this, the well-known Sakabda. Again, the Saka era began to be described
as the Sakakala or Saka-nripa-kala (the era of the Saka kings) either
because Kanishka was plausibly held to be Saka, or what is more likely,
because the era was in continuous use throughout the reigns of the Saka
satrapas of western India.
Kanishka was the greatest king of his dynasty. Epigraphic records prove
his control over Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, NWFP and the Bahawalpur region
north of Sind. The discovery of a large number of Kanishka’s records at
Mathura and the Sanchi museum inscription seem to suggest that Rajputana,
Malwa and Saurashtra also formed part of Kanishka’s dominions. From the
Si-yu-ki and the Rajatarangini, it is clear that Kashmir was also a part of his
kingdom. A tradition recorded by A1-Beruni points to Kanishka’s rule over
Afghanistan and the adjoining parts of Central Asia. The Chinese and Tibetan
writers record the tradition of his conflict with the rulers of Saketa and
Pataliputra in eastern India, whence he carried off the celebrated Buddhist
monk Asvaghosha. According to Hiuen Tsang, Kanishka ruled his vast
empire from his capital Purushapura or Peshawar.
Kanishka fought against the Parthians on the west and crossing the
Pamirs subjugated the rulers of Khotan, Yarkand and Kashgar. Kanishka
secured the Chinese royal princes as hostages whom he treated with kindness.
In the latter part of his reign, Kanishka suffered reverses in the north and
northeast because of the victories of Pan-Chao, a famous general of the
Chinese emperor Ho-ti. His empire outside India, thus, suffered diminution,
although his extensive empire in India remained intact during his lifetime.
Kanishka’s name is usually associated with Buddhism and in the latter
part of his career he became an active patron of the Buddhist Church. Puzzled
by the conflicting doctrines of the Buddhist Church, Kanishka, on the advice
of Parsva, convened the momentous fourth council of the Buddhists in the
Kundalavana vihara in Kashmir.
Despite his professed attachment to Buddhism, Kanishka was catholic
enough to worship a medley of Zoroastrian, Greek and Mithraic Gods to
which Indian deities were added. Among these may be mentioned, Oesho
(Siva), Sakaymo Boddo (Sakyamuni Buddha), the wind God (Persian Vado,
Indian Vata), the fire-God Athsho (Persian Atash), the moon-God Mao, the