The Kushanas : Impact Of Kanishka’s Rule On Punjab


With the disintegration of the Mauryan empire, other powers like Sungas, the Sakas, The Nagas, the Kanavas and Parthians weren't able to establish a strong control, so ultimately Kushanas established a powerful empire of north India.


The Kushanas were a branch of the nomadic Yuchchis of Northwestern China. For about 165 B.C they were expelled from their original home by a Hiung- Nu, a nomadic tribe. After long sufferings the Yuch- Chis advanced into India while on the way subdued the Sakas, The Parthians and the Bactrians and occupied territory got divided into five principalities. But Kushanas branch soon established their supremacy over the other four branches.



  • UNITY IN INDIA : India was divided into many principalities after the disintegration of Mauryans. Kushanas conquered the large chunk of territories and brought them under one Supreme control, and grew as an imperial power in India. Under the rule of Kushanas, India built close relations with Trans- Indian countries.
  • WELL ORGANISED ADMINISTRATIVE : Kushanas had good administration and skillfully handled the vast empire and every part of empire remained in peace with no revolts. They divided the empire into many units such as ,"Rastras" , Deshas, Vishyas and Gramas, every unit had one head official. The term "Dandanayaka " and "Maha Dandanayaka" formed a link in the Kushana administrative machinery . Law and order during the Kushanas reign made it possible for the Indian culture to spread far and wide.
  • DECENTRALIZATION OF POWERS : Another big step of Kushanas was decentralisation of power among Satrapas who ruled provinces.
  • SAKA CALENDER : one of greatest contribution made Kushanas was the introduction of Saka calender in 78.A.D, it is adopted as official calender by Indian government.
  • DIVINE RIGHT OF KINGSHIP THEORY : They believed in divine rights of kings but never forget to work for the welfare of people.


  • PROPOGARTION OF BUDDHISM : kanishk took various steps to promote Buddhism such as :
    • Buddhism as state religion
    • Patronage given to Buddhist scholars
    • Construction. Of monestriesand viharas
    • Royal patronage to Buddhism 
    • Fourth Buddhist Council in kashmir in 120 A.D.
  • ART USED FOR PROMOTING BUDDHISM : Kanishka built various viharas, stupas and monasteries. Gandhara school of art emerged as as a mixture of Indian and Grecian art. Painting of Buddha were beautiful because of which many people started adoring Buddhism.
  • BUDDHIST MISSIONARIES AND SC SCHOLARS TO FOREIGN COUTNTRIES : Kanishka sent various Buddhist missionaries to foreign countries tk promote Buddhism.
  • TRANSFORMATION OF BUDDHISM - EMERGENCE OF MAHAYANA : Buddisms got divided into two sect during the Kushanas reign 
    • The Hinayanism - the original Buddhism 
    • Mahayana- modified version. Due to mahayan Buddha got the position of god. While Kanishka became the follower of mahayana.
  • RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE : Kanishka was respectfully towards other religions. The deities on the Kushanas coins are not only Buddhist or Brahminica but repress Greek and Sumerian deities too. They did not make their personal religion as the religion of the state.


  • ARCHITECTURE : Kanishka was great builder, his important works of art are found in Peshawar , Mathura, kanishkapuraand Taxila . A wooden pillar of 400 ft was also built by him at Peshawar. Sirsukh a town near Taxila was also built by him. A statue of Kanishka which is headless is important relic of this period.
  • INFLUENCE ON LITERATURE AND LEARNING : This period also witnessed great progress in the field of literature. Sanskrit literature Was produced. Kanishka was great patron of learning. Greatest Literary figure of Kanishka's court was Ashvaghosha. His court was adorned by Buddhist teachers like vasumitra.
  • GANDHARA SCHOOL OF ART : the school was mixture of Indian and Greek art. Earlier Buddha image were not carved but under Kushana the artist carved the image Buddha in stones and developed the Gandhara school of art. Main subject of school was the life and incidences of Mahatam Budhha.
  • DEVELOPMENT OF THE MATHURA SCHOOL OF ART : The Mathura School of Art is noted for its vitality and was result of the religious zeal of Brahmins. The creation of Buddha image was the greatest contribution of artist towards school. The material used for image was white spotted red sandstone. The forms of the Brahmanicak deities and Jain Tirthankara were also made.


  • TRADE : Inland trade practices was prevalent. Commodities were sent from one part country to foreign country. India established trade relations with Chinese, the Parthiabs and Roman empire. Not only sea but land route also became very prominent during kushana rule. The 'Periplus of the Erythrean Sea' , a Greek text if 1st century A.D. throws light on Indian trade and commerce.


from above discussion it can be concluded that Kushanas were greatest ruler of all the time. They contributed Another on spreading of Indian culture and literature. They developed religious sects like Mahayana and Gandhara school of art. They deeply influenced the political, social amd economic conditions of India.


A History of India, Vol. I, Penguin Books, 1966 - Thapar, Romila

The Wonder That Was India - Basham, A.L

History and Culture of the Punjab, Vol. I, Punjabi University, Patiala, 1977 - Joshi, L.M and Fauja Singh