Bindusara

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Not to be confused with Bimbisara.
Bindusara
Samrat Chakravartin
Maurya Emperor
Reign 298 BC – c. 272 BC
Coronation 298 BC
Predecessor Chandragupta Maurya
Successor Ashoka the Great
Issue Susima
Ashoka
Vitashoka
Tissa
Full name
Bindusara Maurya
Dynasty Maurya
Father Chandragupta Maurya
Mother Durdhara
Born 320 BC
Died 272 BC (aged 48)
Religion Ajivika[1]

Bindusara Maurya (c. 320 BC – 272 BC) was emperor of the Maurya Empire from 298 BC – 272 BC. During his reign, the empire expanded southwards. He had two well-known sons, Susima and Ashoka, who were the viceroys of Takshashila and Ujjain. The Greeks called him Amitrochates or Allitrochades – the Greek transliteration for the Sanskrit word 'Amitraghata' (Slayer of enemies). He was also called 'Ajatashatru' (Man with no enemies) in Sanskrit[2][3](not to be confused with Ajatashatru who ruled Magadha empire 491 BC – 461 BC and was son of King Bimbisara).

Life[edit]

Bindusara was the son of the first Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta Maurya and his Empress consort, Durdhara. According to the Rajavalikatha a Jain work, the original name of this emperor was Simhasena. According to a legend mentioned in the Jain texts, Chandragupta's Guru and advisor Chanakya used to feed the emperor with small doses of poison to build his immunity against possible poisoning attempts by the enemies.[4] One day, Chandragupta not knowing about poison, shared his food with his pregnant wife, Durdhara who was 7 days away from delivery. The empress not immune to the poison collapsed and died within few minutes. Chanakya entered the room the very time she collapsed, and to save the child in the womb, he immediately cut open the dead empress' womb and took the baby out, by that time a drop of poison had already reached the baby and touched its head due to which child got a permanent bluish spot (a "bindu") on his forehead. Thus, the newborn was named "Bindusara".[5]

Bindusara, just 22-year-old, inherited a large empire that consisted of what is now, Northern, Central and Eastern parts of India along with parts of Afghanistan and Baluchistan. Bindusara extended this empire to the southern part of India, as far as what is now known as Karnataka. He brought sixteen states under the Mauryan Empire and thus conquered almost all of the Indian peninsula (he is said to have conquered the 'land between the two seas' – the peninsular region between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea). Bindusara didn't conquer the Dravidian kingdoms of the Cholas, ruled by King Ilamcetcenni[citation needed], the Pandyas, and Cheras. Apart from these southern states, Kalinga (the modern Odisha) was the only kingdom in India that didn't form the part of Bindusara's empire. It was later conquered by his son Ashoka, who served as the viceroy of Ujjaini during his father's reign.

According to a legend, Chandragupta, though fond of his son, believed that he would never be a great king as he was never learned to love anything passionately, whether be it any of his wives or religion or the empire itself.

Bindusara's life has not been documented as well as that of his father Chandragupta or of his son Ashoka. Chanakya continued to serve as prime minister during his reign. According to the mediaeval Tibetan scholar Taranatha who visited India, Chanakya helped Bindusara "to destroy the nobles and kings of the sixteen kingdoms and thus to become absolute master of the territory between the eastern and western oceans."[6] During his rule, the citizens of Taxila revolted twice. The reason for the first revolt was the maladministration of Suseema, his eldest son. The reason for the second revolt is unknown, but Bindusara could not suppress it in his lifetime. It was crushed by Ashoka after Bindusara's death.

Ambassadors from the Seleucid Empire (such as Deimachus) and Egypt visited his courts. He maintained good relations with the Hellenic World.

Unlike his father Chandragupta (who turned to Jainism in the later part of his life), Bindusara believed in the Ajivika sect. Bindusara's guru Pingalavatsa (alias Janasana) was a Brahmin[7] of the Ajivika sect. One of Bindusara's wives, Rani Subhadrangi (alias Queen Aggamahesi) was a Brahmin[8] also of the Ajivika sect from Champa (present Bhagalpur district). Bindusara is accredited with giving several grants to Brahmin monasteries (Brahmana-bhatto).[9]

Bindusara died in 272 BC (some records say 268 BC) and was succeeded by his son Ashoka the Great.

Bindusara's Empire[edit]

Bindusara extended his empire further as far as south Mysore. He conquered sixteen states and extended the empire from sea to sea. The empire included the whole of India except the region of Kalinga (modern Orissa) and the Tamil kingdoms of the south. Kalinga was conquered by Bindusara's son Ashoka.

Early Tamil poets speak of Mauryan chariots thundering across the land, their white pennants brilliant in the sunshine. Bindusara campaigned in the Deccan, extending the Mauryan empire in the peninsula to as far as Mysore. He is said to have conquered 'the land between the two seas', presumably the Arabian sea and the Bay of Bengal.

Administration during Bindusara's Reign[edit]

Bindusara maintained good relations with Seleucus Nicator and the emperors regularly exchanged ambassadors and presents. He also maintained the friendly relations with the Hellenic West established by his father. Ambassadors from Syria and Egypt lived at Bindusara's court. He preferred the Ajivika philosophy rather than Jainism.

Apparently he was a man of wide interest and taste, since tradition had it that he asked Antiochus I to send him some sweet wine, dried figs and a sophist:

Cultural depictions[edit]

  • Bindusara appears briefly in the 2001 epic Indian historical drama film Aśoka. Gerson da Cunha portrayed Bindusara in the film.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sailendra Nath Sen (1999). Ancient Indian History and Civilization. New Age International. p. 142. ISBN 978-81-224-1198-0. 
  2. ^ Strabo (1903), The Geography of Strabo: Literally Translated, With Notes 1, Translated by H. C. Hamilton, Esq. And W. Falconer, M.A., London: George Bell & Sons, p. 109, retrieved 8 April 2013 
  3. ^ Strabo (1903), The Geography of Strabo: Literally Translated, With Notes, 1, Book II, Chapter 1, Section 9, Translated by H. C. Hamilton, Esq. And W. Falconer, M.A., London: George Bell & Sons, p. 109, retrieved 8 April 2013 
  4. ^ Wilhelm Geiger (1908). The Dīpavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa and their historical development in Ceylon. H. C. Cottle, Government Printer, Ceylon. p. 40. OCLC 559688590. 
  5. ^ M. Srinivasachariar (1989). History of classical Sanskrit literature (3 ed.). Motilal Banarsidass. p. 550. ISBN 978-81-208-0284-1. 
  6. ^ P.109 A brief history of India by Alain Daniélou, Kenneth Hurry
  7. ^ Arthur Llewellyn Basham (1951). History and doctrines of the Ājīvikas: a vanished Indian religion. foreword by L. D. Barnett (1 ed.). London: Luzac. pp. 138, 146. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Anukul Chandra Banerjee (1999). Sanghasen Singh, ed. Buddhism in comparative light. Delhi: Indo-Pub. House. p. 24. ISBN 8186823042. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  9. ^ Beni Madhab Barua; Ishwar Nath Topa (1968). Asoka and his inscriptions 1 (3rd ed.). Calcutta: New Age Publishers. p. 171. OCLC 610327889. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  10. ^ Athenaeus (of Naucratis) (1854). The Deipnosophists,.. or, Banquet of the learned of Athenaeus III. Literally Translated by C. D. Yonge, B. A. London: Henry G. Bohn. p. 1044. Original Classification Number: 888 A96d tY55 1854. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
Preceded by
Chandragupta Maurya the Great
Mauryan Emperor
298–272 BC
Succeeded by
Ashoka the Great