Friday, 19 January 2018

THE RISE AND FALL OF THE GUPTA EMPIRE : WHAT HAPPENED AFTER KUSHAN AND SATAVAHANA EMPIRES DECLINED


THE GUPTA EMPIRE

Geographical and Political Conditions

The empire of the Guptas was one of the largest in the history of ancient India. Before we go to examine the geographical extent of the Gupta empire which varied from reign to reign of the Gupta Kings, it is essential to survey briefly the circumstances and political conditions, in the epoch immediately preceding that of the Gupta, for these very circumstances led to the rise and consolidation of the Gupta kingdom which later on developed into an empire.

The political picture of India towards the close of the second and the beginning of the third century C.E. reflects the decline of two great powers, the Kushanas in the north and the Satavahanas in the south. The Kushana power was breaking up after the death of Vasudeva I whose rule came to an end sometime between C.E. 180 and 240. Kushanas lost their hold over the interior of India. However, their rule seems to have continued in western Punjab and Kabul valley. In the southern Punjab and the Gangetic plains, some old ruling powers and some new ones took advantage of the weakening of the Kushana power and reasserted their supremacy once again. In the south too, owing to the weakness of the later Satavahana rulers, their feudatories and governors weaned themselves away from the central authority and laid the foundation of small independent states. Thus, the country disintegrated into a number of small states. Consequently we find during the third century C.E. three great political powers viz. the Vakatakas, the Bharashiva Nagas and the Guptas, rising in the country In the middle of the third century C.E.

Vakatakas established themselves in the Vindhyan region. Their dominion included a major portion of Bundelkhand area of Madhya Pradesh. Later on they shifted their power southwards in the Vidarbha region. The western part of Madhyadesha saw the rise of the Bharashiva nagas with their kingdom in Padmavati (Padampawaya in Madhya Pradesh). They claim to have held the land upto the Ganga under their sway , And the third power i.e. the Guptas established themselves in the eastern Uttar Pradesh towards the close of the third century C.E.

Among these three the Guptas proved themselves as the greatest power of the age. Founded by Maharaja Sri Gupta (C.E. 275-300)' the Gupta kingdom initially included Varanasi and its adjoining region. This can be attested by a Chinese tradition recorded in the account of Itsing. According to which che-li-ki-to {Maharaja Sri Gupta) built a temple at mi-li-kia-si-kia-po-no (Mrigashikhavana) for the residence of the Chinese pilgrims and granted 24 villages towards its recurring expenditure. Mrigashikhavana is identified with the famous Buddhist place of pilgrimage Mrigadaya or the deer park near Samath and China temple is located in its proximity somewhere within Varanasi. Maharaja Sri Gupta's son Ghatotkacha who was a Maharaja like his father also ruled that region. It was after him that his successors, known as the great conquerors and statesmen of their age extended Gupta Kingdom and its political influence. By conquests along with political strategies and diplomacy they build one of the largest empires in the history of Ancient India which included the whole of India north of Vindhyas and had a great influence over the south. Glorious days of the Gupta kingdom began from C.E.319 which is the epoch of the Gupta era and indicates the rise of Chandragupta I the son and successor of Ghatotkacha. In this period Gupta kingdom was founded as sovereign state on a sure and firm basis. Chandragupta I succeeded in enlarging it's territories to a considerable extent. Unlike his father and grandfather who adopted the lesser title of Maharaja, Chandragupta I assumed the title Maharajadhiraja which is symbolic of suzerain power. One of the factors that helped him to power and prestige was his connection by matrimonial alliance with the Lichchhavis, who were powerful republican people ruled in Vaishali. His marriage to the Lichchhavi princess Kumaradevi is evident by the Chandragupta Kumaradevi type coins of Chandragupta I portraitmg Chandragupta and Kumaradevi with their names inscribed on the obverse and the legend Lichchhavayah on the reverse, and by the Allahabad Pillar inscription of Chandragupta's son and successor Samudragupta in which latter is described as Lichchhavidauhitra, the son of Lichchhavi's daughter . According to Vincent Smith, Lichchhavis at this time actually held Pataliputra and through his marriage Chandragupta I succeeded to absorb the power of his wife's relatives. Therefore, it can be said that two of the principalities of the Eastern India, the state of Lichchhavis and the kingdom of the Guptas were united by a matrimonial alliance and Chandragupta I thus acquired a considerable kingdom.

No inscription or record of Chandragupta I so far is available to give us any detail of the expansion of his kingdom. It is only in the records of his successors that he is called Maharajadhiraja. We may reasonably infer that his dominions must have been sufficiently large to justify his assumption of the imperial title. It is generally held on the basis of a passage in the Puranas that in the period of Chandragupta I the Gupta territories comprised the region of Prayag-Allahabad; Saketoudh; and Magadha-Bihar.

" Anu Ganga Prayagam Cha Saketam Magadham Statha
Etan janapadan Sarvan bhokshyante Guptavamsajah "

These Gupta dominions grew to an empire of great magnitude under Chandragupta's son and successor Samudragupta who raised his family to the status of a great imperial power in true senses. His Allahabad Pillar inscription which is an eulogy on him composed by one of his offices named Harishena provides an impressive list of kings and regions that succumbed to Samudragupta's triumphal march across various parts of subcontinent. It is evident from the inscription that Samudragupta's ambition was to establish an extensive empire, and no doubt he laid a lasting foundation for a great one which was one of the largest after the decline of the Mauryan empire. But here we find a striking contrast between the Mauryan and Gupta empires which is neatly pointed by the Allahabad Pillar inscription. Whereas the empire of the Mauryas was an integrated one and was a centralised monarchy, an important feature of which was the centralised control of the Mauryan government over areas which gradually lost their independence and were included within an extensive political system planned by this government.



Arthasastra the famous treatise of that age also emphasizes the control of the central authority. Every detail of the organization of the kingdom is fitted into the administrative plan and is aimed at giving final control to the king . The evidences from the Asokan edicts also indicates that the king had control over even the most remote part of the empire. On the contrary, the study of the nature of the Gupta empire reveals that it was largely formed by the subordinate states ruled by subordinate or tributary rulers, often referred to in modern writings as feudatories. Most of these states were subdued in pursuance of the policy of dharmavijaya i.e. righteous conquest. This discouraged the annexation of a conquered territory but recommended the acceptance of subordination by the defeated king. This tendency is very old and deep-rooted in the Indian tradition and also received the sanction of the smritis. According to Vishnu, "A king having conquered the capital of his foe, should invest there a prince of royal race of that country with the royal dignity". The Arthasastra differentiates between dharmavijaya and lobhavijaya or Asuravijaya. A dharmavijayi was satisfied with mere obeisance or surrender on the part of the conquered. The theory finds elaborate expression in the works of Kalidasa who in his Raghuvamsa described this policy as one of uprooting and replanting. The English translation is provided below :

"They who lowly bowed down to his lotus like feet and who (therefore) were reinstated after having been ousted, honoured Raghu by presenting him with their wealth, like kalama plants which are bent down to their roots and which presents fruits when they are transplanted after having been first uprooted."

Raghuvamsa has a detailed account of the conquest of many regions at the hands of Raghu. But nowhere is Raghu said to have attempted the annexation of conquered territory. Another  verse of Raghuvamsa states , whose English translation is provided below

"The righteous conqueror took away the wealth but not the territory of the lord of Mahendra, capture but (subsequently) released".

Though brief, it is the best description of the policy of Dharmavijaya. It was not a principle of purely academic interest, but seems to have actually been followed. The Allahabad pillar inscription reveals Samudragupta as following this ideal. No doubt he violently uprooted many petty states around his own kingdom in the region of Gangayamuna doab in northern India (Aryavarta) and created a consolidated empire. But this policy of suppression was not applied in the case of many other kings and states mentioned in the inscription. In Dakshina path, for instance, he adopted a different policy. Twelve kings of south India ruling over the region along with the eastern coast of Deccan from Orissa upto Kanchipuram (near modern Chennai) were defeated by Samudragupta. they were captured (grahna); liberated (moksha); and reinstated in their own kingdoms (anugraha). Here, one can notice close kinship between the expression grahana-moksha-anugraha of Allahabad pillar inscription and the phrase “ Grihit Pratimuktashya “ given by Kalidasa in Raghuvamsa. Pratyantas i.e. five kingdoms and nine tribal territories located on the borders of Samudragupta's kingdom in the north, east and western India were forced to accept Gupta suzerainty. According to the Allahabad pillar inscription these states sought submission to Samudragupta by rendering satisfaction to his formidable rule with the payment of all tributes, execution of orders and visit to his court to pay homage in person. “Sarvva-karadan-ajnakaranapranamagamana-paritoshita-prachanda-sasanasya. “

The kings of forest kingdoms ( atavikarajya ) situated in the hilly and forest infested region of central India  were forced into servitude, “ Paricharakikrita-sarva-atavika-rajasy ” . And more distant rulers such as the Daivaputra shahi-shahanu-shahi (Kushana rulers to the west of the Indus), Saka Murundaih (the western Saka kshatrapas of Gujarat and Saurashtra), Saimhalakadibhis-chasarwa-dvipa-vasibhir (the kings of Sri Lanka and the dwellers of all the islands also acknowledged Samudragupta's sovereignty. They sought to win the favour of the Gupta emperor by rendering him many kinds of services as offering their personal attendance, offering their daughters in marriage and request for the administration of their own districts and provinces through the Garuda token, “ atmanivedana kanyopayana-dana-garutmadanka svavisayabhukti sa(sana) (y) achanadyupaya sevakrita “.

The influence of Samudragupta's imperial power over these regions can be proved on the basis of some other independent evidences. That some remnants of the Kushanas namely saka, shilada and Gadahara rulers of central and western Punjab accepted his suzerainty is indicated by some Gadahara coins which bears on its obverse the name Samudra written under the arm of the king and the name Gadahara outside the spear . Regarding Simhala or Sri Lanka, a Chinese source provide evidence that the Ceylonese king Meghavarman sent presents and sought Samudragupta's permission to build a Buddhist monastery at Bodhagaya. The required permission was granted . Archaeological evidences, such as pieces of sculptures bearing the influence of Gupta art as well as temples of Gupta style belonging to the same period discovered in Java and Combodia suggest that 'dwellers of all the islands' mentioned in the Allahabad Pillar inscription, very likely, refers in a general way, to the Hindu Colonies in Malaya peninsula, Java, Sumatra and other islands in Indian Archipelago , with which contacts had increased in this period.


This is further supported by the narratives of Fa-hien, according to whom Tamralipti in Vanga was a busy port for active sea borne communication with Sri Lanka and other islands of the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, the reference to the homage paid by the dwellers of all other islands should not be treated as mere rhetoric It may be based on actual relationship with some of them, the exact nature of which, however, cannot be ascertained. The foregoing survey enables us to know the nature and the extent of Samudragupta's empire. His direct political rule was confined to the Ganga-Yamuna plain which was the prime Magadhan territory, the heart of the Gupta empire.

Other neighbouring and distant powers were subdued and were brought under various degrees of subjection. He did not attempt to bring all of them under his direct rule but contented with having established his overlordship over them; and in doing so, he not only followed the political ideology of Dharmavijaya but showed the wise and political vision of a great statesman. He did not try to annex the frontier kingdom and tribal states and retained them as faithful tributaries. Instead of indulging in a harder task of their conquest, he patronised them as buffer states against the foreign powers and added strength to the defence of his empire.

The Sakas and Kushanas were overawed by the colossal military might of Samudragupta and thought it better to establish diplomatic relations with him. On the other hand Samudragupta also realised his limitations and thought it politic to abide by this alliance and consolidated his position in the newly conquered areas at home rather than venture fresh conquests in the far off lands of Saurashtra and the regions beyond the Indus. However, from the statement in the Allahabad Pillar inscription, it is clear that this alliance of friendship was not based on equality. It is highly probable, even if we make an allowance for exaggeration on the part of Harishena, the author of the eulogy, that the Sakas along with the Kushanas were reduced to the status of tributary states.

The kings of forest region {atavika) in central India were also placed in the state of subordination. Thus, the territory under the direct administration of Samudragaupta included in the east , the whole of Bengal, excepting its south-east portion. Its northern boundary ran along the foothills of the Himalaya, and in the west its limit extended upto the territories of the republican states of the west and north-west of India. While the kingdoms of forest region stretched over the hilly tracts of central India, the states of South along the eastern coast of Deccan and the frontier states of the Gupta empire situated in the south-eastern Bengal (Bangaldesh), Assam, Nepal, Uttrakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Northern Maharashtra, Southern Rajasthan, Haryana and western Punjab acknowledged the suzerainty of Samudragupta and served as faithful tributaries of the Gupta empire. Accepting suzerainty of the Gupta emperor did not mean transformation in the method of administration, or change of royal dynasty. Subordinate states retained their individuality, their institutions and organization, their system of administration and government. The visible manifestation of their subordinate capacity consisted in periodical payments of tributes and presents, attendance of their suzerain's court, and absence of separate foreign relations. In other respects these states were given a free hand to act for themselves. Generally, subordinate states remained faithful to the empire but always waiting for the opportune moment to throw off the yoke. Only a capable monarch with his strong central government could prevent the disruptive tendencies of these states and their mutual dissensions. So long as the emperors were at the helm of affairs, these states place themselves in a state of subordination. But when once these towering personalities disappeared from the arena of the imperial stage, there was opportunity for the subordinate states to declare their independence. That was exactly what happened after Samudragupta whose reign came to an end in about C.E. 375. Samudragupta was succeeded by his son Ramagupta who is known from his Vidisha stone image inscriptions which mention him as Maharajadhiraja, and by his copper coins from Eran-Vidisha region in Madhya Pradesh and Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh. Ramagupta was a weak ruler and he could not control saka rebellion in western India. It was after his complete discomfiture at the hand of a saka adversary that he was overthrown by his brother Chandragupta II.

The ingnominal episode of Ramagupta and Sakas is described in many literary and epigraphical sources of the Gupta and later period. From these descriptions, it appears that Sakas i.e., western kshatrapas of Gujarat and Saurashtra who were in terms of subordinate alliance with the Gupta empire during the period of Samudragupta, rebelled after him and Ramagupta had to engage in a war with the saka king during the course of which he came within the strangle hold of the enemy, who would spare his life and allow him to retire only on the condition of the surrender of his wife, Dhruvadevi. Ramagupta agreed to this condition but his brother Chandragupta objected such act of cowardness and in order to save the honour of his family he went to the enemy camp in female disguise to kill the Saka lord and actually killed him. Later he killed Ramagupta, seized the Gupta throne and married Dhruvadevi whom he rescued from the voluptuous enemy . The date of Chandragupta II's accession can be regarded either C.E. 375-76 or C.E. 380-381 on the basis of his earliest known record viz. Mathura stone pillar inscription dated G. year 61/C.E. 380- 81.

Of all the Gupta kings Chandragupta II is reputed to have shown exceptional chivalrous and heroic qualities. He assumed the title of Vikramaditya-son of prowess, which occurs on his gold coins . His long reign of about thirty years saw the consolidation of the Gupta empire. He not only maintained the vast empire, carved out by his father but also extended it's boundaries and influence in all directions. It is evident from different sources that Chandragupta II adopted a slightly different policy from that followed by his father Samudragupta.

We find that he undertook various military campaigns which led to the annexation of many subordinate states of the time of Samudragupta. An important epigraph viz. Mehrauli Pillar inscription of Chandra which by consensus of opinion is assigned to Chandragupta II provides invaluable information about his reign. It gives the account of his military activities in different parts of India and beyond its frontiers. It is evident from this inscription that Chandragupta II's victorious arms penetrated as far as the eastern limits of India. According to the description a battle was fought in Vanga territory against a confederacy of kings in which Chandra (Chandragupta II) displayed extraordinary valour and defeated the enemies,

“Yasy-odvarttayatah-pratipam-urasa-sattrun-samety-agatan-Vangeshv-ahava-varttino-bhilikhita-khadgena- kirttir-bhuje- "
on whose arm fame was inscribed by the sword, when in battle in the Vanga territory, he dashed back with his breast the enemies who, uniting together, came upon (him)".



Vanga denotes south-eastern Bengal, very nearly to the same country as Samtata which was included in the tributary frontier states of Samudragupta. We do not know whether there was a rebellion in Bengal and its adjoining areas, or whether the war was caused by the aggressive imperial policy of Chandragupta II which sought to incorporate the region into the dominions directly administered by him. In any case it was probably as a result of this campaign that direct Gupta rule was established in this region, for we know that early in the sixth century C.E. a Gupta king namely Vainyagupta was ruling in this part of eastern India. From the information provided by the Mehrauli Pillar inscription it is also evident that Chandragupta II undertook a military expedition against some of the subordinate states of south India. It seems that they raised their heads against the Gupta empire in this period and by this expedition Chandragupta II brought some of them under his direct control. But about this the inscription does not refer anything explicitly, it only mentions that "by the breezes of whose valour the southern ocean is still perfumed " yasyad-y-apy-adhivasyate-Jalanidhir-wiryy-anilairddakshinah “. But we may trace an echo of this great south eastern expedition in the Puranas which speak of the extension of Gupta rule over Kosala i.e. South Kosala, Odra, Pundra, Tamralipti and Puri on the sea board by Devarakshita i.e., Devagupta or Chandragupta II. About Pundra i.e. Pundravardhana, it is evident from the Damodarpur copper plate grants of the period of Kumaragupta I, Buddhagupta and Vishnugupta, that it had been an important and integral province of the Gupta empire. Gupta suzerainty over South Kosala is evident by the reference to the famous imperial title of Gupta i.e. Paramabhattaraka in the Kursud copper plate grant of Maharaja Narendra of Sharabhapuria dynasty of this region, Chandragupta II broke the power of republican tribal states which were allies of Samudragupta and acted as buffer states at the north-west and western frontiers of the Gupta empire.

It can be safely admitted that these states were assimilated in the empire by Chandragupta II. For we do not find any record, nor any mention of any one of them in the history of ancient India hence onwards. Apart from this, on the basis of a statement of Kalhana in Rajatarangini (C.E. 1148-49), which refers that on the death of Hiranya, Vikramaditya appointed Matrigupta, as the governor of Kashmir. P.L. Gupta states that in northern India the region upto Kashmir was brought under the direct rule of Gupta empire by Chandragupta II. In the west Chandragupta II had conquered and assimilated Gujarat and Saurashtra region into the organization of the empire.

We know this region was under the Sakas or Western Kshtrapas and the expedition against them had become an imperative necessity after Ramagupta and Saka episode as a consequence of which the Sakas began to be looked upon as a potential danger to be rooted out at the earliest opportunity. No details of the expedition are available but we can be sure that the Saka ruler defeated by Chandragupta II was most probably Rudrasimha III. The approximate period of this conquest can be established with the help of the numismatic evidence. The latest available date on the silver coins of Rudrasimha III is either 310 or 319 (the unit figure is lost) of the Saka era which correspond to C.E. 388 and 397. Again the earliest known date on Chandragupta II's silver coins which he issued in imitation of the Saka coins is G. year 90/C.E. 409. Therefore, we can safely place Chandragupta II’s conquest of the Saka dominions between C.E. 388 & C.E. 409. About this great campaign which led to the annexation of western India R.N. Saletore says, If the Devi Chandraguptam can be relied upon to enshrine the historical incidents of the relations between Ramagupta and his wife Dhruvadevi, the Saka ruler must have revolted and was conquered by Chandragupta II.

The conquest of Western Kshtrapas however must have been affected by Chandragupta II, for his rare silver coins are more or less direct in imitations of those of the latest of Western Kshatrapas. By this campaign the Gupta emperor put an end to the domination of the western kshatrapas from western India which had lasted in these parts for about three centuries. Its significance lay not only in the western borders of the Gupta empire being secure but also in its giving access to the western trade since the ports were now in Gupta hands.

Thus, by his great conquering ability and valour Chandragupta II consolidated Gupta empire and extended his direct rule over a vast region. Besides northern India which was already under the Gupta hegemony, the whole of Bengal and a large portion of Orissa in the east and south east respectively were now under the Gupta's control. In the south the boundaries of the Gupta empire extended upto Vindhyas and in the west the whole region upto Arabian sea which was previously ruled by different republican tribal states and by the Sakas was now administered by the Gupta officials. Following his aggressive imperial plans and his object to 'conquer the whole world' , Chandragupta II carried his arms successfully in the Trans-Indus region after his victory in Saurashtra. The Mehrauli Pillar inscription records that Chandragupta II conquered Vahlikas after crossing the seven mouths of Indus- “ Tirtva sapta mukhani yenasamare sindhor-jjitva Vahlika.”


The place Vahlika is almost certainly identified with Bactria or modern Balkh in north eastern Afghanistan. But different opinions have been expressed regarding the identification of the people who occupied Vahlika or Bactria in this period.

R.C.Majumdar has identified them with the Kushanas at one place. But now it is known certainly that the Kushanas under their king Kidara had moved out of Bactria in the middle of the fourth century C.E. under the mounting pressure of the Juan-Juan tribe and settled in the Kabul valley about this time. The Juan-Juan tribe has been identified with the Chionites or Hunas who had occupied Bacteria. Therefore, Hunas were the people against whom Chandragupta II led his military expedition in Vahlika or Bactria. On the basis of some verses in Raghuvamsa some scholars have proposed to equate the account of the north -western conquest of Raghu recorded in the Raghuvamsa with the conquest of Bactrians (Vahlikas) described in the Mehrauli Pillar inscription. They suggested that Chandragupta II adopted a land route in his military expedition against the Vahlikas which lay through Saurashtra to southern Afghanistan via Trans-Indus region and during this expedition he came close to the north-eastern fringe of the Sassanian empire, where according to Kalidasa he defeated the Parasikas or Persians.

The English translated verses are provided below :

"Thence he set out by an inland route to conquer the Parsis (Persians) as proceeds an ascetic to conquer, by the knowledge of truth the enemies called senses"

"He covered the earth with their bearded heads, severed by his bhalla arrows, as with fly covered heaps of honey combs."

The bearded Persian warriors mentioned by Kalidasa have been identified by the scholars with the Sassanians and it is suggested that hence forward Chandragupta II headed northwards reached Bactria or Vahlika, where he had a battle with the Hunas on the river oxus. This suggestion is based on the following verses of Raghuvamsa.

The English translated verse is provided below :

"Thence Raghu, like the sun taking up the sap (of the earth) by his rays, careered towards the direction of Kubera (i.e. the northern direction) extirpating the northerns with his arrows."

We find another verse that seems to connect our understanding , the English translated verse :

"There the exploits of Raghu, the power of which was clearly seen in (the slaughter of) the husbands of young women in the inner apartments of the Huna kings, proved a teacher of the ruddiness in their cheeks."

Thus, Chandraguta II subdued the Hunas with his might and extended Gupta influence in such a remote region outside India. By his aggressive policy he reestablished the prestige and glory of the Gupta empire, which was on the verge of disintegration and collapse after the defeat of Ramagupta. Besides the frontiers of the empire were made immune from any danger of a foreign invasion as the Sakas Kushanas and even the Hunas had been cut to size, the war having been carried to their very home and fought on their soil.

To these military achievements of Chandragupta II may be added that his matrimonial and diplomatic alliances played an important role in his policy towards other contemporary states. He seems to be well aware of the political advantage of the matrimonial alliance. He knew how such an alliance with the Lichchhavis helped his grandfather Chandragupta I to rise to imperial position. An important alliance, perhaps of Chandragupta Ii’s time was his marriage with the Naga princes Kuberanaga. However some scholars are not inclined to attach any political importance to this marriage, for the Nagas had lost their importance in this period and were a political non-entity .

The most important matrimonial alliance contracted by Chandragupta II was with the Vakatakas who, in this period emerged as a dominant power in the Deccan earlier held by the Satavahanas. Chandragupta II felt their strength and realising the value and importance of their alliance he arranged the marriage of his daughter Prabhavatigupta with the Vakataka crown prince Rudrasena II, son of Prithivishena I. It was a remarkable strategic move on the part of Chandragupta II who foresaw that the powerful Vakataka king of south-western Deccan could be of great help to him in his campaign against the Saka Kshatrapas of Saurashtra and their hostility could easily prove to be a serious embarrassment.

Therefore, this matrimonial alliance was deliberately made with a political object. Besides, this marriage strengthened Gupta access to the Deccan, although the Vakatakas remained an independent power. Rudrasena II, the son-in-law of Chandragupta II had a short reign and died in C.E.390 .After his death the rule of Prabhavatigupta as the regent queen of her minor sons continued for about twenty years and during this period the Gupta emperor exercised great influence on the Vakataka kingdom. It is evident by the Vakataka inscriptions of this period which commence with the Gupta genealogy instead of the Vakatakas. Most likely Chandragupta II gave Prabhavatigupta all help to run the Vakataka administration properly by deputing his own civil  and military officers to the Vakataka court .

Another matrimonial relationship with the Gupta family had been established by the Kadamba ruler Kakutsthavarman. It is evident by the Talagund stone Pillar inscription wherein Kakutsthavarman is said to have caused to blossom the lotus beds in the form of the families of rulers, the foremost among whom were the Guptas .The inscription says,

“Guptadiparttthiva-kulamburuhasthalani-snehadara-pranaya-sambhrama-kesarani\Srimantyanekanripashatpada-sevitani\Yo=bodhyadduhitri-didhitibhir-nrirparkkah \ \ "

“This sun of a king by means of his rays-his daughters caused to expand the splendid lotus-groups-the royal families of the Guptas and others, the filaments of which were attachment, respect, love and reverence (for him), and which were cherished by many bees -the kings (who served them)."

In this inscription the name of the Gupta emperor is not mentioned but as Kakutsthavarman ruled between C.E.405 and 435, the Gupta king who contracted this matrimonial alliance with the Kadamba ruler might have been either Chandragupta II or Kumaragupta I.

Besides matrimonial alliances Chandragupta II established diplomatic relations with some other southern powers. It is suggested from a Kavya called Kuntalesvara Dautyam, now lost, some verses from which have been preserved in the literary works of the later period, that Chandragupta II had successfully exerted his influence over the Kuntala king and established friendly relation with him with the assistance of Kalidasa, who went there as his emissary. Some scholars identified the king of Kuntala with Srikrishnavarman while some other with Devaraja of the Rashtrakuta family of Manapura. By these alliance Chandragupta II extended Gupta influence in south India. His last known date i.e. G.Year 93/C.E 412-13 comes from his Sanchi stone inscription . He left a vast empire for his successors which actually stretched from Bengal in the east to Gujarat and Kathiwad in the west and from Himalaya in the north upto Narmada in the south. He was most probably succeeded by his son Maharaja Sri Govindagupta who is known from the Basarah clay sealing of his mother Mahadevi Dhruvasvamini the chief queen of Chandragupta II; and from the Mandasor stone slab inscription dated in the Malava year 524/C.E. 467 which point out that like his father Govindagupta was an imperial Gupta ruler to whom a large number of kings paid homage; and whose armies under the command of his general wiped out all opposing  armies .

Govindgupta enjoyed a very short region between G.Year 93/C.E 412-13, the last known date of Chandragupta II and G.Year 96/C.E. 415-16, the first available date of Kumaragupta I, another son of Chandragupta II. When Gupta empire passed on to Kumaragupta I it was on its most glorious stage. Kumaragupta I's long region of over forty years was by far the most prosperous period in the total rule of the Gupta dynasty. He assumed the title Mahendraditya and proclaiming himself as a paramount sovereign he celebrated the Asvamedha sacrifice as an assertion of his paramountcy . Hence it may be concluded thiat he should have added more territories to the empire, though none of the records of his conquests is available to us. However, some epigraphic and literary evidences provides us some information in this regard. The Mandasor inscription of the guild of silk weavers contains a specific mention of the Gupta sovereign Kumaragupta I who was ruling over the earth while the Varman ruler Bandhuvarman was protecting the town of Dasapura in the Year C.E. 436 . This shows that Kumaragupta I had extended Gupta suzerainty over the region of Dasapura and Bandhuvarman ruled over this region as a Gupta feudatory.

On the basis of statement in Puranas that Mahendra (i.e. Kumaragupta I) added Kalinga and Mahishaka to his kingdom, P.L. Gupta suggests that Kumaragupta I eliminated some of the south-eastern feudatories of the time of his grandfather Samudragupta. Thus, the empire continued to progress in Kumaragupta I's reign and he was able to retain every inch of territory. Only a strong and efficient administration could have kept the vast empire so thoroughly intact. The inscriptions of this period indicate the development of the administrative machinery in different regions of the empire.

It is also evident by these inscriptions that Kumaragupta I was a strong administrator and was sagacious in the selection of his governors and viceroys for the different provinces from amongst the princes of the blood royal, ministers and officers. Damodarpur copper plate grants dated G. year 124/C.E 442-43 and G. year 128/C.E 446-47 inform us that the governor (uparika) appointed by Kumaragupta I himself was governing the province of Pundaravardhana. Ghatotkachagupta, a prince of royal blood probably a son of emperor himself, was the viceroy of Eastern Malava as is known from the Tumain fragmentary inscription ". The Baigram copper plate grant tells us that the Kumaramatya Kulavriddhi was administering the district of Panchanagari (modern Panchili in the Bogra district of Bangladesh). These administrative measures ensured the stability and integration of the empire.

But as indicated by the Junagadh rock inscription of the G.year 136 /C.E 455-56 and the Bhitari Pillar inscription of Skandagupta, the son and successor of Kumaragupta I that either towards the close of the latter's reign or immediately after his death Gupta empire had met with serious reverses and crisis was brought about by the invasion of the Pushyamitras and the Hunas.

Pushyamitra tribe is unknown to epigraphic records but known to the Puranas which record thirteen kings of the Pushyamitra dynasty and they have been placed in the third century C.E. by Pargiter. Fleet made the suggestion that they were a tribe on the Narmada region . They had built up a strong military power and the resources for a war. The sudden upheaval and the severity with which Pushyamitras fought, temporarily affected the prestige of imperial Gupta power. It is evident from the Bhitari Pillar inscription that at the initial stage Pushyamitras made the struggle so grim even for a heroic warrior like Skandagupta that he had to pass a whole night on bare ground but ultimately he tided over the critical situation and emerged victorious As far as Hunas or Mlechchhas (as they referred to by the Junagadh rock inscription were concerned, we know that they had occupied Bactria about C.E.350 and under their pressure the Kushanas known as Kidarites after their chief Kidara, had to move southwards into Gandhara and occupied Kabul valley.

Kalidasa in his Raghuvamsa also placed the Hunas on the banks of the river Oxus where they were defeated by Raghu. One section of them though subject to the JuanJuan tribe for a time, became very powerful about the middle of the fifth century C.E. This branch is referred to in the Greek accounts as white Hunas, but also called ye-tha, Hephthalites or Ephthalites from the name of their ruler's family. From the bank of the Oxus these Hunas invaded both Persia and India. They overthrew Kidara Kushanas from Gandhara and occupied that region sometime in the fourth decade of the fifth century C.E. Either before G.year 138/C.E.457-458 or most probably before G.year 136 /C.E. 455-56, they crossed the Indian frontier. They were terrible warriors and became a real threat to the Gupta empire. But their advance was halted by the valiant Gupta emperor Skandagupta who inflicted upon them a crushing defeat after fighting a terrible battle and saved the Gupta empire from the scourge of a cruel and barbaric foe. The verses of Bhitari Pillar inscription describing Skandagupta's conflict with the Hunas, leave no doubt that the struggle was severe. The utter discomfiture of the Hunas is borne out by the fact that for nearly half a century the Indian frontiers were immune from this menace. From the provenance of Skandagupta's inscriptions located at Junagadh in Gujarat, Kahaum in the Gorakhpur district, and at Indore in the Bulandshahar district in Uttar Pradesh, it is inferred that the Gupta empire did not suffer even a temporary eclipse in its extent and limits but was in all its glory and tranquility. These inscriptions also bear testimony that the Gupta government continued in the western provinces, eastern provinces and the central provinces as well. While the western province of Saurashtra was governed by Pamadatta who was appointed by Skandagupta himself," the Vishaya of Antarvedi (the country lying between the Ganga and Yamuna'' or the region of Kanauj lying between the Ganga and Yamuna, commonly called Doab)'" was administered by the Vishyapati Sarvanaga".

Thus, the Gupta empire was the undisputed possession of one master whose commands were implicitly obeyed by the governors appointed by him, from one end to the other of this vast region. Skandagupta's last known date is G. year 148 /C.E. 467 . After his death, the central authority of the Guptas declined at an increasing pace. A number of seals of administrative offices have been discovered with the name of various kings whose succession is uncertain. The varied order of succession points to the confusion prevailed in the Gupta dynasty at that time. Skandagupta's immediate successor was most probably his brother Ghatotkachagupta who, as referred to by the Tumain inscription of the G. year 116/C.E. 435 had ruled as a governor of Eastern Malava in the period of his father Kumaragupta I. Besides this inscription, he is also known from his Basarh clay sealing and his two gold coins one of which contains his name as Ghato and the marginal legend Kramaditya}. Because of the existence of the two gold coins of Ghatotkachgupta it has to be conceded that he did assume royal authority for sometime, but when and how long are questions that remain to be answered. For now, it can be said that most probably after a brief rule he was either ousted or died. He was succeeded by his brother Purugupta. No inscription of this ruler has been discovered so far. Purugupta's name with the title Maharajadhiraja and as a son of the Gupta emperor Kumaragupta I is known to us from the Nalanda clay sealings of the former's sons namely Budhagupta and Narsimhagupta and from the Bhitari silver-copper seal and the Nalanda clay sealing of his grandson Kumaragupta III .

Some gold coins with the legend Prakashaditya are also attributed to Purugupta' . Besides, there are other kings known from coins and inscriptions whose position in the Gupta family is not known with certainty. One is Kumaragupta II who ruled in G. year 154/C.E. 473 as known from the Samath Buddha image inscription. He bore the title Kramaditya which is inscribed on his gold coins of Archer type. Thus, there is hardly any doubt that Ghatotkachagupta, Purugupta and Kumaragupta II did reign but we have no definite knowledge of the events of their period. The obscurity lifts with the accession of Budhagupta the son of Purugupta. His earliest known date is G. year 157/C.E. 477 which we get from the Samath Budha image inscription. An inscription discovered on a stone pillar from Raj ghat also belongs to the reign of Maharajadhiraja Budhagupta. Yet another copper plate grant dated 159 obviously of the Gupta era though does not mention the name of Budhagupta as the reigning emperor but the date coupled with the mention in line 16 of the fact that one sixth of the religious merit of this donation accrued to the Paramabhattaraka, clearly shows that the ruling authority in the region was the emperor Budhagupta whose title Paramabhattaraka Maharajadhiraja and name we get in two Damodarpur copper plate grants from west Dinajpur district of west Bengal .

One of these dated G. year 163/C.E. 481 while in other the date has lost. These grants record pious householders purchasing land from the government for building temples or for settling brahmana families. An important inscription inscribed on the Eran stone pillar, which records the setting up of this pillar as a flagstaff of Vishnu (garuda-dhvaja) by two brothers viz. Maharaja Matrivishnu and his younger brother Dhanyavishnu, contains a mention of a governor named Surashmichandra under Budhagupta, who was governing the entire region lying between the river Yamuna and Narmada in the G. Year 165 /C.E. 483 .

Besides this, a Budha image inscription from Mathura dated in Budhagupta'a reign shows that his authority extended as far north as Mathura. All these evidences prove beyond the possibility of any doubt that Budhagupta's authority extended over those parts of Gupta empire which were ruled over by the Gupta emperors previously, and that the empire had suffered no loss of territory as yet. However, some indication of the loosening of the imperial authority can be sensed in the existence of some land grants made during Budhagupta's rule, where any reference to the emperor and central government has been omitted. Two copper plate land grants dated G. year 158/ C.E. 478 issued by a Maharaja Lakshmana whose jurisdiction appears to have extended over some territory in the neighbourhood of Prayag. The inscription records the grant of an agrahara in the village Phela-parvvatika, situated very close to Kaushambi.

The facts that the agrahara grant was made by Maharaja Lakshamana in Prayag region which had been an integral part of the Gupta empire from the time of Chandragupta I and that it does not contain even a faint reference to the contemporary Gupta suzerain Budhagupta is conclusive enough to prove the Gupta emperor's slackening of the revenue and administrative rights in Prayag region which implies the weaking of the imperial authority of the Guptas in this part of northern India.

Similarly, we find a few more feudatory dynasties, which appeared to have become independent or semi-independent by this time. In central India, except Maharaja Harivarman of the Maukhari dynasty, who mentions the name of his overlord Buddhagupta in his Shankarpur (Siddhi district Madhya Pradesh) Copper plate grant of the G.Year 168/C.E. 486, other feudatory rulers do not make mention of the sovereignty of the Gupta emperor. The Parivrajaka Maharajas, who had been Gupta feudatories for generations in the Atavika region and ruled in Bundelkhand area had ceased to acknowledge the Gupta supremacy in this period. Maharaja Hastin (C.E. 476-516) of this family issued land grants without mentioning Gupta emperor Budhagupta, making only a general reference to the Gupta sovereignity . Continguous to the Parivrajaka kingdom was another principality with Uchchakalpa (modern city of Nagod, in the Satna district of Madhya Pradesh) as the capital. Maharaja Jayanatha of this dynasty issued land grants in the G. year 174/C.E. 493 and C.E 496.

It is indicated from the locality and the use of the Gupta era that this kingdom was once included in the Gupta empire but as Jayanatha's grants do not contain any reference to the Gupta sovereignty, it is probable that by C.E. 493 he had ceased to owe any allegiance to it. Similarly, the grant made by Maharaja Subandhu from the ancient town of Mahishmati (Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh) on the Narmada in the G.year 167/C.E 486 is also indicative of the loss of Gupta authority, for it makes no reference to the contemporary Gupta sovereign Budhagupta. The story in western parts of the empire was not much different. Saurashtra, which had been an important province of the Gupta empire administered by its governors had become a feudatory state ruled by Maitraka dynasty from their capital at Vallabhi. We know that in the period of Skandagupta, Pamadatta was appointed as the governor of Saurashtra . It is very likely that along with the appointment of Pamadatta as the civilian governor, Bhattaraka, the founder of the Maitraka dynasty was appointed as a general in this province. Bhattaraka was succeeded by his son Dharasena at this part as per practice in the Gupta empire. Both are called Senapati in the records of their successors . Bhattaraka's second son Dronasimha in his Bhamodra Mohota copperplate inscription dated G. year 183/C.E. 502 assumed the title Maharaja generally used by the feudatories in this period. It is claimed in the inscriptions of this dynasty that the paramount ruler in person installed him in royalty by a regular ceremony.

As Dronasimha was ruling over Saurashtra in C.E 502, the paramount ruler, referred to was most probably the Gupta emperor Budhagupta. Thus, Dronasimha became a feudal chief rather than an imperial officer and though the family still paid nominal allegiance to the Gupta emperor, the Maitrakas of Vallabhi were well on the way to setting up an independent kingdom. These instances show that while outwardly the Gupta empire suffered no diminution in its extent, and its authority was still acknowledged as far as the Bay of Bengal in the east the Arabian sea in the west and the river Narmada in the south, its power and prestige had considerably declined and some of its provinces located in western central and northern India were enjoying a semi-independent status.

Budhagupta seems to have died shortly after C.E. 494 or in C.E. 499, for among his latest silver coins five are dated G. year 175/C.E. 494' and on the sixth the date has been read as G. year 180/C.E. 499. But this reading is doubtful. Soon after his death we find that Epthalites or the white Hunas who had faced a crushing defeat at the hands of Skandagupta appeared again on the Indian soil. In C.E. 484 Hunas ended their long struggle against Sassanian or Persian empire by defeating Persian king Piroz or Firoz, and by the end of the fifth century C.E. they ruled over a vast empire with their principal capital at Balkh or Bactria.

Now they turned their covetous eyes towards India and soon crossed the Indian frontier under their king Toramana and lodged themselves in north-western Punjab as is indicated by a stone inscription discovered from kura or khewra in the Salt Range in the district of Jhelum, which mentions Rajadhiraja Toramana, ruling over this region. Having consolidated his position in Punjab Toramana advanced towards the interior of India and invaded the Gupta territory. At this time, most probably Maharajadhiraja Vainyagupta was ruling over the Gupta empire. He succeeded Budhagupta sometimes about C.E. 500 and is known from his Gunaighar copper plate grant dated G. year 188/C.E 507 from his gold coins and the fragmentary Nalanda clay sealing.

Vainyagupta could not defend his empire as his great predecessors had done and Huna leader Toramana conquered a large part of western and central India. Even Airikina (Eran) Vishaya in the Eastern Malava was included in his dominions. Toramana's conquest of Airikina is indicated by the mention of his regnal year and name as the ruling Maharajadhiraja in the Eran stone Boar inscription recording the building of a temple of god Varaha by Dhanyavishnu, who along with his elder brother Maharaja Matrivishnu is also known from the Eran stone pillar inscription, erecting flag staff of god Vishnu in the same temple complex in the period of Budhagupta. Thus, it is evident that the transfer of political authority in Airikina had taken place within a very short period after the setting up of the pillar in honour of Vishnu in the G. year 165/C.E. 484 We can safely admit that C.E. 500 , the Vishaya of Airikina or perhaps a substantial part of Eastern Malava had been lost by the Guptas and had passed into the hands of Hunas.

And as that was not enough, it is also evident from a few Bengal inscriptions that either in the period of Vainyagupta or shortly after him, Gupta authority in some regions of Bengal was decaying. As we have found Vainyagupta ruling over a part of East Bengal (now Bangladesh) in C.E. 507 but shortly after this date Maharaja Vijayasena, who was the administrator in this region on behalf of Vainyagupta, figures in the Mallasural copper plate grant as a feudatory of one Maharajadhirja Gopachandra in the Vardhamana bhukti .

It shows that in this region an independent Kingdom had come into existence under Gopachandra. It is further conformed by the Faridpur copper plate grant of Mahrajadhiraja Dharmaditya who may be placed before Goapchandra. Meanwhile, in central India Guptas were still making attempts to organize resistance to the Hunas and to regain control over that region. For we find the Huna suzerainty over Eastern Malava being challenged by one of the member of the Gupta family named Bhanugupta some time before setting up of the memorial stone pillar inscription at Eran in G. year 191/ C.E 510 commemorating the death of Maharaja Goparaja (probably a Gupta feudatory) in the battle. In this brief record Bhanugupta's heroic deeds have been equated with those of the epic hero Arjuna and he is called Raja Mahan.

As generally accepted, it appears that the battle fought by Bhanugupta and Goparaja at Eran, referred to in this inscription was against the Huna king Toramana , We can not anticipate any other enemy against whom the Gupta armies would have been sent to Eastern Malava. For we know definitely from  the Eran stone pillar inscription of the G. year 165 and the Eran stone boar inscription of first year of Toramana's reign that the Huna king had conquered this region soon after Budhagupta. On account of the lack of clear evidence it is not possible to know the outcome of the battle fought by Bhanugupta and Goparaja against the Hunas. Whether the Guptas could regain their control over Eran region or not is not known. But epigraphic evidences indicate that about the same time the Huna sovereignty in central India was challenged by Prakashdharma, the ruler of Aulikara dynasty of Dasapura.

Prakashdharma's Risthal stone inscription of M. year 572/C.E. 515 shows that Drumavardhana, the founder of this dynasty started his career as senapati or general of the army of some king. How and when he rose to the position of a king is not known. But this family had gradually built its strength and by the time of Prakashdharma, who was the sixth ruler in line of succession, it achieved a sovereign status and Prakashadharma became so powerful that he challenged Huna king Toramana and inflicted a crushing defeat on him'. As the Risthal inscription is dated in the C.E. 515, the defeat of Toramana must have taken place before this date. After this defeat Toramana's power suffered a decline. He appears to have been forced out of central India about this time and retreated to Gwalior, where Toramana's son Mihirakula is known to have ruled for fifteen years, according to the Gwalior inscription of his reign Mihirakula conformed to the conventional image of the Hunas.

An account of Sung-Yun, a Chinese ambassador to the Huna king of Gandhara in C.E. 52 and a somewhat later account (C.E 525- 535) given by the Alexandarian Greek, Cosmos Indicopleusts in his Christian Topography, describe the kingdom of white Hunas proper to the west of the Indus which separated all the countries of India from the country of the Hunas. But these accounts describe Huna king Mihirakula (king Gallas , according to Cosmos) as cruel and barbaric. According to Sung-Yun he was hostile to Buddhism and had entered in a war with Kashmir (kipin). “ While cosmos mentions him as the lord of India who oppressed people and forced them to pay tribute” .Thus, it appears from these accounts that Mihirakula was a powerful tyrant and under his leadership Hunas overran a large part of northern India and he exercised suzerainty over that region. The inscription dated in the fifteenth year of his reign shows that his sovereignty extended at least upto Gwalior. According to the information provided by Hiuen Tsang even the contemporary Gupta king Narsimhagupta Baladitya (who is also known from his gold coins and sealings from Bhitari and Nalanda) was forced to the humiliating situation of paying tribute to Mihirakula, the king of Sakala, who invaded his territory. But finally he (Baladitya) triumphed over his enemy and resolved to kill Mihirakula, but released him on the intercession of his mother. Mihirakula was driven out of the plains and he obtained an asylum in Kashmir where he killed the king and placed himself on the throne of Kashmir. From there he attacked Gandhara, exterminated the royal family and killed the king, destroyed Buddhist establishments, plundered the wealth of the country and returned. But within a year he died .

According to many scholars Hiuen Tsang's account of Mihirakula has lack of conviction. It is full of so many inaccuracies. Besides, it is also difficult to believe many of the details of this story. The long account of the defeat and discomfiture of Mihirakula at the hands of Gupta king Narsimhagupta Baladitya and particularly the manner in which it was achieved appears to have contained a great deal of exaggeration . Therefore, generally the scholars do not place much reliance upon it.

Reference may be made in this connection to the defeat inflicted upon the Huna king Mihrakula by the Aulikara ruler Yashodharman, the son of Prakashadharma. We have two inscriptions of Yashodharman from Mandasor which provide us a graphic account of the prestige, prowess and the conquest of Yashodharman. One of them i.e. Mandasor stone slab inscription is dated in the M.Y. 589/C.E. 532 and indirectly refers to Yashodharman's victory over the Guptas of the east and the Hunas of the north. While his undated Mandasor stone pillar inscription tells us, that 'he subjugated Mihirakula whose head had never previously been brought into the humility of obeisance to any other save the god Stahanu (Siva). Since Mandasor stone slab inscription belongs to C.E. 532 the defeat of Mihirakula must have taken place before C.E 532. After this defeat the Hunas appear to have lost their Indian dominion. They no longer appear as a great power or even a disturbing element in Indian history.

Mandasor inscription describes some other military achievements of Yashodharman and claims that he undertook a digvijaya, the traditional Indian 'conquest of the quarters. However, this claim is not accepted in its eternity. For Yashodharman's power was of very short duration. He rose and fell like a meteor between C.E. 530 and 540. This finds support from the fact that nothing is known about him beyond Mandosor inscriptions.

By this time Guptas had lost their control in most of the parts of Aryavarta. Now how much territory was under their control, we cannot precisely suggest, but is not unlikely to assume that it was extending from northern Bengal at least upto eastern Uttar Pradesh, as epigraphic evidences clearly point out that Gupta kings were still exercising imperial authority over the region between Pundaravardhana and modern Bhitari. Kumaragupta III, the son of Narsimhagupta, was still issuing grants in Bhitari which is proved by the silver copper seal found from that place. No copper plate recording the grant has been found attached to it but its very existence proves that Kumaragupta III definitely made some donation of land either to an individual or the temple at Bhitari. Apart from this, the continued rule of Guptas over Magadha is evident from the clay sealings of Kumaragupta III found from Nalanda , which indicate that he made some donation to the university of Nalanda.

His successor Vishnugupta, the last known imperial ruler of the Gupta dynasty whose fragmentary clay sealing has been found at Nalanda still exercised sovereign power over Pundaravardhana in northern Bengal as is apparent from the Domodarpur copper plate grant dated G. year 224/C.E. 543 . This copper plate shows that Pundaravardhana was being governed by a prince of the blood royal Maharajaputra Devabhattaraka. A comparison of this inscription with the copper plate grant of the reign of Budhagupta found from the same place shows that the same administrative machinery was at work in the district, the same method and procedure was followed in the transaction and sale of the land. Thus, there does not appear to have been any break in the history or tradition of the imperial Gupta rule in the east at least upto C.E. 543, except south-east portion of Bengal, whereas stated earlier an independent kingdom had come into existence under Dharmaditya and Gopachandra. We do not hear of any Gupta ruler after Vishnugupta and this is a self indication that the Gupta rule ended with him. This is also supported by a copper plate grant found at Amauna in Gaya district, in the very heart of Magadha which was issued by Kumaramatya Maharaja Nandana in G. year 232/C.E. 551-52. It has no reference to any supreme ruler. It thus shows that by that time i.e. C.E. 550 Guptas ceased to exercise any effective authority over the greater part of Magadha, the land that was once their own. About this time we find that the Maukharis and the Later Guptas who were at first feudatories of the imperial Guptas had attained independent position. These two royal houses shared between themselves those territories of the Gangetic plain which formed the heart of the Gupta empire ruled over by Samudragupta and his successors.

In the west, the Maitrakas of Vallabhi who were in control of Saurashtra and Kathiawad, realising the weak position of the imperial Gupta power, ceased to kept even the semblance of allegiance towards them and became independent in C.E. 550. So we find that right from the Bay of Bengal in the east upto the Arabian sea in the west, the Gupta empire had parcelled out in small independent kingdoms in the middle of the sixth century C.E. However, its name lingered on in some remote parts of India, as evident by Sumandala (Ganjam district, Orissa) copper plate grant issued by a king named Prithivigraha. This inscription refers to the sovereignty of the Guptas by a phrase Vasundharayam Vartamana Gupta rajye (the existing Gupta kingdom on the earth) in the G. year 250/C.E. 569-70. It shows that some Gupta rulers were still ruling in the second half of the sixth century C.E. and at least the region of Kalinga was under them. The Gupta hold over Kalinga was terminated by G. year 280/A.D. 599 is apparent from inscription of that date found at Kanasa in the same region. In this inscription it is said that Vasundharayam pravarttamane Gupta - kala (Gupta year current on the earth).

Thus, ended one of the greatest empires of ancient India.


THE KUSHANS : WHO WERE THEY & FROM WHERE DID THEY COME TO INDIA


The Kushan Civilization:

A brief overview The Kushan or Kushano of the epigraphical and numismatic sources of India and Central Asia, and Kuei-shauang of the Chinese sources was the name of a tribe which together with other tribes formed a tribal confederacy of rather mixed origin. This tribal confederacy is known as the Yuch-chih in Chinese sources.

According to the available records the earliest habitat of the Yuchchih lay to the east of Tun-huang in the modern province of Kansu in Chinese Central Asia. At that time (around 1st millennium B .C. E ) they had the same customs as Hsiung-nu (Huns).  It appears from certain pre-Han texts that the Yuch-chi gradually annexed the fertile agriculture zone of Ordos plateau and a region between the Kun-lun range (to the south of the Tarim basin) and the Nan-shan. Lou-lan and Po-yang territories in the Tsaidam swamp area were also within the Yuch-chih kingdom. Thus by 3rd century B.C.E Yuch-chih established a fairly big kingdom. The annexation of Ordos was triumph of a nomadic culture over a settled agricultural society. They also began to trade in zade, a greatly prized commodity. They became so strong that “their archers numbered more than a hundred thousand... and treated the Hsiung-nu with contempt.” But ultimately sometime between 174 and 160 B.C.E, the greater portion of them were driven out of their territory by Hsiung-nu. They migrated towards the west and became known in history as Ta Yuch chih.

In course of their westward migration, the Yuch chih passed through Kucha to the region of Wen-su or Aksu and thence to the country of Sai (Sakas) in the vicinity of the Lake Issik-kol. From the Lake Issik-kol area the Ta Yuch-chih migrated again and subjugated the north and south of Oxus. For our immediate purpose, the subjugation of the south of Oxus is important as it comprised the territory called Ta-hsia which was divided among the five his-hou (yabgu ).of the tribe called Kuei-shuang (Kushan) around 160 B.C.E and 130 B .C.E . The five hsi-hou, which were the five families of Yuch-chih gave their names to five territorial divisions of Ta-hsia, namely Hsiu-mi, Shuang-mi, Kuei-shuang, His-tun and Tu-mi. J. Marquart identifies Hsiu-mi with Wakhan and Shuang-mi with Chitral. According to B.N. Mukherjee His-tun was in the region of Badakhshan and Kuei-shuang (the territory under the Kushans) was probably somewhere between Badakhshan and Chitral. Thus according to Mukherjee  Ta-hsia included Wakhan, Badakhshan, Chitral and probably Kafristan. He contests Ta-hsia’s identification with Bactria proper, though, according to him, it embraced, among others, eastern parts of Bactria. It is important to mention that the Yuch-chih are also called Tochari in some sources, probably because of the long stay of some powerful Yuch-chih groups in Tocher (Tukheristan) and consequently their close linguistic, ethnographic and topographical  association with the region.



According to Hou Han-Shu around 30-29 B.C.E the his-hou of Kueishuang, named Chiu-chu-chuch attacked and destroyed the other four his-hou and established himself as their king. The extended kingdom also came to be known as Kuei-shuang. Thus the Chinese treatise gives to Chiu-chiu-chue the credit of founding the Kushan kingdom . There is unanimity among the scholars to identify him with Kujala Kadphises of numismatic sources. It is intriguing that while mentioning Kujala’s conquest of the other four his-hou, the Hou Han-Shu is silent about his relations with the Yuch-Chin authority to the north of Oxus. Perhaps either the central authority was already liquidated or it had become too weak to match with the rising power of Kuei-shuang under Kujula Kadphises. After the foundation of the Kushan kingdom around 30-29 B.C.E, Kujala Khadphases embarked upon the policy of building an empire. Pursuant to this policy, he, according to the Hou Han-Shu conquered and occupied Kabul (Kao-fu), western Bactria (P’uta), Kashmir and certain other parts of north-western part of Indian subcontinent collectively called Chi-pin. The written sources are also substantiated by the numismatic evidence that the Kujala Kadphises after establishing his authority over the whole of Ta-hsia, brought under his control Kabul, western Bactria, Gandhara, the Taxila region and Kashmir. Perhaps he also occupied the Yuch-chi possessions to the north of the Oxus. Thus by about 50 C.E Kujala graduated the small Kushan kingdom into an empire. Having passed away at the age of more than eighty years, Kujala was succeeded by his son  Yen-kao—chen of the Chinese sources. He was previously identified as Vima Kadphises by the modern scholars. However, the recently found Rabtak inscription has opened a new era in Kushan studies. The most startling revelation is the identification of a new ruler, Vima Tak [ to ] , whose position as successor of Kujala Kadpsises and predecessor of Vima Kadphises is clearly indicated. To this new king {Vima I Tak [to]} are attributed two other inscriptions, a portrait sculpture and several coins which were previously associated with the king - Vima II Kadphises - identified in this inscription as his son. In the light of Rabtak inscription the Indian conquest of Kushans can now be attributed to Vima I Tak [to]. Thus during the period of Vima I Tak [to], Kushan empire expanded upto Mathura at the expense of the Parthians.

This is inferred from the inscription which reads as Maharaja Rajadhi-rajo Devaputra Kushanaputro Shahi- (vi) mo, occurring in an epigraph on the pedestal of the enthroned image of a male found in the ruins of a temple founded at Mat, neat Mathura. This sculpture is now being attributed to Vima I Tak [to ]. While the epigraph attests to the expansion of the Kushan empire upto Mathura by Vima I Tak [to ] the Hou Han-Shu also attributes to him the subjugation of Shan-tu (Sindhu)  the country to the west of the lower Indus. According to the Rabtak inscription Vima I Tak [to] was succeeded by Vima II Khadphises. He is to be identified with Uvima Kavthisa of Khaltse inscription. Vima Kadphises was followed by Kanishka I. Although the genealogical relationship between the two was not known, the Rabtak inscription makes it clear that Vima II Kadphises was father of Kanishka I.

“ He [Kanishka] gave orders to make (them) for these kings; for king Kujala Kadphises (his) great grand father, and for king Vima Takto (his) grandfather, and for king Vima Kadphises (his) father, and also for himself, king Kanishka. “

The passage leaves no doubt about the genealogical relationship between various Kushan kings and refutes the view held by some scholars that there were two different Kushan dynasties. The date of Kanishka’s accession to power is a subject of great controversy. The scholarship in this regard is mainly divided into three groups suggesting three different dates namely C.E. 78, 128 and 144. However most of the scholars are in favour of 144 C.E. The sources allude to further expansion of Kushan empire at the hands of Kanishka I. Inscriptions and seals referring to him have been found in Allahabad and Banaras. A Tibetan work refers to his conquest of Saketa, situated in the locality adjoining Ayodhya. This is also supported by Hou- Han-Shu. He is also considered to have invaded Patliaputra. There is however, no evidence of its annexation with the Kushan empire. Perhaps it became a tributary state. The same was the case with the Chasthans of western India.  The legend recorded in Yu yang tsa tsu composed by Tuan C h’eng- che in C.E 860, at least, shows the defeat of a Satvahana king in the Deccan. The sources also indicate the capture of Eastern Malwa from the Satvahanas. However, the establishment of Kushan rule over Deccan is not proved by any evidence.

Alongside expanding their frontiers in the Indian sub-continent, the Kushans under Kanishka I annexed a vast area of Central Asia to their empire. The territoiy which now calls Afghanistan, and which also included Bacteria was already under the Kushans thanks to the leadership of Kujala. The Naqash-i-Rustum inscription of the Sassanian emperor, Shahpur I, makes a mention of Kushanshahr, which stretched, inter alia, upto the frontiers of Kashgarh (K’sh), Samarqand (Sogdiana/Swgd) and Tashkent (Sh’sh). The numismatic evidence lends further support to this fact as the coins of Kushan rulers including that of Kanishka I have been found in different localities to the north of the Oxus. The Chinese sources also refer to the extension of the Kushan empire to the east of the Pamirs. It may be mentioned that Kushans had special relations with Khotan, K ucha and Kashgarh. We also find friendly relations and exchange of gifts between Kushans and Han rulers. Thus in any case Kushan empire under Kanishka I stretched over a vast area from the Oxus territories to parts of Eastern U.P or even South Bihar. Before concluding the empire building activities of Kanishka, it is in place to mention that the evidence reveals the existence of three Kanishkas - Kanishka I, Kanishka II and Kanishka III during the Kushan Period. Yet, despite much difference of opinion majority of the scholars believe that it was Kanishka I who is known in history for his promotion to Buddhism.


Kanishka I was succeeded by Vasishka and the latter by Huvishka. It is believed by some scholars that the two ruled conjointly, at least, for some time. That of the known Kushan coins - gold and copper- the coins struck by Huvishka constitute a very large portion, alludes to the fact that the Kushan empire reached to its zenith during his rule. This is also indicated by his extensive military exploits and the extension of empire both in India and Central Asia. Alongside Vasudeva, the numismatic evidence refers to the existence of Kanishka II. However, details about him are not available. Huvishka was succeeded by Vasudeva I in the 60 year of the Kanishka Era. It is believed that the Kushan empire began to collapse from the later phase of the Vasudeva I ’s rule primarily because of decline in trade between the Indus region and the Roman Orient following the loss of Kushan hegemony over the lower Indus region around C.E. 149- 50. Yet Vasudeva I, continued to rule over a vast territory from Transoxina to Mathura. After Vasudeva I, we encounter an another Kushan ruler, Kanishka by name. The modern scholars call him Kanishka III on the basis of Numismatic and palaeographic evidence, as his coins bear Brahmi letters along Greek one’s - the feature which we come across for the first time during the reign of Vasudev I, and the term mjbha (great) found on the Shahr-i-Bahlol (in Peshawar region) seal referring to Kanishka king is more developed than the one found on the coins of Huvishka.

Kanishka III was succeeded by Vasudeva II. He seems to have been the last known ruler of the house of Kanishka I or at least the last of the known Kushana emperors. It appears that he was ruling at a time when Ardhashir I was gradually asserting the supremacy of his Sassanian family over Persia and the neighbouring territories around C.E 224- 226. That Kushan empire received death blow when Ardhashir I occupied the Kushanshahr upto Peshawar followed by Vasudeva II’s  surrender before him sometime after C.E. 230 and before C.E. 242. Vasudeva II might have still continued to rule for sometime as a vassal or semi-independent ruler from Peshawar to Mathura, but he was unable to check the centrifugal tendencies among his local chiefs and tribes; and with this came to an end the mighty Kushan empire.

II. POLITY AND ADMINISTRATION

Divine theory of kingship: Like the Chinese, Parthians and Romans, the Kushans propagated the concept of divine kingship. They used the title devaputra (the son of god). In fact they were officially known as devaputras (sons of god). Sometimes, after the Parthian and Roman fashion, they would like to be  called ‘god living in the form of man’. The representations of the bust of Vima Kadphises on several coins as rising from clouds, or his head set within frames etc., or the nimbus behind the head of the king on Kushan coins - all show the attempts to project the supernatural character of the Kushana kingship. The Kushana royal statues found at a temple at Mat and in the sanctuaries of Swat region and Surkh-Kotal show unmistakably that Kushan kings were worshipped as divinities. Since the concept of divine origin of kingship was propagated by all the contemporary powers of the time, and as the Kushans had relations with all of them, it is not difficult to suggest that their divine origin theory might have been inspired by the reference political culture of the time. Besides the conscious attempts at deifying the king, the Kushans also tried to create the imperial cult by deifying their realm.

As mentioned above, at the time when Kushans rose to power, the whole neighbouring world was saturated with the idea of divine origin theory of kingship. The Kushans imbibed and propagated it to their advantage as an effective instrument of legitimacy. We should not miss to remember that they were ruling over an empire which was created by sheer use of force, and it (the empire) was beset with divisive forces. The policy of assuming divine origin for themselves, the Kushan succeeded in producing desired effect as we encounter the people venerating the emperor. In effect, the emperor worship and empire worship promoted by the divine projections of both delivered ‘loyalty effect’. That is why it became a stable instrument of legitimacy used in India till late times. Besides assuming divine position, the Kushans from Vima onwards assumed high standing titles namely, Maharaja, Rajatiraja, Sarvaloga-I svara, Mahisvara, Basileus Basileon and Shaonano Shao. Kanishka II was even described as Kaisara after Roman title Caesar. By appropriating these titles, the Kushans clearly conveyed their supreme might to create a ‘favourable’ mass mentality. The scepter held by some of their representations on coins may be taken as embodiment of the Indian concept of danda which advocated the royal authority and prerogative to furnish the subject.

The Kushan emperor, like the Han monarch, was the pivot of Central administration on which everything turned. According to a Chinese source even the position of the Prime minister was not more than a servant of the king. The Kushan kings are shown on coins as carrying or having by their side weapons like mace, trident-cum-battle axe, spear, sword, trident etc, indicating king’s role as a warrior. Indeed he was commander-in-chief of his army.

The Kushan rulers, who were also given the title Mahasena (possessor of great army; also the name of a god of war ), possessed a massive army. Hou Han-shu speaks of “more than 100, 000 excellent soldiers” of the Kushans. Though elephants constituted a limb of their army, the Kushans were primarily known for their armoured cavalry. Infact the introduction of heavy armoured cavalry was one of the significant contributions of Kushans and other central Asian powers who preceded them.

The Kushanas at times followed the practice of conjoint rule as we find sometimes the heir-apparent associated with the royal administration. The tradition had precedents in India88; and it was also practiced by the Scythians, Parthian and the Romans. The co-ruler was in all probability an adjudant rather than a full partner.

The king and the heir apparent were assisted by a council of ministers and a hierarchical bureaucracy. We come across the high military and civil officials namely Chiang-ling (military general), Mahadandanayaka (Chief Police Officer), Dandnayaka, Horamurta etc.

While the capital of the Kushanas was in Bactria, their empire (Kushanshahr or Kshathra) was divided into satrapies (provinces) ruled by Kshatrapas (protectors of the Realm). There were two types of satrapies and consequently the two categories of Kshatrapas. (1 ) those who were directly under the control of the emperor and (2 ) those which were under the hereditary rulers enjoying a sort of internal autonomy. For example the Mahakshatrapa Chasthana of Sindhu. The same system of varying degree of dependence obtained in Arsacid and Han empires. Evidently the Kushan political and administrative structure was an admixture of both bureaucratic and feudal elements headed by a near absolute military monarchy.


b) Currency

Kushanas minted a large number of coins, suggesting a well developed money economy. They mainly struck gold and copper coins. Silver coins were minted only in the lower Indus area. This was evidently because of the acute scarcity of silver in other parts of the empire. This is why that the Kushanas allowed the private agencies to struck silver coins and circulate them throughout the empire. A noteworthy feature of the currency system of the Kushanas is that their gold and copper coins were meant for the circulation throughout the empire. Unlike the Indo-Greeks, Scytho-Parthians, early Kushanas and others, they were not essentially local in character. “From this point of view” says B.N. Mukheijee “the Kushanas were responsible for issuing the first imperial coinage of India.”  Even their coins were in circulation outside their empire. It seems that the Roman gold coinage influenced the Kushan policy of minting in gold as there is striking similarity between their weight standards at least upto the period of Nero.

c) Trade

We have seen above that the Kushana gold coins were also in circulation outside their empire. This phenomenon clearly refers to their participation in international trade for which Kushan empire was , best suited. It covered a great part of Sino-Roman and Indo-Roman trade route. Also the routes from the west Asia to China and to the coast as well as to the interior of India passed through the Kushana empire. Considering the international trading activities of the Kushanas, it is not surprising to find goods of Kushan empire in different neighbouring countries and vice versa, monetization of Kushana economy, credit and banking system, affluent ruling class and trading community, extraordinary craft sector and the existence of prosperous towns and cities.

d) Canals

The evidence of the construction of big irrigation canals has come from different areas of Central Asia. The remains of Kushana canals have also been found in the Peshawar region.

a) Religious catholicity

Notwithstanding the fact that the Kushanas emphasized on the cults of the emperor and the empire, and the individual emperors bestowed patronage upon some selected cults, the fact, however, remains that, like their contemporaries, namely, Parthians and Huns, tolerance and syncretism constituted the hall mark of their religious policy. The appearance of deities of different pantheons — Hellenistic, Iranian, Brahmanical, Buddhist etc.— on the coins struck officially by the Kushana sovereigns like Kanishka I and Huvishka, show in unmistakable terms the catholic attitude of the Kushanas towards the different faiths prevailing in the empire.

We do not simply see the motifs of different faiths inscribed on their coins, there is also clear evidence of patronage being bestowed upon other faiths by many Kushan rulers. For example, Kanishka I, who is
famous to have championed the cause of Buddhism, and is known to have constructed Buddhist viharas, is also believed to have constructed a dynastic sanctuary (at Surkh-Kotal) associated with the cult of fire.

While Kanishka I, Vaishka and Huvishka are known to have had personal gravitation more towards Buddhism, Vima Khadphises, Vasudeva I, Kanishka III and Vasudeva II were more inclined towards Saivism. It should also be mentioned that the above mentioned Kushana rulers with Buddhist leanings were far-reachingly catholic than their successors who clung to Saiva faith.

b) Art and Architecture

The imperial Kushanas fostered a form of art and architecture in which the elements of Bactrian culture (the culture formed out of Greeco- Iranian and local elements) are predominant, but without being rigid to absorbing local influences. That they did not impose a specific art or patronize a particular school at the expense of others or refused to assimilate regional influences, is evidenced by the emergence of many schools though the most prominent are mainly three, namely, Mathura, Gandhara and Bactria, each having its own distinctive characteristics alongside with some commonalities and affinities. In this regard mention may also made of the dynastic sanctuaries at Mat and Surkh Kotal which show the faithful following of the Bacterian art, but the Mat shrine also betrays Indian influences.

The Numismatic art also represents the plural sources of Kushan culture. There is no doubt that the state owned or supported mints played up Bacterian elements, nevertheless the influences of other contemporary schools of art in the empire are also discernible. For example, stylistically the obverse devices of coins of Vima and his successors are based on the art of Bactria; yet the reverse type show the influences of Bacterian and Gandhara and, to some extent, the influences of Mathura school. The origin of a few of the stylistic traits may be traced to the art of the Roman empire. Like the Romans, the Kushanas used numismatic art as a medium of propaganda. Also like the Roman coins we find that the official die-cutters of Kushan empire created new iconic types, personifying ideas and nature. Kushana coins also depict deities belonging to various pantheons - Zoroastrian, Hellenic, Buddhist, brahmanic, various local cults of Bacteria and the cults of Roman empire.

Like numerous Roman coins, the reverse devices of the coins of Kanishka I and his successors are accompanied by descriptive legends.

To sum the art and architecture of Kushana period was underlined by two fundamental characteristics (1 ) plural sources on account of the movement of goods, ideas and people facilitated by the political unification of a vast area. (2 ) emergence of regional schools having heterogenous sources of inspiration.

c) Language and Script

The vast Kushana empire was understandably multilingual. However, the Kushanas showed special treatment to Bacterian language. The numismatic evidence shows that from the time of Kanishka I, it was used for official purposes. The Bacterian language is the middle Iranian language; linguistically it occupies an intermediary position between Pashto and Yidgha -Munji on the one hand, and Sogdian, Khwarezmian and Parthian on the other. It is not known whether the Kushanas  continued to speak their mother tongue, Tokharian which they spoke in their motherland - Chinese Central Asia. Yet the influence of its word fund on the Bacterian language can not be ruled out.

This, however, does not mean that the Kushanas did not use other regional languages for official purposes. For example, inscriptions of the period, recovered from the lower Indus region, Gandhara, Kapisa and the nearby areas are written in ‘North-western’ Prakrit language and in the Kharoshti script. Prakrit in brahmi script was also used for the same purpose at Mat. Greek, which was used, inter alia, unilingual legend on the coins of Miaos and also on some pieces of Kanishka I, must have been a well known language in the northern parts of the empire. The period also witnessed remarkable development in Sanskrit literature. Kushanas, especially Kanishka I, patronized the great Sanskrit-cum Buddhist scholars namely Asvaghosa, Matricheta, Vasumitra, Dharmmapada, Kumaralata, and Nagarjuna. Cheraka, the famous physician of the time also wrote in Sanskrit. While in the north-western parts of the subcontinent Kharoshti was the main script in use, Brahmi was employed for writing Sanskrit and Prakrit in the rest of India. In Transoxiana they used Sogdian language and Aramic script; and in Bactria Bactrian language and Greek script.

d) Society

As the Kushan age witnessed considerable movement of people, and they settled in new areas, the Kushan period, besides other things, led to the emergence of new powerful clans and castes in different areas, even forcing in some areas as in India, the legitimizing authorities to create a space for the new element elements in the otherwise fixed division of the society. Slavery was also a fairly widespread institution during the Kushanas. We are also told that, like the early Roman women, the Kushana women belonging to the upper class did not observe chastity and “the Kushanas regard their wives as mistresses.”

THE MAKING OF THE KUSHANA EMPIRE

The mighty Kushanas achieved the herculean task of uniting a large mass of land and people by carving out an extensive empire, including southern parts of the erstwhile Soviet Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and north India under their imperial hegemony. The Kushanas belonged to the Yueh-Chih tribe, identified as Tokharian speaking people, who most probably belonged to an Indo-European community. The Yueh-Chih reached their first known habitat, in a territory in the north-eastern corner of the Ordos region of China. According to the Chinese sources like Shih-Chi, Ch'ien Han-Shu and Hou Han-Shu, the habitat of the Yueh-Chih, before their westward migration to Central Asia, was located somewhere between the Tun-Huan and Ch'i-lien (western side of the Nan-Shan) in the Kan-Shu province of China. There, they suffered at the hands of the neighbouring Hiung-nu, identified as Hunas, and were forced to escape to western regions, where they were confronted by the Sai or the Shakas, the Wu-Suns and other races dwelling near Balkh. Thus, the Yueh-Chih might have migrated through Kucha to the region of Wen-Su or Aksu and thence to the country of Sai in the vicinity of the lake Issik-Kol.

During the westward migration, the Yueh-Chih got split into two. While a small section of the tribe, which came to be known as the 'Hsiao' or the little Yueh-Chih, moved south and settled in north Tibet, the 'Ta' or great Yueh-Chih moved further west driving away the Sai or the Shakas from the Jaxartes area. The displaced Sai-Wang or the Shaka king went southwards and occupied Chi-pin (a portion of northwest India probably including Kahsmir), hence establishing the Shaka kingdom in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. But the Ta-Yueh-Chih themselves could not occupy the Issik-kol region for long as they were driven away by the Wu-Suns (who were assisted by the Hiung-nu) and were forced to escape towards the valley of the Kuei. Here, after taking over Tahsia (eastern Bactria) they established their capital in the north of the Kuei, i.e. Amu or Oxus river. All this migration from Kan-Shu, conquest of the Sai or Shaka country and their defeat at the hands of the Wu-Sun chief happened in all probability between 174-160 B.C.E or 158 B.C.E Chang Ch'ien's (a Chinese visitor) description of Tahsia refers to its conquest by the Yueh-Chih and is dated around 130-125 B.C.E and hence the migration of Yueh-Chih from the Issik-Kol region to the north of Oxus and the foundation of the Yueh-Chih kingdom must have taken place between 160 or 158 B..C.E  and 130-125 B.C.E.

According to Hou Han-Shu (Annals of the Late Han Dynasty), when the Yueh-Chih had been routed by the Hiung-nu, they moved to Tahsia and divided their country among five chiefs belonging to the Ta-Yueh-Chih. These chiefs were called Hsi-hou in Chinese which is a transcription of Yavuga or Yavua (a tribal chief), the title which occurs on some coins of Kujula Kadphises, the first Kushana ruler to have made inroads in the Indian subcontinent. The Ch'ien Han-Shu also refers to the existence of the hsi-hou (family or sept or group) namely Hsiu-mi, Shuang mi Kuei-Shuang, Hsi-tun and Tu-mi who resided in the walled cities of Homo, Shung-mi, Hu-tsao, Po-mao and Kao-fu respectively. The capital of the Yueh-Chih country is called Chien-Shih in the Han-Shu and Lan-Shih in the Hou-Han-Shu records. Tahsia roughly corresponds to northeastern Afghanistan to the south of the Oxus, which included the region of Wakham, Badakshan, Chitral, Kafiristan (?) and apparently the region lying between them. The area of Kuei-Shuang was probably somewhere between Badakhshan and Chitral including the territory bordering the north of Gandhara. Of the five branches of Yueh-Chi, the Kuei-Shuang group was the most powerful.

The term Kushana, which is noticed in several forms in Brahmi and Kharoshthi inscriptions and on a series of coins, is probably a dynastic one. The Central Asian documents mention Kushana and Kurshana whereas the Mat inscription mentions Kushanaputra. Originally, the name was that of either a family or sept and it became a national designation probably during the later half of the first century B.C.E, when the territories and people of seminomads were unified under the rule of a single chieftain, Kuei-Shuang-Wang, i.e. the Ruler of the Kuei-Shuang (the Kushanas), who finds mention only in the Chinese sources. In a period when acculturation brought the Shakas and the Yueh-Chihs together, they also came to be called Kushanas (Shaka-Kushanas) because of their common habitat. The epithet 'Ta' or 'great' was probably conferred on them because of such intermixing with other races of Bactria and Central Asia which caused an enormous increase in their population and status. The Great Yueh-Chihs of Bactria were also called Tushara or Tukhara or Tokhari, as they are mentioned in the Indian epic and Pauranic literature. The regions around Pamir, Badakshan and Bactria were called Tokharistan, the country of frost and snow. In their early nomadic period, the Tokharians used a language (Tokhari) of Indo-European origin which was given up in favour of local Bactrian, after they found a kingdom of their own in Bactria. As they embarked on the policy of expansion, they acclaimed themselves as 'Kushana'. But the name Kushana as such never appears in the Puranas, Mahabharat and other Indian sources, where they are described as Tukhara. The Puranas uniformly state that the number of Tukhara kings was fourteen, but the combined length of their rule varies widely. The Chinese always mention them as Ta-Yueh-Chih in their sources.

As rightly pointed out by B.N. Mukherjee, "there are very few known sheet anchors in the troubled water of Kushana genealogy and chronology". In absence of any integrated account the Kushana state, in any traditional sources, our knowledge of the genealogy and chronology, based largely on the information furnished by the Brahmi and Kharoshthi epigraphic records and series of coins bearing the names of the issuing kings, is far from perfect. Going by the numismatic evidence, the earliest known Kushana king is the one who issued tetradrachms with Greek legend and a Greek name Miaos or Heraeus or Eraos but is identified as 'Kushan' because of his tribal affiliation as noted on his coins and the oriental face on them. We find the same face on the clay bust found from the site of Khalchayan in southern Uzbekistan, also. According to B.N. Mukherjee, Miaos was probably the first independent Kushana ruler of hsi-hou of the Kuei-Shiang in Tahsia to the south of the Oxus. He extended the Kushana rule to the north of the Oxus at the cost of other Yueh-Chih chiefs, around the second half of the first century B.C.E From his coins we may conclude that the centre of his rule was north of the Oxus river.

The Hou Han-Shu record substantiates the creation of the Kushana empire and furnishes details of the successive stages of its expansion. It asserts that more than hundred years after their division, the hsi-hou or yavuga of Kuei-Shuang, named Ch'iu-Chiu-Chueh attacked and destroyed the other four Yavugas and established himself as their 'Wang' or king and the kingdom was named Kuei-Shuang, i.e. "Kushan". Chang-Ch'ien visited Tahsia in c. 130-129 B.C.E, when the five hsi-hou were not divided and hence the destruction of the four hsi-hou might not have happened before c.30-29 B.C.E Ch'iu-Chiu-Chueh is identified with Kujula Kadphises of coin legends, who conquered the area ruled by the other four hsi-hou in Tahsia. It seems that Miaos was followed by Kujula Kadphises, though the exact relationship between them is not known. It is now, that the term Kuei-Shuang acquired a wider meaning and came to denote not only a family or dynasty but also the territory ruled by it. It included Tahsia and the Yueh-chih territory to the north of the Kuei or the Oxus river. The Hou Han-Shu indicates that Ch'iu-Chiu-Chueh or Kujula Kadphises made himself the master of the rest of Tahsia, invaded An-hsi (the Arsacid empire in the territory of Parthia adjoining Tahsia), took away the country of Kao-fu (Kabul area in Afghanistan), destroyed P'uta (Pakhtun or the territory of Pathans) and Chi-pin (a portion of north western India including ancient Kashmir) and completely possessed their territory. The numismatic data too suggests Kujula Kadphises' authority over Gandhara (west of Indus), Takshsila region (east of Indus) and over an area to the east of river Jhelum. This is evident from the discovery of more than 2,500 coins of Kujula Kadphises at Sirkap (Taxila) alone. The credit of transforming a little Kushana principality of Bactria into an empire extending to the south of the Hindukush, in the Gandhara region goes to Kujula Kadphises. This process of empire building was done within a period of about half a century at the cost of the Bactrian-Greeks and Indo-Parthians, who were in possession of these areas before the Kushana conquest. In his coins and inscriptions Kujula was the first to adopt titles of sovereignty such as 'maharajasa' and 'rajatirajasa', 'mahatasa', 'rajarajasa' and 'devaputrasa' added to his name 'Kujula kara Kaphasa' (i.e. sovereign of Kapisa), which became a norm on the coinage of his successors.

An inscription in Bactrian language and Greek script, found in 1993 at a site known as Kafir's castle at Rabtak near Pul-i-Kumri in north Afghanistan, provides valuable clues in the genealogy and chronology of the Kushanas. In this 23 line inscription dated in the year 1 of Kanishka era, and read by Nicholas Sims-Williams, lines 12 to 14, refer to king Kujula Kadphises as the great grandfather, king Ooemo-Takto, i.e. Wema Takto as the grandfather and king Ooemo Kadphises, i.e. Wema Kadphises as the father of Kanishka-I. Thus a hitherto unknown Ooemo-Takto figures in the genealogy of Kushanas as the son of Kujula Kadphises and the father of Wema Kadphises. B.N. Mukherjee, however, argues that the correct reading of this new name is Saddaskana (Sadashkana), who was a son of Kujula Kadphises. Since there is no coin convincingly attributable to Ooemo Takto, it appears that he probably served as a junior co-ruler to his father Kujula Kadphises and predeceased him. According to Hou Han-Shu, Ch'iu-Chiu-Chueh i.e. Kujula Kadphises, died at the age of more than eighty years and his son Yen Kao-Chen, identified as Wema Kadphises, succeeded him as king. But in the light of the Rabtak inscription Wema Kadphises was the grandson of Kujula Kadphises.

Joe Cribb and Nicholas Sims-Williams have identified this new king Ooemo or Wema Takto with Soter Megas or the 'nameless king' whose coins are found in plenty throughout a region stretching from Mathura to Peshawar and into erstwhile Russian Turkestan. Till now, on the basis of circumstantial evidence it was suggested that these Soter Megas coins were most probably issued by the Viceroy appointed by Wema Kadphises or these were considered to be the earlier issues of Wema Kadphises himself, either as heir apparent or in his own right in the beginning of his reign. But Joe Cribb, basing himself on the evidence of Rabtak inscription asserts that Wema Takto is identical to Soter Megas as the 'nameless king' used a distinctive monogram or tamga on his coinage () and yet does not carry a royal name. Cribb maintains that the name of Wema Takto is also mentioned in the Dasht-e-Nawur inscription as Ooemo Tak (..o) in Bactrian as well as Wema Tak…, in Brahmi and on the sculpture of the seated king, found in Mat (Pl.32) which was previously associated with his son, Wema Kadphises. Cribb has also assigned certain series of some copper coins apart from the Soter Megas coins, viz. the coins with the Kharoshthi monogram 'vi', to this newly identified king Wema Takto. Wema Takto must have ruled as a co-ruler of his father Kujula Kadphises and issued these coins. It seems that he predeceased his father who lived till the ripe age of eighty and his son Wema Kadphises succeeded Kujula Kadphises on the Kushana throne.

Wema Kadphises is credited with the conquest of Arachosia (Kandhara area), region of Sindh and the area east of Jhelum upto Mathura. According to Hou Han-Shu, Yen-Kao Chen, i.e. Wema Kadphises destroyed T'ien Chu (a country west of the lower Indus) where he appointed a governor to rule in his name. This country, also called Shen-tu, stretched upto Kao-fu (Kabul) on the western side and to the western sea (Arabian sea) on the south-western side.  The text further states that since then the Yueh-Chih have been extremely rich and strong. B.N. Mukherjee has suggested that Wema Kadphises' conquest of lower Indus region was largely inspired by the prospects of economic gain accruing from thriving Indo-Roman trade that passed from this region. Control over this area facilitated the tapping of the trade potentials of the ports on the Makran coast which were becoming important in the Indian ocean trade networks. The pedestal of a statue of the Kushana king Wema found in the ruins of a devakula or temple at Mat near Mathura alludes to the erection of a devakula during the reign of Maharaja Rajatiraja Devaputra Kushanoputra Wema ( Vima) Takshamo. If this inscription is attributed to Wema (Vima) Takto as done by Joe Cribb, then it seems that the Kushana rule had penetrated into India atleast upto Mathura by the time of Wema Takto or else it alludes to the inclusion of the Mathura area atleast in Wema ( Vima ) Kadphises' kingdom. The extensive finds of coins of Wema Kadphises in large number, as far as Bhita, Kasia, and Piprahwa-Ganwaria and his inscription from Ganwaria suggest that his sphere of influence increased to a great extent in the east probably as far as Benaras. Kanishka's claim of being 'the ruler of all India' in the very first year of his reign in the Rabtak inscription suggests that much of the eastern expansion in India must have taken place during the reign of his predecessors and father, Wema Kadphises.

The earliest known date about Wema ( Vima ) Kadphises is from the Khalatse inscription of the year 187 (of the old Shaka era of 170 B.C.E and so C.E. 17) which mentions Maharaja Uvima Kavphisa. As Kujula Kadphises reigned atleast upto C.E. 46, Wema Kadphises must have ruled as a co-ruler of his grandfather from C.E 17 to 46 and as a sovereign from C.E. 46 to 78, the most accepted date of Kanishka's accession. Wema bore several imperial titles as Maharaja, Rajatiraja, Sarvalokesvara, Mahesvara, Trata (tradata), Devaputra and Shahi on his coins and inscriptions. It was he who introduced a regular gold coinage on international standard for the first time in India and his Central Asian empire which is suggestive of greater commercial enterprise with the western countries. Wema's strategical conquests, extension of the empire in the Yamuna-Gangetic region and his measures of consolidation, bring him out as the real founder of the Kushana empire in the heartland of India.

Wema ( Vima ) Kadphises was succeeded by Kanishka-I, who continued the process of empire-building with an undaunted spirit of aggrandizement. The Rabtak inscription states that he was the son of Wema Kadphises. Kanishka initiated a new reckoning known as the Kanishka era to the modern scholars, whose dating in Christian era is indeed the most debated issue of Kushana history. Even after two international conferences held in London in 1913 and in 1959, on the date of Kanishka, there is no unanimity on this issue. However, most scholars have placed Kanishka in the last quarter of the 1st century A.D. which strongly supports the theory of C.E. 78 as the date of Kanishka's accession to the throne. Since he ruled atleast upto his 23rd regnal year, as known from his inscriptions, his reign should not have ended before C.E. 101.

One of the most forceful statements being made in the Rabtak inscription, on behalf of Kanishka is the claim that he ruled India as far as Kausambi, Shri Champa, Pataliputra and beyond. The inscription states that in the first year of his reckoning it is proclaimed in India and, in fact in all the satrapies and especially in the cities of Koonadeano (Kaundinya), Ozeno (Ujjain), Zageda (Saketa near Ayodhya), Kwzambo (Kausambi), Palabotro (Pataliputra) and Shri Champa (Bhagalpur) that all rulers and important persons had submitted to Kanishka's will and he had submitted all India to his will. Thus, in the very first year of his reign Kanishka-I, it seems, extended the limits of the Kushana empire upto Pataliputra and Champa, i.e. eastern border of the present territory of Bihar. Kaundinya or Kundina has been identified with Kaundinyapura on the Wardha river in the Amaravati district of Maharashtra.

But going by the numismatic and archaeological evidence Ujjain may have marked the southern border of the empire. The findspots of Kanishka's Brahmi inscriptions dated in the year 2 at Kosam, year 3 at Sarnath, years 4 to 23 at Mathura, year 12 at Ahichhatra, year 16 at Agra, two inscriptions from Sravasti attest to his rule over large parts of north India. Further his Kharoshthi inscriptions of year 1 at Shah ji ki Dheri (Peshawar) and Rabtak, 11 at Sui Vihara (Bahawalpur) and Zeda (Und), 18 at Manikiala (Rawalpindi) suggest Kanishka's dominance over an extensive territory including Benaras in the east and Bahawalpur in the southwest. The abundance of Kushana copper coins found throughout the Ganga valley upto Tamluk or the ancient city port of Tamralipti (Midnapur district of West Bengal) and a local issue of Orissa called Puri Kushana coins attest to the extension of Kushana economic influence in the east, far beyond the political borders of the empire. The eastern conquest of Kanishka is found recorded in the Chinese chronicle, Fu fa-tsang yin Yuan chuan, which records Kanishka's attack on Pataliputra from whose king he obtained three most valuable gifts including Buddha's alm-bowl, a miraculous cock and scholar Ashvaghosha. It is mentioned in the Tibetan work Li yul gyi lo rgyus, that Kanika (Kanishka), the king of Guzan (Kushan), in association with the ruler of the Li (Khotan) country, king Vijaykirti and other chieftains led incursions in India and captured the city called So-ked, i.e. Saketa (Ayodhya). It seems that the whole of north-western part of India (excluding some parts of Baluchistan) including Kashmir was within Kanishka's empire, as Kalhan's Rajatarangini favours the view that Kanishka held sway over Kashmir and even founded a new settlement called Kanishkapura. The Sui Vihar inscription of the year 11 establishes Kanishka's control over the lower Indus region which was formerly under the Scytho-Parthian rule and demonstrates his sway over the coastal territories which included seaports like Barbaricum. In the south, Kanishka's rule extended as far as the Malwa region where his co-ruler Vasishka-Kushan of the Sanchi inscription of year 22, acted as his viceroy. Kushana influence it seems was felt in western and central India as well, where the Shaka-Kshatprapas acknowledged the overlordship of the Kushanas. Thus, literary, epigraphic as well as numismatic material confirm that Kanishka's vast empire India included Kashmir, parts of Indian Punjab, Haryana, perhaps Himachal Pradesh, parts of Rajasthan, parts of Malwa, Uttar Pradesh and the entire Indo-Gangetic basin atleast upto southern Bihar.

In Central Asia Kanishka's empire should have included Balkh, Khotan, Mrgw (Merv), Hrya (Herat) and Skstn (Seistan), Tashkent and Kash or Kashgarh. Thus Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan, parts of Kirgizia and eastern fringe of Sin-Kian were under Kanishka. Towards the end of his long reign, Kanishka seems to have led an unsuccessful military expedition into Central Asia against the Chinese in which he was defeated by General Pan-Chao and forced to pay tribute to the emperor Ho-ti. Coins found in Chinese Turkestan show that the largest number of Kushana coins belong to Kanishka which indicates either the extension of Kanishka's political power in that area or trade and commercial relations which ceased in the beginning of Huvishka's reign.

The Kushana empire reached its zenith during the reign of Kanishka, who ruled over this vast empire atleast upto the 23rd year of his reign. He had a co-ruler Vasishka whose known dates vary from the year 20 to 28 and who was probably Kanishka's son. The Sanchi Bodhisattva inscription of Maharaja Rajatiraja, Devaputra Shahi Vasishka dated in the year 28, shows that he assumed titles and maintained Kushana hold over the Malwa region even after Kanishka. The last known date of Vasishka is the year 28 and the earliest known date of Huvishka is the year 25 of Kanishka era. Thus, it can be logically gathered that Huvishka began to rule as a co-ruler during the reign of Vasishka.

Political boundaries continued to shift through the reigns of the successive emperors after Kanishka. Vasishka was succeeded by Huvishka whose empire to begin with, should not be less extensive than that of Kanishka. Although coins of Huvishka are found all over north India in large numbers, his dominion convincingly included the Oxus area Kabul, Kashmir and Mathura. The findspots of the Airtam inscription, the Surkh-Kotal inscription dated in the year 31 and of the Wardak vase inscription of the year 51 prove the inclusion of the Oxus region and Afghanistan in Huvishka's empire. Kalhan's testimony of Huvishkapur being founded by Kushana ruler Huvishka implies that Kashmir was a part of Kushana in second century C.E. He also founded a Vihara for Buddhist monks in Mathura.

It is significant that most of the epigraphs referring to Huvishka have been found from Mathura region suggesting that Mathura had become a great centre of Kushana power during his reign. It seems that some parts of eastern India, including Bihar, which were a part of Kanishka's empire, were gradually lost by the Kushanas either in the later part of Huvishka's reign or perhaps during the rule of his successor Vasudeva-I. The hegemony of Huvishka may be suggested to have spread over some parts of Deccan if we accept the theory of the subordination of the family of Chastana before the independent rule of his grandson, Rudradaman-I by C.E. 149-50. While Huvishka's dates range from 28 to 60, Kanishka-II of the Ara Inscription discovered near Attock in Pakistan of the year 41, who was the son of Vasishka, held the title Kaisara (Ceasar) apart from other imperial titles used by Kushana rulers, i.e. Maharaja Rajatiraja Devaputra. Kanishka-II probably ruled as a co-ruler of Huvishka for a short period. This inscription shows that the Kushanas still held a sway over North-West-Frontier-Province of India in the first quarter of the second century C.E. The last known date of Huvishka is the year 60 or C.E. 138. However, since the earliest known date of his immediate successor Vasudeva is year 64 or 67, Huvishka might have ruled upto one of these years.

The last ruler of the 'Great Kushanas' or 'Imperial Kushanas' was Vasudeva-I, after whose reign the Kanishka era apparently went out of usage. The earliest known dates of Vasudeva-I is the year 64 or 67 while the last mentioned date on his epigraphic records is year 98 of Kanishka era. Vasudeva-I thus, must have ruled as an independent ruler from C.E. 142 or 145 to 176 earliest. His empire, most probably comprised the area to the east of Peshawar, Punjab in India and Pakistan, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh atleast upto the Mathura region. Probably the area of Kashmir was also a part of his empire. Although coins bearing the name of Vasudeva have been found in large number over a vast region in the northwest of Sahri-Bahlol, Jamalgarh, at Sirkap and other places in Taxila and at Begram, it is difficult to determine the exact political boundaries of his empire. The Junagarh inscription of Rudradaman-I claims that Sindhu and Sauvira region were conquered by Rudradaman-I, in or before c. 149-50 which were earlier under the control of the Kushanas. The part of Kushana empire later annexed to the Sassanian empire, immediately after the fall of Imperial Kushanas, could have been under Vasudeva-I. Most of his inscriptions have been found at or near Mathura and his coins usually bear the reverse device of the Indian God Shiva and rarely the Iranian deity Nana. This sharp decline in the number of deities depicted on the reverse of Kushana coins and also in the quantity of pure gold in the total weight of gold coins, from the time of Vasudeva-I indicate dwindling economic condition of the empire. It was perhaps due to the end of direct Kushano-Roman maritime trade after the loss of the Sindh region to the Kushanas. But only a few years of digging at the site of Buddhist stupa and monastery at Mohenjo-Daro yielded at least 1438 copper coins of Vasudeva-I. His coins and their imitations, recovered in some secular buildings from Jhukar also suggest the popularity of Vasudeva's copper coins in the lower Indus region as regular currency. Since the Kushana rule in Shen-tu (Sindhu) in the days of Wema Kadphises is certain, its continuation upto atleast the beginning of the reign of Vasudeva-I appears to be highly probable. It seems that a vast region from Transoxiana to Mathura continued to acknowledge Kushana authority under Vasudeva-I and his successors, i.e. Kanishka-III (last quarter of C.E. 2nd Century) and Vasudeva-II (first quarter of C.E. 3rd century) but not beyond C.E. 230. After Vasudeva-I the empire may have been split into an eastern and a western or even more parts. It is apparent that the greatness of the Kushanas began to wane after Vasudeva-I's reign and subsequent history is a proof of the rapidity of the withdrawal of their authority from the Ganga valley.

It is learnt from the We-lio (A History of the Wie Dynasy by Yu-Houan) that the Yue-Chi power was flourishing in Ki-pin (Kapisa i.e. Gandhara), Ta-hia (Bactria), Kao-fu (Kabul) and Tien-chu (India) as late as the second quarter of the C.E. 3rd century. Numismatic evidences suggest that the Kanishka III's sway extended over the region extending from Punjab to Bactria and Afghanistan. However, the coins of these later Kushan kings are heavily debased in comparison to those of the 'Imperial Kushanas'. No sovereign of the dynasty has left any record after the year 98 (C.E. 176). Chinese sources refer to a king of the Ta-Yue-Chih named Po-tiao, identified with Vasudeva-II, who was ruling in C.E. 230 at the time of the Sassanian king Ardashir-I and who sent an embassy to the Chinese emperor. It appears from the evidence of Al-Tabari that Kushanas submitted to Ardashir-I sometime after C.E. 244 or 226. But the submission on the part of the Kushanas could have been only nominal and Vasudeva-II could have continued to reign for some more years. The Naqsh-i-Rustam inscription of Shapur-I, dated to C.E. 262 records that a part of the Kushana territory extending to Pashkibur (Peshawar) and northwards to Kash, Sogdiana and mountains of Chach (present Tashkent) was annexed to the empire of the Sassanian monarch Shapur-I. Sassanian governors who issued the so called 'Kushano-Sassanian' coins seem to have replaced the local dynasties. Thus, the rise of the Sassanian power and its gradual annexation of northwestern provinces seems to have been one of the immediate causes of the fall of the Kushana empire. But its economic strength had already been drained off to a great extent after the collapse of the Kushano-Roman maritime trade.

In the Indian territories of Punjab and the Gangetic-Yamuna belt, Kushana rule was subsequently replaced by independent republics and monarchies who issued their own tribal coins. Till the rise of Guptas, 16 Naga kings ruled over Mathura and Padmavati which suggests a long span of time of independent Naga rule. In Kausambi, a great many chieftains, mostly Maghas came to power. Pataliputra came under the control of some Murunda rulers of a Scythic lineage who had spread in some parts of the upper Ganga valley. Arjunayanas came to power in the Bharatpur and Alwar area. Eastern Punjab saw the rise of independent republics under the Yaudheyas, Malavas and the Kunindas in the beginning of the third century C.E. However, these local powers were not directly responsible for the extinction of the Kushana empire.

A series of coins closely resembling the issues of Kanishka-III and Vasudeva-II furnish us with the names of some chiefs belonging to the Shakas, Shilada and Gadhara or Gadakhara tribes. A large number of coins of these Later Kushana chiefs who succeeded the Imperial Kushanas have been found in good, bad condition or very debased gold from the entire Punjab region which came under their sway in the third and fourth century C.E. The Kidara Kushanas known from their pale and much debased, Kushana type gold coinage and some Chinese sources, came to rule in the Kabul valley, Kashmir and north-western parts of India, in the middle of the fourth century C.E. Kidara Kushanas, who were actually of Huna extraction, were called Kushana on coins and Yueh-Chih in the Chinese text probably because they ruled over an erstwhile section of the Kushana empire. They had to rule under the suzerainty of the Sassanians who were in possession of the northwestern part of the Kushana empire. How long did these local Kushana rulers continued to rule is not known but the fact that kings of Kashmir claimed descent from the Kushanas indicates a prolonged rule of petty dynasts on the subcontinent. The Devaputra Shahi Shahanushahi of the Allahabad pillar inscription might have referred to Kidara Kushana chiefs or some chief of the Gadahara tribe who were defeated by Samudragupta. The foundation of the Gupta empire completely diminished the glory of the descendants of the Kushana monarchs but the numismatic tradition of great Kushanas lingered on for centuries.

The Kushanas thus succeeded in not only carving out an extensive empire covering large parts of north India but also maintaining it for more than a century. In the light of the Rabtak inscription the extension of the Kushana rule till Bhagalpur area in Bihar in the east and Ujjain in south, atleast by year 1 of Kanishka era, becomes a matter of authentic record. With the introduction of Wema Takto in the Kushana genealogy and chronology, as the son of Kujula Kadphises, the father of Wema Kadphises and grandfather of Kanishka, the direct line of the Kanishka group of kings with those of the Kadphises group, is now firmly established. The information provided by the Rabtak inscription can also help in solving the Soter Megas enigma which has puzzled historians for a long time. Although the political boundaries of the empire continued to shift in the reigns of each Kushana ruler, the broad perimeters of the Kushana empire have been drawn in this chapter. A detailed study of the archaeological material and the findspots of Kushana coins and inscriptions will further enhance our understanding about various aspects of Kushana rule in India.