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Prince of the Maurya Empire
Born3rd Century BCE
ReligionTirthika, Buddhism

Vitashoka or Tissa (born 3rd-century BCE) was a prince of the Maurya Empire as the only full-brother of Ashoka,[1] and the only brother left alive by Ashoka. According to Divyavadana, he was a follower of the Tirthikas and used to criticize the Buddhist monks for living a comfortable life. He was made to sit on the throne by the courtiers. When Ashoka found out about that, he persuaded Vitashoka to become a Buddhist.[citation needed]

Vitashoka became a monk and practised austerities rigorously.[citation needed]


Vitashoka is referred to as Tissa (or Tisya) in Sri Lankan texts.[2][3] Theragatha commentary[4] regards Tissa and Vitashoka as different individuals. Other sources call him Vigatāshoka, Sudatta, or Sugatra. The Mahavamsa later names him as Ekavihārika.[5]

In the Divyavadana[edit]

Divyavadana narrates a story of someone in Pundravardhana and then again at Pataliputra who drew a picture of the Buddha bowing before Nirgrantha Nataputta. As a punishment, Ashoka ordered the Ajivikas[6] to be put to death and declared a reward for killing of Nirgranthas. Someone killed Vitashoka taking him to be a Nirgrantha. His head was taken to Ashoka. After identifying that it was his own brother, Ashoka stopped giving orders for executions.[1]: 232  However, according to the more authentic works based on Ashoka's life, Vitashoka's fate remains unknown after Ashoka becomes king. Some scholars suggested that Vitashoka may have been a general or a minister of Ashoka.


  1. ^ a b John S. Strong (1989). The Legend of King Aśoka: A Study and Translation of the Aśokāvadāna. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 222–233. ISBN 978-81-208-0616-0. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  2. ^ Yuan Chwang's travels in India Volumes 14-15 of Oriental Translation Fund Volume 2 of On Yuan Chwang's Travels in India, 629-645 A.D, Stephen Wootton Bushell Authors Thomas Watters, Vincent Arthur Smith Editors Thomas William Rhys Davids, Stephen Wootton Bushell Royal Asiatic Society, 1905 p. 95
  3. ^ Ashoka, the Buddhist Emperor of India, Volume 2 Volume 29 of Rulers of India, Ashoka, the Buddhist emperor of India, Vincent Arthur Smith, Edition 2, Clarendon Press, 1901, p. 162
  4. ^ Ashoka, Radhakumud Mookerji, Edition 3, Motilal Banarsidass, 1995, p.7
  5. ^ Thapar, Romila (2012). "2". Aśoka and the decline of the Mauryas (3rd ed.). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198077244. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  6. ^ Divyavadana apparently equates the Nirgranthas and Ajivikas here.