Kanishka ［迦弐色迦王］ (n.d.) (; Kanishika-ō): The third and most influential king of the Kushan or Kushāna dynasty, which ruled over the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, Afghanistan, and regions north of Kashmir in Central Asia. It is generally thought that Kanishka reigned during the second century, though differing accounts place his ascension between 78 and 144. His reign is believed to have lasted for about twenty-five years. According to one influential account, he was born in Khotan and came from a family line different from that of Kushan dynasty founder Kujūla Kadphises and his successor, Vīma Kadphises. He made Purushapura (present-day Peshawar in Pakistan) the capital of his Kushan kingdom, which prospered as a transit-caravan center and a crossroad for Eastern and Western civilizations to meet. As the most powerful monarch of the Kushan kingdom, he expanded his territory, bringing the influence of the Kushan kingdom to its height.
Most of the information concerning him has been gleaned from Buddhist literature, and he is best remembered as a great patron of Buddhism, together with King Ashoka who lived four hundred years earlier. He studied Buddhism under the Buddhist poet Ashvaghosha and convened the Fourth Buddhist Council in Kashmir with five hundred monks, including Pārshva, Vasumitra, and Dharmatrāta. That council compiled The Great Commentary on the Abhidharma. He also built a great stupa in the suburbs of his capital at Purushapura. Kanishka maintained contacts with Rome, and during his reign, Gandhara Buddhist art, influenced by Greco-Roman style, prospered. The neighboring Gandhara region became the center of Buddhism, and the doctrinal study of the Sarvāstivāda school flourished there. Charaka, to whom the medical treatise Charaka-samhitā is attributed, is said to have been King Kanishka’s physician. Though Kanishka greatly honored Buddhism, he is said to have protected the teachings of Zoroastrianism and Hinduism as well. The coins used during Kanishka’s reign are engraved with images of Iranian, Greek, and Brahmanic deities. His kingdom was so affluent that large numbers of gold coins were issued during his reign.