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Bornc. 304 BCE
Diedc. 270 BCE
IssueNigrodha(Buddhist monk)[1]

Susima (also Sushima or Sushim; c. 304 – c. 270 BCE[citation needed]) was a prince of the Maurya Empire and the eldest son and heir-apparent of the second Mauryan emperor Bindusara. He was next in line for his father's throne,[2] but was assassinated by his younger half-brother, Ashoka, who eventually succeeded Bindusara as the third Mauryan emperor.

Birth and family[edit]

Susima was the eldest and favourite son of the second Mauryan emperor Bindusara. Not only was Susima the crown prince, but his mother was also a princess as opposed to Ashoka's mother, Subhadrangi, who was a commoner.[3] All these factors proved to be highly favourable for Susima and thus, made him a strong contender for his father's throne. In contrast, Ashoka's chances of succeeding Bindusara were pretty slim: his mother was a commoner and Bindusara is said to have not been too fond of his younger son. Susima had several younger siblings, his half-brothers from other wives of Bindusara.[citation needed]


He had been the viceroy/governor to Takshashila during the reign of his father Bindusara as his younger brother Ashoka was to Ujjain. The Maurya Empire was divided into four provinces, which looked like giant crescents with the imperial capital at Pataliputra. From Ashoka's edicts, the names of the four provincial capitals are Tosali (in the east), Ujjain (in the west), Suvarnagiri (in the south), and Takshashila (in the north). The head of the provincial administration was the royal prince, who governed the provinces as the emperor's representative. The 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.[citation needed]

Divyavadana refers to Ashoka 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 Ujjain as governor.[citation needed]

It is said that a popular revolt occurred at Takshashila during Susima's time as the Governor which has been blamed upon his administration. However, this was quelled by Emperor Bindusara. Another revolt at Takshashila (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.[citation needed]

Civil war after Bindusara's death[edit]

Bindusara's death in 273 BCE led to a civil war over succession. According to Divyavadana, 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.[4]

The Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa refer to Ashoka killing 6 of his brothers, sparing only one, his uterine Vitashoka or 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.[citation needed]

Cultural depictions[edit]


  1. ^ CUP Archive (1955). Rapson, Edward James, ed. The Cambridge History of India, Volume 1. p. 500.
  2. ^ Singh, Upinder (2009), A history of ancient and early medieval India : from the Stone Age to the 12th century (3rd impr. ed.), New Delhi: Pearson Longman, p. 331, ISBN 9788131716779
  3. ^ Gupta, Subhadra Sen (2009). "Taxila and Ujjaini". Ashoka. Penguin UK. ISBN 8184758073.
  4. ^ Strong, John S. (1989). The legend of King Aśoka : a study and translation of the Aśokāvadāna (1. Indian ed.). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 210. ISBN 9788120806160.