Bimbisara welcomes the Buddha
|Founder of Haryanka dynasty|
|Reign||c. 544 – c. 492 BCE (52 years)|
|Born||c. 558 BCE|
|Died||c. 491 BCE|
Bimbisara (c. 558 – c. 491 BC) or Srenika was a King of Magadha (r. 542 – 492 BC) and belonged to the Haryanka dynasty. He was the son of Bhattiya. 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.
He is also known for his cultural achievements and was a great friend and protector of the Buddha. Bimbisara built the city of Rajgir, famous in Buddhist writings. He was succeeded on the throne by his son Ajatashatru.
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.
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. 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 Lichchhavi princess from Vaishali and daughter of King Chetaka. As per Indologist Hermann Jacobi, Vardhaman Mahavira's mother Trishala was daughter of Chetaka. His third wife, Kshema, was a daughter of the chief of the Madra clan of Punjab. These marriage alliances paved the way for the expansion of Magadha Empire both westward and northward.
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. After Bimbisara spoke with Buddha who complied with their request.
According to the tradition, Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son Ajatashatru to ascend the throne of the kingdom of Magadha. Ajatashatru later ordered his father's release after the birth of his first child, but by then it was too late and Bimbisara had already died. This was reported to have taken place around 491 BC.
According to Buddhist scriptures, King Bimbisara met the Buddha for the first time prior to the Buddha's enlightenment, and later became a disciple that featured in certain Buddhist suttas.
Bimbisara is referred to as Shrenika of Rajgir in Jain literature who became a devotee of Jainism impressed by the calmness of Yamadhar (a Jain Muni). He frequently visited Samavasarana of Lord Mahavira seeking answers to his queries. He asked about the true version of Ramayana and an illuminating sage (King Prasana).
He was allegedly Baldev in a previous life.
Per scriptures, Bimbisara killed himself in a fit of passion, consequently, reborn in hell, where he is currently residing, until the karma which led to his birth as hell-being comes to an end. 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.
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|Emperor of Magadha