The Disintegration of The Kushana Empire (An Old and Rare Book)

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Item Code: NAZ825
Author: B. N. Mukherjee
Publisher: Banaras Hindu University
Language: English
Edition: 1976
Pages: 124
Other Details 9.50 X 6.50 inch
Weight 290 gm
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Book Description

In recent years problems of history have received greater attention from scholars. There have been seminars and symposia at national and international levels to discuss a wide range of questions concerning the Kushapas. This increased vigour of academic effort has been due to the direct interest of a number of modern nations which were connected with the Kushakia empire. In India also Kushana studies have gained in prestige. Though the wider geographical involvements of the Kushanas have been well known, Indian studies on the Kushanas in many cases have not placed the problems in their proper perspective.

Often it is forgotten that Kushatp territories in India were only one part of the vast Kushana empire which enjoyed a position of central importance in the contemporary world history. Being in close contact with the important political and cultural centres of the ancient world, the Kusha' cia empire could not keep its destinies unaffected by the developments in the other kingdoms. The vast Kushana empire had a number of metropolitan cities. But Mathura and Kanishkapura (Peshawar), with all their importance as centres of Kushittia culture, can not claim to have been the main seat of Kusharla power, which throughout the long course of its history was in Bactria. Hence the history of the Kushapa empire in India can be understood only in direct relation with the events affecting its main centre in Bactria; it will not be advisable to view piecemeal the developments in different parts of the Kusharja empire. It was on account of a lopsided emphasis on the Indian territories of the Kushakias that K.P. Jayaswal held the view that the Kushava empire collapsed as a result of the onslaughts of the Bharagvas and the Vakatakas.

The view which has enjoyed popular currency till now gives the Yaudheyas, the Malavas and the Arjunayanas the credit for joint efforts to drive the Kushanas away, the Yaudheyas dealing "the first great blow at the Kushanas". The limitation of space does not warrant a full discussion of these views. It must, however, be pointed out that the role of the republican tribes has often been exaggerated. They seem to have taken advantage of the fading authority of the Kushanas who could not bear the fatal blows struck by the mighty Sassanians. Dr. B.N. Mukherjee, who has already contributed several scholarly monographs on Kushana history, here attempts, for the first time, a full length study of the history of the disintegration of the Kushana empire.

He views the question in a Wider perspective. He collects evidence from all possible sources and analyses them minutely for whatever information they may yield. He traces four stages in the decline of the empire and three in the aftermath of its fall, underlining the political and economic factors to the extent they are perceptible. To summa-rise, it can be said that the Kushanas lost some areas in the early period shortly after the reign of Kanishka I, and by the time of Vasudeva I. It is quite likely that these areas were no longer economically profitable and hence the Kushanas were not keen to keep them under their possession. The territories to the south-east and east of Mathura were lost in this period. This was followed by the loss of the lower Indus Valley. Subsequently a few more areas may have gone out of the Kushana empire.

The second major phase of disintegration occurred during the reign of Vasudeva It some time between A.D. 230 and 242 he was defeated by the Sassanian emperor Ardashir I. He possibly ruled for a few More years, but by A.D. 262 Kushanashahr up to PethaWar had been snatched and annexed to the Sassanid empire. After this event Vasudeva II may have continued in the Indian part of his empire from Peshawar to Mathura. The reign of Vasudeva saw the establishment of independent local powers in different parts of his empire. The exploits of the Yaudheyas are to be placed in this context. The present monograph consists of a series of lectures which Dr. Mukherjee delivered in the Department during the session 1974-75. We are glad to bring it out as his first publication after his appointment as the Carmichael Professor of Ancient Indian History. I feel privileged in introducing this research study to the world of scholars.


In 1974 I was invited by the Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture & Archaeology of the Banaras Hindu University to deliver a course of lectures. I gratefully accepted the invitation received from Prof. Lallanji Gopal, and delivered a course of lectures on the disintegration of the Kushana empire. The present mongraph contains a modified version of those lectures. I am extremely thankful to Prof. Gopal and to the authorities of the B.H.U. for publishing the lectures. It may be added here that Prof. Gopal has also graciously agreed to write a foreword. Dr. J.P. Singh of the Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture & Archaeology of the Banaras Hindu University has been kind enough to correct the type-script of the lectures and to see the monograph through the press. I express my sincere gratitude to him.

In the spelling of proper names I have tried to follow, with a few necessary exceptions, conventional forms. For example, the name of the son of the Kushana King Kujula is written as V'ima Kadphises, and not as V'ima Kadaphisa. No diacritical mark has been used in modern proper names, including geographical. The term India denotes, unless otherwise indicated, the Indian subcontinent comprising the territories of Indian Republic, Pakistan and Bangladesh. I am obliged to Dr. D.N. Das for preparing the Index, and to the press concerned for printing the monograph as nicely as possible. I tender my apology to my readers for the printing mistakes which have crept in.

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