Bindusara also Amitraghāta (Sanskrit for “Slayer of enemies”) or Amitrochates (Greek: τμι rροχάτης) was the second Mauryan emperor of India. He was the son of the dynasty’s founder Chandragupta and his most famous ruler Ashoka‘s father.
The life of Bindusara was not well documented as these two emperors. Much information comes from mythological accounts written several hundred years after his death.
Chandragupta centered Jain legends, and Ashoka centered Buddhist legends give much information about Bindusara. After more than a thousand years of death, the Jain legends, such as Parishishta-Parvan by Hemachandra. After several hundred years after Ashoka’s death, Buddhist writers composed Buddhist legends about Ashoka’s early life.
Divyavadana (including Ashokavadana and Pamsupradanavadana), Vamsatthappakasini (also known as Mahvamsa Tika or “Mahavamsa commentary”), Samantapasadika, and the writing of Taranatha, are Buddhist sources that provide information about Bindusara.
Hemachandra’s Parishishta-Parvan of the 12th-century and Devachandra’s Rajavali-Katha of the 19th-century are Jain sources.
Bindusara is also mentioned in the lineage of Mauryan rulers in Hindu Puranas. Some Greek sources also refer to him as “Amitocrates” or its variations.
Bindusara was born to Chandragupta, the founder of the Maurya Empire. It is attested by many sources including various Puranas and Mahavams. Deepavamsa, on the other hand, names Bindusara as the son of King Shushunaga.
The prose version of Ashokavadna states that Bindusara was the son of Nanda and a 10th generation descendant of Bimbisara. Like Deepavamsa, it omits Chandragupta’s name altogether. The metric version of Ashokavadna has a similar family with some variations.
Chandragupta had a marriage alliance with the Seleucids, which led to the consideration that Bindusara’s mother might have been Greek or Macedonian. However, there is no evidence of this. According to Parvishya-Parvan of the 12th-century Jain writer Hemachandra, Bindusara’s mother’s name was Durdhara.
Names Of Bindusara
The name “Bindusara”, with slight variations, is attested by Buddhist texts such as Deepavamsa and Mahavamsa (“Bindusaro”), Jain texts such as Parshishta-Parvan as well as Hindu texts such as the Vishnu Purana (“Vindusara”).
Other Puranas give different names for Chandragupta’s successors. These appear to be clerical errors. For example, in various passages in the Bhagavata Purana, he is mentioned as Warisar or Varikar. Various versions of the Vayu Purana call him Bhadrasara or Nandasara.
The name of Chandragupta’s successor in the Mahabhashya is Amitra-Ghata (Sanskrit “slaughter of enemies”).
Also, Bindusara was given the title Devanampriya (“Beloved of the Gods”), which was also applied to his successor Ashoka. It is said in the Jain Kama Rajavali-Katha that his birth name was Simhasena.
Both Buddhist and Jain texts mention a legend about how Bindusara got his name. Both accounts suggest that Chandragupta’s minister Chanakya used to add small doses of poison to the emperor’s food to build his immunity against possible poisoning efforts. One day, Chandragupta, not knowing about the poison, shared his meal with his pregnant wife.
According to Buddhist legends (Mahavamsa and Mahavamsa Tikka), the queen was seven days away from childbirth at this time. Chanakya arrived just as the queen ate the poisoned morsel.
Realizing that she was about to die, she decided to save the unborn child. He beheads the queen and cuts her belly with a sword to take out the fetus.
Over the next seven days, he placed the fetus in the belly of a goat, which was killed fresh every day. After seven days, Chandragupta’s son was “born”. He was named Bindusara, as his body was seen with goat blood drops (“Bindu”).
In the Jain text Parishishta-Parvan, the queen’s name is Durdhara and states that the moment Chanakya demolished her, she entered the room at that moment.
To save the child, he opened the womb of the dead queen and took the child out. By this time, a drop of poison (“Bindu”) had already reached the child and touched his head. Therefore, Chanakya named him Bindusara, which means “force of the drop”.
Family Of Bindusara
The prose version of Ashokavadana names three sons of Bindusara: Sushima, Ashoka, and Vigatshoka. Ashoka and Vigatashok’s mother was a woman named Subhadrangi, the daughter of a Brahmin from the city of Champa. When she was born, an astrologer predicted that one of her sons would be a king, and the other a religious person.
When she grew up, her father took her to Bindusara’s palace in Pataliputra. Jealous of her beauty, Bindusara’s wives trained her as a royal barber. Once, when the emperor was pleased with his hairdressing skills, she expressed his desire to become queen.
Bindusara was initially apprehensive about his lower class, but after knowing about the Brahmin dynasty he made her queen. The couple had two sons: Ashoka and Vigatashoka. Bindusara did not like Ashoka because his “limbs were hard to touch”.
In another story in Divyavadana, Ashoka’s mother’s name is Janapadakalyani. According to Vamsatthappakasini (Mahavamsa Tika), Ashoka’s mother’s name was Dhamma.
It is said in the Mahavasa that Bindusara had 101 sons from 14 women. The largest of these was Sumna, and the youngest was Tishya (or Tissa). Ashoka and Tishya were born to a single mother.
Reign of Bindusara
According to ‘Ashokavadna’, there were 500 royal councilors in Bindusara’s administration. It also mentions that Bindusara was sent to Ashoka to lay siege to Taxila, though without a weapon or chariot.
Soldiers and weapons to Ashoka were then provided by the gods and upon reaching Taxila, he was approached by the inhabitants who told him that they were not against the king but his cruel minister.
Ashoka succeeded in rebelling at Taxila and entered the city without any opposition. Ment Ashokavdana mentions the names of two officers, Khallakat and Radhagupta, who helped Ashoka to take the throne after Bindusara’s death.
The epic ‘Mahavamsa’ indicates that Ashoka was included as the Viceroy of Ujjayini by Bindusara. As an emperor, Bindusara was known for having good diplomatic relations with the Greeks.
Bindusara had a keen interest in philosophy, a taste for culture, and tolerance for all sects.
The Buddhist texts Samantapasadika and Mahavamsa suggest that Bindusara followed Brahmanism, calling him “Brahmin Bhatto” (“voter of Brahmins”).
According to Jain sources, Bindusara’s father Chandragupta had embraced Jainism before his death. However, they are silent on Bindusara’s belief, and there is no evidence to show that Bindusara was a Jain.
A fragmentary inscription of Sanchi in the ruins of the 40s, dating to the 3rd century BCE, probably refers to Bindusara, which may suggest his connection with the Buddhist order at Sanchi.
Death and Succession
According to historical papers, Bindusara’s death is said to be 273 BC. Bindusara ruled for 25 years. After his death, his son Ashoka became the ruler of the Maurya Empire.
Ashoka took the throne in 269 BC. Who handled Mauryan rule for 5 years during this period is also a mystery.
In history, Bindusara has been given the title of “Son of great father and father of the great son”. Because he was the son of a great father and father of a great son. According to history, there was a great difference in the views of Ashok and his father Bindusara.
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