Achievements of Kanishka : The greatest king of the Kushana was Kanishka. The date of his accession to throne has been the subject matter of much controversy. According to some his reign began in A.D. 78 and his era is known in history as Sakaera. According to the other view he ascended the throne in about A.D. 120.
Kanishka’s relation with the previous Kushana rulers, such as, Kadphises I and 11 is not definitely known. But Kanishka was undoubtedly a great conqueror and a successful warrior.
Chinese, Tibetan, and Indian sources alike bear testimony to wide conquests affected by Kanishka. Kanishka led various expeditions. The Saka Satraps in Gujrat and Malwa in Rajputana offered their loyalty to him. He warred with the Parthians on the west and led an army across the Pamirs. His coins have been found in Mathura and Benaras. Kashmir was also a part of his territory. His Central Asian possessions included Bactria, Afghanistan, Kashgarh, Yearkhand and Khoan.
In the latter part of his reign Kanishka came into conflict with the Chinese emperor. It has been said that Kanishka suffered reverses in the north-west and the north-east because of the victorious progress of Pan-chao, a famous general of the Chinese emperor. However, Hiuen-Tsang speaks of a Chinese prince detained as a hostage at Kanishka’s court. Hence it is not definitely known which side actually suffered reverses. In any case there was no diminution of his empire in India during his life time. His capital was Purushapura (Peshawar) in Gandhara.
The fame of Kanishka rests not so such on his military conquest as on the patronage of Buddhism. His personal faith was Buddhism. The Buddhists claim that Kanishka was almost like a second Asoka to their religion. He convoked the last Buddhist Council and prepared authorized commentaries of the scriptures. This Council was held at Kashmir (or Jullundur) and gave its seal of ascent to the Mahayana doctrine. His court was graced by well-known scholars like Asvaghosha, Nagarjuna, Parsva, Vasumitra and Charaka.
Though a great patron of Buddhism, Kanishka was tolerant to other creeds. He was also a liberal patron of Indian art and literature. The famous Gandhara School of arts and the Mathura style of art and the relic tower monastery built at Purushapura provide ample evidences of his notable artistic achievements. Above all, the dynasty of Kanishka opened the way for Indian civilization to Central and Eastern Asia.