Bindusara

Summary

Bindusara (c. 320-c. 272 BC) was the son and successor of Chandragupta Mauria and thus the second emperor of the Maurya Empire.

The Greeks knew him as Amitrochates or Allitrochades, which are crude transliterations of two Sanskrit terms: A-mitra Ghata (”destroyer of non-friends” or destroyer of enemies) or A-yata Shatru (”unborn the victor” or he whose victor was not yet born) (not to be confused with Ajatashatru, son of Bimbisara, who ruled Haryanka Magadha dynasty in 491-461 B.C.).

He reigned from 298 or 300 BC. (when he was 20 to 22 years old) until his death (at 52 years of age).

He was the heir to a great empire comprising northern, central and eastern India and even parts of Afghanistan and Baluchistan. When Bindusara came to the throne (about 300 B.C.), he channeled his expansive policy to conquer southern India, present-day Karnataka. He is credited with the great Mauryan expansion southward and across the vast Deccan plain although, due to the paucity of documentation, it is difficult to pinpoint the extent of Bindusara”s conquest. It is believed that, after his death, the Mauryan Empire possessed almost the whole of India, except for the southern states of the Cholas, Pandias and Cheras and the eastern state of Kalinga, which was later conquered by his son, the future Emperor Asoka, who during his father”s reign held the position of viceroy of Uyaini.

During his reign, he had as minister Kautilia Chanakia (already incumbent in the time of Chandragupta Mauria) who, according to the sources, conquered sixteen cities and who suffered the rebellion of the citizens of Taksila on two occasions. The mismanagement of Susima, his eldest son caused the first revolt, while the second revolt is of unknown origin. Buddhist traditions refer to these revolts and also to that of Takshasila which was suppressed by his son Asoka and which was due to the tyranny of the provincial governors who, being unchecked, abused their power (according to Asoka”s edicts).

Bindusara died in 272 BC or 268 BC (both dates are documented) and was succeeded by his son Asoka the Great.

The empire of Bindusara

Bindusara conquered sixteen states and extended the empire from sea to sea (presumably referring to the land between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal), throughout southern India. The only region that maintained its independence was Kalinga and the southern Dravidians (Cholas, Pandias and Cheras) who maintained a cordial relationship with the Mauryan Empire. However, this was not the case with Kalinga, which in Asoka”s time was razed to the ground by Asoka.

The emperor also maintained good relations with Syria, Egypt and the Hellenes, from whom he received ambassadors and even food.

Death of Bindusara

Bindu-Sara had three sons, Susima and Asoka, who were made viceroys of Taksila and Uyain, and Vitashoka, who became a Jain monk.

It is believed that at the time of Bindusara”s death, a war of succession began that probably lasted four years. This is described according to Buddhist sources, which indicate that Asoka, who was not the eldest son, emerged victorious from this conflict. Despite this initial instability, Bindusara”s son was able to continue his work and even succeeded in expanding the territory of the Mauryan Empire.

Sources

  1. Bindusara
  2. Bindusara