In the opening years of the Christian century, about 25 A.D., a powerful chief of the Kushanas named Kujala Kadphises or Kadphises I established his supremacy over other Yueh-chi tribes, and became their overlord.
He ruled over a part of Parthia, Kabul, Kandahar, and a part of Afghanistan, and occupied the Hindu Kush. Extending from Parthia to Indus, the Kushana kingdom under this king rose into prominence rapidly.
His kingdom included the territories formerly ruled by the Greeks, the Sakas and the Parthians.
It is most interesting that the earlier coins of this king referred to his rule as “established in Dharma, the Religion of Truth”. (Satyadharmasthita). His later coins described his imperial titles as Maharaja Rajadhiraja (Maharajasa Rajatirajasa Kuyula- Kaphasa). His names were written on the coins in Kharoshthi. His coins were in imitation of the coins of the Roman Emperors like Augustus or Tiberius.
It is noteworthy that though he ruled over the Indian borderland, King Kujala Kadphises I came under the influence of Indian culture from the beginning of his rule. The Kushanas as a people were also coming under the process of Indianisation. Kadphises I ruled for long, and died at the age of 80, perhaps about 64 A.D.
Vima Kadphises or Kadphises II:
Kujala Kadphises was succeeded by his son Wema or Vima Kadphises. His rule covered the period from 64 or 65 A.D. till his death in the early part of 78 A.D. Kadphises II is regarded as the real builder of the Kushana Empire in India. He extended his territories far beyond the river Indus on the Indian mainland. His coins are found in different places of northern India. It is believed that he ruled as far as Mathura.
The gold and the copper coins of Kadphises II show him with high sounding titles. He is described as the Maharaja or the Great King, Rajadhiraja or the King of Kings, Sarvalokesvara or the Lord of All Spheres, and Mahisvara or the Lord of the Earth. Some of the Kushana coins also describe the Kushana Kings as Devaputra or the Son of God. While the Maurya Emperor Asoka styled himself as the Devanam-priya or the Beloved of the Gods, the Kushana kings called themselves as the Son of God. That shows in one way the evolution of the monarchical concept in ancient India.
By the time of Kadphises II, the Kushanas were becoming radically Indianised in their religion and thought. Kadphises II embraced Hinduism and became a devotee of Siva. His coins carry the image of God Siva “with two arms, holding tiger-skin, trident, and facing bull” and show the king on the other side.
During the time of Kadphises II, the external trade of India grew by leaps and bounds. The Kushanas served like a link between India and Central Asia. The commercial relation between the Kushana Empire and the Roman Empire also became well established. India drew plentiful of Roman gold by exporting many articles such as silk, gems, spices and fine rice, to the Roman Empire. The Kushana emperors lavishly issued gold coins during their reign because of the general prosperity of the country.