Kanishka, the Great Kushan Ruler, Built a Temple at Buddha’s Birthplace


Abdul Hai Habibi


The Archeological Mission of India lately concluded its five year excavations at Pataliputra in Northern India and they discovered an inscription in the Pali language, in Brahmi script, which was written during the time of Kanishka, the Kushan ruler, in which he has named himself, Dewa Putra (son of God).

 The inscription, which has been written on a clay tablet, states: “This house of prayer was built by Kanishka, at the behest of monks at Kapilavastu.”

This city which was residence of a king during the time of the Sakia (Shakya) rulers and father of Buddha, is the same city which Buddhists consider to be the birthplace of Buddha. The Chinese travelers, Fan-Ye in 300 CE and Hsuan Tsung (629 CE) visited it and have mentioned the place in their travel logs. Among the remnants of this vast city two brick structures can also be seen.

After studying these relics, archeologists have concluded that the city was the residence of Sakia ruler, the father of Buddha.

These scholars started their excavations in 1962 in search of the city of Kapilavastu, in the area of Telavarakot in southern Nepal but were unable to find any evidence of the city. The leader of the excavation team, Dr. Mitra, finally reached the conclusion that Kapilavastu is located in Pataliputra, and hence concentrated the excavations to take place at this location.

One of the local landowner of the area, Vaspiti, dug a corner of the stupa in 1898, and among other archeological finds, discovered a chest made of sandstone, which contained five tablets. These inscriptions have been read with different interpretations in which Buddha and Sakia is seen. These tablets date to the third century CE, although Buddha died in the fifth century BCE. Since this issue posed difficulties some scholars were of the belief that there are two Kapilavastu, one of which was seen by Fan-Ye and the other has been mentioned by Hsuan Tsung.

Sariosteva, the Indian archeologist states: It is possible that the Peti inscriptions have been brought here from some other place and we have found other clay tablets on which the firmans of Buddha have been inscribed. In addition three other plates have been discovered. The Pali clay tablets clearly state that this is Kapilavastu. As a result archeologists do not have any  doubt that Kapilavastu was the place where Buddha was raised and Kanishka, the Kushani ruler of Afghanistan, built a temple there and his empire spread to the northern regions of India.