Bimbisara

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Bimbisara
Emperor of the Magadha Empire
Reign 543–491 BCE
Born 558 BCE
Died 491 BCE
Successor Ajatasatru
Consort Kosala Devi
Wives Chellana
Kshema
Royal House Haryanka dynasty
Religious beliefs Buddhism/Jainism
Bimbisara's jail, where King Bimbisara was imprisoned, in Rajgir

Bimbisara (Sanskrit: बिम्बिसारः, 558 BC –491 BC)[1][2] was a King, and later, Emperor of the Magadha empire from 542 BC till 492 BC[3] and belonged to the Haryanka dynasty.[4] His expansion of the kingdom, especially his annexation of the kingdom of Anga to the east, is considered to have laid the foundations for the later expansion of the Maurya Empire.[5]

He is also known for his cultural achievements and was a great friend and protector of the Buddha. Bimbisara built the city of Rajagriha, famous in Buddhist writings. He was succeeded on the throne by his son Ajatashatru.[5]

Career[edit]

King Bimbisara, depicted in Burmese art, offering his kingdom to the Buddha.

According to Buddhist scriptures, King Bimbisara met the Buddha for the first time prior to the Buddha's enlightenment, and later became an important disciple that featured prominently in certain Buddhist suttas. He is recorded to have attained sotapannahood, a degree of enlightenment in Buddhist teachings.

Jain scriptures, on the other hand, described King Bimbisara as a disciple of Mahavira who frequently sought his teachings. As per Jain texts, he is referred to as King Shrenika of Rajgriha (being the possessor of a large army). Bimbisara sent Jivaka to Ujjain for medical treatment of King Pradyata, the king of Avanti. He was Baldev in a previous life. Per scriptures, this soul is to become the first tirthankara of the next cycle.

Marriage alliances[edit]

Bimbisara used marriage alliances to strengthen his position. His first wife was Kosala Devi, the daughter of Mahā Kosala the king of Kosala, and a sister of Prasenjit. His bride brought him Kashi, which was then a mere village, as dowry.[6] This marriage also ended the hostility between Magadha and Kosala and gave him a free hand in dealing with the other states. Bimbisara's second wife, Chellana, was a Lichchhavi princess from Vaishali.[7] As per Indologist Hermann Jacobi, Mahavira (Vardhamana) was related to Queen Chellana who was daughter of King Chetaka, Mahaviras uncle. Bimbisara's third wife, Kshema, was a daughter of the chief of the Madra clan of Punjab.[8]

Although king Bimbisaras let the women in his harem visit Buddha in his monastery in the evenings; the women wanted a hair and nail stupa they could use to venerate the Buddha any time. After Bimbisara spoke with Buddha who complied with their request. [9]

Death[edit]

Tradition tells us that Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son Ajatashatru who is said to have executed him; but he then realized what he had done and tried to reverse the orders but it was too late. This is reported to have taken place around 491 BC.[4]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Rawlinson, Hugh George. (1950) A Concise History of the Indian People, Oxford University Press. p. 46.
  2. ^ Muller, F. Max. (2001) The Dhammapada And Sutta-nipata, Routledge (UK). p. xlvii. ISBN 0-7007-1548-7.
  3. ^ Indian History -APC - APC Publishers, India
  4. ^ a b Stearns, Peter N. (2001) The Encyclopedia of World History, Houghton Mifflin. pp. 76-78. ISBN 0-395-65237-5.
  5. ^ a b "Bimbisara". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Eck, Diana. (1998) Banaras, Columbia University Press. p. 45. ISBN 0-231-11447-8.
  7. ^ Luniya, Bhanwarlal Nathuram. (1967) Evolution of Indian Culture, Lakshmi Narain Agarwal. p. 114.
  8. ^ Krishna, Narendra. (1944) History of India, A. Mukherjee & bros. p. 90.
  9. ^ John S. Strong (2007). Relics of the Buddha. p. 72. 

References[edit]

  • G. P. Singh, "Early Indian Historical Tradition and Archaeology"; page 164
Regnal titles
Preceded by
None
Emperor of Magadha
543–491 BCE
Succeeded by
Ajatashatru