Amidst the great times of Chakravartin Chandragupta Maurya and Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat, falls the reign of Samrat Bindusar, the son of Chandragupt Maurya and father of Ashoka. Here we shall share in details the actual history surrounding Bindusar.
The Early Life
Bindusar was the only son of Chandragupta Maurya. He was the son of his first wife and consort Queen Durdhara, who died before giving him birth. However, despite the death of his mother, he was brought into the world by Chanakya’s intelligence and medical knowledge after he cut of the dead Durdhara’s womb to ensure the heir stays.
Now that his mother had consumed poison, Bindusar’s body too got infected, thereby giving him a permanent spot at the forehead. This is the reason why he was given the name Bindu meaning dot or spot. Since, Chandragupta didn’t remarry, Bindusar neither had any brother nor any competition to the Magadh throne.
The Accession to the Throne
When Chandragupta Maurya decided to retire and follow his Jain monk, Bindusar was only 22 years old. It is believed that he ascended the throne around the same time.
When he ascended to the throne, it is assumed he had a stepmother in the form of Seleucus Nicator’s wife Helena whom his father married during his 40s.
Now that Bindusar shared great relationship with the Greeks, it is assumed that they shared cordial relation with each other. Antiochus, Seleucus Nicator’s son had a friendly diplomatic relations with Bindusar.
He Extended the Mauryan Empire In the Deccan
While retaining the territories won by his father, Bindusar also conquered the Deccan. Thus, he became the supreme king of all areas that fell between the eastern and the western sea.
Some historians however argue that he made no territorial additions to the inherited Mauryan Empire that he got from his father. Chanakya, the prime minister of Chandragupta also remained Bindusar’s Prime Minister until a brief period of time until a misunderstanding erupted between the two and Chanakya decided to retire.
Family Life – His Wives and Sons
Of what is known Samrat Bindusara had two wives – one, was from a royal background who was the mother of his first born – Susima, other was a common woman whose son was none other than Ashoka, the Great.
He might have other wives too but there is no documentation that talks about his personal life in detail. But the fact that he had 6 sons gives rise to the possibility that he could have more than two wives.
According to the available documents and texts, it is widely believed that the king favored his first born Sushima and had no interest in Ashoka, his son from his wife of the inferior rank.
The Death of Samrat Bindusar and the After Effects
Samrat Bindusar fell ill and breath his last in 272 BCE. However, he died without proclaiming the heir of his throne. Though he wanted his eldest son Sushim to become his heir, his ministers especially Radhagupt who didn’t like his arrogant nature preferred Ashoka.
This is the reason when Bindusar fell ill, the ministers ensured that Sushima do not come back to Pataliputra and Ashoka doesn’t move out of the capital. Post the death, there was a war amongst the brothers. Ashoka killed all his brothers except Vitashoka who was also his brother from the same mother.
Source and Reference:
Mookerji, Radha Kumud (1988) [first published in 1966], Chandragupta Maurya and his times (4th ed.), Motilal Banarsidass
Beni Madhab Barua (1968). Asoka and His Inscriptions