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Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/184

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HISTORY — PRE-MUHAMMADAN

the Yuechi. Shadowy Hellenist Princes have left us only their names on coins; one Menander, who ruled about 150 B.C., is an exception. He anticipated the feats of later rulers of Kabul by a temporary conquest of North-western India, westwards to the Jamna and southwards to the sea.

The Kushan Dynasty.— The Yuechi in turn were driven southward to the Oxus and the Kabul valley and under the Kushan dynasty established their authority in the Panjab about the middle of the first century. The most famous name is that of Kanishka, who wrested from China Kashgar, Yarkand, and Khotan, and assembled a notable council of sages of the law in Kashmir. His reign may be dated from 120 to 150 a.d. His capital was at Purushapura (Peshawar), near which he built the famous relic tower of Buddha, 400 feet high. Beside the tower was a large monastery still renowned in the ninth and tenth centuries as a home of sacred learning. The rule of Kushan kings in the Panjab lasted till the end of the first quarter of the third century. To their time belong the Buddhist sculptures found in the tracts near their Peshawar capital (see also page 204).

The Gupta Empire.— Of the century preceding the establishment in 320 B.C. of the Gupta dynasty at Patna we know nothing. The Panjab probably again fell under the sway of petty rajas and tribal confederacies, though the Kushan rule was maintained in Peshawar till 465 a.d., when it was finally blotted out by the White Huns. These savage invaders soon after defeated Skanda Gupta, and from this blow the Gupta Empire never recovered. At the height of its power in 400 a.d. under Chandra Gupta II, known as Vikramaditya, who is probably the original of the Bikramajit of Indian legends, it may have reached as far west as the Chenab.

The White Huns or Ephthalites.— In the beginning of