History

The Mauryas

Bindusara (बिन्दुसार) (298-273 BCE)

Vayu Purana mentions that Chandragupta was succeeded by his son, Bindusara on the Magadha throne. Strabo mentions Allitrochades as the son and successor of Sandrocottos. Athenaeus calls him Amitrochates which in Sanskrit would be Amitraghata (slayer of foes). Mahabhashya of Patanjali mentions Amritaghata however does not give any further details or his relationship with Chandragupta.

Except the above mentioned reference from Mahabhashya, this title, Amritaghata, is unknown to Indian and Sri Lankan texts. Rajavali Katha, a Jain work, mentions Simhasena as the son of Chandragupta.

3rd century BCE Maurya period Sandstone Male Head from Sarnath @ National Museum, New Delhi

 

Taranath, an eighteenth century Tibetan saint, mentions that Chanakya was instrumental in the destruction of sixteen states making Bindusara the master of all territory between the eastern and the western seas. Few scholars took this as an evidence that Bindusara conquered Deccan however there is no reliable evidence behind it.

King of Syria sent an ambassador, Deimachos, to the court of Bindusara. Pliny mentions that the king of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-247 BCE), also sent an ambassador named Dionysus to Indian court however it is not mentioned whether he reported to the court of Bindusara or Ashoka. The reigning period of Ptolemy II overlaps with the period of Bindusara and Ashoka so we cannot be certain in whose court Dionysus reported.

Athenaeus tells about correspondences between Bindusara and the Syrian king, Antiochos I Soter, the son and successor of Seleucus, on terms of equality. Hegesander tells that Amritochates (Bindusara) requested Antiochos to send him some dry figs, raisin wine and a Greek professor. Antiochos fulfilled his requests with pleasure except the last one giving reason that it is unlawful for Greeks to sell a professor.

 

3rd century BCE Maurya period Male Head @ National Museum, New Delhi

 

Mahavamsa mentions that Bindusara sent his son, Asoka, to suppress the revolt of Taxila. Few scholars took it as a sign of weakness on the side of Bindusara that he did not go himself but sent his son. However, I do not agree with them. Sending his son to suppress a revolt would be a good examination to check the ability of the person. It cannot be taken that Bindusara was weak and not an able king.

Mahavamsa mentions that Bindusara has many wives and many sons from them. Sushima was the eldest and Ashoka was third from the top. It is said that Bindusara had hundred sons. Ashoka, in his inscriptions, mentions his brothers and sister which suggests that he had few, though may not be hundred.

What we can say with surety that Bindusara was able to keep intact the vast dominion he got from Chandragupta. He may have won few battles and extended the empire however there is no reliable source to conclude on this. Vayu Purana assigns a rule of 24 years to Bindusara while Mahavamsa assigns a rule of 28 years.

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