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Prince of the Maurya Empire
House Mauryan dynasty
Father Bindusara
Born 3rd Century BC
Possibly Pataliputra, India
Religion Tirthika, Buddhism

Vitashoka as called in Divyavadana or Tissa (born 3rd-century BC) was a prince of the Maurya Empire as the only uterine 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.

Vitashoka became a monk and practiced austerities rigorously.

Divyavadana narrates a story of someone in Pundravardhana and then again at Pataliputra, drew a picture of the Buddha bowing before Nirgrantha Nataputta. As a punishment Ashoka ordered the Ajivikas[2] 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.[3]

He is referred to as Tissa in Sri Lanka chronicles.[4][5] Theragatha commentary[6] regards Tissa and Vitashoka as different individuals.


  • Vitashoka appears in the 2001 epic Indian historical drama film Aśoka. Madhu Varshitt portrayed Vitashoka in the film.


  1. ^ The Legend of King Aśoka: A Study and Translation of the Aśokāvadāna,John Strong, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1989, p. 222-234
  2. ^ Divyavadana apparently equates the Nirgranthas and Ajivikas here.
  3. ^ John S. Strong (1989). The Legend of King Aśoka: A Study and Translation of the Aśokāvadāna. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 232–233. ISBN 978-81-208-0616-0. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Ashoka, the Buddhist Emperor of India, Volume 28 Volume 29 of Rulers of India, Ashoka, the Buddhist emperor of India, Vincent Arthur Smith, Edition 2, Clarendon Press, 1901, p. 162
  6. ^ Ashoka, Radhakumud Mookerji, Edition 3, Motilal Banarsidass, 1995, p.7