Tishyaraksha (died c. 238 BC) was the youngest as well as the last wife of Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Empire, who was the ruler of India. She is also referred to as Tishyarakshita, Tissarakka and Tissarakbha in some accounts. According to Ashokavadana, she was responsible for blinding Ashoka's son and heir presumptive Kunala.
Haraprasad Shastri's second novel " Kanchanmala" features Tisshyaraksha in a prominent role. The story of Tishyaraksha has also been captured by the Bengali writer Samaresh Majumdar in his novel "Saranagata", however, with very different strokes and shades that are attributed to the life of Emperor Ashoka.
It is believed that Tishyaraksha was a favourite maid of one of Ashoka's wives and after her death, she went to Pataliputra as a great dancer and charmed Ashoka with her dance and beauty. Later, she became his concubine and during the later life of Ashoka she medically served him as well.
It is also believed that due to the age difference between her and Ashoka, once she was attracted towards Kunala, a son of Ashoka who was religious in nature and inclined towards Buddhism from his early life. Kunala considered Tishyaraksha as his mother due to her place in the Mauryan Empire at the time. After perceiving neglect from Kunala, Tishyaraksha turned so furious that she decided to blind him (it is believed that the eyes of Kunal were attractive and beautiful and that they had originally attracted Tishyaraksha towards Kunala).
When the Chandragupta Sabha led by Radhagupta (the then minister (Mahaamatya) of Mauryan Empire) decided that Kunal would proceed to subjugate the revolt of Takshashila (Taxila), Tishyaraksha conceived a plot. The plot succeeded after the conquest by Kunala. As per the plot, Ashoka had to request two very precious jewels from the governor of Takshashila which were believed to have been the most unique of their kind. The decisive language of the letter written by Tishyaraksha was sent by Ashoka who did not understand the hidden meaning and therefore could not transmit it to Kunala. However, Kunala immediately understood the hidden meaning, but due to his love towards his father and his loyalty towards Magadha, he felt forced to blow off his own eyes. Then he sent both of his eyes to the court of Magadha at Pataliputra. Ashok realized his fault but by then it was too late. Immediately Radhagupta ordered to slay Tishyaraksha. It is believed that Tishyaraksha committed suicide after coming to know of this news.
- John S. Strong (1989). The Legend of King Aśoka: A Study and Translation of the Aśokāvadāna. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 18. ISBN 978-81-208-0616-0. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
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