Kanishka kənĭsh´kə [key], fl. c.AD 120, king of Gandhara. He was the most powerful and renowned ruler of the Kushan dynasty, one of the five tribes of the Yüeh-chih who had divided (1st cent. BC) Bactria among them. Earlier Kushan kings had extended their dominion into N India, and Kanishka ruled over an empire that stretched from the Pamirs to Bengal. His capital was at Peshawar. A patron of Buddhism, he built many Buddhist monuments, helped found the Gandharan school of sculpture, and encouraged the spread of Buddhism to central Asia.

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