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An active proponent of Buddhism, he sent out religious missions and stated some of the Buddhist principles in inscriptions.In his Edict XIII he wrote that he had dispatched missionaries to other peoples, in particular to the Kambojas, an Iranian people, and to the Yonas, that is, the Greeks (see ).The Rabāṭak inscription made in Kaniṣka’s name (Sims-Williams and Cribb, pp.77-79, 107-9) says nothing about the Buddha or Buddhist deities when dealing with his religious convictions.The underground part contained in the center a massive stone pillar (or two pillars), surrounded by a corridor and frequently with an inner chamber.In front of the platform at the entrance to the underground part, there was a surface construction in the form of a square court with colonnade, a , a water tank, and pedestals and niches for sculptures.
The inscription is dated to the 1st-2nd centuries CE (Fussman, 1974, pp. A “Buddhist platform” at Sorḵ Kotal, dated, together with the statues, to the 2nd-3rd century CE, is an outstanding monument (Schlumberger, Le Berre, and Fussman, 1983, pp. The foundation of a Buddhist monastery at Kunduz can be probably dated to the end of the Kushan period (Hackin, 1959, pp. Additional Buddhist temples are found in Dilberjin, Haibak, and other places.
Buddhism came very early (according to a legend, during Aśoka’s life) to southern Xinjiang, in particular to Khotan, whose inhabitants used the Iranian Khotanese language. A 1st-2nd-century CE manuscript of the Buddhist canonical text, the , was found in Khotan, and so it is likely that other canonical works would have been in circulation there in that period (Brough, p. It also follows that Buddhism must have arrived early in some other eastern Iranian areas besides Khotan, such as Nagarahāra, Arachosia, Kapiśa, Bactria, Parthia, and Sogdiana (see (1st-3rd centuries). 1st century CE), the most famous Kushan ruler, as a zealous Buddhist who took an active part in religious activities and built numerous Buddhist religious structures.
The date for the arrival of Buddhism there is given by a Tibetan chronicle as 84 BCE and appears probable (Emmerick, 1967, p. His coinage carries images of Iranian and Hellenistic-Roman deities and—rarely—the Buddha.
Some of the art (the wall paintings) was added later, in the 3rd, or probably 4th, century (Al’baum, pp. A Buddhist complex was also found in Ayrtam on the Amu Darya, west of Termez.
There was found a decorative limestone frieze attributed to the Kushan period, depicting male and female musicians ornately dressed and garlanded, with drum, lute, and harp—a spectacular evidence of Gandhāran art spreading to Bactria.
This is confirmed by the finds in southern Afghanistan, in the vicinity of modern Laḡmān, of three Aramaic inscriptions of Aśoka; Greek, Aramaic, and bilingual Greek-Aramaic texts were found in Kandahar.