Indo-Sassanids – Sassanid Persians who ruled in the Northwestern Indian Subcontinent – 240 CE – 410 CE and 565 CE – 650 CE

In Indian History, the Indo-Sassanids, Kushano-Sassanids or Kushanshas (also Indo-Sassanians) Kingdom was established exactly during this classical period. It was established in the Indus region somewhere between 240 CE and 410 CE.   The Sassanid is a Persian dynasty who invaded during the decline of the Kushans.  The Sassanidian period ended in 410 CE when they were invaded by the Huna Dynasty. When they destroyed the Hephthalites in 565 CE, they were able to re-assert their power to a certain extent, but again with the Arab invasion in the 7th centuries, the Sassanid dynasty collapsed finally.

Since the Sassanid dynasty began their reign invading the Kushans, they were named as Kushanshah or ‘King of the Kushans’.

History Indo Sassanid Dynasty

First Indo-Sassanid period – 240 CE – 410 CE

The Sassanid period began when they conquered the Parthians and then under the kingship of Ardashir I, they extended their dynasty into the  Bactria region. Between 240 CE – 270 CE they also extended their power over the eastern parts( the modern Pakistan)  under the leadership of  Shapur I, who was the son of Ardashir I.

First Indo-Sassanid period 240 CE - 410 CE

First Indo-Sassanid period 240 CE – 410 CE

Thus the Kushans lost their western territory to the Sassanids.  Shapur II was in charge of the southern part of the territory  till around 325 CE.  In 410 CE, the Hephthalites or Indo – Hephthalites invaded the Bactria region and Gandhara and the first Indo-Sassanid period came to an end.

Second Indo-Sassanid period – Kushano- Hepthalites – 565 CE – around 650 CE

Around 565 AD, the Sassanid formed alliance with the Gokturks and fought with the Hephthalites. This re-established the Indo-Sassanid authority over some regions.  Meanwhile the Kushano-Hephthalite alliance established some rival states in Kapisa, Bamiyan and Kabul.

Second Indo-Sassanid period 565 CE around 650 CE

Second Indo-Sassanid period 565 CE around 650 CE

The end of the second Sassanid period occurred with the advent of Rashidun Caliphate during the mid 7th century.

Religion of Indo-Sassanid Kingdom

Prophet Mani, founder of Manichaeism arrived in the Indus region with the Sassanids. Prophet Mani had exposure to Buddhism and the culture of Gandhara and is said to have converted a Buddhist King, Turan Shah of India. Prophet Mani also visited Bamiyan region and is believed to have lived and taught there for some time. He also visited the Indus valley area of Pakistan.

Manichaeanism influenced also the Buddhist thoughts. Richard Foltz, the author of ‘Religions of the Silk Road’ remarked that the concept of Buddhist Sangha have influenced the formation of Manichaean communities divided between male and female monks and their lay followers.

During the first Indo-Sassanid period, there was also religious persecution under the influence of a high priest and principal advisor to the kings, Kartir. The Christians, Buddhist, Jews, Hindus and in particular the Manicheans were persecuted. The persecutions came to an end during the reign of Narsheh.

Culture and other influences

  • The Sassanid art influenced Kushan art and this influence remained for several centuries in the north Western area.
  • Silverware and textile trade flourished
  • Extensive coinage was created by the Indo-Sassanids inspired by the coin system of the Kushan dynasty.
Indo-Sassnaid Dynasty Coin around 300 CE

Indo-Sassnaid Dynasty Coin around 300 CE

Ultimate effect of Indo-Sassanid Dynasty on Indian History

The Indo- Sassanid period was comparatively short. The invasion of the Sassanids and the decline of the Kushans gave rise to an indigenous Indian dynasty, the Guptas in the fourth century.

By: Mathew Abraham


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