Ajatashatru - Wikipedia
About two thousand three hundred years ago in India, Ashoka .. Soon after the death of Gautam, The Buddha, the Magadha emperor, Ajatshatru convened the first . grandeur of ancient India and its relationships with the outside world .. ( The following is based on Goenkaji's article in the July issue. The period assigned to Ajatshatru's rule is BC to BC. He was confiscated Kashi, which was given as a gift to Kosaladevi in marriage. During the time of Bimbisara and Ajatshatru, the name of Magadha giving his daughter in marriage to Ajatashatru and also giving him Kashi.
His capital was the location of the first Convocation, or Buddhist Council, convened after the Buddha's death. The Pali or Buddhist canon was determined at this Council.
Bimbasara's third wife, Khema, became the Buddha's first female convert. Taking her precepts as a nun, or bhikkhuni, she was later desrcribed by the buddha as a perfect disciples. On one occassion, she answered questions posed by another local king exactly as the Buddha had answered the same questions, although she was unaware of his reply.
She was known as 'Khedma of Great Wisdom'. Bimbisara and Mahavira Jains say that because of Bimbisara's friendship with Mahavira, he will himself be a Tirthankara a fully realized being in the next cycle of existence. Marriage alliances Bimbisara used marriage alliances to strengthen his position. His first wife was the sister of Prasenajit, king of Kosala.
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.
Bimbisara's second wife, Chellana, was a Lachchhavi princess from Vaishali and a relative of Mahavira's mother. His third wife was a daughter of the chief of the Madra clan of Punjab. Bimbisara is said to have enjoyed friendly relations with all his contemporary peers.
Death Tradition tells us that Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son Ajatashatru d.
Some sources say that Bimbisara had already abdicated in favor of his son but that Ajatashatru jailed him anyway, leaving instructions that he be given no food.
Bimbisara's murder resulted in a war between the king of Kosala, on behalf of his grieving daughter, and Ajatashatru. Eventually, a peace treaty ended the war. The treaty was sealed by another marriage between the two dynasties, this time between the King of Kosala's daughter and Ajatashatru. The Good Deeds of Emperor Ashoka During this period of thirty-seven years, he was not idle nor did he waste his time by merry-making, it was as though he was making amends for that loss of life.
Concerning Buddhism, he did not limit himself to his vast Empire but propagated Buddhism in other parts of Asia. But by setting a good example in the conquest of Self, His Sacred Majesty himself, sets a good example for all to follow, both here in the hundred leagues where the Greek king named Antiochos dwells … in the south, the Cholas and Pandayas as far as the Tamraparni river … everywhere, they follow the instruction of His Sacred Majesty on the Law of Piety.
He made the important teachings of the Buddha popular by his numerous interesting rock edicts. He urged the population to literacy and so, to read them! He erected so many Buddhist monasteries Viharas around Patna that the whole province became known as Vihara, now Bihar.
He made pilgrimages to almost all the hallowed places connected with the life of the Buddha, and lasting monuments were erected to mark those historic spots. Even the slaughtering of animals for food in the palace was slowly reduced and eventually stopped, and, most excellently, he forbade all animal sacrifice in his empire.
As Pandit Nehru says: He brought about a cultural revolution. Ashoka was interested not only in the moral development of his people, but also their material development.
He treated all his subjects as his own family. An indication of his willingness promote the public good is given when he said: Work I must for the common weal. In his time public gardens, medicinal herbs, hospitals for people and for animals, too, wells dug, roads and educational institutions were built all over his empire. To his eternal credit it should be said that it was Ashoka who, for the first time in the history of the world, established hospitals for humans and also built hospitals for animals, too, and it is claimed not only in Asia but also where his missionaries went — even Eastern Europe and North Africa.
The Venerable Monks and their destinations were: Each mission consisted of five Theras so that it would be possible to perform the Upasampada ceremony for Monks in remote districts. He initiated the practice of sending diplomats to foreign countries and in return regularly received envoys at Pataliputra from friendly countries. He recorded history, and so was one of the earliest historians, judging by his lengthy and elaborate discussion on various subjects, with minute details all carved on the durable surface of his rocks.
His awareness of the need to record the important events in history helps one understand his responsible attitude to rule. He would have developed many good ideas from his posting at Taxila as a young man. The fact is that the Emperor had an active mind, he was educated. His progressive ideas would have been formed with the help of the people who he came in contact with — Buddhists, both military and civilian, and Buddhist scholars — especially those he met early on in his life.
He was unique in that he and his brothers all worked to develop the Empire using Buddhist ideals of equality, kindness to help people to lead better lives. They were acting in accordance to the teachings of Gautama, The Buddha, of which, it can be said Ashoka became an embodiment.
He made the ideals of the Buddha-Dhamma a reality. What the Buddha had preached, the Emperor had practiced himself and urged others to practice, too. He brought the Buddhist ethos alive all over a vast territory from Afghanistan and India to the border of Burma.
This had its effects on the literacy of the people and expanded the domain of knowledge in the society. The number of Universities founded rose to nine — nine great residential Universities.
EMPEROR ASHOKA OF INDIA Some Information Revealed
Now, the whole of India and Afgahnistan is now littered with archeological sites; for example the Bhumiyan Bamiyan site was developed which had three great, golden Buddha statues and hundreds of dwelling places for monks; and so for many other sites. The Buddhist ethos shaped the culture, religion, polity, politics and social interaction of the common people of this enormous expanse of land for a thousand years.
While on the one side of Buddhism there was the concept of knowledge leading to wisdom, the other side of the coin was the virtue of Loving Kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic joy, and Equanimity. The feeling of belonging together or to one group or oneness emerges out of the high degree of feelings of association.
Without this feeling of oneness the concept of equality between men is never welcome. The Impact of Buddhism on Ashoka and his Administration Many Indian historians mistakenly believe that simply as a result of the Kalinga war, emperor Ashoka embraced Buddhism. Thence arises the remorse of His Sacred Majesty for having conquered the Kalinga, because the conquest of the country previously unconquered, involved the slaughter, death, and carrying away of captive slaves of the people.
That is a matter of profound regret to His Sacred Majesty. No doubt about it, all that bloodshed and misery would have hardened his resolve to make amends. However, if we accept this event as the single cause of conversion to Buddhism then we have to ignore other important anecdotal evidence regarding the previous influence of Buddhism on Ashoka.
From this other evidence it is clear, he did not convert due to the bloodshed of war — he was a Buddhist right from his early years and that is the real reason why he had the depth of knowledge to make such a great contribution to the propagation and practice of Buddhism. The Life and Times of Emperor Ashoka To know the reason for the deep remorse, at the sight of all those killed in battle, we need to go back in history. We suggest the reason was due to the social setting of the time.
During the reign of the Mauryas all Indian and Afghan society, everywhere was egalitarian and the ethos of the contemporary society was simply nothing more than a set of high ideals; of harmlessness, humanitarian ideals and the teachings of Gautam the Buddha. Gautam was born in BCE. He attained Mahaparinibbana after 80 years.
Within a very short period, the luminous glow of his teachings of harmlessness and knowledge: So the glorious chanting of the Trisarana: Buddhism, Young Ashoka and his Remorse A psychological reaction can be observed in the Emperor after the sight of the carnage of war. This was undoubtedly due to his up-bringing in a Buddhist environment. This environment arose from some important events in India, as follows.
The second Buddha Sangeeti was held at Vaishali during the reign of his son, Kalasok. Following kings Pasenjit and Bimbisara who were contemporary to Gautam Buddha, after them almost all the Indian rulers were Buddhists. The whole society was charged, fired up with an active culture of Buddhist practice and gracious behaviour Shramana-dharma -esp. Oddly, young Ashoka, the son of the emperor Bindusara had a regal introduction to the destructiveness and cruelty of high office when he ordered royal executions.
An ambitious king knows no bounds in celebrating his victory in war, but after the war with the Kalingas —? The paramount potentate, instead of celebrating victory through wanton and reckless festivities by rolling in wine and woman, instead broke down with remorse as if it was he who was defeated in the war.
It is clear that Buddhism was deeply ingrained in him from an early age. So, it is not true to say that he converted to Buddhism after being so shocked at the sight of bloodshed and death, but it can be conceded that his faith in, and pursuit of Buddhist ideals were strengthened by the bloodshed.
The emperor has recorded a part of his life in one of his Rock Edicts. The Minor Rock Edict I reads: But a year ago, in fact more than a year ago, I entered the Order, and since then have exerted myself strenuously. For instance when Prince Ashoka was the governor of Ujjain he used to come to the capital via the trade route passing through Vidisa. According to the Buddhist tradition, the adventurer prince became enamored with a beautiful daughter of a Banker of Vidisa.
The advances of the Prince were rebuffed by the girl by the name of Devi. Her good character and strong inner qualities required her to refuse to marry the prince until he changed his unruly way of life into a life of discipline similar to the disciplined one, the Buddha. Devi herself was a disciple of the Buddha. Ashoka accepted these demands to follow Buddhism and they were united. It is said that Devi produced two children: Later on, Ashoka ordered the building of the massive Sanchi Stupa or Dagaba amidst the natural beauty of the surroundings, on the hill top of the Vidisa Diri.
It is believed that because of the pious desire and warm patronage of Queen Devi, the Vidisa region in Patna, became a very important Buddhist center with many Stupas, such as Satadhara, etc. Brahmanism at a Low Ebb This was a period when the esteem and influence of Brahminical Social Order and the power of the Brahmins was at its lowest ebb.
All over India the Sudras were ruling. Nandas of the barber Sudra dynasty were ruling the country with absolute supremacy. Srimad Bhagwat lamented the Brahmin plight in no uncertain terms: These ten kings, the Sishunagas, alone will rule over the earth for three hundred and sixty years during the age of Kali.
O jewel among the Kurus! O king will be certain Nanda, who will win a huge army or untold riches and will bring about the ruin of the Kshatriya race. Thence forward, the rulers of men will be mostly Sudras and the unrighteous: When Magasthenes, the Hellenic envoy visited India he failed to find any trace of the Brahminical social hierarchy, the caste system.
He described in his account only seven socio-economic groups who formed the social strata.
They were as follows: This absence or untraceable condition of Brahmin-Sudra caste strata system was definitely a result of the predominance of a caste-less Shramana culture in the country.
But for the existence of such powerful Shramana culture it would not have been feasible for the lowest of the low born to displace the Brahmin-Kshatriya combine from power politics. Brahmanism fights back The Buddha told the truth as it was. He challenged the recently composed Vedas, the books at the bedrock of Brahmanism. The Brahmins became enemies; they were opposed to the Buddha, not so much against his philosophical teachings as they were to his message of universal brotherhood and equality.
This was because it directly challenged their positions of power over the people and the scriptures they had invented to legitimize their power. Divinity is immortal and transcendental. But in the real world, the world where men and women actually live their lives, time, date and place are a reality to be counted and recorded, and cannot realistically be pushed into a metaphysical limbo. So, Ashoka was the first man in the history of human civilization who scrupulously maintained a record of time and place in his edicts.
But, as a result his legacy of good deeds was subjected to the forces of nihilism in ancient India.Magdha -- Magadha Empire -- Ancient History of India -- History
Now, India is a land of restricted education. According to their own stipulations, only the Brahmins — the elite — the ruling class, were entitled to full-fledged education. This elevated them, so they were able to thrive on the ignorance of others. Sudras were denied the right to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. And according to the Brahminical culture, writing factual history was totally forbidden.
The only disciplines that they encouraged were the unseen spiritual, belief-ridden and speculative literature, full of myth and imaginary tales. As an example of the parlous state of recording Indian history: On their destruction it is the Mauryas that will rule the earth during the kali age, the very Brahmin will install Chandragupta on the throne.
His son indeed will be Warisara and Ashokavardhana will be born to the letter. Other Priests made such brief and misleading and obscure statements on the past revealing nothing useful of actual history. These obscure statements give us no clues as to the true grandeur of ancient India and its relationships with the outside world.
GLORIOUS INDIA: Was Ashoka greater than Alexander?
It was a huge puzzle. Who was it who had ordered the erection of all these robust pillars with edicts, rock pillars which have withstood all the destructive events that nature and even human destructive attempts, could throw at them through the centuries? The historians of yore failed to give the name of the India King who has done all this work of recording the tales and happenings of the contemporary India on innumerable polished surface of the hills, caves and rocks.
So it was extremely difficult for historians of the nineteenth century to identify this Piyadassi, the name was unknown to Indian literature and unknown to any reference work or dictionary. But it was available in the Buddhist chronicles in Ceylon. When Indians themselves, had destroyed their own sources of Indian history then the true history of India could only be recovered from whatever sources could be found outside India.
It can be observed that, ironically, it was Ashoka who had created these foreign sources.