Indo-Greeks: The Foreign Successors of Mauryas

  • The Indo-Greek Kingdom emerged as a result of the collapse of the Mauryan Empire in India. The kingdom was established in the second century BC by Bactrian Greek immigrants from the areas now known as Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.
  • Demetrius I was the first Indo-Greek emperor and followed by a series of Indo-Greek rulers, including Menander I, who is regarded as the greatest of all Indo-Greek kings.
  • Menander I (165 BC- 145 BC) also known as Milinda, was a patron of Buddhism and was converted to Buddhism by Nagasena.
  • The Indo-Greek rulers were famous for their coinage, art, and architecture, which reflected a blend of Greek and Indian styles.
  • They were the first to issue gold coins.
  • Decline: A number of causes, including ongoing wars and conflicts with neighbouring kingdoms, economic hardship, and internal strife, contributed to the Indo-Greek Kingdom’s slow demise.


  • The Sakas/Scythians replaced Indo-Greeks. The most important ruler of Saka was Rudradaman.
  • He repaired the Sudarsan Lake of Mauryan Period.
  • He issued the first ever long inscription in chaste Sanskrit.


  • The Parthians lived in Iran, they replaced the Sakas in North-Western India. The most important ruler was Gondaphernes.


  • They were one of the five Yeuchi clans of Central Asia.
  • Founder: Kadphises I or Kujul Kadhphises.
  • Famous ruler: Kanishka (78 AD – 101 AD), also known as ‘Second Ashoka’.
  • They replaced Parthians in North-Western India and then expanded to the lower Indus basin and upper and middle Gangetic basin. They controlled famous silk route. This route was a source of great income to them.
  • First rulers in India to issue gold coins on a wide scale.
  • Kanishka started an era in 78 AD which is now known as the Saka era and is used officially by the Government of India.
  • His capital was Peshawar.
  • Kanishka was a great patron of Mahayana Buddhism. In his reign, 4th Buddhist council was held in Kundalavana, Kashmir where the doctrines of the Mahayana form of Buddhism were finalized.
  • Large size headless statue of Kanishka has been found at Mathura.
  • Kanishka patronized various scholars like Nagarjuna, Ashvagosha, Vasumitra, Parsava, Chakra and Mathara.

Kushan Art

  • Kushan cult temples at Surkh Kotal (used cylindrical pillar of Romans)
  • Buddhist stupa was discovered at Termez
  • At Diberjin a temple dedicated to Shivaa and Parvati was recovered (it also included the murals)
  • Temples of Bacterian goddess in Dalverzin-tepe.
  • Ivory statues recovered at Begram
  • Kushans developed the Gandhara Art and Mathura art of sculpture making.
  • Buddhist shrines were built at Gandhara.
  • Great Vihar and attached stupa built by Kanishka at Peshawar (mentioned by Huan Tsang) is believed to the tallest structure in the ancient world! A small, gilded bronze casket was also recovered here.
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