empire

The Kushana period witnessed a remarkable development in art, sculpture and architecture. The Gandhara School of Art and Sculp­ture marked a happy blending of the Graceo-Romano-Buddhist style and techniques. The distinguishing features of the Gandhara Sculp­ture owed their origin to Greek and Roman styles yet the art essen­tially was Indian in spirit. The Gandhara artists had the hand of a Greek but the heart of an India.

The most remarkable contribu­tion of the Gandhara School of art is to be seen in the evolution of the image of Buddha, perhaps in imitation of the Greek God Apollo. Images of Buddha and Bodhisatva illustrating the past and present lives of Buddha were executed in black stone. The figures show an excellent idea of human anatomy that swayed the artists.

These works of art offer a striking contrast to similar art that we witness else­where in India. The smooth round features of the idealised human figures, draped in transparent and semi-transparent cloth closely fit­ting to the body and revealing its outline were due to the influ­ence of the Hellenistic art of Asia Minor and the Roman Empire.

The images of Buddha pertaining to the Gandhara school cen­tres of which were Gandhara, Jalalabad, Hadda and Baniyan in Afghanistan, Peshawar and Swat Valley, were more animated and anatomically perfect than those found in other parts of India. While the former are more beautiful physically and accurate in anatomical details as such more realistic, the Indian art and sculpture which pro­duced the images of Buddha were more idealistic giving a spiritual and sublime expression to the images.

The technique of the Gan­dhara School of art of the Kushana period spread through China to the Far East and influenced the art of China and Japan. The Gandhara art, according to V. A. Smith, was based on the cosmopolitan art of the Asia Minor and the Roman Empire.

There were also purely Indian schools of art in India during the period of the Kushanas. There were the schools of art at Amaravati, Jagayyapeta and Nagarjunikonda. In the Amaravati human figures are characterised by slim, blithe features and have been repre­sented in most difficult poses and curves. The technique of art reach­ed a high standard of development. Plants and flowers, particularly lotuses, have been represented in the most perfect, lifelike manner.

Two Chaityas and a Stupa discovered at Nagarjunikonda are the relics of the indigenous school of art and show a high standard of development. The limestone panel of figures depicting the nativity of Buddha is an excellent piece of sculpture of the Kushana period which was entirely indigenous.

Architecture of the Kushana period was not so remarkable as the sculpture of the period. There were beautiful temples, monas­teries, Stupas which indicate considerable development during the period although the technique of architecture did not attain the standard of excellence of sculpture. The famous tower of Kanishka at Purushapura (Peshawar) was one of the wonders of the world. Much of the architectural specimens of the period perished with time.

Caves hewn in solid rock with pillars and sculptures, hundreds of which have been found in different parts of the Kushana Empire show a great improvement upon the technique of excavation that was in use during the time of Asoka. A Chaitya with rows of columns on two sides was a fine work of art of sculpture and architecture. The Chaitya at Karle is an excellent illustration.

Fa-hien who visited India during the rule of Chandragupta II {5th century) was struck with wonder to find a large number of Stupas, dagobas (small stupa), Chaityas and images of Buddha carved out of stone during the Kushana period.

There has been a sharp difference of opinion about the celebrity, and the extent of influence of the Gandhara art upon the Indian art during the reign of the Kushanas. Modern scholars think that the Gandhara School of sculpture has attained a celebrity perhaps beyond its merits.

According to some European scholars, the Gandhara School of art was the only school in Ancient India which can claim a place in the domain of art. There are others who are of the opinion that the source of subsequent development of Indian art as well as of the Far East was the Gandhara School of art which developed as a result of a happy blending of the Graco-Romano-Buddhist art.

But despite the foreign influence upon the school of Gandhara art, scholars like Havell, Will Durant, R. C. Majumdar and others are of the opinion that the influence, Hellenistic and Roman, upon the Indian art which was the Gandhara School of art was technical but spirit and the subject matter of the art was purely Indian.

  1. D. Banerjee’s view that the Gandhara art influenced the Indian art for nearly five centuries to follow is untenable on the ground that there were indigenous schools of art at Ainaravati, Nagarjunkonda, etc. where there was no influence of Gandhara School of art. The influence of the Gandhara art failed to penetrate into the interior of India and had no influence on the later development of the Indian, art. But the Gandhara School of art achieved a grand success in. becoming the parent of the Buddhist art of Eastern and Chinese Turkestan, Mongolia, China, Korea and Japan.


The Kushana period witnessed a remarkable development of literature and Sanskrit language. Under the patronage enjoyed by the scholars and Buddhist philosophers of the time a massive develop­ment in secular and religious literature took place. A large number of standard works in Sanskrit language were written during the period.

Asvaghosha’s Buddhacharita, Saudarananda Kavya, Vajrasuchi, Sariputta Prakarana, Vasumitra’s Mahabibhasa—regarded as the Bud­dhist encyclopaedia, Nagarjuna’s Madhyamika-Sutra in which the theory of relativity was propounded, Charaka’s work on medicine, etc. contributed to the fund of human knowledge. Under the Kushanas the royal court became a seat of luminaries mentioned above as also of the Political Scientist Mathara, Greek engineer Agesilaus, etc.

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