Emperor Kaniska had a profound role in the preaching and expansion of the Buddhist religion. His name and fame spread far and wide for this reason. Through the patronization of the Buddhist religion, he tried to rouse the humanism across his kingdom. His teacher was Sangharaksha. He was also a scholar. Like Emperor Asoka, Kaniska established himself as the best emperor of Indian sub-continent by preaching the Buddhism. At first he gave attention to spreading his kingdom. But later on, he gave up the state policy and accepted the dhamma policy. He could realise very well that to estblish the dhamma doctrine is much more important than to spread kingdom. After capturing Pataliputta, on his way back, he brought with him a wooden statue of the Buddha and an alms-bowl and the great poet Asvaghosa. He established that statue of the Buddha and the alms-bowl in Puruspur. He requested Asvaghosa to stay in that monestary of Puruspur. Later on this Vihara was known as Kaniska Vihara. Asvaghosa was at the same time a great poet, philosopher and a renowned Buddhist Bhikkhu. But he was chiefly known as a great poet. The fame of Kaniska spread for and wide because of the great poet. Both of the names are memorable in the history of the Buddhist religion.
In the book Sutralankar Asvaghosa, there is a short description of the conquest of Eastern India. To commemorate his conquest of Pataliputta, he constructed Stupa and monastery in Puruspur. There are many stories in circulation about Devaputta in connection with Kaniska. The Mahayana Buddhists consider him to be a god.
The history of Kaniska is important for two reasons. Firstly, when he ascended the throne, from that time Saka era started to be counted. Secondly, as a sincere patron of the Buddhist religion, he convened the Buddhist conference in Kaniska Vihara at Jalandhar. It is known as the fourth conference in the history of the Buddhist religion. He built many Stupas and Viharas in different historical sites.
After embracing the Buddha-dhamma, he used to practise the doctrines of the Buddha at the leisure period. He was confused at the different explanations of the words of the Buddha. He found out after investigation that there was a difference of opinion among the Sangha regarding the basic principles of the Buddha-dhamma. He convened a Contribution Of The Aristocrats In The Buddhist Religion Emperor Kaniska conference with the help of his religious teacher, Parsva. This conference was presided over by the renowned philosopher Vasumitta. Out of the present monks, five hundred of them were selected for the working committee. Asvaghosa was present here as the Vice President.
They jointly compiled a book of commentary of the Tripitaka named Mahavibhasa. The main Tripitaka was not collected in this conference. The scripture of Mahavibhasa was compiled in Sanskrit language instead of Pali language. This was corrected by the great poet Asvaghos a. The scripture Mahavibhasa was the main scripture of the Sarvastivadins. It was considered the book of commentary of the scripture Gjanaprasthana. For this reason, this conference is also called the Sarvastivadin Conference. The Abhidharma Kosa of Basubandhu was written in accordance with scripture Mahavibhasa. After the conference, the scripture was preserved engraving on the copper plates.
In this conference the Sarvastivadins played an important role. After the conference, the preachers of the Dhamma were sent to different places. The Sarvastivada bearing the name of Mahayana entered in to Tibet, Mongolia, China, Japan, Korea and other places.
Emperor Kaniska was also a lover of literature. Many scholars were invited to his royal palace. Among them were great poet Asvaghosa, Philosopher Nagarjun, Basumitra and Physician Charak, Parsva, Sangharaksa, Mathar and many others. They played an important role for expansion of religion, literature, philosophy, science and fine arts. Emperor Kaniska always devoted himself to the patronization of the creative and welfare activities. He is still remembered in world history for his benevolent works. A statue with full image of Kaniska was found at Mat near Mathura because of excavations. Besides this, many coins and memorials were also discovered which are the symbols of the memory and history of Kaniska.
Source: National Curriculum and Textbook,VIII