The Kushana Empire was founded by Mahārājādhirāja Kujula Kadphises, a Shaivite Hindu convert from his ancestral Steppe religion of the Yüeh-chih. He was not a Buddhist, as popularly believed. A thread on the Hindu Emperors of the Kushana Dynasty.

The Kushanas were part of a tribal confederation called the Yüeh-Chih that originally lived in the western part of the Gansu Province of China. They were pushed west by the invasions of the Xiongnu (Huna) confederation. Kuja Kadphises united all the five sub-tribes under Kushana.

Emperor Kuja Kadphises had converted to Shaivism, a Mathura inscription from the Tōkrī Tīla mound (Maṭ village) clears up previous confusion (Based on him being called "satyadharmasthita" or 'steadfast in the true dharma' people speculated he was a Buddhist) This is incorrect.

The Mathura inscription applied the same epithet to Emperor Huvishka (satyadharmasthita) but explicitly says the Kingdom was conferred upon its founder by Lord Shiva (Sarva is the epithet of Shiva). This makes it clear Kujula Kadphises had adopted Shaivism & the Kharoshti script.

This also makes sense, when we realize his son, Emperor Vima Kadphises was also a devoted Hindu Shaivite (and in his coins we clearly see a trishulin ithyphallic shiva with a tiger skin). So his son had just been continuing his father's tradition & upbringing.

Emperor Vima Kadphises was also given the epithet māheśvara "worshipper of Shiva" on coinage. He also transformed the temple at Dilberjin to a sanctuary of Shiva & decorated the wall with Shiva, Parvati & Nandi. He bought craftsmen from Ujjain to Bactria to build a water conduit.

Kanishka I continuted the policy of worship of Shiva, the name Oēṣo with Shiva on coinage comes from none other than Sanskrit Vṛṣa > Prakrit Veṣa. Kanishka II patronized Buddhism but made sure to switch Buddhism from Prakrit to Sanskrit and from Kharoshti to just Brahmi.

Emperor Huvishka ensured the dynastic sanctuary of the Kushanavaṃsha at Mathura was rebuilt and ensured regular hospitality for the Brāhmin-s in the assembly hall of the sanctuary. The Iranian War God Orlagno (Verethragna) was replaced by Hindu Gods of War like Skanda, Kumara.

The Emperor Vasudeva I, last of the Great Kushans was a Hindu also as is clear from the name. Also the first to have a Hindu epithet as his name.

The strong Shaivite nature of almost every Kushan Emperor since the founding is no better stated than the fact the last Great Kushan King Vasudeva had only Lord Shiva on his coinage, no other diety.

I think it is unfortunate how the history of Hindu Empires is appropriated and made Buddhist or Jaina so often. I have nothing against those sects, Buddhism played a big role sharing the intellectual tradition of India to the world.. but the record must be set straight

The Kushana Empire was founded by a Shaivite convert, led by his son, also a Shaivite and for the most part patronized Shaivism. Of course, there were syncretic elements but for 99% people it has been reduced to "Buddhist Syncretic" empire. Same thing with Maurya, Harsha etc..

Thread to view the Hindu Art of the Kushanas

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