(early 4th century).
"Obv:" King Varhran I with characteristic head-dress.
The Indo-Sassanids, Kushano-Sassanids or Kushanshas (also Indo-Sassanians) were a branch of the
SassanidPersians who established their rule in the northwestern Indian subcontinent during the third and fourth centuries CE at the expense of the declining Kushans. They were in turn displaced in 410 CE by the invasions of the Indo-Hephthalites. They were able to re-establish some authority after the Sassanids destroyed the Hephthalitesin 565 CE, but their rule collapsed under Arab attacks in the mid 600s.
First Indo-Sassanid period
The Sassanids, shortly after their victory over the
Parthians, extended their dominion into Bactriaduring the reign of Ardashir Iaround 230 CE, then further to the eastern parts of their empire (modern Pakistanand India) during the reign of his son Shapur I(240-270). Thus the Kushans lost their western territory (including Bactriaand Gandhara) to the rule of Sassanid nobles named Kushanshahsor "Kings of the Kushans". Kartir, a high-priest that served as advisor to at least three of the early kings, instigated the persecution of non-Zoroastrians, that is, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus and - in particular - the Manichaeans, who were primarily in and from the eastern territories. The persecution ceased during the reign of Narseh("r." 293–302).
325, Shapur IIwas directly in charge of the southern part of the territory, while in the north the Kushanshahs maintained their rule until the rise of the Kidarites.
The decline of the Kushans and their defeat by the Sassanids led to the rise of an indigenous Indian dynasty, the Guptas, in the fourth century. In
410the Hephthalitesor Indo-Hephthalitesconquered Bactria and Gandhara, thus temporarily replacing the Indo-Sassanids.
econd Indo-Sassanid period
Hephthalitesdominated the area until they were defeated in 565AD by an alliance between the Gokturksand Sassanids, and some Indo-Sassanid authority was re-established. The Kushano-Hephthaliteswere able to set up a rival states in Kapisa, Bamiyan, and Kabul. The 2nd Indo-Sassanid period ended with the collapse of Sassanids to the Rashidun Caliphatein the mid 600s AD. Sindremained independent until the Arab invasions of India in the early 8th century. The Kushano-Hephthalites or Turkshahis were replaced by the Hindu Shahiin the mid 8th century.
The prophet Mani (210-276), founder of
Manichaeism, followed the Sassanids' expansion to the east, which exposed him to the thriving Buddhistculture of Gandhara. He is said to have visited Bamiyan, where several religious painting are attributed to him, and is believed to have lived and taught for some time. He is also related to have sailed to the Indus valleyarea of India in 240 or 241, and to have converted a Buddhist King, the Turan Shah of India.
On that occasion, various Buddhist influences seem to have permeated Manichaeism: "Buddhist influences were significant in the formation of Mani's religious thought. The transmigration of souls became a Manichaean belief, and the quadripartite structure of the Manichaean community, divided between male and female monks (the 'elect') and lay follower (the 'hearers') who supported them, appears to be based on that of the Buddhist
sangha" (Richard Foltz, "Religions of the Silk Road").
The Indo-Sassanids traded goods such as
silverwareand textiles depicting the Sassanid emperors engaged in hunting or administering justice. The example of Sassanid art was influential on Kushan art, and this influence remained active for several centuries in the northwest Indian subcontinent.
The Indo-Sassanids created an extensive coinage with legend in
Brahmi, Pahlavior Bactrian, sometimes inspired from Kushan coinage, and sometimes more clearly Sassanid.
The obverse of the coin usually depicts the ruler with elaborate headdress and on the reverse either the
zoroastrianfire altar or Shivaand his bull Nandi.
Main Indo-Sassanid rulers
Ardashir I, Sassanid king and "Kushanshah" (circa 230 - 250)
Peroz I, "Kushanshah" (circa 250 - 265)
Hormizd I, "Kushanshah" (circa 265 - 295)
Hormizd II, "Kushanshah" (circa 295 - 300)
Peroz II, "Kushanshah" (circa 300 - 325)
Shapur IISassanid king and "Sakanshah" (circa 325)
Varhran I, Varhran II, Varhran III"Kushanshahs" (circa 325 - 350; lasted until the Hephthalites invasion)
Peroz III"Kushanshah" (circa 350 - 360; in Gandhara)
* [http://www.grifterrec.com/coins/kushanshah/kushanshah.html Coins of the Kushano-Sassanids]
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