The greatest king of the Kushan dynasty, Kanishka reigned upon the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, Afghanistan and the regions north of Jammu and Kashmir
in Central Asia. In India, his empire covered Oxus in the west, Varanasi
in the east, Kashmir Valley
in the north and the coast of Gujarat
in the south, including Malwa Plateau. He was the successor of Vima Kadphises, Kushan Emperor (Circa AD 90-100}.
A follower of Zoroastrianism
, Kanishka was also devoted to Greek and Brahmanic deities and was a great patron of Buddhism
. He ruled from his capital, Purusapura (modern Peshawar). The king was famous for his military, political, administrative and spiritual achievements. Kanishka’s religious inspiration can be seen in his coins, where Hindu, Buddhist, Greek Persian and Sumerian-Elamite images of gods have been depicted.
During his reign, Buddhism spread from India to China and Central Asia. Kanishka organized the Fourth Buddhist Council in Kashmir that marked the beginning of pantheistic Mahayana Buddhism. Trade with Roman Empire increased during his reign. He was also a great patron of literature and the arts. The Gandhara School of Art and the Mathura School of Art were developed during his reign. The great stupa at Peshawar built during Kanishka's rule is perhaps the greatest specimen of Buddhist architecture.