The Stūpa of the Kushan Emperor Kanishka the Great, with Comments on the Azes Era and Kushan Chronology
by Hans Loeschner
This paper includes sections of a larger monograph entitled “Kanishka in Context with the Historical Buddha and Kushan Chronology” (Loeschner 2012), and in addition provides evidence that the huge stūpa of Kanishka the Great, as described by Chinese pilgrims who visited the site in the fifth to the eighth centuries CE, is depicted on Gandhāran stone reliefs. Examples of such narratives by Chinese pilgrims are reproduced at length, in addition to the report of the finding of the famous Kanishka relic casket (Spooner 1908/1912). In addition, comments on the Azes era and on Kushan chronology are provided, as is the conclusion they lead to that there is no necessity to shift the era of the Indo-Scythian great king Azes from 58/57 BCE to 48/47 BCE. This shift has been proposed by Joe Cribb (Cribb 2005) and was recently fully supported by Harry Falk and Chris Bennett (Falk & Bennett 2009, Falk 2012). The start of the Azes era in 58/57 BCE may thus be maintained, and this era may continue to be equated with the Vikrama era, still used in present-day India. With this, two possible scenarios are proposed for the Kushan chronology: “Scenario A,” with Year 1 of the era of Kanishka the Great beginning in 78 CE (Fussmann 1974, Senior 2001, Senior 2005/2006), and “Scenario B,” with Year 1 of the Kanishka era beginning in 127/8 CE (Falk 2001). There is a high likelihood that the Kanishka era is the same as the Shaka era, which began April 1, 78 CE (Falk 2012), also an era still used in present-day India.