The present study covers the political and cultural history of India and Central Asia between the first and fifth centuries AD. The earlier work entitled India under the Kusanas (1965) was, of course, a specialized study, but restricted in time and space. During the last thirty years, additional information has been made available and several conferences and seminars relating to the Kusanas have been organized. The UNESCO project, History of Civilizations of Central Asia, has highlighted the importance of Kusana studies.
This comprehensive study relating to the culture of India and Central Asia I the Kusana period is objective in approach, clear in perspective, and critical in treatment. It is expected to cater to the interests of both specialist and the generalist.
Professor Emeritus B.N. Puri was the seniormost historian. His thirty-two publications include the two Oxford dissertations, “India in the Time of Patanjali” and “The History of the Gujara-Pratiharas” which won him his MLitt and Dphil degrees: India under the Kusanas; History of Indian Administration (3 vols.); Buddhism in Central Asia; Secularism in Indian Ethos; The Indian Freedom Struggle; The Khatris—A Socio-historical Study; Ancient Indian Historiography—A Bicentenary Study; Men, Matters and Movement; India in Classical Greek Writings; The Gupta Administration; and Indian Cultural Expansion in Central and South-east Asia, etc.
Dr Puri was President of the Indian History Congress ( Ancient India, 1959): Indian Oriental conference (Greater Indian section, 1966); Punjab History Congress (1982); Vice-Chairman of the International Board of Editors for the History of Civilization of Central Asia (UNESCO); remained for ten years, Professor of Indian History and Culture at the National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie; five years Professor and Head of the Department of Ancient Indian History and Archaeology at the Lucknow University; and Boden Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford (1950-51).
This new work aims at presenting the history and culture of the Kusanas both in India and in Central Asia in a wider perspective. My study of the subject lasting for more than five decades, with intermittent breaks for concentration on other projects, have now reached its finale. Ever since my work on India under the Kusanas was published nearly thirty years back, a lot of new material is available in published form, including the "Papers Relating to the Date of Kaniska," London Conference, 1960 (Leiden, 1968); and the two volumes covering the Proceedings of the Dushanbe (Tadzhikistan) Conference on Central Asia in .he Kusana Period (Moscow, 1968). The latest is the second volume of the History of Civilisation of Central Asia-A UNESCO Project (1994). I had occasion to participate in the Dushanbe Conference, as also in three seminars relating to the Kusanas, organized by the Centre of 'Kusana Studies at Kabul in the eighties. As Joint-Editor of the second volume of the UNESCO work, I had occasion to go through the papers contributed by eminent scholars, and I also contributed two papers for this volume on the "Indo-Parthians" and the "Kusanas." The comprehensive nature of this work has also contacts with other members of the International Board of Editors, they have widened my academic horizon and expanded the area of my Kusana studies. Hence, the present work seeks to concentrate on the multi-faceted aspects of the history and culture of the Kusanas on a much wider scale than earlier contemplated. The political history of the Kusanas is divided into five chapters, instead of the four in my earlier work. It includes chapters on "The Nationality of the Kusanas," "The Kadphises," "Kaniska and His Successors," "The Later Kusanas," and a new one entitled "The Kusanas Remnants in Central Asia and the Kidara Kusanas." The newly available material has been utilized in these chapters. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to change or amend my views on the date of Kaniska which was earlier endorsed by Ghirshman. According to my scheme of chronological setting, the Later Kusanas include Kaniska of the year 14, Vasiska and Kaniska of the Ara inscription of the year 41 and also of the other record of 31 from the ruins of the Kusana sanctuary at Surkh-Kotal. This study is based on palaeographic and numismatic source materials. It seeks to obliterate chronological overlapping, particularly in the period of Huviska's reign. The last chapter, of course, is an addition with proper documentation.
The chapters following cover administration, culture in its socio-religious, economic and educational aspects, language and literature. These have separate sections on Central Asia. In the context, it was not possible to integrate the Central Asian date within the Indian cultural scheme. Religion, particularly Buddhism and its literature found in Central Asia, however, deserves special attention. So also Art and Architecture with its different centres in Bactria and Gandhara, and the pictorial art of the earlier period at Miran have been considered in detail. The art at Mathura has a claim of its own for its indigenous traditions and gradual evolution. The impact of the Gandhara art on that of Bactria has been acknowledged. The last chapter is the summing-up of the contribution of the Kusanas in Asian perspective which was positive, effective, and of a lasting nature. Finally, an overall picture of this study of history and culture relating to the Kusanas is presented. This picture portrays political unity established over a vast region comprising peoples of different nationalities and religions, living in peaceful co-existence. The rulers were eclectic in their outlook. This political stability ensured peace and progress resulting in material prosperity.
In this work, the two Appendices on "Kusana Inscription" and "Kusana Numismatics" have been dropped. My earlier work entitled India under the Kusanas, now out-of-print for over twenty years, of course, has its importance as a specialized study of the history and culture of India in the Kusana period. If and when that work is reprinted, it would have its separate identity.
I am thankful to the Indian Council of Historical Research for providing me a consolidated contingency grant both for this work as also for the other one relating to Ancient Indian Historiography-A Bi-centenary Study (1994). The present study is probably my penultimate work, and the last one relating to history. With a few more years left, now that I am in my eightieth, I propose concentrating the next few years on Bhagavadgita and Modern Life alone. I have been going through the Gita text in original for the last fifteen years and I have yet to get the "light" from within.
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