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  • Writer's pictureAnirudh Kanisetti

10. A Buddhist Shahenshah (24 mins)

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A Central Asian king revered by Indians as the Second Ashoka? This is the story of the ruthless conqueror Kanishka, who led the Kushan Empire to its apogee, and ruled over most of North India - but also built the world's most splendid Buddhist stupa.

Just before the emergence of Rudradaman and the explosion of Sanskrit literary culture (Episode 6), the Kushan Empire dominated Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and most of North India, under the bloody, pragmatic ruler Kanishka. Kanishka was a master of political propaganda, and his coins reflect his pragmatic, eclectic patronage. This is his story.

Voice Credits & Notes Below.

Voice Credits (in order of appearance):

Chinese Pilgrim - Manoj Kewalramani

Kanishka - Ram Ganesh Kamatham



  1. The majority of the content was developed from Volume II of the UNESCO History of Civilizations of Central Asia, available at

  2. See also Chakravarti, Ranabir. "Kushan Empire." The Encyclopedia of Empire (2016): 1-6.

  3. On Kanishka's stupa: Loeschner, Hans, and Victor H Mair. “The Stūpa of the Kushan Emperor Kanishka the Great , with Comments on the Azes Era and Kushan Chronology.” SINO-PLATONIC PAPERS, no. 227 (2012).

  4. The Rabatak Inscription of Kanishka: Mukherjee, B.N., "The Great Kushana Testament", Indian Museum Bulletin, Calcutta, 1995

  5. On Buddhism in Gandhara: Brancaccio, Pia, and Kurt A. Behrendt, eds. Gandhāran Buddhism: Archaeology, Art, Texts. University of British Columbia Press, 2006.

  6. See also

  7. Image source:

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