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Bimbisara with his royal cortege issuing from the city of Rajagriha to visit the Buddha.
Founder of Haryanka dynasty
Reignc. 544 – c. 491 BCE or c. 457 – c. 405 BCE (52 years)
Clan and noble familyHaryanka
Born558 BCE or 472 BCE
Died491 BC or 405 BCE
SpouseKosala Devī
Kṣemā / Khemā
Padmāvatī / Padumavatī
ReligionJainism, Buddhism

Bimbisāra (in Buddhist tradition) or རྒྱལ་པོ་གཟུགས་ཅན་སྙིང་པོ་ (Tibetan) or Shrenika (Śreṇika) and Seniya (Seṇiya) in the Jain histories[2][3] (c. 558 – c. 491 BCE[4][5] or c. 472 – c. 405 BCE[6][7]) was the King of Magadha (r. 543 – 492 BCE[8] or r. 457 – 405 BCE[6][9]) and belonged to the Haryanka dynasty.[10] He was the son of Bhattiya.[11] 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 Mauryan Empire.[12]

According to Jain Tradition, he is said to be the first Tirthankara (will be named as Padmanabha / Mahapadma) out of 24th Tirthankara of the future cosmic age.[13] He frequently visited Samavasarana of Lord Mahavira seeking answers to his queries.[14]

According to Buddhist Tradition, he is also known for his cultural achievements and was a great friend and protector of the Buddha. According to the 7th century Chinese monk Xuanzang, Bimbisara built the city of Rajgir (Rajagriha).[8] He was succeeded on the throne by his son Ajatashatru.[12]


Map of the eastern Gangetic plain before Bimbisāra's conquests
(Licchavi's dependencies, in green, and Malla shown separately)
King Bimbisara visits the Bamboo Garden (Venuvana) in Rajagriha; artwork from Sanchi

Bimbisara was the son of Bhattiya, a chieftain. He ascended to throne at the age of 15 in 543 BCE.[15] He established the Haryanka dynasty and laid the foundations of Magadha with the fortification of a village, which later became the city of Pataliputra.[16] Bimbisara's first capital was at Girivraja (identified with Rajagriha). He led a military campaign against Anga, perhaps to avenge his father's earlier defeat at the hands of its king, Brahmadatta. The campaign was successful, Anga was annexed, and prince Kunika (Ajatashatru) was appointed governor at Champa.[17] His conquest of Anga gave Magadha control over the routes to the Ganges Delta, which had important ports that gave access to the eastern coast of India.[18][19] Pukkusati, the king of Gandhara, sent Bimbisara an embassy.[15]

His court is said to have included Sona Kolivisa, Sumana (flower gatherer), Koliya (minister), Kumbhaghosaka (treasurer) and Jivaka (physician).[20]

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 Prasenajit.[21] His bride brought him Kashi as dowry.[22] This marriage also ended the hostility between Magadha and Kosala and gave him a free hand in dealing with the other states. His second wife, Chellana, was a Licchavi princess from Vaishali and daughter of the Jain[23] king Chetaka.[24] His third wife, Kshema, was a daughter of the chief of the Madra clan of Punjab.[25] Mahavagga depicts him having 500 wives.[15]


Bimbisara's jail, where King Bimbisāra was imprisoned, in Rajgir

As per Buddhism, due to influence by Devadatta (a Buddhist monk), Bimbisāra was assassinated by his son Ajatashatru in c. 493 BCE, who then succeeded him to the throne. However, as per Jainism, Bimbisāra committed suicide.[18]

Traditional accounts[edit]


Bimbisara is referred to as Shrenika[26][3] of Rajgir in Jain literature who became a devotee of Jainism impressed by the calmness of Jain Muni Yamadhar.[27][23] He frequently visited Samavasarana of Lord Mahavira seeking answers to his queries. He asked about the jain Ramayana[14] and an illuminating sage (King Prasana).[28] He is said to be a Balabhadra in one of his previous lives.[29]

Per Jain scripture, Bimbisara killed himself in a fit of passion, after his son had imprisoned him. Consequently, he was reborn in hell, where he is currently residing, until the karma which led to his birth there comes to an end.[30][31] It is further written, that he will be reborn as Mahapadma (sometimes called Padmanabha), the first in the chain of future tirthankaras who are to rise at the beginning of the upward motion (Utsarpini) of the next era of time.[32]


Bimbisara welcomes 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.[33] Although Bimbisara let the women in his palace 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. Bimbisara spoke with Buddha who complied with their request.[34]


According to Puranas, Bimbisara ruled Magadha for a period of 28 or 38 years. Sinhalese chronicles date his reign to be of 52 years.[35] A fictionalised version of Bimbisara appears in the 2023 Telugu-language film Bimbisara.



  1. ^ Chandra, Jnan (1958). "SOME UNKNOWN FACTS ABOUT BIMBISĀRA". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 21. Indian History Congress: 215–217.
  2. ^ von Glasenapp 1999, p. 40-41.
  3. ^ a b Jain & Upadhye 2000, p. 59.
  4. ^ Hugh George Rawlinson (1950), A Concise History of the Indian People. Oxford University Press, p. 46.
  5. ^ F. Max Muller (2001): The Dhammapada And Sutta-nipata. Routledge (UK), p. xlvii. ISBN 0-7007-1548-7.
  6. ^ a b Sarao, K. T. S. (2003), "The Ācariyaparamparā and Date of the Buddha.", Indian Historical Review, 30 (1–2): 1–12, doi:10.1177/037698360303000201
  7. ^ Keay, John: India: A History. Revised and Updated: "The date [of Buddha's meeting with Bimbisara] (given the Buddhist 'short chronology') must have been around 400 BC."
  8. ^ a b V. K. Agnihotri (ed.), Indian History. Allied Publishers, New Delhi 262010, p. 166 f.
  9. ^ Keay, India: A History
  10. ^ Peter N. Stearns (2001), The Encyclopedia of World History. Houghton Mifflin, p. 76 ff. ISBN 0-395-65237-5.
  11. ^ Raychaudhuri 1923, p. 97.
  12. ^ a b "Bimbisara". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  13. ^ Dundas, Paul (2 September 2003). The Jains. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-50165-6.
  14. ^ a b Dalal, Roshen (2010), Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide, India: Penguin Books, p. 338, ISBN 9780143414216
  15. ^ a b c Sen 1999, p. 112.
  16. ^ Sastri 1988, p. 11.
  17. ^ Upinder Singh 2016, p. 269.
  18. ^ a b Thapar, Romila (2002). Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300. University of California Press. pp. 152–154. ISBN 0-520-24225-4.
  19. ^ Kailash Chand Jain 1972, p. 99.
  20. ^ Upinder Singh 2016, p. 270.
  21. ^ Upinder Singh 2016, p. 271.
  22. ^ Eck, Diana. (1998) Banaras, Columbia University Press. p. 45. ISBN 0-231-11447-8.
  23. ^ a b Datta, Amaresh (1988). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: Devraj to Jyoti. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 978-81-260-1194-0.
  24. ^ Luniya, Bhanwarlal Nathuram. (1967) Evolution of Indian Culture, Lakshmi Narain Agarwal. p. 114.
  25. ^ Krishna, Narendra. (1944) History of India, A. Mukherjee & bros. p. 90.
  26. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 36.
  27. ^ Queen Chelna and King Shrenik, archived from the original on 13 April 2019, retrieved 21 September 2015
  28. ^ Leshyas
  29. ^ Choksi, Mansi; Chhapia, Hemali (10 February 2011), "Now, meet Ravan the saint", The Times of India
  30. ^ Jaini 1998, p. 228.
  31. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 41.
  32. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 40-41.
  33. ^ KTS Sarai, Jeffrey D Long, ed. (2017), "Sotāpanna", Buddhism and Jainism, Encyclopedia of Indian Religions, Springer, pp. 1126–1129, doi:10.1007/978-94-024-0852-2_94, ISBN 9789402408522
  34. ^ John S. Strong (2007), Relics of the Buddha, Princeton University Press, p. 72, ISBN 978-0691117645
  35. ^ Kailash Chand Jain 1991, p. 88.


See also[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Magadha
543–491 BC
Succeeded by