different deities, worshipped in various parts of the empire, certainly reflects
Kanishka’s remarkable toleration towards other religions.
Kanishna was a great patron of arts and letters. The age of Kanishka
witnessed the execution of the best work in Gandhara style. The great tower
at Peshawar, chiefly made of wood, and over 400 feet high and constructed
under the supervision of a Greek engineer Agesilaos elicited the admiration
of Chinese and Muslim travellers. Kanishka built a tower near Taxila and the
city of Kanishkapura in Kashmir probably owed its foundation to him
Mathura was also adorned with numerous fine buildings.
The eminent Buddhist writers Nagarjuna, Asvaghosha, Parsva and
Vasumitra flourished at the court of Kanishka. Nagarjuna was the great
exponent of Mahayana doctrine and Asvaghosha, a multifaceted personality,
was known as a poet, musician, scholar, and zealous Buddhist monk.
Charaka, the most celebrated authority on Ayurveda was the court physician
of Kanishka and Mathara, a politician of rare merit, was his minister.
Kanishka’s immediate successor was Vasishka who had a short reign.
Vasishka was succeeded by Huvishka whose reign marks another bright
period of Kushana history. Inscriptions and coins are suggestive of an
extensive empire which he inherited from his father and which he certainly
preserved. According to Kalhana’s Rajatarangini, Huvishka ruled
simultaneously with Vasishka II or Vajheska and with the latter’s son
Kanishka II. Kanishka II assumed the title kaisara, that is, Caesar, and seems
to have died before Huvishka.
Huvishka’s abundant coinage, which is more varied than that of
Kanishka, presents fine portraits of the king. The varied reverse devices of
his coins, like Kanishka’s coins, contain the figures of different deities. Thus
we have the figures of Indian divinities like Skandakumara, Visakha,
Mahasena and Uma, the Alexandrian Serapis (Serapo), personified Rome
(Rion-Roma), the Greek Heracles and several Zoroastrian deities. The
Buddha is conspicuous by his absence on his coins. It appears that Huvishka
was well-disposed towards Brahmanism.
The last great Kushana king was Vasudeva, a purely Indian name