Kanishka propagated Buddhism and other contributions

Kanishka, the great Kushan emperor, was a significant patron of Buddhism during his reign. However, he did not propagate Buddhism in the same way that, for example, Emperor Ashoka did in ancient India. Kanishka’s role was more of a patron and supporter of Buddhism, rather than a propagator in the sense of actively spreading the religion to new regions.

During Kanishka’s rule in the 2nd century CE, Buddhism flourished in the Gandhara region (modern-day Pakistan and Afghanistan) and beyond. He convened the Fourth Buddhist Council in Kashmir, which aimed at resolving doctrinal disputes within Buddhism. This council led to the formation of two major Buddhist schools: the Theravada tradition, which primarily spread to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and the Mahayana tradition, which later became prevalent in Central Asia, China, Korea, Japan, and other parts of East Asia.
Kanishka’s patronage of Buddhism greatly contributed to the expansion and development of the religion, making him an important figure in Buddhist history. However, the idea of him being a propagator is more related to his support and patronage rather than active missionary efforts.
Kanishka propagated Buddhism

Coronate Buddhism

Kanishka spent money in promoting Buddhism by promoting it. He built viharas, stupas and monasteries where Buddhist monks could live or could do the work of education and propagation of religion.

Send promoters

Kanishka sent Buddhist monks to Central Asia, China, Japan and Tibet and propagated Buddhism abroad.

Protection of buildings and scholars

He also built Buddhist temples, monasteries, stupas and many statues of Buddha. During his time, Ashwaghosh wrote a book called ‘Budhacharitam’ in which the biography of Buddha is beautifully described.

Fourth musical event by Kanishka

Kanishka called a fourth assembly at Kundal One in Kashmir at the request of the then Buddhist scholar. The objectives of this Buddhist assembly were:
  • To remove the differences prevalent among Buddhists and
  • Collecting all Buddhist books
According to Tibetan traveler Taranath, 18 differences prevalent among Buddhists were overcome due to this gathering and most of the commentaries were gathered in three Pitakas (texts).

Successor to kanishka

Kanishka’s successors ruled Northwest India until around 230 AD and some of them assumed distinctive Indian names like Vasudeva. The Sasan forces rising up in Iran overthrew the Kushans from the regions of Afghanistan and western Sindh, but their state in India remained until about 230 AD. Later, most of his kingdom was controlled by the Gupta rulers.