Vasudeva I (Kushano Bactrian: ΒΑΖΟΔΗΟ "Bazodeo"; Middle Brahmi script: Va-su-de-va, Chinese: 波調 Bodiao; fl. 200 CE) was a Kushan emperor, last of the "Great Kushans." Named inscriptions dating from year 64 to 98 of Kanishka's era suggest his reign extended from at least 191 to 232 CE. He ruled in northern India, and still minted in coins in Balkh (Bactria) as well, although he probably had to deal with the rise of the Sasanians and the first incursions of the Kushano-Sasanians in the northwest of his territory.
Gold coin of Vasudeva I or II.
Obv: Vasudeva in tall helmet, holding a scepter, and making an offering over an altar. Legend in Kushan language and Greek script (with the Kushan letter Ϸ "sh"): ϷΑΟΝΑΝΟϷΑΟ ΒΑΖΟΔΗΟ ΚΟϷΑΝΟ ("Shaonanoshao Bazodeo Koshano"): "King of kings, Vasudeva the Kushan".
The last named inscription of his predecessor, Huvishka, was in the year 60 = 187 CE, and the Chinese evidence suggests he was still ruling as late as 229 CE.
His name, Vasudeva, is that of the father of Krishna, the popular Hindu God, and he was the first Kushan king to be named after the Indian God. He converted to Hinduism during his reign. His name reinforces the notion that his center of power was in Mathura.
Contacts with ChinaEdit
- "The king of the Da Yuezhi, Bodiao (波調) (Vāsudeva), sent his envoy to present tribute and His Majesty granted him a title of "King of the Da Yuezhi Intimate with Wei (魏)"." (Sanguozhi)
He is the last Kushan ruler to be mentioned in Chinese sources. His rule corresponds to the retreat of Chinese power from Central Asia, and it is thought that Vasudeva may have filled the power vacuum in that area. The great expansion of the Dharmaguptaka Buddhist group in Central Asia during this period has also been related to this event.
The coinage of Vasudeva consisted in gold dinars and quarter dinars, as well as copper coins. Vasudeva almost entirely removed the pantheon of deities displayed in the coinage of Kanishka and Huvishka. Apart from a few coins with the effigies of Mao and Nana, all of Vasudeva's coins feature Oesho on the reverse, who is generally identified as Shiva. On the obverse, Vasudeva restored the royal imagery of Kanishka, with the standing, making a sacrifice over an altar, although he holds a trident rather than Kanishka's spear and he appears nimbate. Another trident is sometimes also added over the small sacrificial altar. At the end of his rule, Vasudeva introduced the nandipada symbol ( ) on his coinage.
Sassanid invasion in the northwestEdit
Vusadeva I was the last great Kushan emperor, and the end of his rule coincides with the invasion of the Sassanians as far as northwestern India, and the establishment of the Indo-Sassanians or Kushanshahs from around 240 CE. Vasudeva I may have lost the territory of Bactria with its capital in Balkh to Ardashir I Kushanshah. Thereafter, Kushan rule would be restricted to their eastern territories, in western and central Punjab.
The relatively peaceful reign of Vasudeva is marked by an important artistic production, in particular in the area of statuary. Several Buddhist statues are dated to the reign of Vasudeva, and are important markers for the chronology of Buddhist art.
|Statuary dated to the reign of Vasudeva I|
- Rezakhani, Khodadad (2017). From the Kushans to the Western Turks. p. 202.
- Coins of India Calcutta : Association Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1922
- Kumar, Raj (1900). Early history of Jammu region. Gyan Publishing House. p. 477. ISBN 9788178357706.
- Rosenfield, John M. (1967). The Dynastic Arts of the Kushans. University of California Press. p. 111.
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- CNG Coins 
- Cribb, Joe (2010). "The Kidarites, the numismatic evidence" (PDF). Coins, art and chronology II: The first millennium C.E. in the Indo-Iranian borderlands, edited by M. Alram et al.: 98.
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- Sharma, R.C. (1994). The Splendour of Mathura Art and Museum. D. K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd. p. 140.
- Problems of Chronology in Gandharan Art p.37
- Falk, Harry (2001). "The yuga of Sphujiddhvaja and the era of the Kuṣâṇas." Silk Road Art and Archaeology VII, pp. 121–136.
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- Sims-Williams, Nicholas (1998). "Further notes on the Bactrian inscription of Rabatak, with an Appendix on the names of Kujula Kadphises and Vima Taktu in Chinese." Proceedings of the Third European Conference of Iranian Studies Part 1: Old and Middle Iranian Studies. Edited by Nicholas Sims-Williams. Wiesbaden. Pp, 79-93.
|Kushan Ruler||Succeeded by|
- From the dated inscription on the Rukhana reliquary
- An Inscribed Silver Buddhist Reliquary of the Time of King Kharaosta and Prince Indravarman, Richard Salomon, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 116, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1996), pp. 442 
- A Kharosthī Reliquary Inscription of the Time of the Apraca Prince Visnuvarma, by Richard Salomon, South Asian Studies 11 1995, Pages 27-32, Published online: 09 Aug 2010 
- Cribb, Joe; Donovan, Peter (2014). Kushan, Kushano-Sasanian, and Kidarite Coins A Catalogue of Coins From the American Numismatic Society by David Jongeward and Joe Cribb with Peter Donovan. p. 4.