Susima

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Maurya Empire in 3rd century BCE

Susima (prior to 304 BCE- c. 274-270 BCE) was a Royal Prince of Mauryan empire, half-brother of Ashoka the Great and eldest son of Emperor Bindusara. He was in line for his father Emperor Bindusara's throne, but was assassinated by Ashoka around 274-270 BCE.

Career as a Governor[edit]

Susima had several younger siblings, his half-brothers from other wives of Bindusāra. He had been the Viceroy/Governor to Taxila during reign of his father Bindusara (298 BC – c. 272 BC) as his younger brother Asoka to Ujjain.

The Maurya Empire was divided into four provinces, which one of the four, look like a giant crescents with the imperial capital at Pataliputra. From Asoka's edicts, the names of the four provincial capitals are Tosali (in the east), Ujjain in the west, Suvarnagiri (in the south), and Taxila (in the north). The head of the provincial administration was the Royal Prince, who governed the provinces as Emperor's representative. The Royal Prince was assisted by Mahamatyas and Council of Ministers. This organizational structure was reflected at the imperial level with the Emperor and his Council of Ministers.

Divyavandana refers to Asoka putting down a conflict in Ujjain due to activities of some wicked ministers. This may have been a suppression of a revolt in Bindusara's time, but some historians consider this as a part of Bindusara's conquest of the Deccan. Following this Ashoka was stationed at Ujjayin as Governor.

It is said that a popular revolt occurred at Taxila during Susima's time as the Governor which has been blamed upon his administration. However, this was quelled by Emperor Bindusara. Another revolt at Taxila (the reason for the second revolt is unknown, but Bindusara could not suppress it in his lifetime) is said to have been crushed by Ashoka after Bindusara's death.

Civil war after Bindusara's death[edit]

Bindusara's death in 273 BC led to a civil war over succession. According to Divyavandana, Bindusara wanted Susima to succeed him but Ashoka was supported by his father's ministers. A minister named Radhagupta seems to have played an important role in this succession. One of the Ashokavandana states that Ashoka managed to become the Emperor by getting rid of the legitimate heir to the throne, by tricking him into entering a pit filled with live coals.

Dipavansa and Mahavansa refer to Ashoka killing 99 of his brothers, sparing only one, named Tissa. Although there is no clear proof about this incident. The coronation of Ashoka only happened in 269 BCE, four years after his succession to the throne.

Cultural depictions[edit]

  • Susima appears in the 2001 epic Indian historical drama film Aśoka. Ajith Kumar portrayed Susima in the film.